Dialog:Expressing meaning

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Expressing meaning

V 1 — I need to hear more before I can ask useful questions. Tell me about what goes on with Verbs in your pedagogy.
R 2 — Sure, the term centers on verbs in the strict sense but draws much more in as a kind of shorthand for what we take to be the generative source of meaningful language. How linguistic expression become meaningful in our lives? It gains meaning from our direct, immediate intuition of our agency exercised in perceiving, acting, and reflecting.
V 3 — I guess that is fairly obvious, at least with many verbs, but what happens with the more general shorthand?
R 4 — Clearly we use language to describe matters quite separate from our subjective agency, but we may achieve that through a manner of speaking. In a fairly naive sense, say for a child learning to speak, does a noun denote a thing, or a certain mode of interacting? To be a bit more specific, does chair become a meaningful noun because it indicates some instance or type of object called "chair," or does it become meaningful because it indicates a mode of sitting that we do and then associate it with specific somethings that we perceive as suitable for sitting that way?
V 5 — So you are saying that language is meaningful to us because it traces back to our lived sense of agency. Are you also saying that language potentially becomes generative of agency if we use it to strengthen, expand, or direct our agency?
R 6 — Yes, in a peculiar manner. Like all forms of thinking and acting, speaking takes place prior to our aware control of our speaking—we originate substantive speech pre-verbally and we hear it, both as speaker and listener, after the fact.
V 7 — Yeah. Once in a while I've had the experience of starting to speak hesitantly and then then the words start to flow and I'm no longer really aware of what I'm saying, but afterwards someone tells me how meaningful they thought what I said was. And I feel kind of stupid because I'm not at all sure what I said.
R 8 — And conversely, what we hear and sometimes say can simply be words, grammatically sensible, but without meaning, because we haven't heard the sounds clearly or because we recognize the words but haven't yet attached them to meaningful conceptualization of action in our understanding. We know the word but have insufficient or confused ideas about the activities that give it meaning. When this happens, language can become generative of agency, not by imparting the agency to us, but by triggering awareness in us that we are ignorant of a kind of agency of enough importance in our world for it to be spoken of. That can set our search of an understanding of that form of agency in motion.