Language 7s: Is it time to upgrade


From section 1.3: “The expression of meanings in writing makes them more visible to the writer, making the writer’s thoughts clearer and sharable with others, who can attempt to make sense of the words, constructing a meaning they attribute to the writer. While writers can confirm that the written words feel consistent with their state of mind, readers can never read the writer’s mind to confirm they fully share that state of mind. Readers share only the words to which each separately attributes meanings. Thus, meanings do not reside fully in the words of the text nor in the unarticulated minds but only in the dynamic relation of writer reader, and text” (Wardle and Adler-Kassner 22).


This is like the fourth time I’ve tried to word this opening sentence. In thinking about who is going to read this (Kassandra and Kim most likely, and hi guys!) I’ve had a hard time negotiating with myself how to begin. I thought maybe I’d start with a story, something like:

Today in class our group was working on our literacy theory poster, and having a good time when they let me put a crack on the face of our phone.

This was attractive because it’s on the verge of storytelling, which is something I enjoy, and because it assumes that the people I’m addressing in this particular piece of writing already understand the context of which am speaking. I like that because it makes me feel like I have a degree of familiarity with you, and maybe makes me feel like you guys are “on my side,” and I can relax a little because of it.


I also thought about beginning in this way:

I really like the quote above and thought it would be a good place to jump in….

What I hate about this approach to inviting y’all into this particular blog post is that it’s kind of redundant and obvious. Why would I put a quote at the beginning of my post if I didn’t like it, or think there was something profound to be gleaned from its examination? I wouldn’t. Why would I call attention to “jumping in” when you guys already know that’s exactly what I’m doing?


Sometimes you just need a way in, and this second approach would have served that purpose, but it wouldn’t have been flashy… and I hate to admit it (or do I?), sometimes I act like a flashy individual. I’m working on it. I promise (or do I?).

I apologize for that^

Anyways, I decided on this last approach because I think it demonstrates something in this particular quote at least to a degree (<- transition sentence lol).

By calling attention to a few possible intentions behind my writing, and by by cluing you into the mechanics behind these writerly moves I am making (at least to the best of my abilities and awareness) I’m trying to show you that writing is a relationship.

In trying to be as aware as I can of you guys (my audience) I’ve attempted to construct an opening, however bizarre it might have felt to begin with, that shows the rhetorical intentions behind different possible introductory sentences and thereby call attention to the process of decision making in writing. But, I can only be so effective. You will have to work with me and this blog post and try and reconstruct what I’m trying to say on your own. And you will have to grapple with multiple possibilities as to what I might mean. Those of you that know me might have an easier time constructing something that closely resembles my meaning, those of you who have done the reading might even alter or correct my meaning, but eventually you will settle on a “best estimation” of what I am trying to articulate in this piece of writing, and when you do that you too will have made a decision about what my writing means, whether or not my ideas have any validity, how you might respond to the writing, add to it, poke holes in it, and whether or not these ideas fit within your own theory of writing as it stands thus far.

So If I can alter the original quote just a hair, which is fantastic and mindblowing as is, I might write; meanings do not reside fully in the words, but in the navigation of minds through a written text on either side of its production. The best writing and reading (or just processing of messages put forth) on some level is active and never ending (or if it does end, it’s hard to mark the place of its ending).


Now finally there is this:

This part will sound crazy, and I apologize in advanced.

I’ve been immersed in the world of social theory and perspectives (modes of production, and perspectives and interpretations), and I’ve noticed at least one thing. As a people or a public we change over time, and our relationship to history, or our perspective, always changes in relation to the challenges that face us in our present, or maybe some “idealized version or reality” we hope our world will one day fit.

I’m talking about Paradigms (1. a typical example or pattern of something; a model.: “there is a new paradigm for public art in this country. 2.a set of linguistic items that form mutually exclusive choices in particular syntactic roles.: “English determiners form a paradigm: we can say “a book” or “his book” but not “a his book.” ).

I think both definitions are useful, and I wasn’t expecting to run into a linguistic definition but that is fantastic!

I think that these texts we have been reading are holding up a previously existing paradigm of writing, and asking is this useful to us anymore? In what ways is it still useful? And in what ways is it maybe holding us back?
Kassandra pointed out a quote from the first page (sorry I’m going to steal it from you!), ”writing is often seen as a basic skill that a person can learn once and for all and not think about again” (Wardle and Adler-Kassner 15). And I believe this way of thinking describes at least one aspect of an older “Paradigm of Writing” that is limiting us as a Globally reaching people, capable of speaking many languages, and wielding a vast array of ‘modes of communication’, that are more connected than ever before… and because this ‘more traditional Paradigm’ no longer serves one of the (hopefully goals) of our time (the hope that we can communicate with each other and work together with greater and greater levels of proficiency) we are calling its tenets into question, and asking questions that hopefully will begin to lead us in the direction of a “new Language Paradigm” that will enable us to better reach for the goals and objectives we have defined for ourselves today, and will continue to define with each new understanding we achieve.

