Semiotics of Play in View of the Development
of Higher  Mental Functions

Rafal Dziurla
Institute of Psychology
Adam Mickiewicz University
Poznan, Poland


The process of play in the richness of phenomena it contains provides a wide research area for various kinds of scientific reflection. An example of such a new and fresh approach is the proposal of Lev Vygotsky, an inspirer of the historico-cultural paradigm in psychology that is currently undergoing its revival.

Among the three principal developmental aspects present in the play process discussed by Vygotsky, i.e. intellectual, moral and activity development, modern psychologists mainly focus on the last two, with the first one considered only sporadically. It must be stated that, alas, the frequency with which these problems are analysed often correlates positively with superficiality of observations. More precisely, the play process is extremely rarely connected with the development of generalisation structure. This last remarks defines the problem area of the present paper, in which an aspect of processes delineating imaginary activity of a child at pre-school age is defined as an example of subject-generalisation development; in other words, is an attempt at describing the constituting of some defined structure of meaning in the perspective of the development of higher mental function, that is, verbal thinking. The issues under discussion refer to an important conclusion ensuing from Vygotsky’s studies, and which states that the structure of meaning undergoes development and becomes a stepping stone for the logic of human mental development. 

The use of the adjective semiotic in the title might make the reader expect the present paper to deal to some extent with the problems of linguistic sign and meaning. We do not wish to disappoint these expectations, yet it must be clearly stated that semiotic and linguistic notions have been only used as a context helpful in explaining and clarifying psychological concepts. This approach to semiotic and linguistic knowledge was already present in Vygotsky’s works, with the notions in question used both explicitly and implicitly. It is not the aim of this study to fully present the relations between these two disciplines: rather, the semiotic context is to be seen as a possible direction of investigation whose result will hopefully lead to a reformulation of some of their premises. 

Vygotsky in the playground

By entering the playground Vygotsky brought the theory of play and semiotics closer that it had ever been done before. Since then the activity of the child can be regarded in various aspects but, as mentioned above, the perspective of higher mental functions development will predominate in the present paper.

In his general description of play activity Vygotsky (1989) pointed to the child’s ability to create a “pretend play” situation, whose source he saw in the affective area. Emphasising the emotional nature of play, he argued that at the root of the “pretend play” situation is the tendency to realise desires that cannot be fulfilled in real activity, thus opening the way to imagination. In his characteristics of the specificity of intellectual processes in play activities at the pre-school age, Vygotsky stressed the possibility of separating the visual field from the field of sense. 

“As a criterion that would allow to isolate a child’s play activity from a large group of other forms of the child’s activity it must be assumed that in playing the child creates “pretend play” situations. This is made possible on the basis of separating the visual field from the field of sense, which takes place at the pre-school age.”(Vygotsky, 1995, p. 71).[1] 

Separation of the visual field from the field of sense is the first step on the way to the development of higher mental functions, and thus verbal thinking as well. Also, it is a step that enables the child to control his own activity since even the simplest “pretend play” contains a rule – a specific principle to which the child adjusts. 

“It seems to me that one can put forward a statement that whenever a child does not follow the rules, whenever he does not specifically adjust to the rules, one cannot speak of play at all. (...) we have managed to demonstrate that every “pretend play” situation includes hidden rules (...) and every play with rules contains “pretend play” situations in a concealed form.”(op. cit., pp. 73-75). 

Imaginary activity of a child can thus be considered at three main levels: that of activity, and the moral and cognitive (intellectual) ones. The present paper will discuss the developmental meaning of a play situation at the last of the above mentioned levels of functioning of the child.

Separation of the visual field from the field of sense by a child is revealed in the child’s behaving independently of what he can see, which is a major difference when compared to the earlier developmental stage. In early childhood the field of observation and the field of sense constituted a whole which made it impossible to act and speak in isolation from a concrete situation. 

“Every child of two, asked to repeat a sentence <Tanya is getting up> with Tanya sitting opposite, will change the sentence into <Tanya is sitting>.”(op. cit., p.78). 

