Culture – Language – Cognition: Special Commemorative Issue - 20th Birthday of Pragmatics & Cognition 20:2 (2012)
  • ISSN 0929-0907
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9943
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Language serves many purposes in our individual lives and our varied interpersonal interactions. Daniel Everett’s claim that language primarily emerges from an “interactional instinct” and not a classic “language instinct” gives proper weight to the importance of coordinated communication in meeting our adaptive needs. Yet the argument that language is a “cultural tool”, motivated by an underlying “instinct”, does not adequately explain the complex, yet complementary nature of both linguistic regularities and variations in everyday speech. Our alternative suggestion is that language use, and coordinated communication more generally, is an emergent product of human self-organization processes. Both broad regularities and specific variations in linguistic structure and behavior can be accounted for by self-organizational processes that operate without explicit internal rules, blueprints, or mental representations. A major implication of this view is that both linguistic patterns and behaviors, within and across speakers, emerge from the dynamical interactions of brain, body, and world, which gives rise to highly context-sensitive and varied linguistic performances.


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