Distributed Language

image of Distributed Language

The volume presents language as fully integrated with human existence. On this view, language is not essentially ‘symbolic’, not represented inside minds or brains, and most certainly not determined by micro-social rules and norms. Rather, language is part of our ecology. It emerges when bodies co-ordinate vocal and visible gesture to integrate events with different histories. Enacting feeling, expression and wordings, language permeates the collective, individual and affective life of living beings. It is a profoundly distributed, multi-centric activity that binds people together as they go about their lives. Distributed Language pursues this perspective both theoretically and in relation to empirical work. Empirically, it reports studies on the anticipatory dynamics of reading, its socio-cognitive consequences, Shakespearean theatre, what images evoke (in brain and word), and solving insight problems. Theoretically, the volume challenges linguistic autonomy from overlapping theoretical positions. First, it is argued that language exploits a species specific form of semiotic cognition. Second, it is suggested that the central function of language lies in realizing values that derive from our ecosystemic existence. Third, this is ascribed to how cultural and biological symbols co-regulate the dynamics that shape human activity. Fourth, it is argued that language, far from being organism-centred, gives us an extended ecology in which our co-ordination is saturated by values and norms that are derived from our sociocultural environment. The contributions to this volume expand on those originally published in Pragmatics & Cognition 17:3 (2009).

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