Predicative Unit Classes (Sets) in Text Design

Predicative Unit Classes (Sets) in Text Design

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-2672-9.ch005
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The enormity and comprehensiveness of predication alongside its ordinariness constantly encountered in the usual flow of speech significantly complicate any practical implementation of it in SLA and textbook theory. The phenomenon being elucidated predominantly in abstract terms widens the gap between its theoretical exploration and practical application in the field mentioned. There emerges a necessity of the search for a new notional direction from which the point is viewed. The new frame of reference would have far reaching implications for language acquisition and textbook development providing a strong theoretical underpinning for language curricula. Invariant binary predicative units are described as sense building blocks of predication. Their dichotomically organized classes are presented in this Chapter. Class 1 dichotomizes full predicative units and elliptic units. Class 2 includes units with substituted arguments or predicates. Class 3 comprises objective (semantic) constants and subjective (individual) variables. Class 4 takes in units with modificative and propositional predicates. Class 5 is composed of units containing analytic and synthetic predicates. Binary predicative units of the types categorized in the classes act conjointly, generating a unified multi-channel network of sense formation.
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The phenomenon of predication having been expatiated for centuries by many generations of explorers in various fields attests to the significance of the theme. The enigma of infinite discourse primarily relied on mental associations transfigured into word conjunction has been challenging philosophers, logicians, mathematicians, linguists and other scientists. Consequently, there is a vast amount of research on the issues at stake related mostly to its particular theoretical aspects. It is not just, or even mainly, the statement of the properties or description of objective or subjective experiences which determine the real value of a thing. The true meaning of an idea is to be seen in its permanent use in a system. As is shown earlier in the book, predication is a complex network with highly interwoven operational modules whose joint functioning produces both thought and speech structure (also see Chapter 3 Predication: the More Reason to Rely on the Base Sense Making …). Hence, any attempt to pattern its regularities within a working L2 acquisition model reflected in textbook theory is to be based on a complex unity formed of at least the main diverse parts joined in regular interaction and interdependence. The system integrity makes a good case for invariant binary predicative units as SLA instrumentation basics.

The idea of the unification of divergent views of SLA is emphasized by M. Johnson. The researcher argues that “the abstractness and conflicting explanations of many important topics … contribute to a sense of separation between those who “do” theorizing and those who “do” practicing” (Johnson, 2004, p. 1). The author substantiates this argument referring to “the largely quantitative nature of SLA research studies”. It is the factor that “reinforces this sense of separateness between theoreticians and practitioners by sending a false signal that unless one’s research study includes some sort of experiment and inferential statistics, one’s contribution to understanding second language acquisition is insignificant and marginal, almost anecdotal” (p. 1). Developing the idea further, M. Johnson infers that “a major theoretical shift needs to take place in SLA theory” (p. 2). The author notes that “there is a hierarchy of power and control of knowledge in SLA and that within this hierarchical system each component is viewed as being independent of the other’, with each part having more or less power and influence with respect to the other components of the system (p. 2). M. Johnson suggests that this fixed order of interaction and codependency be changed, and a new model representing “interrelated and collaborative dynamics of developing and implementing SLA knowledge” be installed (p. 3).

M. Johnson brings to the forefront “the shortcomings of current SLA models and theories, which adhere mainly to cognitive and information-processing paradigms” (p. 3) and “make a clear distinction between linguistic competence (that is, knowledge of language) and linguistic performance (that is, the use of language competence in real-life contexts)” (p. 4). In the author’s view, the current SLA stereotypes are also characterized by controversial features of separateness of the processes involved, on the one hand, and hypothesized universality, on the other. M. Johnson states that the current models “establish a strict line of demarcation between learners’ mental and social processes. They focus on the investigation and explanation of universal mental processes of second language competence. Linguistic performance is relegated to the peripheries of inquiry” (p. 4). M. Johnson proposes a new dialogical model of SLA based on L.Vygotsky’s sociocultural theory and M. Bakhtin’s dialogized heteroglossia. Some of its most relevant theses can be summarized as follows:

- Language learning is not universal or linear but localized and dialectical.

- Language performance and language competence cannot be separated because they are in a dialectical relationship.

- The responsibility of researchers within this new approach is to investigate the processes that lead to becoming an active participant in locally bound social contexts. Such investigation requires that qualitative research methods be acknowledged as appropriate research methods for the field of SLA Etc. (Johnson M., 2004, p. 179)

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