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Citations related to LANGUAGE & COMMUNICATION (works cited listed at bottom):
 

"A language with job-secure words presupposes omniscience." Harris, Roy. The Language Myth, St. Martin's Press, 1981, p. 175.


"After Babel postulates that translation is formally and pragmatically implicit in every act of communication, in the emission and reception of each and every mode of meaning, be it in the widest semiotic sense or in more specifically verbal exchanges. To understand is to decipher. To hear significance is to translate....

"After Babel argues that it is the constructive powers of language to conceptualize the world which have been crucial to man's survival in the face of ineluctable biological constraints, this is to say in the face of death. It is the miraculous--I do not retract the term--capacity of grammars to generate counter-factuals, 'if'-propositions and, above all, future tenses, which have empowered our species to hope, to reach far beyond the extinction of the individual. We endure, we endure creatively due to our imperative ability to say 'No' to reality, to build fictions of alterity, of dreamt or willed or awaited 'otherness' for our consciousness to inhabit. It is in this precise sense that the utopian and the messianic are figures of syntax.

"Each human language maps the world differently. There is life-giving compensation in the extreme grammatical complication of those languages (for example, among Australian Aboriginals or in the Kalahari) whose speakers dwell in material and social contexts of deprivation and barrenness. Each tongue--and there are no 'small' or lesser languages--construes a set of possible worlds and geographies of remembrance. It is the past tenses, in their bewildering variousness, which constitute history." Steiner, George, After Babel, Second Edition, Oxford University, 1992, pp. xii-xiv.


"The self-evident quality of the boundary that divides organism and environment becomes less and less obvious the closer we approach it. Bateson, in his classic example of the man-axe-tree circuit, suggests that only the total system of tree-eyes-brain-muscles-axe-stroke-tree has the quality of immanent mind. What occurs in this system is a series of transforms and what happens in the environment is as essential to the circuit as the sensory-muscular processes in the human participant. There is danger in separating meaning and context, or participant and setting, of falling into the trap of viewing one as independent variable and the other as dependent variable.

"My own view agrees with his emphasis upon the idea that communication systems, particularly human ones, never exist out of context, that any analysis of behavior that disregards the matrix in which it occurs distorts its character in some respects. As he stresses, 'in no system which shows mental characteristics can any part have unilateral control over the whole. In other words, the mental characteristics of the system are immanent, not in some part, but in the system as a whole' (Bateson, 1972). The issue here is whether to base the study of communication on the assumption of a hierarchy of systems in which each serves as context of the others, each having some unique features and some autonomy, or that the only communicative system is the universe as a whole and analytic units become 'arcs of larger circuits.'" Bateson, Gregory et al. Rigor and Imagination: Essays from the Legacy of Gregory Bateson. Barnlund, Richard. "Toward an Ecology of Communication." 1981. p. 95.


"In life, sources usually claim final authority over the meanings of their own messages. This is understandable, but one can question if we are the only or the best judge of our intentions. Any meanings that are to be expressed arise from sensory-neural changes that are so subtle, occur so fleetingly, and are processed so unconsciously that one is scarcely aware of them. It is only in the process of articulating such inner states that people are able to recognize if they are giving authentic form to these states. And often not even then. A second reason is that we are in a poor position to monitor our own performance; it is difficult or impossible to observe one's own visual behavior, vocal inflections, or facial expressions, yet these are critical features of the messages over which we claim authority. Research has often indicated that we are far less able to recognize our own voices, postures, and manner of walking than are our associates and friends. A third reason is the sheer number and instability of all meanings. Not every internal change can be outwardly displayed; only the peaks and valleys of experience may be encoded, or in some cases never the peaks and valleys but only what lies between. Whatever a person expresses constitutes an edited version of their experience, one that is fit to the perceived requirements of this occasion, this partner, this moment. Finally, interpretations of all messages derive from the assumptive world of the interpreter. For this reason, evaluations of our own messages tend to have a self-justifying and self-fulfilling quality about them." Bateson, Gregory et al. Rigor and Imagination: Essays from the Legacy of Gregory Bateson. Barnlund, Richard. "Toward an Ecology of Communication." 1981. p. 107.


"It seems clearer and clearer to me that we cannot understand language except through direct experience, using it or having it used to us. Unless our words make a difference in the outcome, we cannot make valid judgements. Too often the sociolinguist or pragmaticist still attempts to play the games of the ivory tower, to study some aspect of real language use 'objectively.' If it's a form of language with which we are all familiar anyway, like conversation, there is probably no harm done. But when the researcher ventures into foreign territory, like the courtroom, it is essential to be engaged, to get a whiff of the adversariality in the air by joining the game, not standing on the surface decorously jotting notes. Lakoff, Robin, Talking Power; The Politics of Language in Our Lives, Basic Books, 1990, p. x.


“Rather, the intersubjective and perspectival nature of linguistic symbols actually undermines the whole concept of a perceptual situation by layering on top of it the multitudinous perspectives that are communicatively possible for those of us who share the symbol.” Tomasello, Michael. The Cultural Origins of Human Cognition. Harvard University Press. 1999. p. 132.


"This view of the poem immediately defines the role of the interpreter as one who comes to meet the poem and enter into dialogue with it in order to become the incarnation of its reality, rather than one who takes the poem and imposes upon it in order to use it for ends other than its actual incarnation. Given this view, the role of the audience in the interpretation event is no longer that of mere spectator but includes the dynamic of participation in communion with the new being of poem-interpreter, become as one and constituting a living presence, which comes to meet the audience....

"This moment presupposes that the interpreter and poem are in communion and that the communion is large enough to fill the space in which the audience is present, thus to encircle the audience, take it up into its life, and so transform it, just as poem and interpreter are transformed. For Bacon this process begins with 'the tensive life of literature,' expands into a relationship with the interpreter, and finally culminates in 'the relationship between these two lives and the life of the audience....' This complexity of relationship creates growth in all of its parts: poem, interpreter, and audience each grows and becomes more itself through the others." Bozarth-Campbell, Alla, The Word's Body, The University of Alabama Press, 1979, pps. 8, 16.


"I would really like to have slipped imperceptibly into this lecture, as into all the others I shall be delivering, perhaps over the years ahead. I would have preferred to be enveloped in words, borne way beyond all possible beginnings. At the moment of speaking, I would like to have perceived a nameless voice, long preceding me, leaving me merely to enmesh myself in it, taking up its cadence, and to lodge myself, when no one was looking, in its interstices as if it had paused an instant, in suspense, to beckon to me. There would have been no beginnings: instead, speech would proceed from me, while I stood in its path - a slender gap - the point of its possible disappearance....

"A good many people, I imagine, harbour a similar desire to be freed from the obligation to begin, a similar desire to find themselves, right from the outside, on the other side of discourse, without having to stand outside it, pondering its particular, fearsome, and even devilish features. To this all too common feeling, institutions have an ironic reply, for they solemnise beginnings, surrounding them with a circle of silent attention; in order that they can be distinguished from far off, they impose ritual forms upon them.

"Inclination speaks out: 'I don't want to have to enter this risky world of discourse; I want nothing to do with it insofar as it is decisive and final; I would like to feel it all around me, calm and transparent, profound, infinitely open, with others responding to my expectations, and truth emerging, one by one. All I want is to allow myself to be borne along, within it, and by it, a happy wreck.' Institutions reply: 'But you have nothing to fear from launching out; we're here to show you discourse is within the established order of things, that we've waited a long time for its arrival, that a place has been set aside for it - a place which both honours and disarms it; and if it should happen to have a certain power, then it is we, and we alone, who give it that power.'" Foucault, Michel, The Archaeology of Knowledge & The Discourse on Language, Pantheon Books, 1972, pps. 215-6.


"Feminist revisions of language in the last decade, powerfully influenced by Julia Kristeva's critique of Freud and Lacan, have insisted on a female language as the expression of what has been repressed in the male sentence. Mary Jacobus defines ecriture feminine as that which is "located in the gaps, the absences, the unsayable or unrepresentable of discourse and representation." Female language is identified, in such now-legendary texts as Helene Cixous's "Le Rire de la Meduse" (1975) and Luce Irigaray's "Ce sexe qui n'en est pas un" (1977), as a playful revealing of what has been hidden. Language as an eruption of female sexuality, or jouissance, can be a potent alternative discourse. This discourse is indebted to Kristeva's theory that the pre-Oedipal phase of childhood, in intimate connection with the mother, which precedes the "entry into signification and the symbolic order," can persist in "oral and instinctual aspects of language which punctuate, evade, or disrupt the symbolic order--in prosody, intonation, puns, verbal slips, even silences."...

"This kind of programmatic writing consigns women and their language, all over again (as they have traditionally been consigned by inspired "phallocentric" writers such as Yeats, Whitman, and Lawrence) to the realms of "inchoate darkness," the unconscious, mothering, hysteria, and babble....

"The danger--the "risking"-- of a utopian, alternative female language expressive of "woman's powers" is that it will be felt to fall short of, or evade, the real world's balance of power.

"The confrontational mode of female language mimics or mirrors the enemy's use of the word power. Kristeva, in a section called "The terror of power or the power of terrorism" in Women's Time (1979), analyzes the tendency of women struggling against the "power structure" to "make of the second sex a counter-society," "a counter-power which necessarily generates...its essence as a simulacrum of the combated society or of power." This countersociety is as violent, as paranoid, and as power-hungry, as the system it opposes." Leonard, Michael and Chris Ricks, The State of the Language, edited by University of California Press, 1990, "Power: Women and the Word", Hermione Lee, p. 110.


"During the second year of the infant's life language emerges, and in the process the senses of self and other acquire new attributes. Now the self and the other have different and distinct personal world knowledge as well as a new medium of exchange with which to create shared meanings. A new organizing subjective perspective emerges and opens a new domain of relatedness. The possible ways of 'being with' another increase enormously. At first glance, language appears to be a straightforward advantage for the augmentation of interpersonal experience. It makes parts of our known experience more shareable with others. In addition, it permits two people to create mutual experiences of meaning that had been unknown before and could never have existed until fashioned by words. It also finally permits the child to begin to construct a narrative of his own life. But in fact language is a double-edged sword. It also makes some parts of our experience less shareable with ourselves and with others. It drives a wedge between two simultaneous forms of interpersonal experience: as it is lived and as it is verbally represented." Stern, Daniel, The Interpersonal World of the Infant, Basic Books, New York, 1985, p. 162.


"A sign is a stimulus--that is, a perceptible substance--the mental image of which is associated in our minds with that of another stimulus. The function of the former stimulus is to evoke the latter with a view to communication. The foregoing definition excludes natural indications. Of course, in ordinary parlance one says that clouds are a sign of rain, smoke a sign of fire; but in such cases semiology withholds the status of sign because the cloud-laden sky has no intention of communication any more than has the wrongdoer or the hunted animal when they leave unwitting traces of their presence. ...there is a deep affinity between communication, defined in this way, and perception. Perception can rightly be thought of as a 'communication' between energy-emitting sensory reality and our sense organs acting as receivers. It is worthwhile giving some thought to the curious terminology which uses one and the same term (i.e. sens) to designate both the meaning (sens) of the signs (or of things) and the senses (sens). This is so because from the point of view of archaic etymology sentir, 'to direct', means 'to put into line' (and hence into communication) the perceived object and the sense organs: the sens (physical capacity) for an acoustic sensation is hearing, and the sens (that which is perceived) of hearing is an acoustic sensation." Guiraud, Pierre, Semiology, Routledge & Kegan Paul, London, 1975. p. 22.


"What is an elephant's trunk? What is it phylogenetically? What did genetics tell it to be?

"As you know, the answer is that the elephant's trunk is his 'nose.' (Even Kipling knew!) And I put the word 'nose' in quotation marks because the trunk is being defined by an internal process of communication in growth. The trunk is a 'nose' by a process of communication: it is the context of the trunk that identifies it as a nose. That which stands between two eyes and north of a mouth is a 'nose,' and that is that. It is the context that fixes the meaning, and it must surely be the receiving context that provides meaning for the genetic instructions. When I call that a 'nose and this a 'hand' I am quoting--or misquoting--the developmental instructions in the growing organism, and quoting what the tissues which received the message thought the message intended.

"There are people who would prefer to define noses by their 'function'--that of smelling. But if you spell out those definitions, you arrive at the same place using a temporal instead of a spatial context. You attach meaning to the organ by seeing it as playing a given part in sequences of interaction between creature and environment. I call that a temporal context. The temporal classification cross-cuts the spatial classification of contexts. But in embryology, the first definition must always be in terms of formal relations. The fetal trunk cannot, in general, smell anything. Embryology is formal.

"Let me illustrate this species of connection, this connecting pattern, a little further by citing a discovery of Goethe's. He was a considerable botanist who had great ability in recognizing the nontrivial (i.e., in recognizing the patterns that connect). He straightened out the vocabulary of the gross comparative anatomy of flowering plants. He discovered that a 'leaf' is not satisfactorily defined as 'a flat green thing' or a 'stem' as 'a cylindrical thing.' The way to go about the definition--and undoubtedly somewhere deep in the growth processes of the plant, this is how the matter is handled--is to note that buds (i.e. baby stems) form in the angles of leaves. From that, the botanist constructs the definitions on the basis of the relations between stem, leaf, bud, angle, and so on.

"'A stem is that which bears leaves.'
'A leaf is that which has a bud in its angle.'
'A stem is what was once a bud in that position,'

"All that is--or should be--familiar. But the next step is perhaps new.

"There is a parallel confusion in the teaching of language that has never been straightened out. Professional linguists nowadays may know what's what, but children in school are still taught nonsense. They are told that a 'noun' is the 'name of a person, place or thing,' that a 'verb' is 'an action word,' and so on. That is, they are taught at a tender age that the way to define something is by what is supposedly is in itself, not by its relation to other things.

"Most of us can remember being told that a noun is 'the name of person, place, or thing.' And we can remember the utter boredom of parsing or analyzing sentences. Today all that should be changed. Children could be told that a noun is a word having a certain relationship to a predicate. A verb has a certain relation to a noun, its subject. And so on. Relationship could be used as basis for definition, and any child could then see that there is something wrong with the sentence ''Go' is a verb.'" Bateson, Gregory, Mind and Nature, Bantam, 1980, pp. 16-18.


"We venture a leap: we grant ab initio that there is 'something there' to be understood, that the transfer will not be void. All understanding, and the demonstrative statement of understanding which is translation, starts with an act of trust....

"But the trust can never be final. It is betrayed, trivially, by nonsense, by the discovery that 'there is nothing there' to elicit and translate....

"After trust comes aggression. The second move of the translator is incursive and extractive. The relevant analysis is that of Heidegger when he focuses our attention on understanding as an act, on the access, inherently appropriative and therefore violent, of Erkenntnis to Dasein. Da-sein, the 'thing there', 'the thing that is because it is there', only comes into authentic being when it is comprehended, i.e. translated....

"The third movement is incorporative, in the strong sense of the word. The import, of meaning and of form, the embodiment, is not made in or into a vacuum. The native semantic field is already extant and crowded. There is innumerable shadings of assimilation and placement of the newly-acquired, ranging from a complete domestication, an at-homeness at the core of the kind which cultural history ascribes to, say, Luther's Bible or North's Plutarch, all the way to the permanent strangeness and marginality of an artifact such as Nabokov's 'English-language' Onegin. But whatever the degree of 'naturalization', the act of importation can potentially dislocate or relocate the whole of the native structure. The Heideggerian 'we are what we understand to be' entails that our own being is modified by each occurrence of comprehensive appropriation. No language, no traditional symbolic set or cultural ensemble imports without risk of being transformed....

"The a-prioristic movement of trust puts us off balance. We 'lean towards' the confronting text (every translator has experienced this palpable bending towards and launching at his target). We encircle and invade cognitively. We come home laden, thus again off-balance, having caused disequilibrium throughout the system by taking away from 'the other' and by adding, though possibly with ambiguous consequence, to our own. The system is now off-tilt. The hermeneutic act must compensate. If it is to be authentic, it must mediate into exchange and restored parity.

"The enactment of reciprocity in order to restore balance is the crux of the metier and morals of translation. But it is very difficult to put abstractly. The appropriative 'rapture' of the translator--the word has in it, of course, the root and meaning of violent transport--leaves the original with a dialectically enigmatic residue. Unquestionably there is a dimension of loss, of breakage--hence, as we have seen, the fear of translation, the taboos on revelatory export which hedge sacred texts, ritual nominations, and formulas in many cultures. But the residue is also, and decisively, positive. The work translated in enhanced. This is so at a number of fairly obvious levels. Being methodical, penetrative, analytic, enumerative, the process of translation, like all modes of focused understanding, will detail, illumine, and generally body forth its object. The over-determination of the interpretative act is inherently inflationary: it proclaims that 'there is more here than meets the eye', that 'the accord between content and executive form is closer, more delicate than had been observed hitherto. To class a source-text as worth translating is to dignify it immediately and to involve it in a dynamic of magnification." After Babel, Second Edition, George Steiner, Oxford University, 1992, pp. 312-7.


"To decode a message fully, one would have to reconstruct the entire semantic structure which underlay its creation--and thus to understand the sender in every deep way." Hofstader, Douglas, Goedel, Escher, Bach, Penguin, 1979, p. 166.


"For the past 2,500 years or so, Western music has been obsessed with one polyphonic arrangement of tones, but there are many other arrangements, each as profoundly meaningful as the next and yet incomprehensible to outsiders. 'The barriers between music and music are far more impassable than language barriers,' Victor Zuckerkandl writes in The Sense of Music. 'We can translate from any language into any other language; yet the mere idea of translating, say, Chinese music into the Western tonal idiom is obvious nonsense.' Why is that so? According to the composer Felix Mendelssohn, it's not because music is too vague, as one might think, but rather too precise to translate into other tonal idioms, let alone into words. Words are arbitrary. There's no direct link between them and the emotions they represent. Instead, they lasso an idea or emotion and drag it into view for a moment. We need words to corral how we feel and think; they allow us to reveal our inner lives to one another, as well as to exchange goods and services. But music is a controlled outcry from the quarry of emotions all humans share. Though most foreign words must be translated to be understood, we instinctively understand whimpering, crying, shrieking, joy, cooing, sighing, and the rest of our caravan of cries and calls." Ackerman, Diane, A Natural History of the Senses, Vintage Books, 1991, pps. 213-4.


“If language is like a virus, then language and the minds and brains it inhabits are joined in a parasite/host relationship. As we have discovered, parasite and host form an undecidable relation in which each functions simultaneously as itself and the other. In this case, languages are parasites, which depend on their human hosts, and human beings are parasitic upon the linguistic host, which, in some sense, makes them human. Since neither can exist apart from the other, languages and human beings must coadapt and thus coevolve.” Taylor, Mark C. The Moment of Complexity: Emerging Network Culture. University of Chicago. 2001. p. 215.


“If communication is genuine only insofar as it expresses one’s beliefs, or realistically connects nouns with objects, then most communication is counterfeit, most leadership is deceitful, and mass media simulations will seem to have replaced the authentic links between language and reality. Behind this thinking is a naive realism: Communication is a process of making known one’s thoughts and feelings; its purpose is to convey one’s thoughts and feelings to others; it either conveys one’s internal reality or conceals it–it is either true or false. Honest communication is authentic, accurate, a mirror of inner reality. In a word, it is expressive.

“One who sees communication this way will see conventional rules, etiquettes, and norms as inauthentic and rhetorical achievements–the creation of new situations and selves to get around conventional obstructions–as deceitful. This primitive view of communication is an interpersonal handicap, and it is angst-inspiring when it fosters the expectation that states and organizations be as authentic as people. The expectation that ITT or IBM be surrogate humans, embracing the individual in the warm arms of common ground is both a mistake and predisposition to anomie. Mimicking kinship and friendship is not what the conventions of organizations and societies do best–so they inevitably seem counterfeit and inhuman.” Willard, Charles Arthur. Liberalism and the Problem of Knowledge: A New Rhetoric for Modern Democracy. University of Chicago Press. 1996. p. 16.


“It is thus the conclusion of some theorists, including me, that the simple act of pointing to an object for someone else for the sole purpose of sharing attention to it is a uniquely human communicative behavior, the lack of which is also a major diagnostic for the syndrome of childhood autism.” Tomasello, Michael. The Cultural Origins of Human Cognition. Harvard University Press. 1999. p. 63.


“After she has engaged in such a process the child comes to see some cultural objects and artifacts as having, in addition to their natural sensory-motor affordances, another set of what we might call intentional affordances based on her understanding of the intentional relations that other persons have with that object or artifact–that is, the intentional relations that other persons have to the world through the artifact.” Tomasello, Michael. The Cultural Origins of Human Cognition. Harvard University Press. 1999. p. 85.


