Archive for the ‘Language’ Category

Dear Steven Pinker

Thanks for a very enjoyable lecture.  (17mins 41 secs)

You clearly know more about language than I will ever want to know!  

My problem is with what I sense is an assumption beneath the lecture.

To me the assumption feels something like this.  Human ‘internality’ is mind. Mind is concepts.  Concepts are very closely related to items of language.  

An alternative is this – internality is conciousness and movements in consciousness.  Perhaps ‘heart-mind’, ‘xin’ in Chinese is a better label – so that we don’t pin feelings to inferiority and inferiority to particular groups. e.g. women or ‘new men’.  

Heart-mind itself can be seen much deeper than concepts or feelings – the stillness beyond the agitation of the mind as in Tolle’s  ‘Stillness Speaks

Perhaps then we could say that ultimately language is the means by which we (might/could/should) come to understand that human reality is beyond language?

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Antony Gormley with his 'Asian Field' made over five days in collaboration with 300 villagers in Xianxian in China
Antony Gormley with his ‘Asian Field made over five days in collaboration with 300 villagers in Xianxian in China

Art as quintessentially spiritual experience

I want to present a range of artists who mean a lot to me – in the context of a working definition of art, and the view that both the making of art and aesthetic experience are essentially one and the same as mystical experience.

Art is culturally, and personally, significant meaning, skilfully encodedin an affecting, sensuous medium.
(RP’s working definition  – after a definition by Richard Anderson quoted in Freeland (2001 p. 77))

All art is about movement of the human spirit.  Human spirit as heart-mind – ‘xin’ in Chinese.

The idea of ‘heart-mind’ for the singleness of the interiority of inner experience, as opposed to heart and mind as two mythical inner organs, which is the bifurcation of the human spirit that the Age of Reason has left us with, removes any need to argue for or against ‘conceptual art’.  Hoorayyyyy!

I can now love both art that is labelled ‘conceptual’ and that which isn’t, and with luck I get some sensuality, cultural references, significant personal meaning-making and skilfull encoding!

There are a range of reasons for suggesting that both the making of art and aesthetic experience are essentially one and the same as mystical experience. Here are three;

1) Art that really works for you takes you out of yourself – it creates a unitive experience.

2) The making of art mostly involves engagement that is beyond language and the conceptual.

3) The conceptual is stimulated by the experience but can never adequately render or re-present the creative or aesthetic experience.


One artist that gives me ‘the full set’ – sensuality, cultural references, significant personal meaning-making and skilfull encoding and the qualities of the spiritual or mystical etc. –  is Antony Gormley.

The Asian Field (photo above) is, quite appropriately, much larger than the ‘Field’ I saw in the Tullie gallery in Carlisle.  The impact of setting eyes on all of the figures staring up at me was a force-field of heart-mind.  Reflection afterwards is endless.

His genius has developed art that is;



Community generated and community-generating.


Source and article on Asian Field HERE

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A wonderful set of resources on the vital importance of talk with babies and young children is to be found HERE

A list of Talk To Your Baby downloadable resources. All of our resources can be downloaded and photocopied free of charge. For more information contact sarah.cheetham@literacytrust.org.uk.