At the pre-school age during play the thought gets separated from the objects, thanks to which activity is determined by thought, and not vice versa, as was the case earlier. The separation mentioned can be clearly observed when:

“(...) a piece of wood begins to perform the role of a doll, and a stick becomes a horse.” (op. cit., p.70).

Vygotsky emphasises that the above phenomenon assumes a change in the observational act leading to a “real” act of perception, the latter based on the assumption that we do not perceive the world in some defined shape and color only but that the world has some definite meaning and sense. In using a stick as a horse the child is at the beginning of the way to perceive the environment in a meaningful manner. It changes the object/sense relation for the sense/object relation, that is tries to separate, detach the meaning of a horse from the “real” horse. In other words, the child makes a differentiation between a really existing object available in the act of perception and the object of reference, the perception of which is possible only by the mediation of meaning, with the perception this time being a sense perception. Yet, as Vygotsky frequently emphasises, free manipulation with meanings is possibly only at the level of using scientific concepts[2]; a child starting on its way to abstract thinking is unable to achieve this without the help of a real object: 

“In a critical moment, when for a child a stick is a horse, i.e. when an object (a stick) constitutes a prop for separating the meaning of a horse from a real horse, the fraction becomes reversed and the sense: sense/object becomes predominant.”(op. cit., p. 80). 

A real object present in a play situation allows the child to make a move in the field of sense, which leads to mastering the meaning of the object of reference in the future. In these terms the play activity of the child can be defined in the categories of the zone of proximal development for the use of the sign as a tool in verbal thinking, in other words, in the future mature intellectual process. As stated by Vygotsky:

“In playing the child is always above his average level, above his everyday behavior. (...) In such a situation the child tries, as it were, to leap above the average level of his behaviour.”(op. cit., p. 86). 

Approaching play in the perspective of the proximal development zone concerns all levels of the child’s functioning, but here we will focus on the intellectual development of the child, since this aspect is of relevance for the needs of the present paper. 


The semiotic perspective

At this juncture, referral to semiotic knowledge is to enable a comparison of Vygotsky’s proposals (1989) concerning development of verbal thinking with the conceptions of notions such as sign and meaning. In order to maintain the coherence of the text the plane of the comparison in question will be kept to the minimum, with only an outline of the scope of further investigations. 

A discussion of the notion of meaning cannot ignore the work of de Saussure (1991), whose ideas continue to be of interest for psychological research. In his famous work Course in General Linguistics he introduced the concept of meaning seen as a relation of two elements constituting a sign, i.e. le signifiant and le signifié, or the signifier and the signified. Meaning thus is the effect of the relationship between a concept (ideé) and is an image of the sound (image acoustique). Signifié is not a concrete object but its concept, an idea that expresses the signifié in association with the sound-image. This definition of the relation of meaning defines understanding language, which is:

“(...) a system of signs in which the only essential thing is the union of meanings and sound-images, and in which both parts of the sign are psychological.”(de Saussure, 1974, p.15). 

As another quotation demonstrates, de Saussure did not find the above definition of language satisfactory:

 “If I state simply that a word signifies something when I have in mind the association of a sound-image with a concept, I am making a statement that may suggest what actually happens, but by no means am I expressing the linguistic fact in its essence and fullness.”(op. cit., 1974, p.117). 

The necessity of expressing a linguistic fact in its whole led the Swiss scholar to formulate the concept of linguistic value based on the relations holding between signs, the relations of differences between them, in other words – a sign is what other signs are not. Thus, the relation of opposition and differences with other signs defines the value of the sign. 