“It [communication by linguistic reference only] is theoretically inadequate, as demonstrated by the philosophers Wittgenstein and Quine, and it is empirically inadequate in many ways, perhaps especially its inability to account for the acqusition and use of linguistic symbols whose connections to the perceptual world are tenuous at best, that is to say, most linguistic symbols that are not proper names or basic level nouns (e.g. verbs, prepositions, articles, conjunctions). We must therefore explicitly acknowledge the theoretical point that linguistic reference is a social act in which one person attempts to get another person to focus her attention on something in the world. And we must also acknowledge the empirical fact that linguistic reference can only be understood within the context of certain kinds of social interactions that I will call joint attentional scenes.
“Joint attentional scenes are social interactions in which the child and the adult are jointly attending to some third thing, and to one another’s attention to that third thing, for some reasonably extended length of time....

“The first essential feature concerns what is included in joint attentional scenes. On the one hand, joint attentional scenes are not perceptual events; they include only a subset of things in the child’s perceptual world. On the other hand, joint attentional scenes are also not linguistic events; they contain more things than those explicitly indicated in any set of linguistic symbols. Joint attentional scenes thus occupy a kind of middle ground–an essential middle ground of socially shared reality–between the larger perceptual world and smaller linguistic world. The second essential feature needing emphasis is the fact that the child’s understanding of a joint attentional scene includes as an integral element the child herself and her own role in the interaction conceptualized from the same ‘outside’ perspective as the other person and the object so that they are all in a common representational format–which turns out to be of crucial importance for the process of acquiring a linguistic symbol.” Tomasello, Michael. The Cultural Origins of Human Cognition. Harvard University Press. 1999. p. 97-8.


“The point is not that language creates ex nihilo the ability to categorize, to perspectivize, or to make analogies or metaphors. That is impossible because language depends on these skills, and they may be present in basic form in either nonhuman primates or prelinguistic infants. But what has happened is that in collaboration over historical time human beings have created an incredible array of categorical perspectives and construals on all kinds of objects, events, and relations, and then they have embodied them in their systems of symbolic communication called natural languages. As children develop ontogenetically, they use their basic skills of categorization, perspective-taking, and relational thinking–in concert with their ability to comprehend the adult’s communicative intentions–to learn the use of the relevant symbolic forms. This enables them to take advantage of a vast number of categories and analogies that other members of their culture have seen fit to create and symbolize, and that they very likely would never have thought to create on their own.” Tomasello, Michael. The Cultural Origins of Human Cognition. Harvard University Press. 1999. p. 170.


"Another coined term, albeit proposed no more than half serioiusly, was endosemiotics, 'which studies cybernetic systems within the body.' Clearly, man's semiotic systems are characterized by a definite bipolarity between the molecular code at the lower end of the scale and the verbal code at the upper. Amid these two uniquely powerful mechanisms there exists a whole array of others, ranging from those located in the interior of organisms to those linking them to the external 'physical world,' which of course includes biologically and/or sociologically 'interesting' other organisms, like preys and predators. Semiotic networks are thus established between individuals belonging to the same as well as to different species. Jacob, who has more succinctly stated that the 'genetic code is like a language,' goes further: if they are to specialize, he points out, 'cells must ... communicate with each other,' and, at the macroscopic level, 'evolution depends on setting up new systems of communication, just as much within the organism as between the organism and its surroundings.'

"There is no absolute boundary where zoosemiotics abruptly turns into anthroposemiotics. Least of all is this a correlate of 'the appearance of a new property: the ability to do without objects and interpose a kind of filter between the organism and its environment: the ability to symbolize' which Jacob ascribes to mammals in general. So does Washburn, who refers to 'the mammalian brain as a symbolic machine.' In fact, the groundwork for the mosaic of changes that enable organisms to utilize symbols was prefigured much earlier, as Gordon M. Tomkins convincingly delineated, and was sketchily reviewed in the framework of Peirce's doctrine of signs in Sebeok. On the invertebrate side, insects, such as the balloon flies, have evolved a symbolizing capacity in one of their species, Hilara sartor. Also, John Z. Young has recently shown that the octopus deals with the world in a manner that can only be described as 'symbolic.' In a lecture given at the American Museum of Natural History in 1976, he said: 'The essence of learning is the attaching of symbolic value to signs from the outside world. Images on the retina are not eatable or dangerous. What the eye of a higher animal provides is a tool by which, aided by a memory, the animal can learn the symbolic significance of events.' Cephalopod brains may not be able to elaborate complex programs--i.e., strings of signs, or what Young calls 'mnemons'--such as guide our future feelings, thoughts, and actions, but they can symbolize at least simple operations crucial for their survivial, such as appropriate increase or decrease in distance between them and environmental stimulus sources." Sebeok, Thomas, "Zoosemiotic Components of Human Communication" by from Semiotics: An Introductory Anthology, Edited by Robert Innis, Indiana University, 1985, pp. 301-2.


“‘Exformation is perpendicular to information. Exformation is what is rejected en route, before expression. Exformation is about the mental work we do in order to make what we want to say sayable. Exformation is the discarded information, everything we do not actually say but have in our heads when or before we say anything at all. Information is the measurable, demonstrable utterances as we actually come out with it. The number of bits or characters in what is actually said.’

“Exformation, in other words, is what is let out as information is formed from noise. As such, exformation is not simply absent but is something like a penumbral field from which information is formed. Since information is constituted by what it excludes, it inevitably harbors traces of noise. Noise, we have noted, is always in-formation in at least two ways. First, noise is always forming into information and being formed by the processes of exclusion from information; and second, noise does not simply disappear but remains in information as a haunting specter. There is, undeniably, a certain destructive dimension to the processing of information. Computer scientist and inventor Ray Kurzweil goes so far as to insist that the ‘destruction of information’ is the ‘the key to intelligence.’ ‘The value of computation,’ he argues, ‘is precisely in its ability to destroy information selectively. For example, in a pattern-recognition task such as recognizing faces or speech sounds, preserving the information-bearing features of a pattern while ‘destroying’ the enormous flow of data in the original image or sound is essential to the process. Intelligence is precisely this process of selecting relevant information carefully so that it can skillfully and purposefully destroy the rest.’ Whether information is actually destroyed, as Kurzweil argues, or excluded but not necessarily destroyed, as I would insist, screening simultaneously filters noise and displays information by channeling it into the patterns that eventually constitute knowledge.” Taylor, Mark C. The Moment of Complexity: Emerging Network Culture. University of Chicago. 2001. p. 203-4. Subquote: Kurzweil, Ray. The Age of Spiritual Machines: When Computers Exceed Human Intelligence. Viking. 1999. P. 78.


"The fateful flaw of human semiotics is this: that of all the objects in the entire Cosmos which the sign-user can apprehend through the conjoining of signifier and signified (word uttered and thing beheld), there is one which forever escapes his comprehension--and that is the sign-user himself.

"Semiotically, the self is literally unspeakable to itself. One cannot speak or hear a word which signifies oneself, as one can speak or hear a word signifying anything else, e.g., apple, Canada, 7-Up.

"The self of the sign-user can never be grasped, because, once the self locates itself at the dead center of its world, there is no signified to which a signifier can be joined to make a sign. The self has no sign of itself. No signifier applies. All signifiers apply equally.

"You are Ralph to me and I am Walker to you, but you are not Ralph to you and I am not Walker to me....

"For me, certain signifiers fit you, and not others. For me, all signifiers fit me, one as well as another. I am rascal, hero, craven, brave, treacherous, loyal, at once the secret hero and asshole of the Cosmos.

"You are not a sign in your world. Unlike the other signifiers in your world which form more or less stable units with the perceived world-things they signify, the signifier of yourself is mobile, freed up, and operating on a sliding semiotic scale from -infinity to infinity.

"The signified of the self is semiotically loose and caroms around the Cosmos like an unguided missile.

"From the moment the signifying self turned inward and became conscious of itself, trouble began as the sparks flew up." Percy, Walker, Lost in the Cosmos: The Last Self-Help Book, Washington Square Press, 1983, p. 107.


“It [Chomsky’s assumptions] leaves out many of the features of most human languages, for example, evidential systems, classifier systems, politeness systems, spatial relations systems, aspectual systems, and lexicalization systems.” Johnson, Mark & George Lakoff. Philosophy in the Flesh: The Embodied Mind and Its Challenge to Western Thought. Basic Books. 1999. P. 480.


“Concepts arise from, and are understood through, the body, the brain, and experience in the world. Concepts get their meaning through embodiment, especially via perceptual and motor capacities. Directly embodied concepts include basic-level concepts, spatial-relations concepts, bodily action concepts (e.g., hand movement), aspect (that is, the general structure of actions and events), color, and others.

Concepts crucially make use of imaginative aspects of mind: frames, metaphor, metonymy, prototypes, radial categories, mental spaces, and conceptual blending.” Johnson, Mark & George Lakoff. Philosophy in the Flesh: The Embodied Mind and Its Challenge to Western Thought. Basic Books. 1999. P. 497.


“Each symbolization relation is bipolar: It links a conceptual pole with an expression pole. At each conceptual pole is a category of concepts; at each expression pole is a category of phonological forms.” Johnson, Mark & George Lakoff. Philosophy in the Flesh: The Embodied Mind and Its Challenge to Western Thought. Basic Books. 1999. P. 498.


“The grammar of a language consists of the highly structured neural connections linking the conceptual and expressive (phonological) aspects of the brain.” Johnson, Mark & George Lakoff. Philosophy in the Flesh: The Embodied Mind and Its Challenge to Western Thought. Basic Books. 1999. P. 498.


“The Noun category is, therefore, at the phonological pole of the conceptual Thing category. The relation that links the Thing category to the Noun category is called the Noun-relation. The Noun-relation is a category consisting of naming-relations between particular things and particular phonological forms. In short, Nouns symbolize Things.”

“... Similar accounts can be given for verbs (with actions at the center of the conceptual category), adjectives (with properties at the center of the conceptual category), and prepositions (with spatial relations at the center of the conceptual category).” Johnson, Mark & George Lakoff. Philosophy in the Flesh: The Embodied Mind and Its Challenge to Western Thought. Basic Books. 1999. Pps. 500-1.


“In cognitive linguistics, the human language capacity is seen as something radically different than it is in Chomskyan linguistics.

“First, it is seen fundamentally as a neural capacity, the capacity to neurally link parts of the brain concerned with concepts and cognitive functions (attention, memory, information flow) with other parts of the brain concerned with expression–phonological forms, signs in signed languages, and so on. In short, grammar is the capacity to symbolize concepts. The constraints on grammars are neural, embodied constraints, not merely abstract formal constraints. Categorization tends to be radial and graded. Contextual constraints are natural.

“Second, the structure of language is inherently embodied. Both basic grammatical categories and the very structure imposed by constructions derived from the structure of our embodied experience.

“Third, syntactic categories are induced by conceptual categories. Conceptual structure arises from our embodied nature. There is no autonomous syntax completely free of meaning and cognition.

“Fourth, grammatical constructions are pairings of complex conceptual categories and cognitive functions with their means of expression.

“Fifth, the language capacity is the total capacity to express concepts and cognitive functions. Thus, the range of concepts that can be expressed in any language is part of the human language capacity. Whatever means of expression there is in any language is part of the human language capacity. Where Chomskyan linguistic theory narrows the language capacity to what is true of all languages, cognitive linguistics considers the language capacity in the broadest terms as what is involved in any part of any language.

“Sixth, grammatical universals are universals concerning the pairing of form and content; they are not universals of form alone (whatever that could mean). Moreover, there is more to language and to linguistic universals than grammar. Linguistic universals include conceptual universals (e.g., primitive spatial relations, universal conceptual metaphors), universals of cognitive function, and universals of iconicity.” Johnson, Mark & George Lakoff. Philosophy in the Flesh: The Embodied Mind and Its Challenge to Western Thought. Basic Books. 1999. Pps. 506-7.


“We often argue that a map represents a simplification of or an abstraction from an environment. Not all the features of an environment are modeled, for the purpose of the representation is to express not the possible complexity of things but their simplicity. Space is made manageable by the reduction of information. By doing this, however, different maps bring the same environment alive in different ways; they produce quite different realities. Therefore, to live within the purview of different maps is to live with different realities. Consequently, maps not only constitute the activity known as mapmaking; they constitute nature itself.” Carey, James. Communication As Culture: Essays on Media and Society. Routledge. 1989. P. 28.


“... they [two descriptions of a “blueprint”] point to the dual capacity of symbolic forms: as ‘symbols of’ they present reality; as ‘symbols for’ they create the very reality they present.” Carey, James. Communication As Culture: Essays on Media and Society. Routledge. 1989. P. 29.

“But if the activity of the scientist qua scientist is determined by conditioning and reinforcement, by the functional necessities of personality and social systems, by the eruption of the demonic and unconscious, what is left of reason?” Carey, James. Communication As Culture: Essays on Media and Society. Routledge. 1989. P. 46.


“...the inability to engage in this conversation is the imperative failure of the modern social sciences. Not understanding their subjects–that unfortunate word–they do not converse with them so much as impose meanings on them.” Carey, James. Communication As Culture: Essays on Media and Society. Routledge. 1989. P. 62.


“Rather than grading experience into zones of epistemological correctness, we can more usefully presume that given what we are biologically and what culture is practically, people live in qualitatively distinct zones of experience that cultural forms organize in different ways. Few people are satisfied apprehending things exclusively through the flattened perceptual glasses of common sense. Most insist on constantly transforming perception into different modes–religious, aesthetic, scientific–in order to see the particular marvels and mysteries these frames of reference contain. The scientific conceit is the presumption that living in scientific frames of reference is unequivocally superior to aesthetic, commonsensical, or religious ones. The debilitating effect of this conceit is the failure to understand the meaningful realms of discourse in terms of which people conduct their lives.” Carey, James. Communication As Culture: Essays on Media and Society. Routledge. 1989. P. 66.


“Reframed in terms of niche construction, Falk’s argument can promote new thinking about language. Not only does it allow for skepticism about the role of words in Ur-language, but it prompts us to ask how joint behavior induces belief in verbal entities.” Cowley, Stephen. “Early hominins, utterance-activity, and niche construction” In Behavioral and Brain Sciences. August, 2004. Volume, 27:4. Pps. 509-510. [“Falk” refers to her book “Prelinguistic Evolution in Early Hominins: Whence Motherese?”]


“A universal design feature of languages is that their meaning-bearing forms are divided into two different sybsystems, the open-class, or lexical, and the closed-class, or grammatical.” Talmy, Leonard. “Concept Structuring Systems in Language” Pps. 15-46. Edited by Tomasello, Michael. The New Psychology of Language: Cognitive and Functional Approaches to Language Structure, Volume 2. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Publishers. 2003. P. 15.


“We have been used to thinking of grammar as the preserve of whatever generality and systematicity can be extracted from the phenomena of language. Such a conception leaves us with an inconvenient residue of randomness, to be disposed of in the lap of some field of language study or other. Lexicon used to be the dumping ground of irregularity. But the once-despised lexicon has now been cleaned up, its reputation refurbished as it becomes a bright new field of generalization. We recognize that the fine-grained patterning that permeates the field of lexical organization can become a foundation upon which generalizations of grammar are built.” Du Bois, John. “Discourse and Grammar” Pps. 47-87. The New Psychology of Language: Cognitive and Functional Approaches to Language Structure, Volume 2. Edited by Michael Tomasello. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Publishers. 2003. P. 48.


“Words point to objects (reference) and words point to other words (sense), but we use the sense to pick out the reference, not vice versa.

“This referential relationship between the words–words systematically indicating other words–forms a system of higher-order relationships that allows words to be about indexical relationships, and not just indices in themselves. But this is also why words need to be in context with other words, in phrases and sentences, in order to have any determinate reference. Their indexical power is distributed, so to speak, in the relationships between words. Symbolic reference derives from combinatorial possibilities and impossibilities, and we therefore depend on combinations both to discover it (during learning) and to make use of it (during communication).” Deacon, Terrence. The Symbolic Species: The Co-evolution of Language and the Brain. W.W. Norton. 1997. P. 83.


“In summary, then, symbols cannot be understood as an unstructured collection of tokens that map to a collection of referents because symbols don’t just represent things in the world, they also represent each other. Because symbols do not directly refer to things in the world, but indirectly refer to them by virtue of referring to other symbols, they are implicitly combinatorial entities whose referential powers are derived by virtue of occupying determinate positions in an organized system of other symbols.” Deacon, Terrence. The Symbolic Species: The Co-evolution of Language and the Brain. W.W. Norton. 1997. P. 99.


“The fact that the replicated information that constitutes a language is not organized into an animate being in no way excludes it from being an integrated adaptive entity evolving with respect to human hosts.

“The parasitic model is almost certainly too extreme, for the relationship between language and people is symbiotic.” Deacon, Terrence. The Symbolic Species: The Co-evolution of Language and the Brain. W.W. Norton. 1997. P. 112.


“At the level of what an individual knows, a language is very much like one’s own personal symbiotic organism.” Deacon, Terrence. The Symbolic Species: The Co-evolution of Language and the Brain. W.W. Norton. 1997. P. 114.


“Some of the sources of universal selection on the evolution of language structures include immature learning biases, human mnemonic and perceptual biases, the constraints of human vocal articulation and hearing, and the requirements of symbolic reference, to name a few.” Deacon, Terrence. The Symbolic Species: The Co-evolution of Language and the Brain. W.W. Norton. 1997. P. 116.


“Is there something about language that requires a predisposition for working with difficult conditional associative relationships, maintaining items in working memory under highly distractive conditions, or using negative information to shift associative strategies from concrete stimulus driven links to abstract associations?” Deacon, Terrence. The Symbolic Species: The Co-evolution of Language and the Brain. W.W. Norton. 1997. P. 264.


“In summary, I believe symbolic reference itself is the only conceivable selection pressure for such an extensive and otherwise counterproductive shift in learning emphasis. Symbol use itself must have been the prime mover for the prefrontalization of the brain in hominid evolution. Language has given rise to a brain which is strongly biased to employ the one mode of associative learning that is most critical to it.” Deacon, Terrence. The Symbolic Species: The Co-evolution of Language and the Brain. W.W. Norton. 1997. P. 336.


“More than any other group of species, hominids’ behavioral adaptations have determined the course of their physical evolution, rather than vice versa. Stone and symbolic tools, which were initially acquired with the aid of flexible ape-learning abilities, ultimately turned the tables on their users and forced them to adapt to a new niche opened by these technologies. Rather than being just useful tricks, these behavioral prostheses for obtaining food and organizing social behaviors became indispensable elements in a new adaptive complex. The origin of ‘humanness’ can be defined as that point in our evolution where these tools became the principal source of selection on our bodies and brains.” Deacon, Terrence. The Symbolic Species: The Co-evolution of Language and the Brain. W.W. Norton. 1997. P. 345.


“Of course, the more intrinsically flexible or general the adaptation, the more potential there is for diverse involvement in secondary functions. For this reason, neurological adaptations may be among the most highly susceptible to this spreading exaptation process. An important consequence of this is that neural adaptations should tend to evolve away from strict ‘domain specificity’ toward functions that can be recruited for multiple uses, so long as the original domain-specific function is not thereby compromised. This tendency should be even further exaggerated for neural adaptations that are one or two steps removed from perceptual and motor domains, as are various learning predispositions. In this regard, symbolic strategies for communication and mnemonic support are minimally constrained. Once symbolic communication became essential for one critical social function, it also became available for recruitment to support dozens of other functions as well.” Deacon, Terrence. The Symbolic Species: The Co-evolution of Language and the Brain. W.W. Norton. 1997. Pps. 351-2.


“The special demands of acquiring meat and caring for infants in our own evolution together contribute the underlying impetus for the third characteristic feature of human reproductive patterns: cooperative group living.”

“Group living is not uncommon in the rest of the primates and in other mammals generally, but it is almost exclusively associated with polygynous reproductive patterns, or very special contexts, in which nest sites or breeding grounds are a very limiting resource. Reproductive access and reproductive exclusion are determined by ongoing competition in a social group. Males are able successfully to exclude others from sexual access for only a short time, when they are in their prime, so reproductive exclusivity is inevitably transient and unpredictable in mixed social groups. This is one reason why, under conditions where males must put a significant part of their energy into caring for offspring, male and female pairs tend to become isolated. The other reason is that a male contribution to the offspring is more critical in niches where resources are scarce and a larger social group would not have enough to go around. In human foraging societies, these conditions are not linked and pair bonding occurs in the context of group living. Resources are scarce enough that females can only rear their offspring with male support, and meat can only be acquired by groups of men. This pits two critical reproductive problems against one another: the importance of pair isolation to maximize the probability of sexual fidelity, and the importance of group size for access to a critical resource.” Deacon, Terrence. The Symbolic Species: The Co-evolution of Language and the Brain. W.W. Norton. 1997. Pps. 387-8.