Recently added: National Year of Reading resource

Name Details
Baby’s First Word A toolkit for collecting babies’ first words to celebrate and promote early communication. Includes a handout for parents, a poster, an information sheet, a sample press release and a reporting-back form.
Babysitting activities (pdf) A sheet of activities to encourage interaction between babysitters and babies.
Communicate through music An activity pack to help share the joys and communication benefits of musical activities. Includes a flyer/poster, a survey and musical activities.
Communicate with your grandchild A pack for grandparents with ideas on talking to children in everyday situations, sharing books together and enjoying nursery rhymes and music.
Communicating Dads A resource with ideas and tips on supporting dads in talking and communicating with their children.
Conference reports TTYB conference reports from three conferences, Communication Consequences, Working Together to Get Talking and Television is here to stay
Discussion paper (pdf) Key findings in early language development and topics to stimulate discussion.
Early language advocacy kit Evidence and arguments for use by people campaigning for more support in the early language field.
Long-term impact of early speech, language and communication difficulties A review of research on the consequences of speech and language impairment for children and young people.
2008 National Year of Reading Information, ideas and tips on how to get involved in the 2008 National Year of Reading
Parent’s guide to television A single-page sheet on how to make television beneficial for young children.
Playing and talking A guide outlining the benefits of play and offering tips for parents and carers.
Quick tips Easy-to-use tips for parents on how to help young children develop good talking and listening skills. They cover eight topics and are available in thirteen languages.
School Resource Kit A practical pack for key stage 4 teachers to convey the importance of speaking and listening. Includes a quiz and factsheet, Baby’s First Word toolkit and babysitting activities sheet.
Share books and talk together A toolkit to encourage communication between carers/parents and young children through book sharing. Includes a handout for parents and reading and talking activity ideas.
Strengthening the bond Advice for parents and caregivers of children under three who want to develop or enhance a bond with their child. Written in particular to help children who have not been able to have the best experiences in their first months of life.
Talk To Me A single-page information sheet about talking to babies, written with young parents in mind.
Talk To Your Baby – For parents and carers of children who are deaf Advice and tips on communicating with children under three who are deaf.
Talk To Your Baby – For parents and carers of children who have visual impairments Advice and tips on communicating with children under three who have visual impairments.
Talk To Your Baby leaflet A two-page leaflet outlining the benefits of talking to pre-schoolers, with advice on how to help toddlers become talkers.
Talk To Your Baby poster An A4 colour poster/flyer promoting the benefits of communicating with young children.
Talk To Your Baby quiz (pdf) A fact sheet and quiz to raise awareness and understanding of the benefits of early years communication.


SEE also Learning Motivation for Success

All postings to this site relate to the central model in the PhD.

Summaries are HERE

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I re-visited an earlier post…..


Intuition is in-tuition i.e. the tuition we do for ourselves within our selves, within our consciousness, or heart-mind as I prefer. Its in-tuition as opposed to out-tuition – tuition that others do for us!

When we’ve done, and had, a bit of in-tuition we experience one or more insights, or in-sights. That is, we see, one way or another, in to the reality of things – including our self as a thing!

This raises the question of who is talking to whom, and who is tutoring whom, and where the knowledge comes from – and if the tutor and the taught are two parts of the same person how come what was known by one part wasn’t known by the other part!

Of course if, starting with everyday experience, we accept this ‘in-tuiting’ to be the case then intuition has either a scientific explanation, a theological one – or both, if like me you hold that the two are not incompatible!

The scientific one probably sketches something like this. We process everything that we experience and it provides insights which only come in to consciousness when need demands. There is also the idea that wisdom is in-built in humans – but knocked out or re-pressed by a lousy education system. It is in-built in a way similar to Chomsky’s theory of language being in-built

<i>Chomsky’s theory holds that humans are born with a special biological brain mechanism, called a Language Acquisition Device (LAD). This theory supposes that the ability to learn language is inborn, that nature is more important than nurture and that experience using language is only necessary in order to activate the LAD.</i> (See below for a longer quote and source reference)

Don’t miss the main point – that probably the most important element in the quality of children’s lives is the quality of the talk interactions which adults provide – talk to your babies in as many ways as you can!


Well it would be something like this – when we ‘converse’ with our Higher Self we are in fact plugging in to the Holy Spirit – not directly as did the great ‘Manifestations’ of God – Buddha, Jesus, Mohammad, Baha’u’llah etc. – but enough to receive insight and wisdom over and above our ‘daily limitations’.

But, even if I can only vaguely see it at present, I’m quite happy to accept that there is some resolution between the scientific idea of the mind-brain chugging away in the basement of our sub-conscious and the idea that when we go deep enough in to a person or ourselves we find God – because all Creation is an emanation of God, just as all light and warmth in this world is an emanation of the physical sun.

This theological world-view yokes together the two ideas that God is both absolutely immanent AND absolutely transcendent.

Which brings me to the nearest I have ever come across to a satisfactory definition of God;

“God is a circle whose centre is everywhere, whose circumference is nowhere.”

Anonymous, ‘The Book of the Twenty-four Philosophers‘ (12thC)

Of course it isn’t really a definition – it’s more like a Zen Master’s ‘pointing’ – but what a pointing!

Of course I like it because it expresses my theological perspective and world-view – that of immanence plus transcendence i.e. panENtheism.

Who knows…………

Of course unless we ‘lie through assertion’ or ‘dupe through self-deception’ we don’t really, unequivocally, know. The best we can have is reasonably high degrees of certainty – and then preferably by combining several ways of knowing including sense observation, reason, intuition and the precedent of community precedents. We in truth live with mystery. As it says in the Koran ‘Man is my mystery and I am his‘.

