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Re: [xmca] Word Meaning and Concept

On 14 June 2011 05:16, David Kellogg <vaughndogblack@yahoo.com> wrote:

> Huw:
> I want to try to use your distinction between time-bearing utterances and
> timeless thoughts to clear up a problem I have with Chapter Seven
> of Thinking and Speech.

Hi David,

I think timelessness is something else and could introduce more confusions.
What I referred to as a 'plan'  was the presentation of a representation.  A
difference between a diagram of furniture in a room and a spoken description
is that speech is serialized.

> Your nudge explains almost perfectly why Volosinov says that "theme" (that
> is, sense) is an aspect of an utterance, but "meaning" (that is,
> signification) belongs only to individual words. "Dog" has meaning, but not
> theme. "Look! There's a dog! (and it's about to bite you!" has theme, but
> not (taken as a whole utterance) meaning.

I'd say it depends on how you use meaning.  Words (in narrative form
atleast) have accepted signification.  Though we often use meaning
synonymously with intention.

If you said that sentence meaning arises out of placing word meanings (like
furniture) in a theme/intention, then I agree that this seems to have
something going for it.

Tone and contextual meaning can provide an intensive/thematic meaning
(though words too fall into distinct usage patterns of theme and register).

In addition to the affordances and constraints of each word in structuring
the sentence, there is also the focus of interpretation to be taken account
of such as the phrase "Go to bed!" with "Go-to-bed!"  It is not necessary to
understand all the distinct words in order to have a reasonable
understanding of the intention.

> Now, I know from Chapter Seven that inner speech is mostly theme/sense.
> That explains why it is reduced to predication (just like the external
> speech utterance "Look!"). But...Is INNER SPEECH a definite stage in the
> transition from thinking to speaking, or is it really ONLY a distinct moment
> in the transition from listening (to another person speaking) to
> understanding?

Even with the minimal view of inner speech as placeholder (something I'm not
asserting), like counting on one's fingers, it remains an important link.
Perhaps my use of 'description' suggested an (unintended) orthogonal aspect
to thinking?

> On the one hand, Vygotsky says, at the very end of Section Two:"Thinking
> printes the mark of a logical accent (that is, utterance stress--DK) on one
> of the words of a sentence, putting in relief in this way the psychological
> predicate, without which the whole sentence is incomprehensible. Speaking,
> therefore, implies a passage from the internal plane to the external plane,
> and understanding supposes the inverse movement, from the external plane of
> speech to the inner one."
> On the other hand, Vygotsky says this, in the tenth paragraph of Section
> Three:
> "External speech is a process of transforming thinking into words, of its
> materialization, its objectiization. Inner speech is a process in the
> opposite direction, which goes from the exterior to the interior, a process
> of volatilization of speech into thinking. And it is from this that we get
> everything which distinguishes it from the structure of external speech."
> THAT makes it sound like inner speech is part of comprehension and not part
> of production! But that cannot be right.

One can produce in the process of comprehension.  In comprehending a
statement I may first wish to create simpler versions (perhaps only
meaningful to me).  We need to distinguish the phenomena from the system
that it participates in.

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