ERIC Number: ED382947
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1994-Oct
Reference Count: N/A
Learning Language and Learning Literacy: Construction of Meaning through Discourse.
Lapadat, Judith C.
Both written and spoken language use need to be understood within a broader theory of language. Some of the core assumptions that would inform such a theory are as follows. First, language is inherently social. Every structural component of language has a history of social discourse that defines it. Second, language is for communication; meaning is jointly constructed through conversation. Third, language is dynamic, not static--this is true in the sense that a culture is continually revising its language and it is also true in the sense that every individual invents language anew, makes it his or her own. Yet if meaning is constructed by every conversational participant and every writer and reader of a text through an interweaving of social and personal meanings, then each individual constructs a different set of meanings in any discourse. How can the participants in the discourse be said to share meaning if they do not construct the same meanings? This is the central paradox of the notion of shared meaning. It could be resolved by denying either that language meaning is constructed socially or constructed individually. Or, alternatively, it could be resolved by recognizing that meaning need not be the same to be shared. Learning through conversation to recognize others' perspectives and to strive for shared understandings prepares children for similar but more multi-layered and multi-voiced tasks in listening to stories or (later) reading. (Contains 19 references.) (TB)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Communication Context; Discourse
Note: Paper presented at the Inter-National Regions Conference "Contemporary Writing in English Produced in Canada" (Prince George, British Columbia, Canada, October 1994).