Dancing with alternative lyrics: integrating sociocultural, dialogical, distributed and dynamical conceptualizations of language and its development for L2 studies

  • Saeed Karimi-Aghdam
  • Hannele Dufva
  • Mika Lähteenmäki


This paper sets out to chart underlying assumptions and fundamental axioms of an integrative research edifice for studying language and how it is developed over time as a human- and culture-centered and multifaceted phenomenon. Specifically, invoking Vygotskian sociocultural theory, the Bakhtin circle dialogism, distributed language and cognition and dynamic systems theory, it is argued that language is a purposive, multifaceted, complex, dialogical, and dynamic system that emerges distributively across the interpenetrated web of human somatic and brain activities, socio-cultural umwelt, sociohistorically-fashioned artifacts and realized affordances simultaneously and over time. Suggestions are provided, upon this foundation, to remediate the debate toward laying out a framework for describing, explaining and understanding L2 development as a unitary temporal system that has both cognitive and social dimensions but is not ontologically reducible to either. This argument leads to the conclusion that to further our
understanding of language and its development over an individual’s lifespan, we need to crossfertilize different research programs and bridge across existing paradigmatic boundaries.