Re: [xmca] Streamed Discussion of Development in CHAT Theory

From: David Kellogg <vaughndogblack who-is-at>
Date: Tue Nov 20 2007 - 15:09:22 PST

Em and Mike:
  Well, I think etymology is relevant, but not the way Dr. Johnson assumed. We have to keep in mind that etymology is largely an invented tradition; before the eighteenth century there simply were no dictionaries and no need for them neither. ("We don't need no stinkin' utensils....")
  Where etymology is relevant, and where it is not invented, is where it leaves a mark on word structure and shapes the way words are used. Andy is currently looking for references in LSV to "identity". I think it probable he will fail: the word LSV uses is "personality", and for good reason. "Identity" is quite a static concept, suggesting self-similarity and solecism, Robinson Crusoe on his island. "Personality" has precisely the kind of developmental, yea, teleological etymology that LSV would have wanted.
  (WHY "identity" in our mouths today suggests this static and self-similar concept is another matter and points us to the reason for myths and invented traditions; Robinson, of course, had no need for an identity card. It is we Moderns who have to consult passports and slabs of embossed plastic to find out who we really are. I think the word "agency" is similar; this morning, reading N. Ellis' account of how consciousness and noticing are reflected in word use, I came across the marvelous oxymoron "zombie agents". And that is as close as I want to go to the deconstructionists! Unlike Andy, I don't think they are closet duallists; most deconstructionalists I have read have trouble counting as far as the number "one".)
  In my last post I was arguing that the phenomenon Mike is talking about at the beginning of the Streamed Discussion of Development in CHAT Theory, the reversal of central and peripheral functions, is extremely abstract and vague and might cover development at two different levels of detail (though roughly the same time frame). The processes I talked about as a) processes are fairly concrete and can be observed in data (though of course the underlying intra-mental development cannot). The processes I talked about as b) processes are too general and abstract, and this explains there schematic quality.
  Actually, etymology provides a good example of an a) process, at least for me. I'm going to argue that one of the ways that child vocabulary changes is that the use of deictics and demonstratives, words that have essentially NO etymology, is at first central. Words like "car" (carrus) and "apple" (apfel) which have cultural-historical tails that we can pull are at first relatively peripheral. As the child grows older, this relationship between central and peripheral becomes reversed. As we can see, XMCA is made up of very aged children indeed.
  David Kellogg
  Seoul National University of Education

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Received on Tue Nov 20 15:11 PST 2007

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