These ideas seem to concur with Vygotsky’s conception (1989) which differentiated them e a n i n g of a word (sign) from its s e n s e. For him, the meaning of the word is an outcome of a long process of generalising the object, which results in constitution of an abstract concept (cf. p. 11 of the present work), which together with other concepts forms the field of sense based on the laws of difference and opposition between them. It must be added that the conception of m e a n i n g and v a l u e introduced by de Saussure (1991) allows to put Vygotsky’s proposals on concept development within an appropriate setting. It can be assumed that in de Saussure the object of reference exists as reflected in the concept (ideé). This simple statement allows (albeit in a qualified way) to draw a conclusion that Vygotsky’s notion of concept development describes a situation preceding the formation of the sign in de Saussure’s framework. Concluding, one can state that within the context of the concepts of meaning and linguistic value or meaning and sense the proposals of both scholars basically overlap, and Vygotsky’s contribution to the theory of language (1989) was discovering the fact that meaning (generalisation) develops and, as it will be later presented, at each stage of development it has a different structure, determining the child’s functioning in different areas of activity. 

Another author of a valuable and still recognised conception of sign and meaning was Charles Sanders Peirce (1831-1914) who put forward a coherent theoretical system based on triadic relations. The model of sign proposed by the American semiotician was a result of extensive studies and underwent changes over long years of research. For this reason we will quote a definition most representative of Peirce’s conception of signs: 

“(...) a Representamen, is a First which stands in such a genuine triadic relation to a Second, called its Object, as to be capable of determining a Third called its Interpretant, to assume the same triadic relation to its Object in which it stands itself to the same Object.” [2.274](Peirce, cit. after M. Obrebska, 1999). 

Thus, the sign is defined by the relation which occurs between three elements: representamen, object and interpretant, with the third (also named by Peirce as meaning ) being apparently of the greatest significance, as it guarantees the sign as a whole. If we assume that only the whole triad can fully perform the function of expressing thought, we will get closer to the very nature of meaning in the process of formation of intellectual functions. The definition presented above is aptly commented on by Robert Marty (1999) [insertions in brackets mine – R.D.]: 

“The traces [a First] of the feet [a Second] of Man Friday left in the sand signify human presence [a Third] only by association born in Robinson’s mind, even if they were formed and exist quite independently of the perceiving mind. Each sign is thus determined by the mind, distant from the two objects, which becomes a necessary element inscribed into the essence of the sign, and without which there is no hope of correctly describing semiotic phenomena.”(Marty, 1999). 

The association created in the mind is possible only thanks to the mediate role of the interpretant it performs in relation to the representamen and the object. Thus, on the grounds of this conception, one can understand meaning as a process resulting from the existence of the triadic relation constituting a sign. Yet, as Peirce argues, the sign is also, or rather ought to be, an interpretant of another sign, due to which an unlimited semiosis process is opened, a process in which the intersign relation defines the existence of a linguistic system, establishing for each meaning the field of its sense.

For psychology Peirce’s proposal concerning the link between a sign and an object is of particular interest. Peirce differentiates between index signs, iconic signs and symbols, characterising them as follows: 

"(...) it has been found that there are three kinds of signs which are all indispensable in all reasoning; the first is the diagrammatic sign or icon, which exhibits a similarity or analogy to the subject of discourse; the second is the index, which is like a pronoun demonstrative or relative, forces the attention to the particular object intended without describing it; the third [or symbol] is the general name or description which signifies its object by means of an association of ideas or habitual connection between the name and the character signified.” [1.369]. 

Peirce defined iconic and index signs as degenerated, bearing the mark of empiricism founded in the cause-and-effect relations (index sign) and relations founded in physical similarity (iconic sign). Only a symbolic sign is a true sign, since its meaning is based solely on the structure of the language, and its relation with the object is arbitrary and not determined by empirical phenomena. This classification of signs is an attempt at a presentation of the inner differentiation of their object reference, by the same token indicating the possibility of capturing the relation between the sign and the object of reference in developmental categories. This reminds of the approach to intellectual phenomena practised by Vygotsky, who often emphasised that intellectual development aims at a reasonable way of formulating phenomena due to the possibility of the development of meaning.

Within a barely out-sketched framework of the direction of possible explorations it seems worthwhile to point to the role of the pragmatic principle conditioning meaning in Peirce’s system: 

“The pragmatic principle states that object-valid meaning belongs only to those thought constructs which can be translated into a set of practical rules (...) Each thought must lead to the formulation on its basis of a practical directive for action. (...) The meaning of the sign is expressed by another sign, but the sequence of interpretations thus arisen must be always crossed by a sign expressing the directive for action.”(Buczynska – Garewicz, 1975, pp. 44-45). 