“Marriage, in all its incredible variety, is the regulation of reproductive relationships by symbolic means, and it is essentially universal in human societies. It is preeminently a symbolic relationship, and owing to the lack of symbolic abilities, it is totally absent in the rest of the animal kingdom. What I am suggesting here is that a related form of regulation of reproductive relationships by symbolic means was essential for early hominids to take advantage of a hunting-provisioning subsistence strategy.

“Establishing such social-sexual relationships cannot be accomplished by indexical communication alone, that is, by systems of animal calls, postures, and display behaviors, no matter how sophisticated and complex. And yet, even extremely crude symbolic communication can serve this need. Only a few types of symbols and only a few classes of combinatorial relationships between them are necessary. But without symbols that refer publicly and unambiguously to certain abstract social relationships and their future extension, including reciprocal obligations and prohibitions, hominids could not have taken advantage of the critical resource available to habitual hunters. The need to mark these reciprocally altruistic (and reciprocally selfish) relationships arose as an adaptation to the extreme evolutionary instability of the combination of group hunting/scavenging and male provisioning of mates and offspring. This was the question for which symbolization was the only viable answer. Symbolic culture was a response to a reproductive problem that only symbols could solve: the imperative of representing a social contract.” Deacon, Terrence. The Symbolic Species: The Co-evolution of Language and the Brain. W.W. Norton. 1997. Pps. 400-1.


“As the most elaborated human calls, independent of language functions, laughter and sobbing may offer important clues about the context of language evolution. Laughter is highly socially contagious, and feigned or forced ‘social’ laughter is produced frequently in many social contexts. These features suggest that laughter played an important role in the maintenance of group cohesion and identity during a major phase of hominid evolution. Another important clue is that both crying and laughter play significant roles in the social communication of infants with their caretakers long before language develops later in childhood. I think that it is particularly informative that these two vocalizations involve inverse breathing patterns: spasmodic breathing on inhalation (sobbing) versus spasmodic breathing on exhalation (laughing). This indicates that their sound configurations were selected with respect to one another, as a result of disruptive selection against intermediate ambiguous forms. These two vocalizations must have played very important roles in social communication to have turned out so distinctive and so independent of speech systems.” Deacon, Terrence. The Symbolic Species: The Co-evolution of Language and the Brain. W.W. Norton. 1997. P. 419.


“The power of mental images to displace arousal on sensorimotor signals doubly depends on the ability of prefrontal activity to predominate over other systems, because of the requirement to maintain linked but opposed mnemonic traces.

“This suggests that our most social cognitive capabilities may serendipitously grow out of the learning and attentional biases of the prefrontal bias that made symbolization tractable in the first place. So, although symbolic production of a state of emotion is far less reliable and predictable, it can produce far more profound and complete empathy than any other means.” Deacon, Terrence. The Symbolic Species: The Co-evolution of Language and the Brain. W.W. Norton. 1997. P. 430.


“So one might say that thinking in symbols is a means whereby formal causes can determine final causes. The abstract nature of this source makes for a top-down causality, even if implemented on a bottom-up biological machine.” Deacon, Terrence. The Symbolic Species: The Co-evolution of Language and the Brain. W.W. Norton. 1997. P. 435.


“Brains are spontaneously active biological computers in which activity patterns incessantly compete for wider expression throughout each network. Under these conditions, the dominant operation simply runs on its own and assimilates whatever is available. In us, this appears to be the expression of what I have called front-heavy cognition, driven by an overactive, busybody prefrontal cortex. It gets expressed as a need to recode our experiences, to see everything as a representation, to expect there to be a deeper hidden logic. Even when we don’t believe in it, we find ourselves captivated by the lure of numerology, astrology, or the global intrigue of conspiracy theories. This is the characteristic expression of a uniquely human cognitive style; the mark of a thoroughly symbolic species.” Deacon, Terrence. The Symbolic Species: The Co-evolution of Language and the Brain. W.W. Norton. 1997. P. 436.


“Symbolic reference therefore cannot be an intrinsic quality. This is why Searle can claim that there can be no ‘eliminative’ strategy that can reduce intentional (read ‘symbolic’) processes to neural programs. The source of symbolic reference is not in the brain at all.” Deacon, Terrence. The Symbolic Species: The Co-evolution of Language and the Brain. W.W. Norton. 1997. P. 447.


“Indeed, they [skills of attention and intention] basically define the symbolic or functional dimension of linguistic communication–which involves in all cases the attempt of one person to manipulate the intentional or mental states of other persons.” Tomasello, Michael. Constructing a Language: A Usage-Based Theory of Language Acquisition. Harvard University Press. 2003. P. 3.


“Usage-based theories hold that the essence of language is its symbolic dimension, with grammar being derivative.” Tomasello, Michael. Constructing a Language: A Usage-Based Theory of Language Acquisition. Harvard University Press. 2003. P. 5.


“To oversimplify, animal signals are aimed at the behavior and motivational states of others, whereas human symbols are aimed at the attentional and mental states of others.” Tomasello, Michael. Constructing a Language: A Usage-Based Theory of Language Acquisition. Harvard University Press. 2003. P. 8.


“The way that human beings use linguistic symbols thus creates a clear break with straightforward perceptual or sensory-motor cognitive representations–even those connected with events displaced in space and/or time–and enables human beings to view the world in whatever way is convenient for the communicative purpose at hand.” Tomasello, Michael. Constructing a Language: A Usage-Based Theory of Language Acquisition. Harvard University Press. 2003. P. 13.


“It [the human adaptation for symbolic communication] emerges in the context of a whole suite of new social-cognitive skills, the most important for language acquisition being the establishment of joint attentional frames, the understanding of communicative intentions, and a particular type of cultural learning known as role reversal imitation.” Tomasello, Michael. Constructing a Language: A Usage-Based Theory of Language Acquisition. Harvard University Press. 2003. P. 19.


“In the current account, children begin to acquire language when they do because the learning process depends crucially on the more fundamental skills of joint attention, intention-reading, and cultural learning–which emerge near the end of the first year of life. And importantly, a number of studies have found that children’s earliest skills of joint attentional engagement with their mothers correlate highly with their earliest skills of language comprehension and production. This correlation derives from the simple fact that language is nothing more than another type–albeit a very special type–of joint attentional skill; people use language to influence and manipulate one another’s attention.” Tomasello, Michael. Constructing a Language: A Usage-Based Theory of Language Acquisition. Harvard University Press. 2003. P. 21.


“Importantly, in learning to produce an act of symbolic communication, the process of imitative learning is similar to, but somewhat different from, the imitative learning of these straightforward intentional actions. For example, if the child sees an adult operate a novel toy in a particular way and then imitatively learns to do the same thing, there is a parallel in the way the adult and child treat the toy–the child just substitutes herself for the adult. However, when an adult addresses the child with a novel communicative symbol intending to refer her attention to that toy, and the child wants to imitatively learn this communicative behavior, the situation changes. The reason is that in expressing communicative intentions in a linguistic symbol, the adult expresses her intentions toward the child’s attentional state. Consequently, if the child simply substitutes herself for the adult she will end up directing the symbol to herself–which is not what is needed. To learn to use a communicative symbol in a conventionally appropriate manner, the child must engage in role reversal imitation: she must learn to use a symbol toward the adult in the same way the adult used it toward her. This is clearly a process of imitative learning in which the child aligns herself with the adult in terms of both the goal and the means for attaining that goal; it is just that in this case the child must not only substitute herself for the adult as actor but also substitute the adult for herself as the target of the intentional act (that is, she must substitute the adult’s attentional state as goal for her own attentional state as goal).”

“The result of this process of role reversal imitation is a linguistic symbol: a communicative device understood intersubjectively from both sides of the interaction. That is to say, this learning process ensures that the child understands that she has acquired a symbol that is socially ‘shared’ in the sense that she can assume in most circumstances that the listener both comprehends and can produce that same symbol–and the listener also knows that they can both comprehend and produce the symbol. This contrasts with the process of understanding communicative signals–for example, by nonhuman primates and presymbolic human infants–in which each participant understands its own role as sender or receiver only, from its own inside perspective.” Tomasello, Michael. Constructing a Language: A Usage-Based Theory of Language Acquisition. Harvard University Press. 2003. P. 27-8.


“Children of this age [1-year-olds] produce their gestural and linguistic utterances for both imperative motives, to get the adult to do something with respect to an object or event, and declarative motives, to get adults simply to share attention with them to some external event or entity.” Tomasello, Michael. Constructing a Language: A Usage-Based Theory of Language Acquisition. Harvard University Press. 2003. P. 31.


“First, the symbolic dimensions of language derive from a uniquely human biological adaptation for things cultural. This adaptation may be characterized as the ability to understand that other persons have intentional and mental states like one’s own–which leads, quite naturally, to a desire to manipulate those intentional and mental states via social conventions. Second, the grammatical dimensions of language derive from people’s uses of linguistic symbols in patterned ways for purposes of interpersonal communication, as these are played out repeatedly over historical time. In the evolution of human languages, various kinds of primate-wide pattern-finding and categorization skills–in combination with such things as pragmatic inferencing and automatization–worked over historical time in processes of grammaticalization and syntacticization to create in different linguistic communities a variety of different types of grammatical constructions. There was no biological adaptation for grammar.” Tomasello, Michael. Constructing a Language: A Usage-Based Theory of Language Acquisition. Harvard University Press. 2003. P. 40.


“It will be noted that this way of thinking about communication groups all methods of coding under the single rubric of part-for-whole. The verbal message ‘It is raining’ is to be seen as a part of a larger universe within which that message creates redundancy or predictability. The ‘digital,’ the ‘analogic,’ the ‘iconic,’ the ‘metaphoric,’ and all other methods of coding are subsumed under this single heading.” Bateson, Gregory. Steps to an Ecology of Mind. Ballantine. 1972. P. 415.


“The information contained in the phenotypic shark is implicit in forms which are complementary to characteristics of other parts of the universe, phenotype plus environment whose redundancy is increased by the phenotype.” Bateson, Gregory. Steps to an Ecology of Mind. Ballantine. 1972. P. 416.


“Under the limitation imposed by the lack of a metacommunicative frame, it is clearly impossible for dream to make an indicative statement, either positive or negative.” Bateson, Gregory. Steps to an Ecology of Mind. Ballantine. 1972. P. 422.


“Sociolinguistic, interactional, and conversation-analytic analyses of markers begin with a view that language reflects (and realizes) rich and multifaceted contexts. This view leads such analysts to search for the varied functions of markers–and thus to incorporate into their analyses and theories the multifunctionality that is one of the central defining features of discourse markers. But many current analysts who begin from semantic and pragmatic perspectives privilege the ‘message’ level of discourse, thus restricting analysis of markers to the signaling of message-based relationships across sentences. Also differently conceived is the notion of communicative meaning. Sociolinguistic approaches to discourse assume that communicative meaning is co-constructed by speaker/hearer interaction and emergent from jointly recognized sequential expectations and contingencies of talk-in-interaction. But many semantic and pragmatic analyses of markers are wed to a Gricean view of communicative meaning as speaker intention (and subsequent hearer recognition of intention). If the assignment of meaning is completely divorced from the study of the sequential and interactional contingencies of actual language use, however, then so are decisions about the functions of markers, and even more basically, decisions about the status of expressions as markers.” Schiffrin, Deborah. “Discourse Markers: Language, Meaning, and Context” Pps. 54-75. From Schiffrin, D., D. Tannen & H. Hamilton. The Handbook of Discourse Analysis. 2003. Blackwell. Pps. 66-7.


“Linguistics is a paradigmatic case. If our turf is, as we like to tell introductory classes, ‘the scientific study of language,’ what does ‘language’ properly include? Some linguists interpret ‘language’ as ‘language alone’: they draw the line in the sand at the point where analysis involves interaction or persuasion, or anything we do with words. Others incorporate these territories into linguistics, willingly or grudgingly, but still try to keep them separate. Here, in a central subdivision, we will discuss language-in-isolation; beyond this impregnable fence that guards the province of philosophy, speech acts and implicature; there, further than the eye can see, next to the kingdom of sociology, conversation; and far away, adjoining the duchies of rhetoric and mass communication, public discourse. Each area has developed its own language, as nations will, unintelligible to those within other areas of linguistics, and even those in adjoining principalities.” Lakoff, Robin T. “Nine Ways of Looking at Apologies” Pps. 199-214. From Schiffrin, Deborah, Deborah Tannen & Heidi Hamilton. The Handbook of Discourse Analysis. 2003. Blackwell. Pps. 199-200.


“The plot thickens, however, when we see that the same signal has different meanings in different places, which must imply arbitrary meaning. Christophe Boesch raised the possibility of arbitrary signal meaning in chimpanzees. He noted that the same signal, leaf clipping, means invitation to play in one place, an invitation to have sex in another. In our own orangutans, we have the tantalizing case of the raspberry sounds an animal makes when finishing a nest and just before bedding down. Why do all orangutans make the sound at exactly that time? Do the prt-prt sounds mean that the sender is saying good night to others nearby? But why should it mean that? At first the sound may have been completely meaningless to the local mawas and later acquired its meaning through the forming of an association. If orangutans at Suaq show clear signs of understanding the meaning of the sound, for instance by being more likely to make their own nest after hearing the raspberry, whereas those elsewhere do not ‘understand’ them in the same way, then the prt-prt may qualify as a symbol. If a particular signal variant means different things at different sites (e.g., leaf clipping), or is used at only a single site with a seemingly arbitrary meaning (e.g., the nest-time raspberries), that comes perilously close to symbolic use.” Van Schaik, Carel. Among Orangutans: Red Apes and the Rise of Human Culture. Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. 2004. P. 156.


“A fundamental issue in physics, biology, and cognitive science is where to draw the necessary epistemic cut between the coherent physical dynamics and its rate-independent semiotic description.” Pattee, H. H. “The Physics of Symbols and The Evolution of Semiotic Controls.” 1997. Paper published in Santa Fe Institute Studies in the Sciences of Complexity. Proceedings Volume. Addison-Wesley. P. 1.


“There has always been an apparent paradox between the concept of universal physical laws and semiotic controls. Physical laws describe the dynamics of inexorable events, or as Wigner expresses it, physical explanations give us the impression that events ‘... could not be otherwise.’ By contrast, the concepts of information and control give us the impression that events could be otherwise, and the well-known Shannon measure of information is just the logarithm of the number of other ways.” Pattee, H. H. “The Physics of Symbols and The Evolution of Semiotic Controls.” 1997. Paper published in Santa Fe Institute Studies in the Sciences of Complexity. Proceedings Volume. Addison-Wesley. P. 2.


“Perhaps the deepest root of the problem, however, is the conceptual incompatibility of the concepts of determinism and choice, a paradox that has existed since the earliest philosophers.” Pattee, H. H. “The Physics of Symbols and The Evolution of Semiotic Controls.” 1997. Paper published in Santa Fe Institute Studies in the Sciences of Complexity. Proceedings Volume. Addison-Wesley. P. 2.


“By contrast, in the context of biological evolution, information must be acquired and used for survival. Otherwise, it is entirely gratuitous to attribute function, fitness, or meaning to biological structures. However, in all cases there is one essential requirement for semantic information in both physics and biology: we must define an epistemic cut separating the world from the organism or observers. In other words, wherever it is applied, the concept of semantic information requires the separation of the knower and the known.” Pattee, H. H. “The Physics of Symbols and The Evolution of Semiotic Controls.” 1997. Paper published in Santa Fe Institute Studies in the Sciences of Complexity. Proceedings Volume. Addison-Wesley. P. 5.


“Von Neumann stated this condition clearly: ‘That is, we must always divide the world into two parts, the one being the observed system, the other the observer .... That this boundary can be pushed arbitrarily deeply into the interior of the body of the actual observer is the content of the principle of the psycho-physical parallelism–but this does not change the fact that in each method of description the boundary must be put somewhere, if the method is not to proceed vacuously.’”

“Von Neumann’s argument needs to be thoroughly understood in order to see why dynamic and semiotic modes of description are necessary, complementary, and irreducible one to the other at all levels. Von Neumann used measurement for his discussion, but the same argument holds for any epistemic cut from the genotype/phenotype cut in the cell to the mind/matter cut in the brain.” Pattee, H. H. “The Physics of Symbols and The Evolution of Semiotic Controls.” 1997. Paper published in Santa Fe Institute Studies in the Sciences of Complexity. Proceedings Volume. Addison-Wesley. P. 6. [Subquote is from Von Neumann. Mathematical Foundations of Quantum Mechanics. Princeton University Press. 1955. P. 420]


“This problem of delayed meaning arises because of the apparent total lack of intrinsic connection between the time and place where we acquire new information and the time and place where it is selected or when we decide to use it in our actions and efforts to control. In physical jargon this arbitrariness in time scale or lack of any definable temporal relation between events is called incoherence. In linguistics jargon it is called displacement. It is this temporal arbitrariness that is one reason semiotic control is difficult to incorporate into physical models or any dynamic formalism where time or sequence defines the next-state transition.” Pattee, H. H. “The Physics of Symbols and The Evolution of Semiotic Controls.” 1997. Paper published in Santa Fe Institute Studies in the Sciences of Complexity. Proceedings Volume. Addison-Wesley. P. 8.


“Any time a theory builder proposes to call any event, state, structure, etc., in any system (say the brain of an organism) a signal or message or command or otherwise endows it with content, he takes out a loan of intelligence. He implicitly posits along with his signals, messages, or commands, something that can serve as a signal-reader, message-understander, or commander, else his ‘signals’ will be for naught, will decay unreceived, uncomprehended. This loan must be repaid eventually by finding and analyzing away these readers or comprehenders; for, failing this, the theory will have among its elements unanalyzed man-analogues endowed with enough intelligence to read the signals, etc., and thus the theory will postpone answering the major question: what makes for intelligence?” Dennett, Daniel. 1978. Brainstorms: Philosophical Essays on Mind and Psychology. Bradford Books. P. 12.


“It is worth noting that two of MacIntyre’s own interior ‘goods’ (strategic imagination and competitive intensity) require another person in order to be practiced and thereby cultivated. They are, in other words, relational goods. This does not mean that they are somehow inferior to other goods; no such thing is implied by virtue of being internal to a practice. This is pivotal to rhetoric. I think we are now in a position to claim that the ‘goods’ or qualities internal to rhetoric are necessarily relational. Like competitiveness and strategic imagination (which mastery of rhetoric is also capable of providing), they require some other in order to be practiced. But beyond this, some very important civic qualities–such as civic friendship, a sense of social justice–are actively cultivated through excellence in rhetorical practice. These qualities, in other words, are not merely distinctions for the autonomous agent to master; they are qualities of the body politic itself.” Farrell, Thomas. “Practicing the Arts of Rhetoric: Tradition and Invention.” Pp. 79-100. From Lucaites, John, Celeste Condit & Sally Caudill, editors. Contemporary Rhetorical Theory: A Reader. 1999. Guilford Press. Pp. 81-2.


“Pivotal to Aristotle’s understanding of rhetoric, then, is its peculiar inculcation of cognition, ethos, and emotion in the decisions and acts of collectivities. The norms and conventions for a culture thus find themselves employed as premises of recognition and also inference. The norms of social knowledge that apply to membership groups are the selfsame norms of enthymemes. As these expand or contract, they directly affect the lived reality of culture, including its extensiveness. So perhaps I can sum up this liberal textual reading by suggesting that rhetoric in the classical sense provides an important inventional capacity for the conventions, emotions, and cognitions necessary for us to affiliate in a community of civic life.

“We are also on the verge of filling in an understanding of the first claim introduced earlier, that rhetoric, in its classical Aristotelian sense, is a ‘higher-order’ practice. By this, I do not mean that rhetoric is an elite or fine art in some hierarchy of practices, but rather that rhetoric, in its most fully elaborated sense, helps to uncover instances of its practice in a great many of our unexamined activities; the discourse surrounding rituals of civic life: art, sports, entertainment; the more mundane practices of collecting and recollecting: diaries, scrapbooks, autobiographies, and memoirs. Each of these activities, while constituted by its own norms and conventions, may be seen to share in qualities that are undeniably rhetorical.” Farrell, Thomas. “Practicing the Arts of Rhetoric: Tradition and Invention.” Pp. 79-100. From Lucaites, John, Celeste Condit & Sally Caudill, editors. Contemporary Rhetorical Theory: A Reader. 1999. Guilford Press. P. 85.


