We turn now to five tools that are centered in different theories about how language ties to the world and to culture. First, we will draw on a theory from cognitive psychology about how meaning works. We will introduce the notion of ‘‘situated meanings’’ and argue that we humans actively build meanings ‘‘on line’’ when we use language in specific contexts. Second, we will draw on a theory from sociolinguistics about how different styles or varieties of using language work to allow humans to carry out different types of social work and enact different socially situated identities. We will introduce the notion of ‘‘social languages’’ and argue that any language (like English or Russian) is composed of a great many different social languages. Each of these is connected to meanings and activities associated with particular social and cultural groups. Third, we will draw on theories from literary criticism to introduce the notion of ‘‘intertextuality.’’ When anyone speaks or writes they often make reference to what other people or various texts (like the Bible) or media (like movies) have said or meant. They may quote or just allude to what others have said. This means that one ‘‘text’’ (where the word here means any stretch of spoken or written language) refers to or points to another ‘‘text’’ (words from what others have said or written). Thus, if I say ‘‘Even though life is sweet sorrow, I prefer it to the alternative,’’ I am alluding (for those in the know) to Shakespeare’s quote that ‘‘parting is such sweet sorrow’’ and mixing these words from Shakespeare into my ‘‘text.’’ Plagiarism is, of course, an extreme and ‘‘stealth’’ version of such ‘‘intertextual’’ references (references/quotations/allusions in one text to another text). Fourth, we will draw on a theory from psychological anthropology about how humans form and use theories to give language meaning and understand each other and the world. Here we will introduce the notion of ‘‘figured worlds.’’ Figured worlds are narratives and images that different social and cultural groups of people use to make sense of the world. They function as simplified models of how things work when they are ‘‘normal’’ and ‘‘natural’’ from the perspective of a particular social and cultural group. They are meant to help people get on with the business of living and communicating without having to reflect explicitly on everything before acting. Fifth, and finally, we will draw on theories from a variety of areas (cultural anthropology, cultural psychology, sociolinguistics, and philosophy) about how meaning goes well beyond human minds and language to involve objects, tools, technologies, and networks of people collaborating with each other. Here we will introduce the notion
of ‘‘Discourses’’ with a capital ‘‘D’’ (so-called ‘‘big ‘D’ Discourses’’). Discourses are ways of enacting and recognizing different sorts of socially situated and significant identities through the use of language integrated with characteristic ways of acting, interacting, believing, valuing, and using various sorts of objects (including our bodies), tools, and technologies in concert with other people.