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April 3, 2016 | Author: | Posted in education

THE MULTIVOICEDNESS OF MEANING

January 2007

In James Wertsch ‘s article The Multivoicedness of Meaning , the author discusses several theoretical assumptions on how meaning is derived in language . His major premise is that accepted views on how meaning is derived are inadequate in a number of respects . He opposes the two views of meaning – one that suggests that no one determines meaning and the other that meaning is determined by the individual Wertsch (1990 ) proceeds by presenting useful criticisms of the individualistic position of Western scholars . He instead proposes ideas [banner_entry_middle]

put forward by Bakhtin as well as several other theorists who in some way support Bakhtin ‘s position

Wertsch ‘s (1990 ) article follows three specific arguments . The first is that the individual is constituted by language and culture . This argument is opposed to the position held by Western scholars who have argued that , because the individual in society enjoys freedom then meaning in discourse is not influenced by society but by the individual Bakhtin , Wertsch (1990 ) points out , views the social context as having an alarming influence on the determination of meaning . Bakhtin does not however , suggest that meaning is completely subordinate to outside authority but that both the individual and the society construct meaning

Wertsch ‘s (1990 ) second argument is that language functions both as a means of facilitating dialogue and of a unilateral transmission of information . Wertsch (1990 ) cites several theorists that have proposed the view of communication as the transmission of information . In transmission a message is translated into a signal , the signal is then transmitted to a sender and the sender then decodes the signal into the message . Wertsch (1990 ) argues , however , that transmission is a one-way form of communication and does not fit all forms of communication . He supports the Bakhtin position that language is also dialogue . The sees communication as a cyclical process where meaning is constantly mean interchanged there is no distinct classification of sender and receiver as sets of parties involved in communication alternate these positions

Wertsch (1990 ) does not discredit the view of communication as transmission . He argues that in some cases transmission is necessary . In his third argument Wertsch (1990 ) establishes that a communication usually bares some amount of authority in meaning . He argues that unlike dialogue where meaning is flexible and constantly being interpreted , in some instances meaning is univocal . He suggests that particularly in religious , political and moral texts , the meaning to a text is fixed by the authority of the sender and therefore meaning is transmitted not represented . He points out however that in any discourse both situations can be functioning simultaneously

Overall Wertsch ‘s (1990 ) article The Multivoicedness of Meaning follows good argument structure . He begins by presenting two opposing positions on the issue of meaning , the Bakhtinian position and the position held by most Western scholars . He then proceeds by putting forward arguments that support the position he agrees with , the Bakhtinian position , as well as a few criticisms on the limitations of each… [banner_entry_footer]

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