ABS357 - The naming question: Hasan's questions and Vygotsky's last answers
Paper in a Working Group Roundtable (WGRT)
3:50 PM, Tuesday 29 Aug 2017 (1 hour)
Convention Center - 2000 A - Table C
Ruqaiya Hasan was a close but critical reader of Vygotsky. She reproached him with lacking a theory of theory of instantiation: that is, with being unable to distinguish between the linguistic "weather" and language "climate". In this talk, I propose to show that this criticism is not at all as unfair as it may seem, and that Vygotsky was aware of the weakness in his theory of language and striving to remedy it at the time of his death. I propose to look at his very last lectures, the "Lectures on Pedology" and the unfinished manuscript on Child Development. In these lectures, Vygotsky outlines a theory of the zone of proximal development that goes far beyond pedagogy and instead considers the whole "climate" of language development. I propose to focus on how children learn that the "naming function" of language can be used to create imaginary entities. We compare a one-year-old, a three-year-old, for whom this is not yet possible, with a seven-year-old, who is learning to play with this "signifying" function of speech for the first time. In the conclusion of my talk, I argue that Vygotsky was, at the time of his death, studying the work of Jakobson and Trubetskoy, which later become the foundation of the Prague Circle. This would, in turn, form the basis for the systemic-functional linguistics of Ruqaiya Hasan herself.