Re: [xmca] process structure of semiotic mediation

From: Mike Cole (
Date: Sun Nov 05 2006 - 15:30:53 PST

Interesting observations, David. As I noted in prior message,. I cannot turn
proper attention to Jaan's article for a while, but I will forward this note
to the Chesire cat to see what sort of
a smile might return for future reference.

On 11/5/06, Kellogg <> wrote:
> I have a simple-minded linguist's question about the Valsiner article, but
> being a simple-minded linguist (and not a psychologist) I can't seem to
> answer it myself..
> Valsiner says:
> "In the case of continuous use in communication,t he sign undergoes a
> process of abbreviation (Lyra & de Souza, in press). Abbreviation entails
> partial or (full) disappearance of hte external manifestations of the sign,
> yet it is retained in an abstracted and generalized intra-psychological
> domain. In this way, the sign acts as a semiotic reserve for future needs of
> semiotic regulation." p. 86
> I gather what Valsiner is talking about is something like this:
> A: How are you?
> B: Fine, thanks, and you?
> In B's rejoinder, it is commonly believed (by linguists even more
> simple-minded than I) that there are missing signs, to wit, what B is really
> saying is an abbreviated form of this:
> B: (I am) fine. (I give you many) thanks. And (how are) you?
> But there is an enormous amount of evidence against this account. First of
> all, intonationally "And how are you" is not a paraphrase of "And you?"; one
> contains a referring back intonation (upwardly pitched) while the other
> contains a future-oriented downard pitch.. Secondly, "I give you many
> thanks" is a far less common phrase in English than "thanks"; it is not
> credible that people store this extremely rare sentence in their minds as a
> translation of the more common one. Thirdly, and most importantly from where
> I sit, it's just not developmental; it presupposes that written language
> ontogenetically and even phylogenetically antedates speech (Derrida's
> position) and spoken utterances derive from otiose, grammatically "complete"
> sentences.
> I think Bakhtin would reply that there are indeed three units in B's
> rejoinder, but they are not sentences and they are certainly not composed of
> elided signs. They are utterances, which we may define (rather as real
> language users do) as units which are bounded by a real or potential change
> of speakers.
> A: How are you?
> B: Fine.
> A: Glad to hear it.
> A: How are you?
> B: Fine, thanks.
> A: Glad to hear it.
> A: How are you?
> B: Fine, thanks, and you?
> A: Not bad.
> This shows why we think there are three parts to B's rejoinder (which is
> precisely what the intonation suggests) and also why those three parts
> cannot be sentences or ""partial (or full) disappearance of the external
> manifestations of the sign (...) retained in an abstracted and generalized
> intrapsychological domain".
> I think, in general, Valsiner does not take seriously enough the
> possibility that signs can exist mainly and even wholly
> extra-psychologically. Dragonflies are a sign of the typhoon season in Korea
> whether they are internalized or not, else Pierce's "iconic" meaning would
> not be possible. A smile is not necessarily the "partial or full
> disappearance of the external manifestation of a sign"; on the contrary, it
> may be all there is.
> David Kellogg
> Seoul National University of Education
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