The motif of the pragmatic principle seems interesting in the perspective of the activity conception developed on the basis of Vygotsky’s thought (1989) by Soviet scholars. A close inspection of the pragmatic principle within the Vygotskyan framework could also make it possible to tackle the problem of reality testing, which is linked with the postulate of the Soviet scholar concerning the significance of the role of the awareness of one’s intellectual processes in the process of developing a sense-loaded perception. 

Thus, perhaps, it is worthwhile to signal the necessity of a careful inspection of the mutual relationships of psychology and semiotics, one that could yield surprising and advantageous results to the two disciplines. The above statement may seem highly intuitive, and so imprecise and hard to defend, but Vygotsky’s ideas clearly indicate the usefulness of semiotic tools for psychological research; also, their use need not lead to the reduction of the subject since, according to David Sless:

 “(...) statements about users, signs or referents can never be made in isolation from each other. A statement about one contains implications about the other two.”(Sless, 1986). 

A contribution to the psychological conception of meaning

Vygotsky often stressed that meaning has to be understood as a generalisation:

“A word always concerns the whole group or class of objects, not just one single object. That’s why a word is a hidden generalisation, each word generalises – from psychology’s point of view the meaning of a word is first of all a generalisation (...) is an extraordinary verbal act of thought reflecting the reality in a way totally different from immediate impression and perception.”(Vygotsky, 1989, p. 21).[3] 

Vygotsky demonstrated that meaning (generalisation) gets transformed during the child’s development and leads to the establishment of new relations of the child with the world and the child with himself. A word, or, in semiotic terms, “a sign” is a tool in verbal thinking, or in different terms, the use of the sign determines the child’s development of higher mental functions. 
According to Tomasz Czub, the analysis of the development of verbal thinking can be performed on three planes:

“The first (...) covers the development of principles for grouping objects belonging to the given concept. The second (...) the nature of relations that hold between the concepts that constitute the verbal thinking system. The third plane (...) concerns becoming aware of the relations between the object, concept and word.”(Czub, 1999, p.10). 

Proposals discussed in the present paper refer to problems concerning the first kind of analysing the development of verbal thinking quoted in the above citation, yet they narrow the field of discussion to just one phase of the development of generalisation structure, ie to complex thinking. In order to broaden the perception of these problems it seems necessary to outline the immediate context in which they appear in Vygotsky’s conception (1989).According to Vygotsky (1989), development of meaning goes through four phases, at each constructing different structures of generalisations. In his study of the principles of the development of meaning in artificial experimental conditions, Vygotsky (1989) postulated the existence of four ways of structuralisation of meaning: syncretic images, complexes, preconcepts, scientific concepts. Originally he assumed that each phase of generalisation captures the reference object anew, yet in his investigation of the structure of meaning in a real situation he revised his earlier ideas:

“During the former study [experimental – R.D.] at each phase (...) we considered anew the relation of the word to the object ignoring the fact that each new phase of generalisation development bases on the generalisation created in earlier phases [emphasis Vygotsky’s]. (...) The new structure of generalisation does not arise from the immediate generalisation of objects always done anew by the thought, but from generalising the generalised objects of the former structure.” (Vygotsky, 1989, p. 292).

Thus, generalisation that occurs at a given phase of generalising bases on the generalisations done at lower phases, thus permitting the emergence of the relations between various phases of the organisation of meaning. Investigation of meaning in a real situation enabled Vygotsky (1989, p. 281) to make a statement about the nature of the relations holding between generalisations. And so, particular generalisations (meanings) stay in defined relations of generalisation to each other; that is, there is a relation between general meanings and particular meanings: e.g. at the complex phase and the scientific concept phase can appear generalisations with the same degree of generality – say, a flower and a rose. It might be that meanings of the same degree of generality appear at different phases , e.g. at the complex phase and preconcept phase a flower can appear as a general category concerning all flowers, yet colloquially speaking it will be a different “generality”, a different range of meaning (cf. Czub, 1999). 