Peter Ustinov gave us another wonderful insight;

“We are united by our doubts and divided by our convictions.”

Recognition of ignorance is strength not weakness as Saint Augustine pointed out;

“I am in a sorry state, for I do not know what I do not know!”

Because we have unique histories we have unique world-views. In fact it is the fact that at our centre we need faith to bridge the gap that exists between knowing and not knowing between finite humanity and that other defining characteristic of God – infinity.

As I suggested elsewhere excesses of certitude cut us off from truth and can lead to horrors of cruelty – the Nazis were certain that Jews, and Gypsies were sub-human.

“Certitude divides and diversity unifies…..We have to elevate religion above politics…..”

H.R.H. Prince El-Hassan Bin Talal of Jordan BBC Newsnight 9th Feb 2006

All ‘desire to be united’ is as the drop that longs to come one with the ocean – the rub, and the joy, is that the duality through which we learn is the dynamic that exists between oneness on the one hand, via contemplative letting go of the ego, and l-one-ly separation on the other.

Oh yes and the longing is where love songs come from as well!

<i>The first time ever I saw your face
I thought the sun rose in your eyes
And the moon and stars were the gifts you gave
To the dark and the empty skies, my love,
To the dark and the empty skies.



<i>What are the main theories that influence the way practitioners in early childhood education and care settings think about language development?

Chomsky: Language Acquisition Device
Although other theories were proposed earlier, it may be best to begin with Chomsky’s theory that humans are born with a special biological brain mechanism, called a Language Acquisition Device (LAD). This theory supposes that the ability to learn language is inborn, that nature is more important than nurture and that experience using language is only necessary in order to activate the LAD. Chomsky’s background is in linguistics, and psycholinguists continue to contribute much to our understanding of languages and how children acquire them. His theory is described as Nativist. The main contribution of his work has been to show that children’s language development is much more complex than the Behaviourists (‘Show the way’, Nursery World, 18 March 2004), who believed that children learn language merely by being rewarded for imitating.

One problem with Chomsky’s theory is that it does not take enough account of the influence that thought (cognition) and language have on each other’s development.

Piaget: cognitive constructivism
Piaget’s central interest was children’s cognitive development (‘Building up’, Nursery World, 20 May 2004). However, he theorised that language was simply one of children’s ways of representing their familiar worlds, a reflection of thought, and that language did not contribute to the development of thinking. Cognitive development, he argued, preceded that of language.

Vygotsky: social constructivism and language
Unlike Chomsky and Piaget, Vygotsky’s central concern was the relationship between the development of thought and that of language. He was interested in the ways in which different languages might impact on how a person thinks. He suggested that what Piaget saw as young children’s egocentric speech was in fact private speech, the child’s way of using words to think about something, a step on the road from social speech to thinking in words. So Vygotsky’s theory views language first as social communication, gradually promoting both language itself and cognitiion. Theorists who also followed this tradition and whose ideas can contribute to our understanding include his contemporary Bakhtin, and Bruner.

Recent theorising: intentionality
Some critics of earlier theories suggest that children, their behaviours and their attempts to make sense are often lost when the causes of language development are thought to be ‘outside’ the child or else mechanistically ‘in the child’s brain.’

These contemporary researchers and theorists recognise that children have ‘agency’ – that they are active learners co-constructing their worlds. Their language development is part of their holistic development, emerging from cognitive , emotional and social interactions. The social and cultural environment, the people in it and their interactions, and how children come to represent all these in their minds, are absolutely fundamental to language development. It is a child’s agenda, and the interactions generated by the child, that promote language learning.

However, this does not mean the adult’s role, actions and speech are considered of less importance. But adults need to be able to ‘mind read’ and adjust their side of the co-construction to relate to an individual child’s understanding and interpretation.

Intentionality theories have existed since Aristotle, and this model of language development draws on Piaget, acknowledging the importance of cognitive development. However, ‘intentionality’ emphasises holistic development, so including emotions and other aspects of growth and learning.

The intentionality model makes sense when we think about the way in which most children’s language accelerates between 18 months and four years of age, when increases in cognitive capabilities give children a better understanding of both verbal and non-verbal categories. They will also use ‘over-extended categories’ less (such as babies and toddlers labelling all men ‘daddy’ or all animals ‘dogs’).