“As grammar lost its centrality among cultural anthropologists, social action assumed a more important analytic role in the field. This shift paralleled a sea change across disciplines away from an analytic focus on timeless mental competence and atemporal structural analysis towards a focus on unfolding, socially co-ordinated, temporally and spatially situated ‘interactional rituals,’ ‘practices,’ ‘activities,’ and ‘talk-in-interaction.’ In these approaches, people are not visualized as passive bearers of unconscious patterns of language and culture, but rather as active agents whose actions and sensibilities at different moments influence the organization, meaning, and outcome of events. While performance is loosely motivated and organized by conventions, principles, and expectations, it is not predictable from mental scripts of situations. Rather, everyday social life is appropriately characterized by historically positioned, situationally contingent moves and strategies of active participants. Moreover, through these moves and strategies, members actively (re)construct, for themselves and for others, orderly ways of being in and understanding the world. In this sense, competence enters into a dialectical relation with performance in that each impacts the other, each is a resource for the other, each helps to constitute the other.” Ochs, Elinor, Emanuel Schegloff & Sandra Thompson, editors. Interaction and Grammar. 1996. Cambridge University Press. P. 6.


“In this interpretation, grammar stands in a relatively intimate relation to social interaction. It is designed for interactional ends and as such must reckon with the architecture and dynamics of turns, sequences, activities, participant frameworks, stances, trouble, expectations, contingencies, and other relevant interactional actualities. Grammar is vulnerable to social interaction in that social interaction is the universally commonplace medium for language acquisition, language maintenance, and language change.” Ochs, Elinor, Emanuel Schegloff & Sandra Thompson, editors. Interaction and Grammar. 1996. Cambridge University Press. Pp. 36-7.


“As an utterance proceeds, its lexical and grammatical structuring may open up, narrow down, or otherwise transform the roles of different participants to the interaction.” Ochs, Elinor, Emanuel Schegloff & Sandra Thompson, editors. Interaction and Grammar. 1996. Cambridge University Press. P. 39.

“In some cases, as in anticipatory completions and certain types of repair, different participants produce linguistic forms that comprise a linguistic construction. In other cases, the joint activity generating a construction is discernible only by attending to eye gaze, body orientation, or non-occurrence of verbal uptake at some relevant moment in the course of producing a construction. Interlocutors who do not display recipentship through eye gaze, for example, may lead speakers to redesign their utterances for other recipients. And, as noted earlier, tag questions may be inspired by the non-occurrence of speaker transition at a point of possible turn completion. In all of these cases, the resulting constructions are co-authored by multiple participants. The meaning of any single grammatical construction is interactionally contingent, built over interactional time in accordance with interactional actualities. Meaning lies not with the speaker nor the addressee nor the utterance alone as many philosophical arguments have considered, but rather with the interactional past, current, and projected next moment. The meaning of an entire utterance is a complex, not well understood, algorithm of these emergent, non-linear, sense-making interactions.” Ochs, Elinor, Emanuel Schegloff & Sandra Thompson, editors. Interaction and Grammar. 1996. Cambridge University Press. P. 40.


“... that the various grammatical relations of English bear only a very loose correlation with semantic roles, and that therefore some other vocabulary, in addition to grammatical relations, is required to give a complete account of the syntax and semantics of valency in English. Thus, if one takes the sentences John opened the door with the key, the key opened the door, the door opened, then simply to say that the subjects of these sentences are, respectively, John, the key, and the door fails to recognize that the semantic role of the subject is different in each example, a difference that can be described by assigning the semantic roles, respectively, of agent, instrument, and patient. Conversely, simply to describe the grammatical relations of these sentences fails to note that although the door is sometimes direct object and sometimes subject, yet still its semantic role remains constant (as patient); although the key is sometimes a non-direct object and sometimes a subject, again it always fulfils the same semantic role, of instrument.” Comrie, Bernard. Language Universals and Linguistic Typology. 1981. Basil Blackwell. P. 52.


“Although many languages treat experiencers just like initiators of actions, as in English I hit the man and I saw the man, there are also many languages that distinguish them. In Lak, for instance, the dative case is used for the subject of a verb of perception, whereas the ergative is the usual case for the subject of a transitive verb:

Buttan (dative) ussu xxal xunni.
‘Father saw brother.’

Buttal (ergative) bavxxunnu ur cu.
‘Father sold the horse.’” Comrie, Bernard. Language Universals and Linguistic Typology. 1981. Basil Blackwell. P. 55.


“Finally, although we will argue that the notions of topic and agent must play a role in the definition of subject, we argue that, even in English, it is clear that the notion of subject cannot be identified with either of these notions. If we take, for instance, our criterion of verb-agreement, then it is clear that in the passive sentence the men were hit by the boy, the plural verb were does not agree with the agent; and it is equally clear that in the topicalized sentence John I know the non-third person singular verb is not in agreement with the topic. However close the connection may be between grammatical relations, semantic roles, and pragmatic roles, they cannot be identified with one another.” Comrie, Bernard. Language Universals and Linguistic Typology. 1981. Basil Blackwell. P. 100.


“The kind of definition of subject towards which we will be working is the following: the prototype of subject represents the intersection of agent and topic, i.e. the clearest instances of subjects, cross-linguistically, are agents which are also topics.” Comrie, Bernard. Language Universals and Linguistic Typology. 1981. Basil Blackwell. P. 101.


“The question arises immediately why, of four logically possible case marking systems, two should account for almost all the languages of the world that have a case marking system that consistently distinguishes among S, A, and P [Single argument, Agent, Patient]. If we compare the noun phrase arguments of intransitive and transitive constructions, as in (1)-(2) (irrespective of word order), then a possible motivation for this distribution emerges:

S V - intransitive
A P V - transitive

“In the intransitive construction, there is only a single argument, so there is no need, from a functional viewpoint, to mark this noun phrase in any way to distinguish it from other noun phrases. In the transitive construction, on the other hand, there are two noun phrases, and unless there is some other way (such as word order) of distinguishing between them, ambiguity will result unless case marking is used. Since it is never necessary, in this sense, to distinguish morphologically between S and A or S and P (they never cooccur in the same construction), the case used for S can be used for one of the two arguments of the transitive construction. The nominative-accusative system simply chooses to identify S with A, and have a separate marker for P; while the ergative-absolutive system chooses to treat S the same as P, with a separate marker for A. The tripartite system is unnecessarily explicit, since in addition to distinguishing A from P, it also distinguishes each of these from S, even though S never cooccurs with either of the other two.” Comrie, Bernard. Language Universals and Linguistic Typology. 1981. Basil Blackwell. Pp. 118-9.


“In the transitive construction, there is an information flow that involves two entities, the A and the P. Although in principle either of A and P can be either animate or definite, it has been noted that in actual discourse there is a strong tendency for the information flow from A to P to correlate with an information flow from more to less animate and from more to less definite. In other words, the most natural kind of transitive construction is one where the A is high in animacy and definiteness, and the P is lower in animacy and definiteness; and any deviation from this pattern leads to a more marked construction. This has implications for a functional approach to case marking: the construction which is more marked in terms of the direction of information flow should also be more marked formally, i.e. we would expect languages to have some special device to indicate that the A is low in animacy or definiteness or that the P is high in animacy or definiteness.” Comrie, Bernard. Language Universals and Linguistic Typology. 1981. Basil Blackwell. P. 121.


“The most widespread indication of unnatural combinations of A and P across languages, however, is not by marking the verb, but rather by marking one or both of the noun phrase arguments. The following patterns in particular are found: (a) mark a P high in animacy, i.e. the accusative case is restricted to Ps that are high in animacy; (b) mark a P high in definiteness, i.e. the accusative case is restricted to definite Ps; (c) mark an A that is low in animacy, i.e. the ergative case is restricted to noun phrases that are low in animacy. Somewhat embarrassing is the absence of clear attestations of the fourth expected type, namely marking of a indefinite A; languages seem rather to avoid this particular construction by outlawing or discouraging transitive sentence with an indefinite A, either recasting them as passives or by using a presentative construction (like English there is/are...). In English, although the sentences a bus has just run John over and a bird is drinking the milk are surely grammatical, more natural ways of expressing these pieces of information would be John has just been run over by a bus and there’s a bird drinking the milk.” Comrie, Bernard. Language Universals and Linguistic Typology. 1981. Basil Blackwell. Pp. 122-3.


“Restrictive relatives allow, in addition to who and which, the relative pronoun (or conjunction?) that in most instances, or even suppression of the relative pronoun/conjunction, as in the man I saw yesterday left this morning; moreover, it is not necessary, or usual, for the restrictive relative clause to be set off intonationally from the main clause, indicated orthographically by the absence of commas.

“Despite the similar syntactic constructions for restrictive and non-restrictive relative clauses, they are radically different in semantic or pragmatic terms, in particular in that the restrictive relative clause uses pre-supposed information to identify the referent of a noun phrase, while the non-restrictive relative is a way of presenting new information on the basis of the assumption that the referent can already be identified.” Comrie, Bernard. Language Universals and Linguistic Typology. 1981. Basil Blackwell. P. 132.


“It is clear from the definition given of relative clause in section 7.2.1 that the head of a relative clause actually plays a role in two different clauses in the over-all relative clause construction: on the one hand, it plays a role in the main clause, but equally it plays a role in the restricting clause, i.e. the relative clause in the sense of the embedded (subordinate) clause. This is particularly clear in the correlative construction, as in (15 - Hindi; Admi ne jis caku se murgi ko mara tha, us caku ko Ram ne dekha - “man-ergative which knife with chicken-accusative killed that knife-accusative Ram-ergative saw” - ‘Ram saw the knife with which the man killed the chicken.’), where an overt noun phrase appears in both clauses. More commonly, however, cross-linguistically, the head noun appears in a modified or reduced form, or is completely omitted, in one of the two clauses. The first kind of internal-head relative clause discussed in section 7.2.2 illustrates omission of the head noun from the main clause. In this section, we shall be concerned with the expression of the role of the head noun within the embedded clause. Although, a priori, this might seem no more important than the role of the head in the main clause, it turns out that, from the viewpoint of typological variation, the encoding of the role in the embedded sentence is, cross-linguistically, one of the most significant parameters. Below, we distinguish four major types along this parameter: non-reduction, pronoun-retention, relative-pronoun, and gap.

“The non-reduction type simply means that the head noun appears in full, unreduced form, in the embedded sentence, in the normal position and/or with the normal case marking for a noun phrase expressing that particular function in the clause. This type is illustrated by the Bambara (10 [Tye be [n ye so min ye] dyc - “man the present I past house see build” - ‘The man is building the house that I saw.’ This clause is built from the simple sentence N ye so ye - “I past house the see” - ‘I saw the house.’]), Dieguenyo (13), and Hindi (15) examples above, i.e. by the internal-head type in its widest sense.

“In the pronoun-retention type, the head noun remains in the embedded sentence in pronominal form. We have already noted, in passing, that this type is found in non-standard English, as when from the sentence I know where the road leads one forms the relative clause this is the road that I know where it leads. In this construction, the pronoun it indicates the position relativized, i.e. enables retrieval of the information that relativization is of the subject of the indirect question clause. In English, this type has a rather marginal existence, but in many languages it is a major, in many circumstances obligatory, means of forming relative clauses, without any stylistically pejorative overtones. In Persian, for instance, pronoun-retention must be used for relativization of all grammatical relations other than subject and direct object; with direct objects, pronoun-retention is optional; with subjects, it is unusual, though examples are attested.” Comrie, Bernard. Language Universals and Linguistic Typology. 1981. Basil Blackwell. Pp. 139-40.


“Here, English presents essentially no evidence of any kind of restriction, since it is possible to relativize on, for instance, subject, direct object, non-direct object, and possessor in the possessive construction as in:

the man [who bought the book for the girl] (43)
the book [which the man bought for the girl] (44)
the girl [for whom the man bought the book] (45)
the boy [whose book the man bought for the girl] (46)

“In many languages, however, there are heavy restrictions on relativization on these positions. For the purposes of the present section, we will limit the discussion to precisely the four positions just mentioned, since these positions seem to form a cross-linguistically valid hierarchy with respect to relativization. Certain other positions, such as locatives and temporals, do not seem to fit into this hierarchy: in some languages they are very easy to relativize, in other language very difficult to relativize.

“The intuition that underlies the discussion of the present section is a very simple one: the hierarchy subject > direct object > non-direct object > possessor defines ease of accessibility to relative clause formation, i.e. it is, in some intuitive sense, easier to relativize subjects than it is to relativize any of the other positions, easier to relativize direct objects than possessors, etc.” Comrie, Bernard. Language Universals and Linguistic Typology. 1981. Basil Blackwell. Pp. 148-9.


“Any causative situation involves two component situations, the cause and its effect (result). Let us imagine the following scene: the bus fails to turn up; as a result, I am late for a meeting. In this simple example, the bus’s failing to turn up functions as cause, and my being late for the meeting functions as effect. These two micro-situations thus combine together to give a single complex macro-situation, the causative situation. In this case, it would be natural to express the macro-situation in English by combining the two clauses together, e.g. as the bus’s failure to come caused me to be late for the meeting, or the bus didn’t come, so I was late for the meeting, or I was late for the meeting because the bus didn’t come. Very often, however, the expression of one of the micro-situations, usually the cause, can be abbreviated, giving rise to sentences like John caused me to be late: here, the effect is clearly that I was late, but the expression of the cause has been abbreviated, so that it is not clear what particular piece of behaviour by John caused me to be late.” Comrie, Bernard. Language Universals and Linguistic Typology. 1981. Basil Blackwell. Pp. 158-9.


“One of the main formal parameters, indeed often the only one found in early discussions of causative verbs, is the formal relationship between the expression for the causative macro-situation and the resultant micro-situation, i.e. the relationship between, for instance, cause to die and die, or between kill and die. On this morphological parameter, we can make a three-way typological distinction, although, as with many typological distinctions, forms in languages do not always fit neatly into one or other of these three types, rather a number of intermediate types are found. The continuum as a whole ranges from analytic causatives through morphological causatives to lexical causatives.

“The prototypical case of the analytic causative is where there are separate predicates expressing the notion of causation and the predicate of the effect, as in English examples like I caused John to go, or I brought it about that John went, where there are separate predicates cause or bring it about (cause) and go (effect). Although such constructions are widely used by linguists, especially in glossing other construction types, in terms of frequency of occurrence cross-linguistically and even in terms of naturalness of use within individual languages, such pure analytic causatives are relatively rare. In Russian, for instance, it would be possible to say ja sdelal tak, ctoby Dzon usel, literally ‘I did thus, so that John left’, but this would be a very unnatural construction; the nearest natural constructions all express much more than simple causation, e.g. ja zastavil Dzona ujti ‘I forced John to leave’, which implies direct coercion, and would be inappropriate, for instance, if John were to be replaced by an inanimate noun phrase.

“Turning now to morphological causatives, the prototypical case has the following two characteristics. First, the causative is related to the non-causative predicate by morphological means, for instance by affixation, or whatever other morphological techniques the language in question has at its disposal. A simple example is provided by Turkish, where the suffixes -t and -dir (the latter with vowel harmony variants) can be added to virtually any verb to give its causative equivalent, e.g. ol ‘die’, ol-dur kill’, goster ‘show’, goster-t ‘cause to show’. The second characteristic of the prototypical morphological causative is that this means of relating causative and non-causative predicates is productive: in the ideal type, one can take any predicate and form a causative from it by the appropriate morphological means. Turkish comes very close to this ideal, since as indicated above one [can] take pretty well any verb and form a causative from it, and can even form causatives of causatives: from ol ‘die’ we can form ol-dur ‘kill’, but we can then take ol-dur as the basis for this same process and form ol-dur-t ‘cause to kill’.” Comrie, Bernard. Language Universals and Linguistic Typology. 1981. Basil Blackwell. Pp. 159-60.


“Introducing the die/kill relationship in the preceding paragraph has brought us to the third type of causative in morphological terms, namely the lexical causative, i.e. examples where the relation between the expression of effect and the expression of causative macro-situation is so unsystematic as to be handled lexically, rather than by any productive process. The clearest examples here are of suppletive pairs, like English kill as the causative of die, or Russian ubit ‘to kill’ as the causative of umeret’ ‘to die’. Suppletion forms the clearest instance of lexical causatives in that there is, by definition, no regularity to the formal relationship between the two members of the pair.” Comrie, Bernard. Language Universals and Linguistic Typology. 1981. Basil Blackwell. P. 161.


“There are also other semantic distinctions that can be made within causative constructions, but on which we will not concentrate here. One such parameter is, however, deserving of mention, namely the distinction between true causation and permission. In English, these two types are kept apart by the use of different main verbs in the usual analytic constructions, as in I made the vase fall (true causative) versus I let the vase fall (permissive).” Comrie, Bernard. Language Universals and Linguistic Typology. 1981. Basil Blackwell. P. 164.


“The distinction between direct and indirect causatives is concerned with the mediacy of the relationship between cause and effect. On the one hand, there are instances where cause and effect are so close to one another temporally that it is difficult to factor the macro-situation physically into cause and effect, even though it remains possible to do so conceptually. Thus if I am walking past the sideboard and catch the vase with my hand, thus causing it to fall from the sideboard, the relation between cause (my catching the vase) and effect (the vase’s falling off the sideboard) is very direct. In other instances, however, the relation between cause and effect may be much more distant, as in the following scenario: the gunsmith, knowing that the gunfighter has a crucial fight coming up, ensures that the gun, which has been entrusted to him for repair, will fail to fire; some hours later, the gunfighter goes out for his fight and, since his gun has been tampered with, he is killed. The relation between cause and effect is very indirect, although nonetheless, there is an inevitable flow of events between the cause (the gunsmith’s tampering with the gun) and the effect (the gunfighter’s death).

“Many languages have a formal distinction correlating with this distinction between direct and indirect causatives. Moreover, the kind of formal distinction found across languages is identical: the continuum from analytic via morphological to lexical causative correlates with the continuum from less direct to more direct causation. Thus if one were forced to establish different situations correlating with the difference between English Anton broke the stick and Anton brought it about that the stick broke, or their Russian equivalents Anton slomal palku and Anton sdelal tak, stoby palka slmoalas’, then one would probably do so by inventing, for the second example in each language, a situation where Anton’s action is removed by several stages from the actual breaking of the stick.” Comrie, Bernard. Language Universals and Linguistic Typology. 1981. Basil Blackwell. P. 165.


“The second semantic parameter that we wish to discuss is the degree of control retained by the causee in the causative construction. Since this semantic parameter interrelates in particular with the formal expression of the causee in the causative construction, most of the discussion of the formal-semantic interaction will be retained until section 8.2. Where the causee is an inanimate entity, as in John caused the tree to fall, this causee in general has no potential for exercising any control over the macro-situation, so that the question of control does not arise. Where, however, the causee is animate, there is the potential for a continuum of degree of control retained by that causee. If one takes an English sentence like I brought it about that John left, then this leaves quite unexpressed whether I got John to leave by direct coercion (e.g. by knocking him unconscious and carrying him out when he was in no position to resist), or whether I subtly played upon his deeper psyche in an attempt, ultimately successful, to persuade him to leave - in either case, I did something (cause) which had as its ultimate result that John left (result). Of course, in English it is possible to express such distinctions, by suitable choice of matrix verb, as in the difference between I compelled John to leave, I made John leave, I imposed on John to leave, I persuaded John to leave. In many languages, however, differences along this continuum can be expressed by varying the case of the causee. For the moment, we will content ourselves with an illustrative example, from Hungarian:

En kohogtettem a gyerek-et
I caused-to-cough the child - accusative. (8)

En kohogtettem a gyerek-kel.
I caused-to-cough the child - instrumental (9)

“Example (8), with the accusative of the causee, implies low retention of control, and would be appropriate, for instance, for a situation where I slapped the child on the back, thereby inducing him to cough whether he wanted to or not. Sentence (9), with the instrumental, leaves greater control in the hands of the causee, implying, for instance, that I got the child to cough by asking him to do so.” Comrie, Bernard. Language Universals and Linguistic Typology. 1981. Basil Blackwell. Pp. 166-7.


“... we introduced one structural area where animacy is relevant in many languages, namely case marking of A and P in transitive constructions, noting in particular that the existence of a separate accusative case frequently correlates with higher degree of animacy. However, some of the specific distinctions require us to go beyond this. For instance, it is frequent for first and second person pronouns to be treated as more ‘animate’ by this case marking criterion, although in a literal sense the first person pronoun I is no more animate than the common noun phrase the author of this book. Likewise, some languages treat proper names as being ‘higher in animacy’ than common noun phrases, although again strictly speaking there is no difference in literal animacy between William Shakespeare and the author of ‘Hamlet’.” Comrie, Bernard. Language Universals and Linguistic Typology. 1981. Basil Blackwell. P. 179.


“The three principal uses of the verb make are derived from a progressive abstractive generalization. First we select the sense in which we create an object [Examples of all are below]. In its original sense, make describes a process in which an agent caries out an action and as a consequence a new object is created. I will call the created object the ‘effected object’. The second use arises when we permit the creation not only of physical objects but also of more abstract entities. Finally, when the effective relationship is extended to events, we get the syntactic (causative) use, in which case an event is brought about.