The most important conclusion to be drawn from the above considerations is the statement that development of meaning (generalisation) does not follow the logical hierarchy of concepts - even though it aims at such order – which shows the necessity of distinguishing psychological meaning from logical meaning. Otherwise the phenomenon of the development of meaning competence would not be possible. On the other hand, it must be said that a full discussion of the distinction made above would go beyond the modest framework of the present paper that (as the title of the chapter indicates) concerns the problem of psychological meaning in the narrow aspect of the issue only. The reader wishing to pursue the topic within a larger context of Vygotsky’s proposal is advised to reach for a pioneer reconstruction of Vygotsky’s conception of concept development in the doctoral thesis of Tomasz Czub (1999).Complementing his presentation of the nature of relations holding between generalisations,Vygotsky emphasises that the relations of generality are linked to some definite phase of generalisation:

“(...) to each structure of generalisation (syncretic images, complex, preconcept, concept) corresponds a specific system of generality and relations of generality between general and particular concepts [emphasis Vygotsky’s], its own measure of abstractiveness and concreteness that allows to estimate a definite form of the given move of concept, of the given thinking operation at a developmental phase, of the given meanings of word.”(op. cit., p. 284). 

Every phase of generalisation is characterised by a specific relation of the abstract to the concrete, defining the possibility and scope of operating meaning in separation from the given object of reference, which conditions the development of verbal thinking.

Now we shall briefly discuss the most significant differences that occur between particular phases of generalisation. The main characteristics of meaning at the syncretic images phase is establishing subjective relations between objects which in effect lead to the establishment of a “indistinct” object of reference in the form of a set of randomly chosen real objects isolated on the basis of a vague impression. 

“At this developmental phase the meaning of the word is an insufficiently defined, haphazard, syncretic blend of particular objects [emphasis Vygotsky’s], which in one way or another combined in the image and perception of the child’s into one image." (op. cit., p. 97).

The principle of generality regulating the process of meaning formation at the complex phase bases on creating concrete and factual relations between objects of reference. Yet contrary to the former phase – the relations are marked with empirical observations, even if they do not form a coherent system. 

“A complex (...) is a generalisation or combination of various concrete objects. But the relations that enable the formation of such generalities can be of all kinds. Each relation can be the reason for adding some element to the complex, provided it really exists; and this is the most pertinent characteristics of the complex [in which] – insertion mine, R.D. - (...) we can find factual, accidental and concrete relations.”(op. cit., pp. 102-103). 

The next phase of the meaning development is the preconcept, defined by Vygotsky as follows:

 “(...) an adolescent uses the word as a concept, and defines it as a complex. This is (...) a form of [generalisation] – insertion mine – R.D. - oscillating between complex and conceptual thinking.”(op. cit., p. 154). 

A preconcept (also defined as a potential concept) is thus a higher level of generalisation at which meaning is expressed in the field of abstraction. The arbitrariness in formulation of generalisations, however, is confined by the concrete task situation (just as at the complex phase mediated generalisation was by the use of a concrete object).

Before we present the way of generalising at the level of scientific concepts, a few terminological remarks are called for. Now Vygotsky in many works uses the term concept interchangeably with the terms meaning and generalisation, remarking that in fact these terms overlap semantically. Yet for the clarity of the argument the term concept ought to be reserved for the last phase of the development of generalisation. Thanks to this terms such as pseudo-concept and preconcept gain an appropriate context in the development of verbal thinking.

To capture the correct sense of the highest type of generalisations we shall resort to a comparison with the preconcept phase:

“A preconcept is an abstraction of the number from the object and a generalisation of the numeral features of the object based on it. A concept is an abstraction from the number and a generalisation of every relation between numbers based on it [emphasis mine – R.D.]. Generalisation of one’s own arithmetic operations and thoughts is something higher and new in comparison with the generalisation of numeral features of objects in arithmetic terms (...). (op. cit., p. 294). 

