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Beyond symbols

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Abstract

Humans often contextualize without using cues. While Gumperz showed that <i>analysis</i> is not sufficient to explain interaction, his view of what lay beyond symbols was based in cognitive internalism. Opposing this, prosody can be shown to contribute directly to conversational sense-making. Humans use self-organizing dynamics in ways that resemble what happens in gas-lasers. Voices attract each other and, at times, set off laser like synergies. Using these effects, we modulate our actions in situation-transcending events that give sense to the dynamics. Conversation is <i>distributed cognition</i> during which prosodic sense-making links the world with brains and bodies. Far from being based in word-forms, interaction and language are dynamical first and symbolic afterwards.

References

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