“In all these uses, there are at least three salient semantic features characterizing the causative use of a ‘make’-verb. Two of these semantic primitives have already been stated in the current typological literature. The ‘force’ primitive of the causative meaning was proposed and argued for by Talmy, the ‘intentional’ or ‘purpose’ primitive has been recently proposed and defended by Song. I will argue that we also need a third semantic primitive: the notion of ‘transition.’” Moreno, Juan Carlos. “‘Make’ and the semantic origins of causativity: a typological study.” Pp. 155-164. From Comrie, Bernard & Maria Polinsky, Editors. Causatives and Transitivity. 1993. John Benjamins Publishing Company. Pp. 158-9. [Examples as references for this paragraph follow]

One-lexical “(1) Thai: khaw tham dookmaay kradat
he made flower paper
‘He made paper flowers.’”

Two-phrasal: “(4) Basque: lo egin n-u-en
sleep make I-have
‘I slept.’”

Three-syntactic: “(12) Ijo: eri aru-bi mie bilemomi
he canoe:the make sink
‘he made the canoe sink.’” Moreno, Juan Carlos. “‘Make’ and the semantic origins of causativity: a typological study.” Pp. 155-164. From Comrie, Bernard & Maria Polinsky, Editors. Causatives and Transitivity. 1993. John Benjamins Publishing Company. Pp. 156-8.


“The first two semantic primitives, transition and force are internal to the causative state of affairs while the third semantic primitive, purpose, is external. This means that, although we can have a causative process without a purpose, we cannot have a causative process without force and transition.” Moreno, Juan Carlos. “‘Make’ and the semantic origins of causativity: a typological study.” Pp. 155-164. From Comrie, Bernard & Maria Polinsky, Editors. Causatives and Transitivity. 1993. John Benjamins Publishing Company. P. 159.


“‘Make’-verbs can develop a causative meaning in so many languages because of the fact that this verb normally denotes a purposive (P), transitional (TR), and induced process (F) in many unrelated languages. The three uses we have observed are consistent with this observation. First, all lexical uses have all three factors: P, TR, and F. Second, the phrasal uses we have seen typically present the primitives P and TR, and possibly P. Third, the syntactic or causative uses we have seen present TR and F, and optionally P.” Moreno, Juan Carlos. “‘Make’ and the semantic origins of causativity: a typological study.” Pp. 155-164. From Comrie, Bernard & Maria Polinsky, Editors. Causatives and Transitivity. 1993. John Benjamins Publishing Company. P. 159.


“Let me first consider some English verbs that are used to express causation. These include: have, let, cause, make, bring about, force, provoke, urge, get, and move. All of these verbs can be said to have at least two semantic primitives in their meanings. The difference lies in the emphasis each puts on one of the semantic primitives. Some focus on purpose: i.e. let, provoke; others give preeminence to force: i.e. cause, have, urge, get; still others give the starring role to transition: i.e. bring about and move. Moreno, Juan Carlos. “‘Make’ and the semantic origins of causativity: a typological study.” Pp. 155-164. From Comrie, Bernard & Maria Polinsky, Editors. Causatives and Transitivity. 1993. John Benjamins Publishing Company. P. 161.
 

“In the case of language, the domains that we need in order to understand language functioning are not in the combinatorial structure of language itself, they are in the cognitive constructions that language acts upon. As long as language is studied as an autonomous self-contained structure, such domains will be invisible. We may have suffered here from a modern epistemological paradox: In studying natural languages autonomously, it is reasonable to treat them formally as sets of strings. And in so doing, one appeals to a branch of mathematics where mappings are not all that important: the theory of formal languages and rewriting systems. Paradoxically, modern linguistics, with its overriding emphasis on syntax, got itself connected to a mathematics without mappings, exactly the sort that will not help us for the study of meaning.” Fauconnier, Gilles. Mappings in Thought and Language. 1997. Cambridge University Press. P. 13.


“A language expression E does not have a meaning in itself; rather, it has a meaning potential, and it is only within a complete discourse and in context that meaning will actually be produced. The unfolding of discourse brings into play complex cognitive constructions. They include the setting up of internally structured domains linked to each other by connectors; this is effected on the basis of linguistic, contextual, and situational clues. Grammatical clues, although crucial to the building process, are in themselves insufficient to determine it.

“An expression can be said to generate meaning: When the grammatical information it contains is applied to an existing cognitive configuration, several new configurations will be possible in principle (i.e., compatible with the grammatical clues). One of them will be produced, yielding a new step in the construction underlying the discourse.

“When approached in this way, the unfolding of discourse is a succession of cognitive configurations. Each gives rise to the next, under pressure from context and grammar. A language expression entering the discourse at stage n constrains the construction of a new configuration, together with the previous configuration of stage n - 1 and various pragmatic factors.

“The configurations produced will undergo further pragmatic elaboration. They have the important characteristic of partitioning information, by relativizing it to different domains. The importance of partitioning for reasoning, and more general cognitive purposes, is stressed in Dinsmore. The domains constructed in this fashion are partially ordered by a subordination relation: a new space M’ is always set up relative to an existing space M that is in focus. M is called the parent space of M’, and in subsequent diagrams the subordination relation will be represented by a dashed line as in Fig. 2.2.

“The spaces set up by a discourse in this way are organized into a partially ordered lattice. At any given stage of the discourse, one of the spaces is a base for the system, and one of the spaces (possibly the same one) is in focus. Construction at the next stage will be relative either to the Base Space or to the Focus Space. Metaphorically speaking, the discourse participants move through the space lattice; their viewpoint and their focus shift as they go from one space to the next. But, at any point, the Base Space remains accessible as a possible starting point for another construction.

“The mental spaces set up in this manner are internally structured by frames and cognitive models, and externally linked by connectors, that relate elements across spaces, and more generally, structures across spaces.” Fauconnier, Gilles. Mappings in Thought and Language. 1997. Cambridge University Press. Pp. 37-9.


“It is essential to remember that a natural-language sentence is a completely different kind of thing from a ‘sentence’ in a logical calculus. The natural-language sentence is a set of (underspecified) instructions for cognitive construction at many different levels.” Fauconnier, Gilles. Mappings in Thought and Language. 1997. Cambridge University Press. P. 40.


“The key to accounting for the kind of classical problems, just mentioned lies in understanding how the multiple grammatical clues in a natural-language sentence relate to the ongoing cognitive construction within a discourse. As we saw in the Achilles example, the sentence is heterogeneous with respect to the mental-space construction process. It contains features responsible for a multiplicity of diverse functions:

• setting up spaces and elements, following a path within the lattice of spaces;
• structuring spaces internally;
• linking them externally by means of connectors;
• indicating what space is in focus, and what type it belongs to (moods and tenses);
• signaling what structures can be transferred by default to higher spaces (presupposition marking);
• accessing elements and their counterparts (definite descriptions, names, anaphors);
• introducing roles and linking them to values;
• establishing matching conditions for spaces that will allow deductive reasoning (e.g. if);
• canceling default implicatures (but).

“In order for discourse participants to find their way through the maze of mental spaces, and to use the partitioning for drawing inferences properly, three dynamic notions are crucial: Base, Viewpoint, and Focus. At any point in the construction, one space is distinguished as Viewpoint, the space from which others are accessed and structured or set up; one space is distinguished as Focus, the space currently being structured internally–the space, so to speak, upon which attention is currently focused; and one space is distinguished as the Base–a starting point for the construction to which it is always possible to return. Base, Viewpoint, and Focus need not be distinct; more often than not, we find the same space serving as Viewpoint and Focus, or Base and Focus, or Base and Viewpoint, or all three: Base, Viewpoint, and Focus.” Fauconnier, Gilles. Mappings in Thought and Language. 1997. Cambridge University Press. P. 49.


“Access Principle: If two elements a and b are linked by a connector F (b = F(a)), then element b can be identified by naming, describing, or pointing to its counterpart a.” Fauconnier, Gilles. Mappings in Thought and Language. 1997. Cambridge University Press. P. 41.


“To illustrate, consider a simple situation. Suppose James Bond, the top British spy, has just been introduced to Ursula as Early Grey, the wealthiest tea importer, and that she finds him handsome. It is equally true that Ursula thinks the top British spy is handsome and that Ursula thinks the wealthiest tea importer is handsome, and both express the same belief. But in the first case the man introduced to Ursula has been described from the point of view of the speaker, whereas in the second he is described from Ursula’s point of view. Although the first description is true and the second is false, Ursula would acquiesce to the wealthiest tea importer is handsome, but not (necessarily) to the top British spy is handsome. Descriptions and names given from the speaker’s point of view are called referentially transparent, or de re. Descriptions and names given from the thinker’s point of view are called referentially opaque or de dicto. Verbs like think or hope or want that allow such descriptions in their complements are said to create opaque contexts. Opaque contexts present a number of difficulties from a logical point of view, as noted already in medieval studies, and in modern logic by Frege, Russell, Quine, and countless others. In particular, Leibniz’s Law fails in such contexts. Leibniz’s Law (substitution of identicals) allows b to be substituted for a in a formula, if a = b; for example 25 can be replaced by 52 or by (19 + 6) without changing the truth value of a mathematical statement. But in our little story, if the wealthiest tea importer is actually the very ugly Lord Lipton–that is, the wealthiest tea importer = Lord Lipton–then sentence (1) is true, whereas (ii) is false:

(i) Ursula thinks the wealthiest tea importer is handsome.
(ii) Ursula thinks Lord Lipton is handsome.”
Fauconnier, Gilles. Mappings in Thought and Language. 1997. Cambridge University Press. Pp. 51-2.


“A sentence in itself has no fixed number of readings. It has a potential for generating connections in mental-space-configurations. The number of readings will be a product of this potential and the spaces available (and accessible) in a particular context.” Fauconnier, Gilles. Mappings in Thought and Language. 1997. Cambridge University Press. P. 54.


“In principle, at any point in the discourse a mental-space element can be accessed from the Base, or the Viewpoint, or the Focus. If one space is simultaneously Base, Viewpoint, and Focus, then of course no distinctions will appear. But as soon as Viewpoint, or Focus, or both, get shifted, then different accessing strategies will become available.

“When we look at this, not in terms of the unfolding discourse, but in terms of the isolated sentence, and its potential for meaning construction, it follows that a sentence containing an explicit grammatical space builder, which necessarily shifts Focus, always has the potential for more than one accessing strategy. The sentence Achilles believes that he is faster than the tortoise, because it contains the explicit space builder Achilles believes, will always appear in a discourse containing at least two spaces, Base and Focus, and so the definite description the tortoise can in principle be linked to at least two different accessing strategies: one in which it directly identifies an element in the Focus Space, as in the above minidiscourse, and one in which it identifies the counterpart of that element in the Base. This latter interpretation is called for in a reversed discourse situation from the first such as:

“Even though he thinks it’s a hare, Achilles believes that he is faster than the tortoise.” Fauconnier, Gilles. Mappings in Thought and Language. 1997. Cambridge University Press. Pp. 54-5.


“The bottom line is this: because of the many spaces a description may originate in, because of the many ways in which counterparts may be accessed, a given sentence does not have a fixed set of readings; rather, it has a generative potential for producing a set of interpretations with respect to any discourse mental-space configuration. The referential opacity/transparency distinction noted by scholars is but one very special and very simple case of this potential: the case in which the number of spaces is limited to two, and in which the sentence contains an explicit space builder for one of the two spaces. When the notions of role and value are brought in, the number of configurational possibilities increases even further.” Fauconnier, Gilles. Mappings in Thought and Language. 1997. Cambridge University Press. Pp. 58-9.


“Natural languages have grammatical devices for marking some of the internal structure of mental spaces as presupposed. This is a powerful expressive feature because it allows structure to be propagated by default through the lattice of mental spaces built up as part of an ongoing discourse. As a result, large amounts of structure are added, with a minimum of explicit lexical information. Grammatical presuppositional constructions include definite descriptions, factives, clefts and pseudo-clefts, aspectual verbs and adverbs, and iteratives.

“The king of France is (not) bald presupposes that there is a king of France (definite description). Hilda knows that her son is a thief presupposes that Hilda’s son is a thief (factive). It was Romeo that Juliet loved presupposes that Juliet loved someone (cleft construction). Luke stopped smoking presupposes that Luke smoked. Chicago defeated Oakland too presupposes that another team defeated Oakland, or that Chicago defeated another team than Oakland (iterative).” Fauconnier, Gilles. Mappings in Thought and Language. 1997. Cambridge University Press. P. 60.
 

“Delivery systems are simply and only technologies; media are also cultural systems. Delivery technologies come and go all the time, but media persist as layers within an ever more complicated information and entertainment stratum.”

“A medium’s content may shift (as occurred when television displaced radio as a storytelling medium, freeing radio to become the primary showcase for rock and roll), its audience may change (as occurs when comics move from a mainstream medium in the 1950s to a niche medium today), and its social status may rise or fall (as occurs when theater moves from a popular form to an elite one), but once a medium establishes itself as satisfying some core human demand, it continues to function within the larger system of communication options. Once recorded sound becomes a possibility, we have continued to develop new and improved means of recording and playing back sound. Printed words did not kill spoken words. Cinema did not kill theater. Television did not kill radio. Each old medium was forced to coexist with the emerging media. That’s why convergence seems more plausible as a way of understanding the past several decades of media change than the old digital revolution paradigm had. Old media are not being displaced. Rather, their functions and status are shifted by the introduction of new technologies.” Jenkins, Henry. Convergence Culture; Where Old and New Media Collide. 2006. New York University Press. P. 14.


“The power of grassroots media is that it diversifies; the power of broadcast media is that it amplifies. That’s why we should be concerned with the flow between the two: expanding the potentials for participation represents the greatest opportunity for cultural diversity. Throw away the powers of broadcasting and one has only cultural fragmentation. The power of participation comes not from destroying commercial culture but from writing over it, molding it, amending it, expanding it, adding greater diversity of perspective, and then recirculating it, feeding it back into the mainstream media.” Jenkins, Henry. Convergence Culture; Where Old and New Media Collide. 2006. New York University Press. P. 257.


“Performing activities that are compatible to the meanings of words is important in remembering language. People who were induced to nod while incidentally reading positive and negative adjectives were later on more likely to recognize positive adjectives, but participants who were induced to shake their heads were more likely to recognize negative words. Moreover, when people moved their heads in a manner that was compatible with the adjectives they read (e.g., nodding for positive adjectives), they were better able to perform a secondary task than when the words and head movements were incompatible. Once more, performing incompatible motor and cognitive task concurrently requires more cognitive capacity, which appears to hinder memory for words.” Gibbs, Raymond. Embodiment and Cognitive Science. 2006. Cambridge University Press. P. 149.


“Among the Assinboine or Nakota people of northern Montana, storytellers use hand gestures that constitute a unique sign system, one that can be used independent of speech. This sign system, called Plains Sign Talk (PST), has for centuries been an intertribal lingua franca for Plains Indians speaking different languages. Although fluent sign talkers are not nearly as common today as they were one hundred years ago, various elders who learned PST when young, deaf families, and participants in ceremonial rituals have kept PST alive. For the Assinboine, PST is not merely a dramatic enhancement of the speaker’s narrative, because all speech acts are simultaneously voiced and manual, with both the verbal and signed elements being considered aspects of ‘talking.’ As one teacher of PST commented when asked for the spoken equivalent of a signed utterance, ‘Like I just showed you.’...”

PST contrasts with American Sign Language (ASL) in significant ways. Signs referring to thoughts, minds, and intelligence in ASL center on the head, and signs for emotion and feelings are enacted near the heart and chest. ASL signs reflect folk ideas about the spatial locations of the entities and powers in the body within American society. But PSL sign for concepts such as ‘know’ and ‘think’ are enacted around the heart, and the sign for ‘doubt’ is literally ‘being of two hearts.’ To say that someone has a good mind, a Nakota speaker will move a pinched index finger from the heart away from the body with the finger pointing straight ahead, followed by the sign for ‘good.’” Gibbs, Raymond. Embodiment and Cognitive Science. 2006. Cambridge University Press. P. 169.


“Seeing is a powerful metaphor for thinking in English, especially in reference to the end-product of thought. To say ‘I see what you mean’ reflects the metaphorical idea that to perceive something is to correctly understand it. However, in PST, the active process part of the visual metaphor is emphasized rather than its end-product. Thus, talk of thinking refers to the action of looking, specifically looking from the heart. Unlike in English, where there are significant differences between thinking and feeling, PST incorporates the Assinboine folk idea that to know something is to ‘to know in one’s heart,’ an idea that reduces the distinction between what one personally experiences and what one might objectively know to be true.” Gibbs, Raymond. Embodiment and Cognitive Science. 2006. Cambridge University Press. P. 170.


“Much research in psycholinguistics demonstrates the importance of ‘common ground’ between speakers and listeners in successful communication. There are three primary sources for common ground. The first source is ‘linguistic co-presence,’ where the listener takes as common ground all of the conversation up to and including the utterance currently being interpreted. A second source for common ground is ‘physical co-presence,’ where the listener takes as common ground what he or she and the speaker are currently experiencing in terms of their immediate physical environment, including the actions and positioning of their own bodies. The final source of evidence is community membership. This includes information that is universally known in a community and can be represented by mental structures such as scripts or schemata. Moreover, it also covers mutually known conventions governing the phonology, syntax, and semantics of the sentence uttered.” Gibbs, Raymond. Embodiment and Cognitive Science. 2006. Cambridge University Press. P. 172.


“Embodied construction grammar follows the basic tenets of mainstream construction grammar, and cognitive grammar in assuming that all linguistic knowledge, at al levels, can be characterized as pairings of form and meaning, called ‘constructions.’ Understanding utterances, quite broadly, involves internal activation of ‘embodied schemes,’ along with the mental simulation of these representations in context to generate a rich set of inferences. Constructions are important in this account because they provide the interface between phonological and conceptual knowledge, thereby evoking embodied semantic structures.” Gibbs, Raymond. Embodiment and Cognitive Science. 2006. Cambridge University Press. P. 198.


“This analysis of embodied action schemas can also specify a rich set of inferential meaning evoked by metaphorical utterances such as ‘Mary tossed the Enquirer a juicy tidbit.’ This expression emphasizes the same construction as in ‘Mary tossed me a drink,’ including the active ditransitive construction. But for the metaphorical expression, ‘the Enquirer’ cannot be a literal recipient within the TRANSFER schema. A solution to this problem is to construct a metaphorical map that allows a target domain involving Communication to be structured in terms of a corresponding source domain of Object-Transfer, which enables ‘the Enquirer’ to be construed as a suitable recipient. Once this mapping occurs, this links to the inference that the object transfer may be metaphorical as well, belonging to the domain of information, and not food, interpretations of ‘juicy’ and ‘tidbit.’ Moreover, both the overall event and the means by which it take places can be understood as a verbal act of transfer, as opposed to physical.

“Most generally, embodied construction grammar is a simulation-based model of language understanding. Critical to this perspective is the idea that motor action may be simulated and applied to understanding of various aspects of language.” Gibbs, Raymond. Embodiment and Cognitive Science. 2006. Cambridge University Press. P. 199.


“Embodied activity plays a role in a[t] least some aspects of language evolution, the processing of speech and word meaning, how people understand why various words and phrases have the meanings they do, and people’s immediate comprehension of verbal expressions and written discourse. As was seen in Chapter 5 for aspects of higher-order cognition, embodied activity shapes parts of on-line communication and the off-line knowledge that is accessed during linguistic processing.

“A significant part of embodied activity subserves simulation processes that operate during language understanding. In fact, language understanding within real-world communicative contexts may be best described as a kind of embodied simulation, rather than the activation of pre-existing, disembodied, symbolic knowledge. None of this implies that all aspects of language and communication, including some body movements used to express meaning, are rooted in embodiment. But there is sufficient evidence to suggest that many aspects of language and communication arise from, and continue to be guided by, bodily experience.” Gibbs, Raymond. Embodiment and Cognitive Science. 2006. Cambridge University Press. P. 207.


“‘Rhetoric’ has not always been a synonym for humbug. For most of Western history, it has meant the body of doctrine that teaches people how to speak and write and, thus, act effectively in public life. Usually defined as ‘the art of persuasion,’ it might as well have been called ‘the economics of attention.’ It tells us how to allocate our central scarce resource, to invite people to attend to what we would like them to attend to.” Lanham, Richard. The Economics of Attention: Style and Substance in the Age of Information. 2006. University of Chicago Press. Pp. xii-xiii.


“‘Rhetoric’ has not always been a dirty word, the opposite of sincerity, truth, and good intentions. For most of its life it meant the training in expression, spoken and written, that you need to play a useful role in human society. It became a dirty word in the seventeenth century, when science, trying to describe the world of stuff, wanted to abolish the distortions of human attention structures. Human communication ought to be like the United Parcel Service, an efficient mover of information boxes from one destination to the other. This model for human communication gains its power from its narrowness, but we need a wider model for an attention economy. Information does not come in simple neutral boxes and its distribution is a more complex matter altogether. We need a more capacious conception of human communication, one that can accommodate the full range of human purpose.” Lanham, Richard. The Economics of Attention: Style and Substance in the Age of Information. 2006. University of Chicago Press. P. 19.


