I appear eerily unable to communicate the issue that is the focus of
attention which is not whether kids imitate the language around
for the difference in performance of the same kids, within hours or
when they first say something complicated, to "revert" to a simplified
version of that utterance at about the level of what they do when
an utterance dreamed up by an experimenter to test some theory of the
process of grammatical development.
The kids are performing in both cases. But in one case they are
to achieve THEIR goals. In the other they
are performing to achieve goals they have little understanding of.
Something or other ideas think furiously.
Neither you nor David, so far as I can tell, addresses the question
asking. Since you both know a ton more about
language acquisition than I figure I am being totally dense. What am I
About Vygotsky writing *Something which is only supposed to take
the very end of development, somehow influences the very first steps
*I believe that Vygotsky is stating a very widely held view of the
of development, one which can be found in many scientific sources
also has deep roots in the Judeo-Christian (and probably lots of other
traditions). Here is a version of it from
T.S. Elliot, "East Coker" but I believe it is also intimately
related to the
idea of a spiral of development which is often found in
Hegelian and Marxist thought. Anyway, here is one catholic-convert's
expression of the idea:
In my beginning is my end. In succession
Houses rise and fall, crumble, are extended,
Are removed, destroyed, restored, or in their place
Is an open field, or a factory, or a by-pass.
Old stone to new building, old timber to new fires,
Old fires to ashes, and ashes to the earth
Which is already flesh, fur and faeces,
Bone of man and beast, cornstalk and leaf.
Houses live and die: there is a time for building
And a time for living and for generation
And a time for the wind to break the loosened pane
And to shake the wainscot where the field-mouse trots
And to shake the tattered arras woven with a silent motto.
In my beginning is my end. Now the light falls
Across the open field, leaving the deep lane
Shuttered with branches, dark in the afternoon,
Where you lean against a bank while a van passes,
And the deep lane insists on the direction
Into the village, in the electric heat
Hypnotised. In a warm haze the sultry light
Is absorbed, not refracted, by grey stone.
The dahlias sleep in the empty silence.
Wait for the early owl.
In that open field
If you do not come too close, if you do not come too close,
On a summer midnight, you can hear the music
Of the weak pipe and the little drum
And see them dancing around the bonfire
The association of man and woman
In daunsinge, signifying matrimonie—
A dignified and commodiois sacrament.
Two and two, necessarye coniunction,
Holding eche other by the hand or the arm
Whiche betokeneth concorde. Round and round the fire
Leaping through the flames, or joined in circles,
Rustically solemn or in rustic laughter
Lifting heavy feet in clumsy shoes,
Earth feet, loam feet, lifted in country mirth
Mirth of those long since under earth
Nourishing the corn. Keeping time,
Keeping the rhythm in their dancing
As in their living in the living seasons
The time of the seasons and the constellations
The time of milking and the time of harvest
The time of the coupling of man and woman
And that of beasts. Feet rising and falling.
Eating and drinking. Dung and death.
Dawn points, and another day
Prepares for heat and silence. Out at sea the dawn wind
Wrinkles and slides. I am here
Or there, or elsewhere. In my beginning.
On Sun, Jul 19, 2009 at 8:47 PM, Lois Holzman <
Hi All,Mike's post sent me back to my most recent thinking on
(two weeks ago!) as well as to my language development research in
mid-70s with Lois Bloom. I do recall that my first published article
(Imitation in Language Development: If, When and Why) was one of a
at the time that focused on spontaneous imitation as opposed to
imitation, such as Slobin's study Mike refers to.OUr findings from
longitudinal data from 6 children from single words to syntax were
interesting: by our operational definitions, some of them didn't
their language development was similar to those that imitated.
did imitate, imitated what they were in the process of learning,
what they knew well nor what was beyond them. Today I would say they
imitated what was in their ZPD and that their imitations were part
creating that ZPD.
So it seems to me that the change referred to —to the more simplified
form— could be understood as the child making meaning with what has
said, playing with it, creating with it, using it. For the social
doesn't end just because the child is alone--s/he takes it with her/
becomes part of her/his life world and repertoire.
What I can add about the relevance to school is the importance of
opportunities for language play, and especially the kind of creative
imitation Vygotsky believes is critical for very young children.
most part schools do not create opportunities for children to play
language in the way that is described here. We've created this
"vocabulary" which they are obliged to learn. Children are asked to
correct or finished version tas quickly as possible—and they are
given simplified language to help them do this. There is little of
playfulness that happens when the language around you is not
you are free to play with and use it in a variety of ways.
Perhaps helpful in adding to what I am saying is part of this quote
Vygotsky, which I wrote about in an article several years ago and
resurrected for a just completed chapter for Cathrene-Ana-Vera's
But is fully developed speech, which the child is only able to
the end of this period of development, already present in the child’s
environment? It is, indeed. The child speaks in one word phrases,
his mother talks to him in language which is already grammatically
syntactically formed and which has a large vocabulary*… *Let us
call this developed form, which is supposed to make its appearance
end of the child’s development, the final or ideal form. And let us
child’s form of speech the primary or rudimentary form. The greatest
characteristic feature of child development is that this
achieved under particular conditions of interaction with the
where this …form which is going to appear only at the end of the
development is not only already there in the environment … but
interacts and exerts a real influence on the primary form, on the
steps of the child’s development. *Something which is only
take shape at the very end of development, somehow influences the
steps in this development. *(Vygotsky, 1994, p. 348—the article is
Problem of the Environment, appearing in The Vygotsky Reader)
the slightly abridged version of the passage.
Not surprisingly, I "relate" creative imitation to performance....
Lois Holzman, Director
East Side Institute for Group and Short Term Psychotherapy
920 Broadway, 14th floor
New York NY 10010
tel. 212.941.8906 ext. 324
On Jul 16, 2009, at 5:00 PM, Mike Cole wrote:
David's note of a few days ago on 3-7 year old changes in
me of an old article by Slobin and Welch (reprinted in Ferguson and
*Studies of Child Development, 1963)
*that it took a while to track down. The study is often cited in
elicited imitation where an adult says some
sentence and asks a little kid to repeat it. Kids simplify the
normal circumstances ("Where is the kitty"
becomes "where kitty") and other such stuff. There is a pretty large
literature on this.
But when I went to find the phenomenon in the article that had most
me, I could not find it in the recent lit
on elicited imitation. The phenomenon seems relevant to the
dialogic etc speech discussion.
The phenomenon is this: When a 2yr/5month old child is recorded
you finish your eggs all up, Daddy, you
can have your coffee." they can repeat this sentence pretty much as
right afterward. But 10 minutes later it has
become simplified a la the usual observation.
Citing William James (the child has an "intention to say so and
and Welch remark:
If that linguistic form is presented for imitation while the
still operative, it can be faily successfully imitated. Once the
is gone, however, the utterance must be processed in linguistic
-- without its original intentional and
contextual support." In the absence of such support, the task can
the child's abilities and reveal a more limited competence than may
be present in spontaneous speech (p. 489-90).
This kind of observation seems relevant in various ways both to
acquisition in school settings and to my reccurrent
questions about the social situation of development. Is it relevant
discussion of egocentric and social speech, David?
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