At each phase the development of meaning obtains because of the establishment of different relations of generality among generalisations, yet only at the last phase of the development of meaning the level of generalisations allows creating a conceptual system, characterised by forming logical relations between generalisations. At this juncture Vygotsky speaks of the birth of a hierarchical conceptual structure that enables the formation of abstract theoretical generalisations (cf. Czub, 1999). Vygotsky often emphasised the relevance of the relations between the meaning structure at the scientific concepts level and the level of becoming aware of one’s own intellectual operations, which makes it possible to construct a theoretical system of the perception of reality. Passage through particular phases of the development of meaning is only possible in a social situation, in the process of communication and the child’s contact with adults, a contact that once formal education has been started (learning at school) assumes the formalised form of teaching. The child is able to use meanings at the scientific concepts level only because of the mutual relations with adults whose verbal thinking has reached the level of scientific concepts. 
Let us now proceed to the main problem of the present paper. We shall look more closely at the complex thinking phase, or more precisely – at the last stage, i.e. the pseudo-concept, since this is the kind of thinking that predominates at the pre-school age. 

The most developed form of complex is the pseudoconcept and that form of thinking, as stated earlier, is convergent with the period in which child engages in pretend play. Pseudoconcept marks the borderline between the two worlds, that of children and adults. However, it must be emphasised that the line is not impassable and there is even a special border area where adults and children can meet. The area concerns real objects, the border creates mental processes of thinking. To explain this duality we shall first have to walk the dog.

When an adult and a child (at the pre-school age) are talking about the dog they obviously understand one another. They know what are they talking about. They can discuss different breeds, their behavior, they can even discus adventures of the cartoon character e.g. Pluto. What they share in common is undoubtedly the object, they are convergent in their reference. But at this juncture we reach the limit of the possible communication. When an adult uses the linguistic sign <DOG>, he is using it as a scientific concept, which means that he does not think about a set of real-existing four-legged objects but rather of an abstract concept that belongs to the structure of other concepts that link this notion with an object of reference commonly known as <DOG>. On the other hand, a child saying <DOG> is thinking of the complex of real barking objects, or more accurately, the child has in mind the set of factual, empirically tested features of real objects, i.e. more a picture than a concept. For the child, the possibility of differentiating the meaning from the object is limited to concrete situations. 

Next example will clarify the idea. Imagine that the same pair of interlocutors find themselves in such a situation: let us say that the father comes home late in the evening and sitting over his dinner says: < It’s a dog’s life, I’m so tired>. The child hearing the sentence refers its meaning to the real life of a real dog, he may have in mind a situation of his own pet or the dog he saw yesterday, he can refer to any feature of the dog according to his complex of that pseudoconcept. He will not understand the sentence because in his pseduconceptual complex he is unable to find any factual relation between the knowledge about concrete dogs and the situation of his father. He cannot, because there is no concrete relation. To understand the sentence one has to escape the concrete situation and shift the meaning as adults do when creating the metaphor. 

Playground revisited: conclusions

 At the beginning of this paper we have analysed an example of pretend play concerning riding a horse. We have said that in order to act in the field of sense, to use meaning, a child needs a real object. Now we can put it more precisely: the stick helps the child generalise the pseudoconcept of the horse. It is important to see what a stick and a horse have in common. In this particular example the child is acting out one important feature of the horse, namely, that it can be mounted and ridden the same as the stick, and this is the reason why Goethe’s remark that in playing anything may stand for anything (recalled by Vygotsky) does not seem to adequately reflect the child’s reality during the process of playing. The child can ride a horse without a stick, he can step with his legs imitating the rhythm of a galloping horse. In this case to the complex of horse a new feature is added – the sound of the moving animal. In that way the child expands his complex concerning the pseudoconcept of <HORSE>, adding different factual observations in the process of generalisation.We can say that the child pretends to be riding a horse but in the perspective of HMF (higher mental functions) development it can be stated that pretending is based on the process of generalisation or “extraction of meaning” that is mediated by a concrete object (concrete feature of an object). In other words, the object is generalised according to the extracted feature and a complex of such features creates the pseudoconcept of the given object. We can evoke here the words of Benjamin Lee who stated:Vygotsky linked play to the development of (...) higher mental functions which become mediated by meaning.
(Lee, 1988, p.91).