So you think about the crack on the phone (on the graphic our group made), and I like it because to me it represents a physical relationship with a technology of communication. Any technology we have wears out over time and is replaced with something more tailored to our current needs. Just like phones, even the newest and shiniest phone won’t serve our needs forever, and a crack in the screen is a reminder to us that one day we will need to replace it if we want to enjoy any kind of traction within this modern society of ours… and is it possible that the same thing is true of a language paradigm? Maybe we are realizing that we all need to upgrade to the new Language 7s, because our old Language 5 that we have is starting to run slow, and the updates are becoming too big for the old ios to handle, and we are sensing a need to move on.

IDK guys. Everything I write is convoluted. As fun as they are, these ideas hurt. I’ve had a lot of fun with you guys so far, and am looking forward to where these readings will take us (canned closing remark :P ).

Have a great day,

PS- looking forward to reading the comments.

  2 comments for “Language 7s: Is it time to upgrade

  1. kjaxon
    February 5, 2017 at 10:40 am

    David! Really appreciate all the meta work going on here, especially how you narrate the writerly decisions you have to make as you compose (btw: there are compositionists–like Linda Flower and John Hayes–who study cognitive processes while composing through methods like think aloud protocols that you might find interesting. Summary here: ).

    Composing does feel like a dance between the writer and the (imagined) audience, the words at our disposal, genres we have at hand. More than ever, it seems we also have less control over circulation and how our writing is taken up by audiences we did not consider (via social media and web channels of distribution).

    I also appreciate how you talk about language, particularly our theories of language, as alive and in need up updates at times. I know that Wardle and Adler-Kassner certainly see this project of “naming what we know” as precise, but tentative and open to revision. Do you see shifts in theories of writing in school as you move through your classes? Have we broadened definitions of what counts as writing? Could be interesting for our class to bring in writing assignments from your various classes and look at the criteria…how may times is word count named? Format? Even these blog posts I am asking you all to do are not too far from a traditional reading response and I am certainly controlling when you write and where you write. Ugh.

    We should keep the question you pose here in mind all the time: is this useful? This paradigm for writing, this approach…

    Thank you again for such a thought provoking post. I enjoyed reading.

  2. Kassandra Bednarski
    Kassandra Bednarski
    February 6, 2017 at 2:07 am

    Hi David! :) Once again, I loved reading your blog. It was insightful as it was entertaining. You know, it’s funny you had a difficult time figuring out how to start the blog because doesn’t that inform us of an existing structure or procedure we’ve dictated as the key to the start of “good writing”? But also, it informs us of the significant decision-making that goes on in writing and in creating one’s own personal “theory of writing” or “philosophy of writing.” I mean, I think our class is starting to get (if not already understood) that writing and literacies in general are so complex. We’ve minimized this field to something so basic and easily achievable in some ways that we don’t value the highly complex thought-processes that go on, such as the intricate decision-making in terms of your audience, the purpose and fulfillment the writing allows, etc. etc. And, I think you do a great job at portraying that, even if you question yourself on those concepts (something I can completely relate to!). Plus, I think questioning your own writing, the “theory of writing” we’ve generally accepted, and how you publish your own writing are important qualities in the making of a great writer and engaged scholar.

    But I also really appreciated how concerned you were about connecting to your audience and that that audience can and does include yourself. It touches on the idea of writing and its publication being a triangle between all participants. I think you have a great connection of one’s audience and our continued transition to a digital age. Certainly, the expansion of social media and major improvements in technology have allowed the world of literacies to grow, but also it has complicated the former seemingly simple task of writing and a one-dimensional audience (if that makes sense?).

    I especially loved your section on a traditional paradigm that seems to be limiting us and that continued questioning of that paradigms and of ourselves as writers and participants in a variety of literacies, we can create a more dynamic, inclusive, universal paradigm. I don’t know if it’s really related, but this made me think about TESOL and how we can incorporate the value in cultural differences in the TESOL classroom. How can we use the benefits of TESOL to empower the learners without having them abandon their culture? Diversity is a strength, and we need to make sure that value is incorporated in this new paradigm you speak of. And, I think that starts with us as individual writers. Just like you pointed out, perhaps we need an updated paradigm. There’s that saying “don’t fix it if it ain’t broke” (I’m pretty sure I messed that wording up…. but you get the picture!), but I think in this case, just like in the case of updating technologies and the phones in our pockets, it’s time for an updated paradigm. Your progressive values in the world of literacies is inspiring and something I look forward to learning from you.

    P.S. – Convoluted thoughts are the best. Don’t apologize for them!

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