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Re: [xmca] Re: Word Meaning and Action

Nah...Bloomfield saw lexical potential in the sound system itself. That was his big mistake. Sapir was wiser. He saw it where it was; first and foremost in the speech community and then and only instantiated in individuals and in the noises they make in their communities. 
That's why LSV is so taken with Sapir. There is sometimes a conflict; a contradiction, between the generalization that individuals make with a word meaning (sense) and that which is accepted by the speech community (signification). That's a source of development, and that development is not, at bottom, reducible to a development of understandings (because understanding is a result and not a reason, a consequence and not a cause of it).
Usually that conflict means the individual child's sense develops in the direction of the socially accepted signification. But individual senses can also become the source of new significations (e.g. "I'm complemented" as opposed to "I'm complimented" could become something of a byword, at least on xmca!). 
I should quite like to hear Shakira singing about tortugas, but now I am afraid that now that you have explained the problem I never shall. Maybe she will give it a go someday (she did do a degree in anthropology at UCLA, you know).
David Kellogg
Seoul National University of Education

--- On Mon, 6/20/11, Martin Packer <packer@duq.edu> wrote:

From: Martin Packer <packer@duq.edu>
Subject: Re: [xmca] Re: Word Meaning and Action
To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <xmca@weber.ucsd.edu>
Date: Monday, June 20, 2011, 6:17 PM

How nice to have one's texts read! I'm complemented.

> This morning I was reading Packer and Goicoechea and I discovered in it the perfect riposte to your idea that only understanding changes when word meaning develops, just as money itself doesn't develop. On p. 232 you point out that money does develop: from barter to currency to credit. 

That's right, money develops historically. My point was that it doesn't seem sensible to say that money itself develops during the child's development. But I was contradicting myself, rather: I think I wrote that the child's understanding of money develops, while word meaning itself develops. The example of Shakira, by the way, was not to suggest that I *learned* Spanish by listening to MP3s, only that my perception of these songs was kind of an assessment device for my learning. That the words changed, not my understanding.

On Jun 20, 2011, at 7:20 PM, David Kellogg wrote:

> "Consider Marx's central example: the commodity is a kind of entity--a way for something to be--that becomes possible only in a particular kind of society, at a particular period in history. The same can be said of other 'objects' we find around us--tools, signs, money, food, music, art, clothing--each is a cultural artifact. To say that each is, at bottom, material is, first, false (because some are immaterial) and second, unhelpful (because material is itself no natural category)."
> Wait a minute, Martin. Why is it false to say that pitch, frequency, and formants are material? It's not false at all; it is completely true when we compare them with their ideal correlates, viz. stress, intonation, and vowel quality, not to mention with lexis, vocabulary and pronunciation. Why is it unhelpful? 

What I was trying to say, David, was not that they were not material, but that they were not *at bottom* material; that is, "really" no more than matter. If I were writing this now, I would borrow a page from Mike's book and say  that they are both *material* and ideal. As for material not being a natural category, which material are we talking about: extension; atoms; quarks: strings...?

To return to my question, are you suggesting that Sapir later on saw more meaning in the sound system? Or perhaps we should see that even in his early work he saw the sound system as a level of phasal meaning?


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