“The contending-opposites way of thinking does have its uses. In our journey through the perilous wood of life, no shield is more serviceable than a good crap detector. But crap detectors cannot create; they can only detect. Creativity, invention, comes when style and substance collaborate in a common purpose. Only when style and substance come together does originality emerge.” Lanham, Richard. The Economics of Attention: Style and Substance in the Age of Information. 2006. University of Chicago Press. P. 254.


“Rhetoric teachers have always advocated, as the final talent, the inspired improvisation that emerges from profound preparation.” Lanham, Richard. The Economics of Attention: Style and Substance in the Age of Information. 2006. University of Chicago Press. P. 255.


It is certainly true that style and substance are a tricky pair of terms, and not only because they are imprecise. Push style to its extreme and it becomes substance. The Greek sophist Isocrates illustrated this, and it was Oscar Wilde’s central theme as well. Hemingway’s syntactical simplicity, his abjuration of verbal ornament, became so pronounced as to become highly ornamental. Thoreau advocated doing away with the ornaments of life so that he could live a life of pure play, a completely ornamental life.” Lanham, Richard. The Economics of Attention: Style and Substance in the Age of Information. 2006. University of Chicago Press. P. 255.


“Creation and revision constitute the oldest at/through sequence, whether in word, image, or sound. Under the influence of the Romantic vision of white-hot inspiration, we have mostly lost sight of how important this revisionist cycle is and how it works. We shirk revision, think it a superficial frivolity.” Lanham, Richard. The Economics of Attention: Style and Substance in the Age of Information. 2006. University of Chicago Press. Pp. 255-6.


“It [the digital media] represents the rise of the image and the fall of the word. What image maker could object to that? Finally the visually oriented world is getting some respect. Films no longer need take a backseat to books. Writers and literary critics, needless to say, take the opposite view. Literacy is endangered by the transfer of the word from book to screen. Indeed the very mechanisms of conceptual thought, and the culture built on them, blunder into mortal peril.

“This conflict of views has done little to illuminate the competition for attention between words, images, and sounds. It is a problem in economics, the allocation of a scarce resource. Up to now, the solution to the problem has been sought in filters. We are used to dealing with scarcity. That has been our human lot since the beginning of history. Now we face plenitude. The solution? Find ways to transform it back into scarcity. In many ways this reversion helps but it does not seem, to me at least, a deep solution. How about revisionist thinking as an alternative? If we ask ourselves how a particular message should be communicated, and if we have the choice between words, images, and sounds, or new combinations of these, then we find ourselves exercising revisionist thinking. We usually say this? OK, try it. But maybe we could draw it. Or play it on a MIDI keyboard. We will find ourselves, as we learn to use these new resources productively, continually moving from one medium to another. This involves a new oscillation between at and through vision. If you have something to communicate, and you ponder whether this should be done with words, images, or sounds, and try out various combinations, you become self-conscious about expressive medium. You realize how, inevitably, what you say is changed by how you say it. You become acutely aware of style. This is revisionist thinking, but of a new sort.” Lanham, Richard. The Economics of Attention: Style and Substance in the Age of Information. 2006. University of Chicago Press. Pp. 257-8.


“Meanings can only even be imagined to be in the messages when the environment about which communication is performed is very stable and there are very strong constraints on the expectations. In many endeavors, creating and maintaining the illusion that meanings reside in messages requires that a great deal of effort be put into controlling the environment in which communication takes place. Meanings seem to be in the messages only when the structures with which the message must be brought into coordination are already reliably in place and taken for granted. The illusion of meaning in the message is a hard-won social and cultural accomplishment.” Hutchins, Edwin. Cognition in the Wild. 1995. MIT Press. Pp. 238-9.


“... language is nothing but a network – there are no rules, principles, or parameters to complement the network. Everything in language can be described formally in terms of nodes and their relations.” Hudson, Richard. 2007. Language Networks: The New Word Grammar. Oxford University Press. P. 2.


“Networks turn out to be convenient for modelling this spectrum of information which ranges from fine detail to broad generalization precisely because there is no clear dividing line between the two. For instance the pattern of needs cleaning in “This pot needs cleaning” is idiosyncratic, but it also goes well beyond any one lexical item so is it a rule or a lexical fact? In the absence of general principles, most of us would prefer not to choose at all. In contrast, a uniform network analysis accommodates general and particular facts in the same way, so it forces no choice.” Hudson, Richard. 2007. Language Networks: The New Word Grammar. Oxford University Press. P. 4.


“... language is a conceptual network, a system of interconnected elements in the mind without any clear boundary between the network of ‘the lexicon’ and the rules of ‘the grammar’. It is mostly learned (rather than innate), and the learning process combines massive storage of examples with the induction of generalizations, with the result that the end state contains a great deal of redundant detail as well as high-level generalizations. The network for knowledge of language may be very similar to other areas of knowledge in terms of its organization and may even share some of the same general analytical categories; ...” Hudson, Richard. 2007. Language Networks: The New Word Grammar. Oxford University Press. P. 9.


“The problem I seek to resolve in this chapter stems from a puzzle about the distinction, and the relation, between speech and song. Those of us, like myself, brought up in the Western ‘classical’ tradition are inclined to contrast these uses of the voice along the axis of a distinction between language and music. When we listen to music, whether vocal or instrumental, it is surely to the sound itself that we attend. And if we were to ask after the meaning of this sound, the answer could only be in terms of the feeling it evokes in us. As musical sound permeates the awareness of listeners, it gives shape or form to their very perception of the world. But most of us, I think, are convinced that when we listen to speech it is quite otherwise. The meanings of spoken words, we say, are to be found neither in their sounds nor in the effects that they have on us. They are rather supposed to lie behind the sounds. Thus the attention of listeners is not drawn to the sounds of speech in themselves but rather to the meanings conveyed by them and which they serve, in a sense, to deliver. It seems that, in listening to speech, our awareness penetrates through the sound to reach a world of verbal meaning beyond. And by the same token, that world is absolutely silent – as silent, indeed, as are the pages of a book. In short, whereas sound is of the essence of music, language is mute.” Ingold, Tim. Lines: A Brief History. 2007. Routledge. P. 6.


“The writer uses a notational system, just as a composer does, and what he writes is a work of literature. But the composer does not write a musical work. He writes a score, which in turn specifies a class of performances compliant with it. The musical work is that class of performances.” Ingold, Tim. Lines: A Brief History. 2007. Routledge. P. 10.


“... in the modern era, music came to be purified of its verbal component and language purified of its component of sound.” Ingold, Tim. Lines: A Brief History. 2007. Routledge. P. 10.


“With the script, we recognize the marks as letters and words – that is, as projections of the Saussurian sound-image – imprinted on the surface of the paper just as they are supposed to be imprinted upon the surface of the mind. And they direct us immediately to what they are supposed to stand for, namely ideas or concepts. Recognizing the marks on the musical score, however, as notes and phrases rather than letters and words, they are taken to stand not for ideas or concepts but for the sounds themselves. In short, in comparing language and music we find that the direction of signification is reversed. Reading a script is an instance of cognition, of taking in the meanings inscribed in the text; reading music is an instance of performance, of acting out the instructions inscribed in the score. The former, if you will, takes us ever inward, into the domain of reflective thought; the latter takes us ever outward into the surrounding ambience of sound.” Ingold, Tim. Lines: A Brief History. 2007. Routledge. P. 11.


“Though medieval thinkers did imagine that the work of memory inscribes the surface of the mind much as the writer inscribes the surface of the paper with his pen and the traveller inscribes the surface of the earth with his feet, they thought of these surfaces not as spaces to be surveyed but as regions to be inhabited, and which one can get to know not through one single, totalizing gaze, but through the laborious process of moving around. In reading, as in storytelling and travelling, one remembers as one goes along. Thus the act of remembering was itself conceived as a performance; the text is remembered by reading it, the story by telling it, the journey by making it. Every text, story or trip, in short, is a journey made rather than an object found. And although with each journey one may cover the same ground, each is nevertheless an original movement. There is no fixed template or specification that underwrites them all, nor can every performance be regarded as a compliant token that is simply ‘read off’ from the script or route map.” Ingold, Tim. Lines: A Brief History. 2007. Routledge. P. 16.


“Recall that, for readers of medieval times, the text was like a world one finds one’s way about, following the letters and words as the traveller follows footsteps or waymarkers in the terrain. For modern readers, by contrast, the text appears imprinted upon the blank page much as the world appears imprinted upon the paper surface of a cartographic map, ready-made and complete. To follow the plot is like navigating with the map. Yet the map effaces memory. Had it not been for the journeys of travellers, and the knowledge they brought back, it could not have been made. The map itself, however, bears no testimony to these journeys. They have been bracketed out, or consigned to a past that is now superseded. As de Certeau has shown, the map eliminates all trace of the practices that produced it, creating the impression that the structure of the map springs directly from the structure of the world. But the world that is represented in that map is one without inhabitants: no one is there; nothing moves or makes any sound. Now in just the same way that the journeys of inhabitants are eliminated from the cartographic map, the voices of the past are eliminated from the printed text. It bears no witness to the activity of those whose labours brought it into being, appearing rather as a pre-composed artefact, a work. Language is silenced.” Ingold, Tim. Lines: A Brief History. 2007. Routledge. P. 24.


“Commentators from the Middle Ages, as we saw in Chapter 1, would time and again compare reading to wayfaring, and the surface of the page to an inhabited landscape. Just as to travel is to remember the path, or to tell a story is to remember how it goes, so to read, in this fashion, was to retrace a trail through the text. One remembered the text in much the same way as one would remember a story or a journey. The reader, in short, would inhabit the world of the page, proceeding from word to word as the storyteller proceeds from topic to topic, or the traveller from place to place. We have seen that, for the inhabitant, the line of his walking is a way of knowing. Likewise the line of writing is, for him, a way of remembering. In both cases, knowledge is integrated along a path of movement. And in this respect, there is no difference in principle between the handwritten manuscript and the story voiced in speech or song. Ingold, Tim. Lines: A Brief History. 2007. Routledge. P. 91.


“... the modern writer encounters the blank surface of the page as an empty space awaiting the imposition of a construction of which he alone is the author. Upon this space he lays out linguistic fragments – letters, words, sentences – which, nesting hierarchically, can be integrated to form a complete composition. Indeed his practice is not unlike that of the cartographer who likewise positions iconic fragments on the paper surface to mark the locations of objects in the world. Neither on the page of the book nor on the surface of the map do the gestures of the author leave any trace beyond these discrete and compacted marks. They are all that is left of the original lines, respectively, or the manuscript and the sketch map. The elements of the page may be joined in the imagination so as to form a plot – the literary equivalent of the scientist’s graph or the tourist’s route-plan. But the lines of the plot are not traced by the reader as he moves through the text. They are rather supposed to be laid out already before the journey begins. These lines are connectors. To read them, as Andre Leroi-Gourhan realized, is to study a plan rather than to follow a trail. Unlike his medieval predecessor – an inhabitant of the page myopically entangled in its inked traces – the modern reader surveys the page as if from a great height. Routeing across it from point to point, like the Royal Navy on the high seas, he moves in terms of area. In so doing he occupies the page and asserts his mastery over it. But he does not inhabit it.” Ingold, Tim. Lines: A Brief History. 2007. Routledge. Pp. 91-2. [Leroi-Gourhan, A. Gesture and Speech. 1993. MIT Press. P. 261]


“Now if the modern writer does not lay a trail, neither does the modern reader follow it. Scanning the page, his cognitive task is rather to reassemble the fragments he finds there into larger wholes – letters into words, words into sentences and sentences into the complete composition. Reading across the page rather than along its lines, he joins up the components distributed on its surface through a hierarchy of levels of integration. The procedure is formally equivalent to that of the assembly line in industrial manufacture, where the transverse motion of the conveyor belt allows for the piecing together of components added at fixed intervals to the finished product. In both cases, integration proceeds not alongly but upwards. This is why, returning to Solnit’s dream of writing along a single, continuous line, its fulfilment is inevitably frustrated by the premise that the text consists of sentences. For the sentence is an artefact of language, constructed in accordance with those rules of assembly we call ‘grammar’. Every sentence is made up of words. But once words are treated as the building blocks of sentences – that is, as the components of an assembly – they are no longer perceived to occur, as they do for the storyteller or scribe, in places along a path, but rather to exist as discrete entities located on the space of the page. They too are made up of elements, namely individual letters. And so Solnit’s line, which has the appearance of a string of letters, interrupted at intervals by spaces and punctuation marks, can never even get underway. It is not a movement along a path but an immobile chain of connectors.” Ingold, Tim. Lines: A Brief History. 2007. Routledge. Pp. 94-5.


“I believe that in retrojecting our contemporary understanding of writing as verbal composition on to the scribal practices of earlier times we fail to recognize the extent to which the very art of writing, at least until it was ousted by typography, lay in the drawing of lines. For writers of the past a feeling or observation would be described in the movement of a gesture and inscribed in the trace it yields. What mattered was not the choice and semantic content of the words themselves – these could be wholly conventional, as in a liturgical text – but the quality, tone and dynamic of the line itself.” Ingold, Tim. Lines: A Brief History. 2007. Routledge. P. 128.


“Now of course, some musical instruments are like machines, embodying in their very construction the principles of their operation. An organ is a machine in this sense. When you press a key on the organ a pre-determined sound comes out. Similarly, when you press a key on a typewriter, a pre-determined sound letter-form appears on the page. There is thus a certain parallel between playing the organ and typing. The violin, however, is not a machine. Like singing, which involves no extra-somatic instrument at all, violin playing is an art. The player is no more an operator of her instrument than is the singer an operator of her voice. And just as violin playing differs in this regard from playing the organ, so handwriting differs from typing. The difference lies not in the degree to which a technology has been interiorized, but in the extent to which musical or graphic forms issue directly from the energetic and experiencing human subject – that is, from the player or writer – rather than being related, by operational principles embedded in the instrument, as output to input.” Ingold, Tim. Lines: A Brief History. 2007. Routledge. P. 143.


“Moreover the original typewriter, powered by nothing else than muscular fingers, might even be better compared to the piano than the organ, in so far as the force of the impact on the keys is reflected in the blackness and heaviness of the graphic marks on the page. But modern electronic keyboards have removed even this possibility of expression. Interrupted by the mechanism of the apparatus, the ductus of the hand never finds its way on to the page. The hands of skilled typists dance on the space of the keyboard, not on that of the page, and on the hard keys their soft fingers leave no trace at all.

“We have already seen in the case of Chinese writing how the calligrapher is absorbed in the action with the whole of his being, indissolubly body and mind. In Chinese understanding, Yen observes, ‘the person and the hand-writing are mutually generative’. But the same could have been said of handwriting in the Western tradition, at least until the nineteenth century when the quill – after a heyday that lasted for over a millennium – was eventually replaced by the metallic nib.” Ingold, Tim. Lines: A Brief History. 2007. Routledge. P. 144.


“This chapter will expose the role of metaphor in the making of linguistic structures, by tracing a stream of metaphors that runs right through language and flows from the concrete to the abstract. In the constant surge, the simplest and sturdiest of words are swept along, one after another, and carried towards abstract meanings. As these words drift downstream, they are bleached of their original vitality and turn into pale lifeless terms for abstract concepts – the substance from which the structure of language is formed. And when at last the river sinks into the sea, these spent metaphors are deposited, layer after layer, and so the structure of language grows, as a reef of dead metaphors.” Deutscher, Guy. The Unfolding of Language: An Evolutionary Tour of Mankind’s Greatest Invention. 2005. Henry Holt & Co. P. 118.


“Russian, Turkish and Irish all opt for the strategy of using physical proximity as a metaphor for the notion of possession. They take one of the possible physical manifestations of ‘having something’, namely the thing being near, on or at you, and use this simpler physical state of affairs as an image for the more general abstract notion of possession.” Deutscher, Guy. The Unfolding of Language: An Evolutionary Tour of Mankind’s Greatest Invention. 2005. Henry Holt & Co. P. 130.


“... what one holds or carries or seizes is used to convey what one ‘has’. And in fact, English does the same thing with the verb ‘get’ in sentences like ‘the man’s got a car’, which means the same as ‘the man has a car’. So like Waata and Nama, English takes a verb of taking, and uses it as a metaphor for possession: ‘what one has got, one has’.” Deutscher, Guy. The Unfolding of Language: An Evolutionary Tour of Mankind’s Greatest Invention. 2005. Henry Holt & Co. P. 132.


“... there is no know language where spatial terms are not also used to describe temporal relations.” Deutscher, Guy. The Unfolding of Language: An Evolutionary Tour of Mankind’s Greatest Invention. 2005. Henry Holt & Co. P. 134.


“The parts of the body are the closest and most immediate things in our physical environment, and are thus most deeply imprinted in our cognition, so it is no wonder that body-parts are the sources of terms for all kinds of more abstract concepts in so many languages. English ‘back’, for instance, took almost exactly the same route as Ewe megbé, for ‘back’ is the back-bone of the prepositional phrase ‘at the back of’, which simply means ‘behind’. Moreover, just as in Ewe, ‘back’ proceeded even further towards abstraction, and can also be used as a temporal relation (‘she died a few years back’), or even as the description of a mental condition (‘backward’). So the development from ‘back’ to ‘after’ or ‘behind’ is not just a peculiar feature of some tropical languages, it is a part of a universal march of limbs and ligaments towards abstraction.” Deutscher, Guy. The Unfolding of Language: An Evolutionary Tour of Mankind’s Greatest Invention. 2005. Henry Holt & Co. P. 139.


“Recall that content words are the solid bricks of language, nouns and verbs like ‘head’, ‘back’, ‘go’ or ‘give’, whereas grammatical elements such as prepositions, auxiliaries or conjunctions are only the mortar, the adhesives that help to bind the content words into meaningful sentences. But let’s take another look at what these body-part metaphors have achieved. Their starting point was sturdy nouns like ‘back’ or ‘head’ – entirely normal content words. Yet after what seems only a modest metaphorical leap, these body-parts find themselves transformed into grammatical elements. Through metaphor, therefore, these solid nouns have somehow crossed the boundary between content and structure, and turned into prepositions. It appears that metaphor not only alters the meaning of existing grammatical elements, but through its ability to transform content into structure, metaphor is also involved in creating those grammatical elements in the first place.” Deutscher, Guy. The Unfolding of Language: An Evolutionary Tour of Mankind’s Greatest Invention. 2005. Henry Holt & Co. Pp. 142-3.


“As long as ‘going to’ retained its independent meaning, it had a much stronger resistance, and this is why no one says ‘I’m gonna bed’. But once ‘going to’ lost its independent content, it became much more exposed, because it was now used more often, in more predictable circumstances, and with far less stress. So naturally, the temptation to take short-cuts in pronunciations grew, and the risk of misunderstanding decreased. In such conditions, the phrase was more prone to erosion than ever before, and so it’s not surprising that the bleached future sense was shortened to ‘gonna’.” Deutscher, Guy. The Unfolding of Language: An Evolutionary Tour of Mankind’s Greatest Invention. 2005. Henry Holt & Co. P. 155.


“Innovations thus arise from local small-scale concerns, such as saving effort or extending one pattern on the model of another.” Deutscher, Guy. The Unfolding of Language: An Evolutionary Tour of Mankind’s Greatest Invention. 2005. Henry Holt & Co. P. 266.


“Metaphors flow from concrete to abstract, not the other way around; erosion makes words shorter and weaker, not longer and stronger. Indeed, it was the intrinsic directionality that enabled us to gaze into the distant past and imagine what a much more primitive stage in language’s evolution might have looked like. The logic was quite simple: if words for abstract concepts always develop from more concrete terms, then there must have been a period before there were words around for abstract concepts. And if grammatical elements always originate from content words like nouns and verbs, then there must have been a stage before language had any grammatical elements.” Deutscher, Guy. The Unfolding of Language: An Evolutionary Tour of Mankind’s Greatest Invention. 2005. Henry Holt & Co. P. 267.


“For example, erosion can make longer words shorter, but expressiveness can motivate speakers to pile up shorter words, and erosion can then condense the pile into one longer word again. On average, then, words need not get either much shorter or much longer over the centuries. The same logic applies to grammatical structures such as case systems: they emerge when independent pospositions fuse with nouns, but erosion can then wear the endings away altogether, only to make way for another round of fusions. So in the past few tens of millennia, languages could have been moving in cycles, happily ever after.

