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Vygotsky’s psycho-semiotics

Theories, instrument and interpretive analyses- In collaboration with Frith Luton

Charlotte Hua Liu

Reviewing and elaborating L. S. Vygotsky’s view of language mediated development, this work presents an extension of the Russian thinker’s developmental psycho-semiotics to an educational psycho-semiotics. Interpreting original discussions of tool-mediation as developmental mechanism, this book addresses the question of what occurs in the interpersonal environment that enables the internalisation of tool and the development of thinking. Filling in a gap in Vygotsky’s theoretical framework, it discusses in detail inter-psychological processes as the social origins of changes in the intra-psychological domain.
Besides theoretical descriptions, this book also offers an original instrument for educational research or practitioners’ reflection of micro-genetic processes of interaction and change. This instrument is then applied in interpretive analyses of real-life classroom exchanges.


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CHAPTER 2 INTRAPSYCHOLOGY AND PSYCHOLOGICAL STRUCTURE OF SEMIOTICS Ultimately, the sense of a word depends on one’s understanding of the world as a whole and on the internal structure of personality (Vygotsky, 1987, p. 276). Vygotsky’s writings branch into many diverse areas in psychology, including the educational, clinical, experimental, theoretical, pedagogi- cal, as well as the psychology of art. A mature stage of the development of his thinking was devoted to psychological semiotics (Van der Veer, 1998). Vygotsky’s psycho-semiotics attempts to penetrate phylogenetic and ontogenetic developments of the human psychological structure from the relationship between language and thinking. In the present chapter, I review, interpret and dialogue with Vygotsky’s psycho- semiotics, in the hope of presenting a contemporary continuation and application. 2.1 Language as Symbols Language as a symbolic system is at once an external and an internal entity. It is both externally denotative and psychologically connotative, a socially shared and an individually represented system of meaning- making, a fi nished expression and an ongoing mediator of thinking. In understanding the psychological nature and function of language in relation to thinking, Vygotsky points out: We have known only the external aspect of the word, the aspect of the word that immediately faces us. Its inner aspect, its meaning, remains as unexplored and unknown as the other side of the moon. However, it is in this inner aspect of the word that we fi nd the potential for resolving the problem of the relationship of thinking to speech. The knot that represents the...

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