Linking the phenomena that occur during play with the development of HMF has an extensive tradition of research based on the premises grown out of different psychological schools. The most remarkable value of Vygotsky’s proposal is placing the phenomena occurring during play on the plane of HMF development. Within the context of this paper the relevant fact is the contribution of the development of the meaning structure in the imaginary organisation of a pre-school child’s activity. Thus a question arises: how to organise the playing space of the child in order to create best possible conditions for the development of verbal thinking? Getting acquainted with the logic of the development of generalisation structure offers the possibility to optimise play conditions. The above statements sound like obvious truths, overwhelmingly proved by theoreticians and people of practice as far as child’s play activity is concerned, but Vygotsky’s proposal offers a chance of placing the reflection on the play process within a temporally larger developmental context. 

A careful study of some of the proposals included in Peirce’s semiotics can lead to interesting conclusions on Vygotsky’s conception of the development of the structure of meaning. Of particular value seems the conception of degenerate signs and the way they reflect concrete empirical relations, as well as Peirce’s conviction that the highest type of organisation of perception is the symbolic sign through its abstract character.Thus, even simple comparisons with some of the semiotic conceptions of meaning demonstrate that Vygotsky’s proposal offers wide possibilities of psychological research into the signification process, proving that linguistic reflection need not cause rejection of human subject. Even more – the presented type of reflection on the course of the signification process enriches our knowledge of this specifically human phenomenon. 


1.Czub, T. (1999). Struktura znaczenia slowa w mysleniu czlowieka doroslego (na podstawie rekonstrukcji Lwa S. Wygotskiego koncepcji rozwoju pojec). Poznan: Instytut Psychologii UAM. The structure of word meaning in the thinking process of an adult (on the basis of L. S. Vygotsky’s concept developement theory reconstruction.) Doctoral dissertation, material unpublished.

2. Buczynska – Garewicz, H. (1975). Znak, znaczenie, wartosc. Warszawa: Ksiazka i Wiedza

3. Lee, B. (1988). Intellectual origins of Vygotsky’s semiotic analysis. In: J. Wertsch et al. (eds), Culture, communication, cognition: Cambridge University Press.

4. Marty, R.. (1999).

5. Obrebska, M. (1999). Semiotyka wobec problemu nieswiadomosci. W poszukiwaniu ukrytej struktury. Poznan: Wydzial Neofilologii UAM. (Semiotics towards the problem of unconsciousness. Investigating the hidden structure.) Doctoral dissertation, material unpublished.

6. Saussure, F. de. (1974). Course in General Linguistics. Fontana/Collins.

7. Sless, D. (1986). In search of semiotics. In: D. Chandler. Semiotics for beginners.

8. Wygotski, L. S. (1989) Myslenie i mowa. Warszawa: PWN. English source: Vygotsky,L. S. (1962). Thought and language: MIT Press.

9. Wygotski, L. S. (1995) Zabawa i jej rola w rozwoju psychicznym dziecka. W: A. Brzezinska (red.). Dziecko w zabawie i swiecie jezyka. Poznan: Zysk i S-ka Wydawnictwo. English source: Vygotsky, L. S. (1976). Play and its role in the mental development of the child. In: J. Bruner et al. (eds), Play. New York: Penguin. 


[1] Citations comes from Polish version of Vygotsky’s article titled in English: Play and it’s Role in Mental Development of the Child. The English source is given in the references.

[2] One should not consider Vygotsky’s notion of scientific concepts solely with the scientific terminology. The highest phase of meaning structure refers to the relation between concepts enabling to create theoretical reality representation. Therefore scientific concepts should be regarded in view of mind structure at the highest level of intellectual development of given human subject (cf. remarks on p. 12).

[3] Citations comes from Polish version of Vygotsky’s book translated into English in 1962 as Thought and Language. English source is given in the references.