#186 Rod Korba on Vygotsky’s Inner Speech

#186 Rod Korba on Vygotsky’s Inner Speech

The Cognitive Crucible is a forum that presents different perspectives and emerging thought leadership related to the information environment. The opinions expressed by guests are their own, and do not necessarily reflect the views of or endorsement by the Information Professionals Association.

During this episode, Vygotsky was a seminal figure in Soviet Psychology. His multi-staged—social learning theory of cognitive development—has influenced generations of cognitive psychologists.

Our discussion today focuses on Vygotsky’s frequently overlooked and generally under-estimated concept of inner speech: or the use of internal words (and their idiosyncratic meanings) that differ in structure & function from the same words used in external speech—which are developed for public consumption.

For Vygotsky, inner speech serves as an important catalyst and a dynamic process of adaptation linking  the “self” to society—not only for acquiring social or conventional word meaning in external language, but for eventually establishing private or personal word meaning—that fosters one’s self identity. For Vygotsky, inner speech is the primary tool for mentation—the ability to think conceptually through language.

Vygotsky’s internal language and inner speech mediate the differences between public and private thought. In this sense, inner speech is an indispensable, private tool of comprehension: a clandestine, personal shorthand that fires memory, evokes macro-concepts represented by word meanings, and serves as the catalyst for individual identity—through the continually developing concept of self.

Research Question: Rod Korda suggests an interested student investigate:  a participatory way of developing a framework to measure word meaning–especially in a cultural context. If successful, this kind of tool can become an input into measuring messaging effectiveness.


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