Loading in 2 Seconds...
Loading in 2 Seconds...
The Windowpane Theory of Language: I ts Roots and its Continuing Hold. Alan Jones Department of Linguistics Macquarie University. content versus form. The ability to ‘mean’ is generally seen as an essential component of an individual’s ‘face’ – their publicly projected self-image
Department of Linguistics
In its essence, linguistically mediated communication is
Recently in human history linguistically mediated communication has come to function as
I can’t quite put it into words …
I can’t seem to get it across to him …
She can’t find the words to express it.
BUT AT THE SAME TIME:
While people use the conduit theory to talk about language, thought and meaning, they interact on the basis of an assumed windowpane theory – a theory of communication (or ‘natural attitude’) entailing that:
Other, less obvious entailments:
When the entailments of the conduit theory are taken seriously, and the form of a message is treated as being separate from meaning, meanings are down-graded, meaning-making is seen as a sophistry, scientists as technicians, and indeed the foundations of Intersubjectivity are threatened. In Goffman’s terms (1967) ‘alienation from interaction’ is inevitable.
Paul Seedhouse (1997) showed that language teachers bend over backwards to avoid telling students they have ‘made a mistake’ (‘The case of the missing “No”’). He claims teachers contradict their explicit theory of/attitude towards student errors – a la CLT – by importing the involvement obligations of the interaction order and the avoidance of face-threatening speech acts into pedagogical contexts.
Focus-on-form as face-threat
a) assessment → agreement/disagreement
b) error (fact/form) → self-repair/other-repair
a) disagreement (… over agreement)
b) other-initiated repair (… over self-initiated repair)
it’s okay to make linguistic errors
This is directly contradicted by …
linguistic errors are terrible faux pas
People in ‘pre-literate’ cultures often have little concept of ‘a language’ as a singular and relative construct, emblematic of group membership.
One verb meaning ‘mean-intend-think-say’:
Motu toma, Kuni koma, Mekeo oma
A noun meaning ‘voice-meaning-will’ –
A verb meaning ‘hear-understand-know-obey’
1) Listen to > hear my voice
2) Understand, know my meaning
3) Accept my will, obey my command
See the example on the following slide:
1PL-go just, bird 3PL-fly-up 3PL-go 3PL-alight, that upon 1SG-see.RED-3PL
We went along a bit, birds flew up, alighted, I kept watching them, like that, above.
Muni-ai e-pea e-mai: “Ala-pitsi-na ala-peni-o.”
Behind-OBL 3SG-come 3SG-come
He walked up behind me: “I’ll shoot it and give (it) to you.”
Was it a big one?
Mm. Unga’a, ‘e’ele laa’i. [Mm. Ungaka, bebela aibaia.]
Mm. Crown.Pigeon, small not
Mm. It was a Crown Pigeon, it wasn’t small.
‘Ungaka’ ge-baina. [‘Ungaka’ ke-paina.]
They say ‘ungaka’
Ngaina e-pitsi-nia ke la-pua-isa. [Ngaina e-bitsinia ge a-bua-ia.]
That 3SG-shoot-3SG and 1SG-carry-3SG
That’s what he shot and I carried it.
words, speech > thoughts, meanings,
intentions; we use the conduit metaphor.