“The only problem with this idyllic cyclical scenario is that it doesn’t square with what can actually be observed in the last few millennia. The Indo-European languages, for example, have seen a marked drift towards shorter words and simple word-structure.” Deutscher, Guy. The Unfolding of Language: An Evolutionary Tour of Mankind’s Greatest Invention. 2005. Henry Holt & Co. Pp. 267-8.


“For while European languages may have lost in the complexity of their word-structure over the last few millennia, they have undoubtedly become more complex in other areas, for instance in the variety of subordinate clauses they employ, or in their inventory of distinct sounds.

“Nevertheless, even if the nineteenth-century interpretation of the drift towards simpler word-structure can be dismissed as so much Romantic prejudice, the actual existence of this drift cannot be written off so lightly. Word-structure has become much simpler in the Indo-European languages, ...” Deutscher, Guy. The Unfolding of Language: An Evolutionary Tour of Mankind’s Greatest Invention. 2005. Henry Holt & Co. P. 269.


“Clearly, people 10,000 years ago did not communicate in precisely the same way as we communicate today. They did not write letters or emails, did not read books and newspapers, did not speak on the telephone, did not listen to the radio, and so on. More importantly, they lived in much smaller communities than ours, and had contact with a much narrower circle of people. Communication was thus almost exclusively among intimates, in stark contrast to to these days, when a significant proportion of our communication is with strangers.” Deutscher, Guy. The Unfolding of Language: An Evolutionary Tour of Mankind’s Greatest Invention. 2005. Henry Holt & Co. P. 271.


“In today’s world, the languages with the most complex word-structure tend to be the ‘exotic’ tongues of simple tribal societies, typically spoken by at most a few hundred people.” Deutscher, Guy. The Unfolding of Language: An Evolutionary Tour of Mankind’s Greatest Invention. 2005. Henry Holt & Co. P. 272.


“One factor which may contribute to more complex word-structures in smaller societies may be the lack of pressure for simplification that results from contact with strangers who speak different languages or dialects.” Deutscher, Guy. The Unfolding of Language: An Evolutionary Tour of Mankind’s Greatest Invention. 2005. Henry Holt & Co. P. 272.


“And so, when there is a lot of contact between speakers of different languages, or even different varieties of the same language, complex word-structure is one of the first areas to undergo simplification. (The England of around a millennium ago is a good example, since it is often argued that the intense contact between English, French and Danish was a major factor in the rapid disintegration of the English case and verbal endings.)” Deutscher, Guy. The Unfolding of Language: An Evolutionary Tour of Mankind’s Greatest Invention. 2005. Henry Holt & Co. P. 272.


“Another factor that may contribute to more complex word-structure is the absence of literacy. In fluent speech, there are no real ‘spaces’ between words, and so when two words frequently appear together they can easily fuse into one. In the written language, however, there are visible gaps between words, and this reinforces our perception of the border between them, and can thus hamper new fusions.” Deutscher, Guy. The Unfolding of Language: An Evolutionary Tour of Mankind’s Greatest Invention. 2005. Henry Holt & Co. P. 273.


“At first, the lip must have been drawn back as a simple instrumental gesture. It would have been nothing more than one part of getting ready to bite. A dog that did not want to bite his own lip needed to get the lip out of the way of his teeth. A few million years could have passed before potential victims began to recognize a retracted lip as a sign of an imminent bite, but any victim that was clever enough to read the lip movement as a warning might have had a chance to flee and to avoid the bite. By escaping, an animal would improve his chance of staying alive long enough to reproduce, so natural selection would have insured the spread of skillful comprehension.

“Comprehension had to be the first step, but once the instrumental act was understood, a new opportunity was opened to an aggressor. By retracting his lip as if to bite, the aggressor might frighten off his enemy even while avoiding the much riskier activity of really biting. Now it was the turn of natural selection to favor those individuals who were clever enough to pull back their lip in order to scare away their enemies without a fight. From that point on, production and comprehension of the signal could evolve together. To make the sign less ambiguous, aggressors might even develop exaggerated or stereotyped lip movements. The sign would then have evolved from a purely instrumental act into a stereotypic communicative signal.” Burling, Robbins. The Talking Ape: How Language Evolved. 2005. Oxford University Press. P. 14.


“The precocity of comprehension implies that at every point along the evolutionary path toward language, interpretation needed to be at least one step ahead of production. Only when behavior was being interpreted correctly, could an animal deliberately use that behavior as a communicative signal. More precisely: The only innovations in signal production that can be successful, and so consolidated by natural selection, are those that conform to the pre-existing receptive competence of other individuals.” Burling, Robbins. The Talking Ape: How Language Evolved. 2005. Oxford University Press. P. 20.


“As a first approximation, language is digital and allows easy reference. Large parts of language, including its huge vocabulary, have to be learned and this means that it can vary from one community to another. It is characterized by distinct phonological and syntactic levels of patterning. Its signals are largely arbitrary and conventional, and most languages are predominantly vocal and audible. It can be used productively to describe things distant in time and space. It is subject to a high degree of voluntary control. Our laughs, screams, groans, sobs, scowls, and smiles, like other gesture-calls, form a very different kind of communication. They are analog signals and excellent at conveying emotion. They are less subject to cultural variation than language, and they are less subject to voluntary control.” Burling, Robbins. The Talking Ape: How Language Evolved. 2005. Oxford University Press. Pp. 37-8.


“We can lie with either quotable gestures or quotable vocalizations just as we can lie with language. A nod or a m-hm is as surely a lie as is ‘yes,’ if the nodder or vocalizer really believes the correct answer should be a head shake or an uh-uh. If you try to deceive by shaking your head, you lie; if you laugh at a joke that you do not find funny, you do not. Quotable vocalizations are almost words. They are subject to roughly the same degree of deliberate control as language or quotable gestures, and like words, they have to be learned by participation in the community where they are used. Since quotable vocalizations are produced with the same vocal machinery as spoken language, we usually think of them as closer to language than a shake of the head or a wink of the eye, but the two kinds of quotables are used in almost identical ways, and both exhibit full contrast. In all these respects, both quotable gestures and quotable vocalizations differ from our analog gesture-calls, and both belong with spoken and signed language on the language-like side of our communication.” Burling, Robbins. The Talking Ape: How Language Evolved. 2005. Oxford University Press. Pp. 43-4.


“In addition to these very general background assumptions, I could assume that my helper [speaker of a language not known to author whom the author uses to demonstrate how easy it is to learn a language in front of a class] and I could both use five specific cognitive tools, all of which were essential if I was to learn something about her language. They must have been just as essential when language first began.

“First, I could assume that my helper and I shared a rich conceptual understanding of the world around us. I could assume that she made the same sorts of distinctions among objects, qualities, and events that I made and that she had an understanding of cause and effect. I knew that her understanding was close enough to mine to let us communicate. Her perceptions were very much like my own. She could see what I saw and hear what I heard. She had concepts for most of the same things that I did. I knew that she could describe the same things that I could. I knew that she knew an awful lot.

Second, I could assume that my helper and I could attend to the same objects and events. As the jargon has it: We could ‘achieve joint attention.’ Even more, I assumed that I could call her attention to something, and that, equally, she could call my attention. If I held up a stick and looked back and forth from the stick to her, she would know that I was thinking about the stick and that I wanted her to think about it too. We required not a single word to learn what the other one was attending to.

“Third, I could assume an ability to imitate. I constantly imitated her sounds, her words, and the way she put her words together. She could recognize my efforts as attempts at imitation and she could judge their accuracy. Even when I imitated badly, she knew what I was trying to do, and she could, in a sense, imitate her own words by repeating them so as to demonstrate what I ought to be imitating better.

“Fourth, I could assume an ability to understand pointing gestures and gestures that resemble the objects that they refer to. When I looked for words meaning ‘big’ and ‘small’ I could hold up big sticks and small sticks, but to be certain that she knew what I was looking for, I could also stand tall and spread my arms and shoulders wide while holding the big stick. I could emphasize small size by making myself small, by hunching down, lowering my head, pulling in my arms, and even puckering my face.

“Finally, I could assume that her language would be patterned in repetitive ways. I could search for these patterns and use them to predict what else she could say. If she said ‘stick big,’ with her word for ‘stick’ following her word for ‘big,’ it was an excellent bet that she would accept ‘leaf little’ from me, but not ‘little leaf.’ That was all I needed to extract a simple grammatical generalization. As I elicited longer phrases, I could recognize, and then use, more complex patterns of word order, and learn how words and affixes were joined to form larger words, phrases, and sentences.

“We take these five assumptions so much for granted that we rarely even think about them, but all five are essential prerequisites for learning a language.” Burling, Robbins. The Talking Ape: How Language Evolved. 2005. Oxford University Press. Pp. 68-9.


“Joint attention. Willard Quine posed a question to which his fellow philosophers have given much thought: How can anyone learn a word simply by hearing it pronounced in the presence of the object to which it refers? Of the many objects that he can see, hear, or touch, how does a child know which one a word refers to?” Burling, Robbins. The Talking Ape: How Language Evolved. 2005. Oxford University Press. P. 72.


“In their ability to follow another’s gaze and in that way to gain some idea of what that animal is concerned with, and in their understanding that there are limits to another’s knowledge, chimpanzees show some of the prerequisites needed for the ability to achieve joint attention, but humans are much better at it than chimps. We actively help each other to share attention. Chimpanzees do not.” Burling, Robbins. The Talking Ape: How Language Evolved. 2005. Oxford University Press. P. 74.


“Words are highly efficient tools for achieving joint attention.” Burling, Robbins. The Talking Ape: How Language Evolved. 2005. Oxford University Press. P. 75.


“Postures predict movements. Animals would profit from knowing what to expect from the positions and postures of others. The better they understand iconic and indexical actions, the greater are the opportunities for one animal to exploit another’s understanding by performing these actions deliberately.” Burling, Robbins. The Talking Ape: How Language Evolved. 2005. Oxford University Press. P. 81.


“Every dog that ever picked up a scent has recognized an index of the animal that left it. Any behavior which we would be tempted to call ‘intelligent’ must recognize similarities and differences. Survival depends on such understanding. The production of indices and icons is much less common than their recognition. Language began with comprehension.” Burling, Robbins. The Talking Ape: How Language Evolved. 2005. Oxford University Press. P. 82.


“In a population of early hominins that was adapting to rapidly changing environmental conditions, and among whom social relationships were growing more complex, individuals would find it advantageous to infer as much as possible about what is going on in another’s mind. Anyone who wants not only to mimic but also to achieve a goal, must grasp what others are trying to accomplish. Selection would then have favored those who best understood where another’s attention was directed. Even where no communication had been intended, an imitator would have benefited by an ability to understand the instrumental gestures of others, to understand their goals, and to infer iconic and indexical meaning from instrumental gestures or vocalizations. It was the learner, not the producer, who would benefit by understanding the other’s focus of attention, goals, and motivated acts. It was the learner who would benefit by imitation. As always, the onus was on the receiver, not the producer.” Burling, Robbins. The Talking Ape: How Language Evolved. 2005. Oxford University Press. P. 87.


“As hominins became better at figuring out the direction of another’s attention, better at understanding the iconicity and indexicality of instrumental signs, and better at imitation, the time would finally come when one individual might benefit by helping another to understand. A pointing gesture might have been among the earliest ways of helping.” Burling, Robbins. The Talking Ape: How Language Evolved. 2005. Oxford University Press. P. 88.


“McNeill’s ‘metaphorics’ correspond to Peirce’s metaphors. They are similar to iconics, but they represent more abstract ideas. We may direct our palm first up and then down to show that there are two sides to some issue. We often move our hand back and forth several times when talking about something repetitious, thereby referring to something that occurs in time by the movement of our hand in space. Although not pictures of physical objects, metaphorics often augment the information that we simultaneously express with our words.” Burling, Robbins. The Talking Ape: How Language Evolved. 2005. Oxford University Press. P. 95.


“Syntactic iconicity. Iconicity has been no more than a minor theme in the study of syntax, but it is not hard to find once it is looked for. Iconicity is particularly clear in word order, and in the order of morphemes within words, and it is seen most clearly of all in the tendency for word order to reflect the temporal sequence of the events being described. A logician might argue that I went inside and ate reveals nothing about where I did my eating. The rest of us will normally understand this sentence to mean that the eating took place after going in, so it must have taken place inside. Someone who says I ate and went inside is more likely to be understood to have eaten outside. We understand Veni, vidi, civi to mean that Caesar’s first accomplishment was to come.” Burling, Robbins. The Talking Ape: How Language Evolved. 2005. Oxford University Press. P. 97.


“The order of the words in the old red iron steam engine cannot be easily changed. It is not quite impossible to say the red old iron steam engine or even the old red steam iron engine but neither of these comes easily. Why do we prefer the old red iron steam engine over any alternative order? Is this simply an arbitrary order that we have to learn in order to speak English?

“Far from being arbitrary, the order turns out to elegantly diagram the relationship among the concepts that the words stand for. The modifiers that stand closest to the noun are also closest to its meaning. Other than steam engine, steam is used as a modifier in only a handful of noun compounds: steam boiler, steamroller, steamship, steam whistle, steam shovel. These are so few and so distinctive that dictionaries list them as separate entries. Iron can modify many more words than steam, among them nail, hinge, and key, but only rarely and metaphorically would iron be used to modify a word that refers to something soft. Red, on the other hand, can be used as easily with soft things like shirts and cheeks as with hard things like nails or engines. The meaning of old is even more general, for unlike steam, iron, or red, it can easily be used with words for abstractions, as in old problem, old question, or old argument. Finally, the is the most general modifier of all, for it can be used with any common noun in the language (i.e., a noun that is not a ‘proper’ noun). The pattern is consistent: Modifiers whose meanings are most specific to the meaning of the noun are placed closest to it. The most general modifiers are furthest away.” Burling, Robbins. The Talking Ape: How Language Evolved. 2005. Oxford University Press. Pp. 97-8.


“Nevertheless, we ought not to be surprised if our two communication systems [gesture calls and language] sometimes get tangled up with one another, and nowhere do they get more tangled than with prosody. If we had nothing but the contrastive phonology of vowels and consonants at one extreme, and tone of voice at the other, they would be easy to distinguish. Contrastive phonology, with its discrete units, its high degree of cultural variability, its conventionality, and the ease with which it can be used to construct a large vocabulary, belongs securely to language. Tone of voice, with its graded signals, its relative immunity to cultural variability, and the subtlety with which it signals emotions, belongs just as securely with our gesture-calls.” Burling, Robbins. The Talking Ape: How Language Evolved. 2005. Oxford University Press. P. 102.


“Both gesture-calls and conventionalized gestures begin as instrumental acts, but gesture-calls become communicative by being ritualized through the long process of natural selection. Nursing pokes and the arms-up gesture have to be learned by each individual in the course of growing up, just as language does, but unlike language, these gestures are not learned by imitation. Only imitation allows languages and the quotables to be perpetuated as a part of a community’s cultural tradition.

“In addition to being learned, the conventionalized gestures resemble words in being discrete. No halfway point can be found between two conventionalized gestures any more than a halfway point can be found between contrasting words.” Burling, Robbins. The Talking Ape: How Language Evolved. 2005. Oxford University Press. P. 109.


“The arms-up gesture and nursing pokes are imperatives, used to call attention or to ask for help, and they are used asymmetrically. Chimpanzee mothers do not ask their infants for the nipple, and human adults do not hold up their arms to ask a baby to pick them up. Since these gestures are never directed to an infant or child, they cannot be learned by imitation. A parent who uses the arms-up gesture does so in playful imitation of the child, not as a serious request. It is the parent, not the child, who is the imitator.

“When conventions began to be imitated, a new world opened up. Imitation allowed signals to spread, first to a few intimates, and then to an entire community. This was nothing less than the birth of culture, for imitation must have encouraged a certain degree of standardization. Private signals that are confined to a single pair of animals can easily vary from one pair to another. Once signals start to be imitated, some limits on variation are needed. If everyone needs to understand everyone else, then all the members of a community need to converge on a shared convention.” Burling, Robbins. The Talking Ape: How Language Evolved. 2005. Oxford University Press. Pp. 109-10.


“No records were left to tell us how conventionalization began in spoken language, but we know a good deal about how it began in writing and in deaf signing. In both, iconicity was important at the earliest stages, but the iconicity gradually yielded to more and more arbitrary forms. Modern spoken languages are better known for their arbitrariness than for their motivation. It seems paradoxical to suggest that these systems of arbitrary signs developed from more extensively iconic ones, but that is the direction taken by both writing and deaf signing, and it’s a plausible guess that spoken language followed the same path.” Burling, Robbins. The Talking Ape: How Language Evolved. 2005. Oxford University Press. P. 111.


“In part, conventionalization and arbitrariness represent the victory of the producer (the speaker, signer, or writer) over the receiver (the listener to speech, the viewer of signs, or the reader of words). The receiver might like signals that are clear, explicit, and carefully produced, but the producer’s quest for ease and efficiency will lead him to simplify the signals by speaking quickly and even carelessly. Even more, the triumph of conventionalization represents the victory of skilled and experienced users over learners. Motivated signals are much easier to learn than arbitrary ones, so learners should have a clear preference for extensive motivation. Unfortunately for learners their power to influence the form of a communication system is limited. Generally, they have no choice but to take the signals as they find them. Experienced producers have more control over the language, and they find it advantageous to cut corners, to make a diagram instead of a picture, a stylized hand movement instead of a pantomime, a conventionalized sequence of sounds instead of a realistic imitation of a noise.” Burling, Robbins. The Talking Ape: How Language Evolved. 2005. Oxford University Press. P. 119.


“Conventionalization speeds up communication and makes the job of the producer easier, but conventionalization has other advantages as well. As signs become standardized they also become less ambiguous. In a highly iconic system, we might expect the signs for ‘cat,’ ‘tiger,’ and ‘leopard’ to be quite similar, but these are exactly the kinds of things that it is important not to confuse. For practical communication, it is important to keep similar objects distinct. It is much more dangerous to confuse a domestic cat with a leopard than with the kind of tractor that is also sometimes called a ‘cat.’ The context will generally suggest whether any given instance of the word refers to an animal or to a tractor. The context is less likely to help us decide between cat and leopard. Too much iconicity invites dangerous ambiguity.

“As words became more frequent, conventionalization and arbitrariness would have an additional advantage. People who are clever enough to agree to keep their words in a consistent order should be able to communicate more successfully than those who jumble their words at random. If modifiers are always kept on the same side of the word they modify, listeners will understand them more easily, simply because they will know which word is the modifier and which is the modified. Even this modest degree of conventionalization implies the beginning of syntax and of rudimentary parts of speech.” Burling, Robbins. The Talking Ape: How Language Evolved. 2005. Oxford University Press. P. 120.


“Does this have anything to do with the origin of language? If we are not afraid to speculate, we can imagine an early hominin with a single type of vocalization that was ancestral to both music and language. It would have lacked the precise and continuous beat of music but if might still have allowed close coordination among the participants. Like the duetting of gibbons, perhaps, it could have allowed pairs or groups to sing or chant, either together or in turn, but it would have been more voluntary and more dependent on learning than a gibbon duet. It would also have been more variable among individuals and groups than gibbon vocalizing. Like both our music and our language it would have been subject to conventionalization.” Burling, Robbins. The Talking Ape: How Language Evolved. 2005. Oxford University Press. P. 127.


“The proposal for a common period of prelinguistic and premusical vocalizations is nothing if not speculative, but it does suggest one way by which the need to switch from visible to audible communication might have been avoided. We can imagine the vocal tract coming under good voluntary control before anything we would want to call ‘language’ had even begun. If the voice was being used to soothe infants, to signal affiliation to a local group, or to attract a mate, it might then have been co-opted for more language-like communication.” Burling, Robbins. The Talking Ape: How Language Evolved. 2005. Oxford University Press. P. 128.


“In a species where imitation, iconicity, indexicality, and joint attention were all improving, individuals would become increasingly adept at finding meaning in the behavior of their fellows. After the shape of a hand used for holding a club began to be associated with a club, the hand shape could be used deliberately to remind someone of a club even when no club was close by. If proto-music had brought the vocal tract under voluntary control, and if vocal displays were a way to gain status and attract mates, distinctive vocalizations could have collected meanings as easily as gestures.” Burling, Robbins. The Talking Ape: How Language Evolved. 2005. Oxford University Press. P. 131.


“First, words with abstract meanings are generally derived, gradually but persistently, from words with more concrete meanings. Second, what linguists call ‘function words’ are generally derived from ‘content words.’” Burling, Robbins. The Talking Ape: How Language Evolved. 2005. Oxford University Press. P. 132.