Messages for practice
Theories about language development help us see that enjoying ‘proto-conversations’ with babies (treating them as people who can understand, share and have intentions in sensitive inter-changes), and truly listening to young children, is the best way to promote their language development.</i>

From “Talk it through”, written by Tricia David for Nursery World, 16 September 2004 – on the National Literacy Trust’s site http://www.literacytrust.org.uk/talktoyourbaby/theories.html


SEE also Learning Motivation for Success

All postings to this site relate to the central model in the PhD.

Summaries are HERE

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You can find an interesting range of essays – some 60 or so – a lifetime’s academic work – by Trevor Pateman by clicking HERE

Selected Works. Portrait (ca. 1990) by Robin Morris. Oil on canvas, 55 x 44cm (detail)

Trevor says:

This site publishes my lifetime’s academic work. Click on any of the Sections to access around sixty individual essays. New material is added to the site at approximately monthly intervals.

Anything may be downloaded for personal use. When listing my work in a bibliography, please give the place of publication as: http://www.selectedworks.co.uk.

I hope you enjoy what you read

Trevor Pateman

Art, Aesthetics, Criticism
Creative Writing – Theoretical issues
Language, Linguistics
Media Studies
Philosophy, general
Pragmatics, Semiotics, Critical Linguistics
Psychoanalysis, Pedagogy
Social and Political Theory


All postings to this site relate to the central model in the

PhD. Summaries are HERE

SEE also Learning Motivation for Success

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If you’ve struggled with what people actually mean by postmodernism and its relationship to modernism and pre-modernism you might appreciate these extracts from Ken Wilber’s Integral Psychology – I certainly did.


See also my other posting on I, WE & IT and also the posting on Mythos and Logos including Karen Armstrong’s work.


Modernism, pre-modernism and post-modernism

In other words, the four quadrants (or the Big Three) are actually the underpinnings of the modern differentiation of the values spheres of art, morals and science. Where premodernity had tended to fuse, or not clearly differentiate, the Big Three, modernity clearly differentiated them and set each free to pursue its own path. This differentiation was part of the dignity of modernity, which, in allowing each domain to pursue its own truths, allowed each to make stunning and far-reaching discoveries , discoveries that, even the harshest critics agree, set modernity apart from premodernity.


But something else set modernity apart. The differentiation of the big Three went too far into the dissociation of the Big Three : the dignity drifted into disaster, and this allowed an imperialistic science to dominate the other spheres and claim that they possessed no inherent reality of their own (scientism, scientific materialism, one-dimensional man, the disenchantment of the world). Gone was mind and soul and spirit, and in their place, as far as the eye could see, the unending dreariness of a world of its; ” a dull affair, soundless, scentless, colourless; merely the hurrying a material, endlessly, meaninglessly.”


And so it came about that virtually the entire spectrum of consciousness, and certainly its higher levels, (soul and spirit), were reduced to permutations and combinations of matter and bodies. Put bluntly, all ‘Is’ and ‘we’s’ were reduced to ‘its’, to objects of the scientific gaze, which no matter how long or hard it looked, could find nothing resembling the Great Nest of human possibilities, but saw only endless patterns of process ‘its’, scurrying here and there. Integral Psychology P.64



Thus , it seems that premodernity had at least one great strength that modernity lacked: it recognized the entire Great Nest of Being, which is basically a general map of higher human potentials. But premodernity also had at least one great weakness; it did not fully differentiate the value spheres at any of the levels of the Great Nest. Thus, among other things, objective-scientific investigation of the spectrum was hampered; the specific and often cultural expressions of the Great Nest were taken to be universally valid; and the moral injunctions recommended to all were tied to those limited cultural expressions. Giordano Bruno might have experienced many of he upper levels of the Great Nest, but because the value spheres were not fully differentiated at large and their individual freedoms were not protected by law and custom, the Inquisition cheerfully burned him at the stake.


Modernity, on the other hand, did manage to differentiate the Big Three of art, morals and science, on a large scale, so that each began to make phenomenal discoveries. But as the Big Three dissociated, and scientific colonialism began its aggressive career, all ‘Is’ and all ‘we’s’ were reduced to patterns of objective ‘its’, and thus all the interior stages of consciousness – reaching from body to mind to soul to spirit – were summarily dismissed as so much superstitious nonsense. The Great Nest collapsed into scientific materialism – into what we will be calling “flatland” – and there the modern world, by and large, still remains.


Our job, it thus appears, is to take the strengths of both premodernity and modernity, and jettison their weaknesses. Pp 64-65

To re-legitimize other ways of knowing, to work clearly with and between all three I, WE & IT ways of knowing (plus community-tradition) brings the possibility of re-enchantment and balanced development of the individual and of societies!

