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

From: Emily Duvall <emily who-is-at>
Date: Tue Nov 20 2007 - 17:07:13 PST

Hi David,

Honestly, I just love a good derivative. It just thrills me,
aesthetically speaking, to make those kinds of connections. I grew up
with Bodmer's The Loom of Language... literally. My dad used to read it
to me... :-) I also love the thrill of watching people break down words
and then reconstruct and contextualize and make meanings... whether it's
a 6 year old or one of my undergrads... It's just exciting to me. Here,
for example, is a wee bit o' fun:

More seriously, though, I don't think of etymology is necessarily chain
and linked to a dictionary and I have difficulty with blanketing all
etymology as an 'invented' tradition verses the 'not invented'. This
dichotomization just doesn't fly for me - I understand etymology as the
larger conceptualization of word origins and history and all that the
latter embraces.

Regarding your statements on child development, deictics and
demonstratives, etc. I'm not sure how words like car and apple can have
no etymology... where does etymology begin? In the gesture? In
scientific concepts?
~ Em

-----Original Message-----
From: []
On Behalf Of David Kellogg
Sent: Tuesday, November 20, 2007 3:09 PM
To:; eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Subject: Re: [xmca] Streamed Discussion of Development in CHAT Theory

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'
  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 17:11 PST 2007

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