Re: [xmca] Invitation to a wedding.

From: Steve Gabosch (
Date: Sun Oct 08 2006 - 04:17:30 PDT

Last August, the posts at the bottom generated a fun discussion of
the Dueling Banjos piece from Deliverance and some urls for that, and
some other topics, but a genuine discussion of the articles linked
below by bb and Gordon never quite emerged. Undoubtedly, the end of
the summer/beginning of the fall transition was a contributing factor
to that discussion never fully gelling. Before we go on to discuss
the Stephen Billett article, which I am looking forward to, I wanted
to say I really appreciated reading these articles - the article on
the similarities and differences between Halliday and Vygotsky by
Gordon Wells, the article by MAK Halliday listing key characteristics
of language that demonstrate his language-based theory of learning,
and the article by Gordon Wells describing some of his most recent
thinking on language.

I found Gordon's discussion of the many similarities between Halliday
and Vygotsky to be useful as a research device - it asks many good
questions and points to many important relationships. However, the
article falls short of capturing the essential methodological and
philosophical differences between the two. But someone seeking to
penetrate to this deeper level of analysis would find Gordon's work
extremely helpful.

I found the Halliday article to be a stimulating introduction to
Halliday's obviously brilliant approach to linguistic analysis. It
serves as a nice introduction to his work. I would like to read a
general survey of Halliday's work and writings. Anyone know of one?

Gordon's soon to be published article Semiotic Mediation, Dialogue
and the Construction of Knowledge (url'ed below) revolves among other
ideas around the differences between monologic and dialogic
discourse, and the ramifications of these differences in approaches
in teaching. Distinctions between known-answer and open-ended
questioning is one example. An outcome of this approach of generally
favoring the dialogic over the monologic has been an ongoing endeavor
that Gordon has been participating in, the Developing Inquiring
Communities in Education Project (DICEP). The focal question has
been "how to create a community of inquiry in the classroom," an
approach that Gordon reports has also characterized how the project
itself functions. Like Halliday in the above-mentioned article,
Gordon stresses that language is at the heart of all forms of
education, whether everyday or in the classroom. Echoing John
Dewey's approach to democracy, Gordon suggests that "it is important
that the education of the citizens of tomorrow should be ...
conducted today though activities that promote inquiry and a dialogic stance."

Perhaps we will get a chance to continue discussing bb's and Gordon's
suggestion that Halliday and Vygotsky are marriage material at a
future time here on xmca. It is certainly an important question. As
I see it, CHAT needs to root itself in modern linguistics research,
and linguistics needs to root itself in cultural historical
theory. A discussion of potential nuptials between the ideas of
Vygotsky and Halliday would certainly stir up many positive
questions. Or did I put that too monologically? As for Gordon's
dialogic vs monologic approach, I would like to understand better how
to apply this distinction in everyday life as well as pedagogical contexts.

- Steve

At 05:29 PM 8/28/2006 +0000, bb wrote:
>I don't think the fierce metaphor of dueling does justice to the
>process of bringing systemic functional linguistics and activity
>theory into productive juxtaposition. What I have in mind is more
>of an engagement, possibly leading to a wedding -- a marriage in
>which two complement each other, mutually develop, and retain their
>differences. Attached are two papers in pdf form to further the discussion.



from Gordon Wells 8/26/2006:
Phil and Others discussing LSV and MAKH,

I have been too busy teaching to do more than lurk during this
discussion. However, since you and Bill have referred to my paper in
Linguistics and Education, I am taking the liberty of attaching a
paper I recently finished which has advanced my own thinking on this
and related topics. It is currently under review.


Semiotic Mediation and Ed.doc
Semiotic Mediation and Ed.doc

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