The model at the heart of this site utilizes Wilber’s triadic structure you can read a summary HERE.



All postings to this site relate to the central model in the PhD.

Summaries are HERE


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Key photography quotations toward defining a photographic aesthetic

This is a running list of quotations selected to help me move toward an understanding of my own photographic aesthetic – based on the SunWALK model.

The camera is an instrument of detection. We photograph not only what we know, but also what we don’t know. ” Lisette Model

The book (Camera Lucida by Roland Barthes) develops the twin concepts of studium and punctum: studium denoting the cultural, linguistic, and political interpretation of a photograph, punctum denoting the wounding, personally touching detail which establishes a direct relationship with the object or person within it. Wiki

While there is perhaps a province in which the photograph can tell us nothing more than what we see with our own eyes, there is another in which it proves to us how little our eyes permit us to see. ~Dorothea Lange

A photograph is usually looked at – seldom looked into. ~Ansel Adams

There are always two people in every picture: the photographer and the viewer. ~Ansel Adams

The camera can photograph thought. ~Dirk Bogarde

I think the best pictures are often on the edges of any situation, I don’t find photographing the situation nearly as interesting as photographing the edges. ~William Albert Allard, “The Photographic Essay”

When words become unclear, I shall focus with photographs. When images become inadequate, I shall be content with silence. ~Ansel Adams

The goal is not to change your subjects, but for the subject to change the photographer. ~Author Unknown

A photograph is memory in the raw. ~Carrie Latet

All photos are accurate. None of them is the truth. ~Richard Avedon

The camera cannot lie, but it can be an accessory to untruth. ~Harold Evans, “Pictures on a Page”

You don’t take a photograph, you make it. ~Ansel Adams

Most things in life are moments of pleasure and a lifetime of embarrassment; photography is a moment of embarrassment and a lifetime of pleasure. ~Tony Benn

A great photograph is a full expression of what one feels about what is being photographed in the deepest sense, and is, thereby, a true expression of what one feels about life in its entirety. ~Ansel Adams

I never question what to do, it tells me what to do. The photographs make themselves with my help. ~Ruth Bernhard

A Ming vase can be well-designed and well-made and is beautiful for that reason alone. I don’t think this can be true for photography. Unless there is something a little incomplete and a little strange, it will simply look like a copy of something pretty. We won’t take an interest in it. ~John Loengard, “Pictures Under Discussion”

I just think it’s important to be direct and honest with people about why you’re photographing them and what you’re doing. After all, you are taking some of their soul. ~Mary Ellen Mark

Photography records the gamut of feelings written on the human face, the beauty of the earth and skies that man has inherited, and the wealth and confusion man has created. It is a major force in explaining man to man. ~Edward Steichen

The photograph itself doesn’t interest me. I want only to capture a minute part of reality. ~Henri Cartier Bresson

The creative act lasts but a brief moment, a lightning instant of give-and-take, just long enough for you to level the camera and to trap the fleeting prey in your little box. ~Henri Cartier Bresson

Photographers deal in things which are continually vanishing and when they have vanished there is no contrivance on earth which can make them come back again. ~Henri Cartier-Bresson

If I could tell the story in words, I wouldn’t need to lug around a camera. ~Lewis Hine

A photograph is like the recipe – a memory the finished dish. ~Carrie Latet

Everyone has a photographic memory, but not everyone has film. ~Author Unknown

Photographs that transcend but do not deny their literal situation appeal to me. ~Sam Abbel

A picture is worth a thousand words; a slide show is both. ~Author Unknown

One photo out of focus is a mistake, ten photo out of focus are an experimentation, one hundred photo out of focus are a style. ~Author Unknown

All photographs are there to remind us of what we forget. In this – as in other ways – they are the opposite of paintings. Paintings record what the painter remembers. Because each one of us forgets different things, a photo more than a painting may change its meaning according to who is looking at it. ~John Berger

I didn’t want to tell the tree or weed what it was. I wanted it to tell me something and through me express its meaning in nature. ~Wynn Bullock

Photography deals exquisitely with appearances, but nothing is what it appears to be. ~Duane Michals

The negative is the equivalent of the composer’s score, and the print the performance. ~Ansel Adams

Useful sites

http://www.photoquotes.com/ Blogs on Photography






NB All postings to this site relate to the central model in the PhD.

Summaries are HERE


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