“As the number of holistic words of an early audible language increased, hearers had to attend to ever finer phonetic distinctions, and the time would come when two words were kept distinct by no more than a single phonetic feature. A feature that could distinguish one pair of words must then have been easy to extend to a second pair. Once ohoh was safely different from ahah, a listener probably would also be able to attend to the difference between okok and akak. Using the same phonetic distinction for many pairs of words would be a quick and easy way to increase the number of words that could be kept distinct. Distinctions could be added until a whole system of contrastive phonology was available that could keep an unlimited number of words distinct.” Burling, Robbins. The Talking Ape: How Language Evolved. 2005. Oxford University Press. Pp. 138-9.



“As this system [‘repetitive but meaningless phonological distinctions’] became established, language developed two distinct structural levels, the level of meaningless sounds that could be combined to form words, and the level of meaningful words that could be combined to form phrases and sentences. The result is the kind of combinatorial phonological system that is now found in all natural languages. Phonology was separated from syntax. We describe this by saying that language is characterized by ‘duality of patterning.’” Burling, Robbins. The Talking Ape: How Language Evolved. 2005. Oxford University Press. P. 139.


“The centrality of the lexicon becomes clear when we realize that the only reason we need contrastive phonology is to give us a code with which to keep all our thousands of words distinct, and the only reason we need syntax is to let us join our words so as to communicate complex meanings with efficiency. Under duress, we can communicate a great deal with very little syntax and with badly mangled phonology. Without words we are reduced to pantomime. Words must have come first in the course of evolution just as they still come first in everyone’s childhood.” Burling, Robbins. The Talking Ape: How Language Evolved. 2005. Oxford University Press. P. 141.


“Every adult who has learned a language can be said to have a version of that language lodged in his mind. Linguists sometimes call this ‘internal language’ often abbreviated as ‘I-language.’ This internal language gives adult speakers the ability to understand the utterances of others and to form their own utterances....”

“As the generations pass, we see an alternation between internal language and external language. Internal language is a mechanism by which an individual can construct utterances in external language. External language, in turn, provides the examples which allow a child to construct a new internal language. Each makes the other possible. The reproduction of language from generation to generation is accurate enough to let children communicate with their parents and their grandparents, but no more than genetic heredity is linguistic heredity perfect. With each generation, small changes are introduced into the language and as the generations pass, these changes accumulate. After fifteen or twenty generations, the accumulated changes are likely to be so great that, if we could bring the earlier and later stages together, we would judge them to be different languages.” Burling, Robbins. The Talking Ape: How Language Evolved. 2005. Oxford University Press. Pp. 159-60.


“From one point of view, grammaticalization looks like a one-way process. Loose sequences of words are drawn into increasingly fixed and regular constructions. Some words are reduced in length and stress until they become glued to other words as prefixes or suffixes. Words and parts of words may then be ground away still further, until they finally disappear. We can observe all these processes of compaction and reduction in our own languages, but they become unambiguous only over the course of several centuries. Written records show how all the phases of grammaticalization contributed to the gradual transformation of old English to modern English, and of Latin to the modern Romance languages.

“Languages, of course, cannot forever become more tightly compacted without becoming ambiguous. As soon as contraction and word loss threaten clarity, new ways have to be found to express the lost meanings. Often, this is accomplished by adding new words and forming new phrases. We may write I have an idea, but when we talk we are likely to contract this to I’ve an idea. If this seems too clipped to be fully clear and explicit, we can then reinforce it with got and say I’ve got an idea. Words are abbreviated and squeezed together, but then other words are added to strengthen the meaning.” Burling, Robbins. The Talking Ape: How Language Evolved. 2005. Oxford University Press. Pp. 165-6.


“Still another tendency in many, perhaps all, languages is to put the new information last. If we say The travel agent is on the third floor, the chances are good that we were already talking about the travel agent and are now describing its location.” Burling, Robbins. The Talking Ape: How Language Evolved. 2005. Oxford University Press. P. 171.


“Function words. Most of the words of a language refer to concepts for objects, ideas, actions, states, or qualities. These words call attention to things and events, both those in the world and those in our imaginations. These are the ‘content words,’ usually nouns, verbs, or adjectives that give us the means to talk about whatever interests us. In addition to these content words, all modern languages also have ‘function’ words whose job is to relate the content words to each other. We have words that show how the parts of the discourse are related (and, but, moreover), others that show relationships of space and time (next to, above, before, after, then), quantity (some, more, always), and causation (therefore, because). Still other words show negation and turn statements into questions. Function words are useless at the one-word stage. Lonely single words have no other words to relate to, so they have no need for words that relate. As words cluster into ever larger bunches, ways to organize them are urgently needed.” Burling, Robbins. The Talking Ape: How Language Evolved. 2005. Oxford University Press. Pp. 174-5.


“The first verbal expression of this view of the world would certainly have used expressions that were closer to the semantic roles of agent, goal, and instrument, than to the grammatical functions of subject, object, and prepositional phrase. The listener’s first job was to figure out who or what did it, what it was done to, and what was used to do it. Often this could easily be inferred from the meaning of the words. Glass, hammer, Mary, smashed is not likely to mean anything except Mary smashed the glass with the hammer.” Burling, Robbins. The Talking Ape: How Language Evolved. 2005. Oxford University Press. P. 178.


“Speakers must not repeat platitudes, but say things that others find new and interesting. Jean-Louis Dessalles summarizes all this by saying that speakers need to be ‘relevant’ and he suggests that the most relevant comments offer information that is either surprising, pleasant, or unpleasant.” Burling, Robbins. The Talking Ape: How Language Evolved. 2005. Oxford University Press. P. 195.


“Language, bird songs, and the songs of humpbacks vary from one group to another, and they all change gradually through time. It may seem surprising that the best examples of animal culture, as well as the single most distinctive example of human culture, are all systems of communication, but this is not simply coincidence. Because they are used for communication, bird songs, whale songs, and language all have to be shared, while most learned behavior does not.” Burling, Robbins. The Talking Ape: How Language Evolved. 2005. Oxford University Press. P. 228.


“By evolving into the kind of animal that could learn so much language and sustain such differing linguistic traditions, we may also have become the kind of animal that can also sustain other kinds of traditions. We can pass traditions of every sort from one generation to the next, so it is not only our language that is culturally variable but also our kinship practices, our religion, our ideas about government, our art, and our technology–just about everything that matters to us. It is tempting for a linguist to wonder if it was the need to learn the cultural tradition of a language that has given us, as a byproduct, the ability to learn and to share so much else. Language may have preadapted us for the ability to learn, and then pass on to the next generation, the many varying cultural traditions that characterize humankind.” Burling, Robbins. The Talking Ape: How Language Evolved. 2005. Oxford University Press. Pp. 228-9.


“Of course, children do not construct their theories self-consciously, but there is a sense in which children can be said to need a theory. They need to form generalizations about the language before they can produce new utterances of their own, and their generalizations are complex enough that it is reasonable to think of them as constituting a sort of theory, even if it is unconscious. If this is a plausible way to think of the manner in which we all learned our first language, it suggests that everyone is born with the ability to devise theories that account for at least some of the data in their environment. A linguist must be tempted by the idea that the kind of expertise needed to develop a linguistic theory may equip us to build other kinds of theories as well.” Burling, Robbins. The Talking Ape: How Language Evolved. 2005. Oxford University Press. Pp. 231-2.


“Public opinion regarding news items, regarding both the products that are advertised and the advertisements themselves, and regarding TV shows, new movies, and new books are the material out of which new mass media communication is made. Public opinion is not the sum of individual mental contents–how could this sum ever be calculated in communication?–it is a communicative product of the mass media.” Moeller, Hans-Georg. Luhmann Explained: From Souls to Systems. 2006. Open Court Publishing. P. 138.


“For Luhmann, the decisive difference between mass media communication based on technology and nontechnological mass communication (such as public speeches, concerts, or other public events) is that ‘no interaction among those co-present can take place between sender and receivers. Interaction is ruled out by the interposition of technology ....” Moeller, Hans-Georg. Luhmann Explained: From Souls to Systems. 2006. Open Court Publishing. Pp. 122-3.


“Luhmann identifies the distinction information/noninformation as the basic code of the mass media system.” Moeller, Hans-Georg. Luhmann Explained: From Souls to Systems. 2006. Open Court Publishing. Pp. 125-6.


“Phonetics, phonology, and syntax are more distinctive of human language than are semantics and pragmatics, which have clear foundations, as we will see, in animal concepts and animal social life.” Hurford, James. The Origins of Meaning. 2007. Oxford University Press. P. xii.


“Interestingly, trained apes such as Kanzi are quite good at utterances with present-time imperative force, but more reticent than humans at giving information about events that happened yesterday or earlier, and mostly they don’t offer information about the future beyond the next few minutes.” Hurford, James. The Origins of Meaning. 2007. Oxford University Press. P. 50.


“Facts held in episodic memory are expressed in synthetic sentences. One of the most obvious uses of language is to give each other new information, to tell people about events that we know happened, but that they don’t know about. Such informative messages are expressed in synthetic sentences, and are reports of episodes held in episodic memory. If we didn’t have episodic memories, we wouldn’t have much to tell each other. Bu contrast, uttering analytic sentences, such as Lions are animals, is pretty useless in factual communication, though it can serve a purpose in education the young about the commonly held meanings of words.” Hurford, James. The Origins of Meaning. 2007. Oxford University Press. P. 85.


“I have suggested a parallelism between the psychological notions of semantic and episodic memory and the philosophical notions of analytic and synthetic sentences.” Hurford, James. The Origins of Meaning. 2007. Oxford University Press. P. 85.


“A belief in the necessary truth of analytic sentences is a kind of essentialism. It would maintain, for instance, that being an animal is an essential feature of being a cat. Most people intuitively subscribe to essentialist assumptions, for better or for worse. Barrett argues that, in our evolutionary history, it was for the better:

“‘[P]sychological essentialism results from a history of natural selection acting on human representation and inference systems. It has been argued that the features that distinguish essentialist representational systems are especially well suited for representing natural kinds. If the evolved function of essentialism is to exploit the rich inductive potential of such kinds, then it must be subserved by cognitive mechanisms that carry out at least three distinct functions: identifying these kinds in the environment, constructing essentialized representations of them, and constraining inductive inferences about kinds.’” Hurford, James. The Origins of Meaning. 2007. Oxford University Press. P. 86. Subquote is from Barrett, H.C. “On the functional origins of essentialism.” 2001. Mind and Society. 3(2), pp. 1-30. P. 1.


“Traditional logic makes no distinction between There’s a lion and That’s a lion, as, being designed to be universal and context-free, it has no way of building in a deictic expression with the function of the English pronoun that, which takes its reference from the immediate situation in which it is used.” Hurford, James. The Origins of Meaning. 2007. Oxford University Press. P. 90.


“These same authors [Hauser and Spelke], along with Dehaene and Dehaene et al. present copious evidence for the strikingly similar basic (i.e. non-linguistic) numerical abilities of humans and a range of animals. Humans, of course, can specify exact numbers higher than the subitizing range of about four, but only using language. The primitive limit of about four, being found in animals, applied to humans before the emergence of language. Without using language, we still can’t go any further.” Hurford, James. The Origins of Meaning. 2007. Oxford University Press. Pp. 91-2.


“The pedagogical practices, if not the theories, of logicians respect the psychological limit of the magical number 4. They seem to have been guided in their practice by an intuition that psychologically tractable propositions are strictly limited in size. This size limit, as we have seen, corresponds closely with an evolutionarily ancient limit on the number of objects in a scene that can be tracked at once. The bare ‘Who did what to whom’ information contained in a simple proposition is limited to four participants.” Hurford, James. The Origins of Meaning. 2007. Oxford University Press. P. 95.


“The psychological distinction between predicates and their arguments can be expressed less technically, in terms of attention. Clearly, many animals attend to objects in their environment. This involves first an orienting reflex, making whatever movements bring the object into sharpest focus, and then paying close (‘focal’) attention to it, gathering in whatever information it offers. Psychologists distinguish between pre-attentive processes involved in focal attention. Pre-attentive processes are those involved in the orienting reflex, such as an object being glimpsed in the periphery of the visual field, followed by a saccade or head orientation to look at the object head-on. Once the object is being looked at full-on, with light from it entering the fovea, the part of the retina most densely packed with receptors, the object is said to be in focal attention.” Hurford, James. The Origins of Meaning. 2007. Oxford University Press. Pp.100-1.


“In many languages, there is an etymological connection between existence and spatial location, as with English There is ....” Hurford, James. The Origins of Meaning. 2007. Oxford University Press. P. 103.


“In fact, there are no expressions in any language which can only be used descriptively, that is without the possibility of any socially significant act being carried out when they are uttered. If one says ‘It’s raining’ certainly one is describing a situation, but one typically has some purpose in mind, such as indirectly warning someone or advising them, or indeed jokingly complaining. We thus find an asymmetric situation. The great majority, but not all, of the expressions in a language have meaningful content which is descriptive of some state of affairs; all expressions in a language can be used to carry out acts of some sort; and a tiny minority of expressions are used only for carrying out acts, and have no descriptive content. To introduce some terminology, the great majority of complete expressions in a language have propositional content; all sentences in a language have potential illocutionary force; and a tiny minority of expressions have no propositional content, but only conventional illocutionary force.” Hurford, James. The Origins of Meaning. 2007. Oxford University Press. Pp. 171-2.


“In the most basic form of unlearned instinctive behaviour between conspecifics, animals simply act on each other as physical objects, for example shoving each other out of the way to get at food. In social species, however, virtually all significant interactions show a ‘causal gap’ between an action and its effect on the recipient. An animal need not always physically push another out of the way, but can obtain the same effect, if the other animal is smaller or less dominant, simply by growling.” Hurford, James. The Origins of Meaning. 2007. Oxford University Press. P. 177.


“In short, I share Burling’s emphasis on the huge difference in complexity between primate calls and human language, and agree that human language has some totally new kinds of component, in particular aboutness and learning of signal-meaning pairs. But I see enough common ground between primate calls and human utterances not to give up the idea that the evolution of human language built upon the pre-existing use of arbitrary signals by animals to do things to each other.” Hurford, James. The Origins of Meaning. 2007. Oxford University Press. P. 184.


“To summarize this section, the conditions that seem most likely to have given rise to the group-wide reciprocal social purposes for which humans use language include: large group size, relatively egalitarian-individualistic social structure, and a long period of infant dependency.” Hurford, James. The Origins of Meaning. 2007. Oxford University Press. P. 197.


“Interestingly, Horner and Whiten have shown that children deploy a less ‘intelligent’ strategy than chimpanzees in solving a problem involving retrieving an object from a box. The subjects were shown how to get the object in a demonstration which included some causally irrelevant actions. Where it was clear how to retrieve the object, the chimpanzees cut straight to the chase, and extracted it without repeating the causally irrelevant actions. The children, on the other hand, imitatively went through all the motions of the original demonstration, including the causally irrelevant ones. The authors suggest ‘the difference in performance of chimpanzees and children may be due to a greater susceptibility of children to cultural conventions.’” Hurford, James. The Origins of Meaning. 2007. Oxford University Press. Pp. 202-3. Reference is to Horner and Whiten. “Causal knowledge and imitation/emulation switching in chimpanzees and children.” Animal Cognition 8(3), pp. 164-181. P. 164.


“I conclude that the state of knowledge at the moment is that bonobos and other apes in the wild point declaratively with conspecifics extremely rarely at most, and quite probably never, except in the limited domain of pointing to the pointer’s own bodyparts during grooming; in captivity they point declaratively much more, to external objects, mostly with humans, but occasionally, depending on how they have been raised, with conspecifics.” Hurford, James. The Origins of Meaning. 2007. Oxford University Press. P. 215.


“A link between pointing and speech development appears evident. Two studies have shown that the age of onset of pointing and its frequency at 12 months predicts the amount of speech in production at 15 months and also at 24 months. For speech comprehension, babies depend on the adult’s referential acts, including pointing and they comprehend their first categorical nominals in the same week that they begin to point.” Quoted in Hurford, James. The Origins of Meaning. 2007. Oxford University Press. Pp. 220-1. Quote is from Butterworth, Franco, McKenzie, Graupner, &Todd. “Dynamic aspects of visual event perception and the production of pointing by human infants.” British Journal of Developmental Psychology. 20, 1-24. 2002. P. 2.


“When a creature’s attention is drawn to an object, the dorsal stream mechanism directs the eyes and head so that the object comes into focal attention. At this point, before the ventral stream mechanisms can attribute properties to the object, there is a fleeting ‘bare-object, propertyless representation in the brain,...” Hurford, James. The Origins of Meaning. 2007. Oxford University Press. P. 224.


“Even when apes can learn arbitrary symbolic connections, they cannot necessarily always invoke them in use. Call gives evidence that

“‘Apes (and possibly other animals) are actually quite good at understanding and reasoning about certain physical properties of their world while at the same time they are quite bad at associating arbitrary stimuli and responses. In other words, if two stimuli have a causal connection (as when food inside a shaken cup makes noises) apes perform better than if stimuli hold an arbitrary relation (as when an unrelated noise indicates food), even if the contingencies of reinforcement are the same.’” Hurford, James. The Origins of Meaning. 2007. Oxford University Press. Pp. 237-8. Subquote is form Call, J. 2006. “Descartes’ two errors: reason and reflection in the great apes.” From Hurley and Nudds (eds.) Rational Animals? Pp. 219-234. Oxford University Press. P. 219.


“A striking example of real-world reasoning repressing symbolic reasoning in chimpanzees is found in experiments by Sarah Boysen and colleagues. In these experiments, chimpanzees were trained to interpret ‘Arabic’ symbols for numbers, and had to perform a counterintuitive task in which selection of a lower-valued symbol from a presented pair of symbols resulted in being given a food reward proportional to the higher-valued symbol presented. For example, given two symbols, ‘2' and ‘6', if you choose the 6 you are given two bits of candy, but if you choose the 2, you are given six bits of candy. Chimpanzees learned to perform this task maximizing the food reward; they tended significantly to choose the lower-valued symbol. This shows an ability to think with symbols to advantage. The animals had all been successfully trained in the meanings of the symbols 1-6, so they knew that 2 signifies a smaller number than 6. But, interestingly, when the presented stimuli were not symbols, but actual heaps of candy, despite constant frustration, the chimpanzees could not overcome their urge to select the larger pile, which always resulted in their receiving the smaller, less desirable, pile of candy. Thinking in symbols can be used to advantage, but in these chimpanzees, the immediate prospect of real food overrides the symbolic thinking. Here we see the interaction of ability to use symbols, which chimpanzees are clearly capable of, with motivation to use symbols, which in chimpanzees can be easily overridden by immediate drives.” Hurford, James. The Origins of Meaning. 2007. Oxford University Press. P. 238. Reference is to Boysen, S, Berntson, Hannan & Cacioppo. “Quantity-based interference and symbolic representations in chimpanzees.” Journal of Experimental Psychology: Animal Behavior Processes 22(1), 76-86.


“Even captive apes are very preoccupied with the here and now, but they do have some capacity to communicate about things which are not so immediate. This capacity is brought out in the captive environment, where survival pressures are less severe. Humans have evolved an ability to detach their overt physical responses to signals from direct action responding to the referents of the signals. We can discuss the difference between a leopard’s spots and a tiger’s stripes without being scared up the nearest tree. It is intriguing to speculate on the possible change in conditions which enabled this degree of detachment. There could have been a co-evolutionary feedback cycle between an enhancement of ability to plan for predator-avoidance and food-getting and a decrease in the immediacy of survival pressures.” Hurford, James. The Origins of Meaning. 2007. Oxford University Press. P. 240.


“Human babies instinctively point and in their second year readily combine pointing gestures and contentful symbols. For example, a baby will point to a dog and say something interpretable as ‘dog’; or, a bit later in development, a baby will point to a drawer and say ‘open.’ These examples, strikingly like the Kanzi examples, above, are from Goldin-Meadow and Butcher. There are no quantitative comparisons of the frequency and fluency of deictic/symbolic combination by apes and human babies, but the impressionistic and anecdotal evidence indicates that human babies are more naturally disposed to combining pointing gestures with symbols than apes. In the ontogeny of language, this disposition to combine deictic pointing with symbol use is a stepping stone to the first combinatorial use of symbols: two-word utterances.” Hurford, James. The Origins of Meaning. 2007. Oxford University Press. P. 241.


“Grice’s theory has been technically superseded by Relevance Theory. ‘Relevance-theoretic pragmatics differs from other Gricean approaches.... It does not treat communication as necessarily cooperative in Grice’s sense; for communication to be successful, the only goal that speaker and hearer need to share is that of understanding and being understood’. Certainly, not all communication is cooperative. Deliberate deception is the obvious counterexample.” Hurford, James. The Origins of Meaning. 2007. Oxford University Press. Pp. 252-3. Subquote is from Wilson, D. “Relevance and relevance theory.” Pp. 719-720. Wilson, R.A. & Keil (eds) The MIT Encyclopedia of the Cognitive Sciences. MIT Press. 1999. P. 720.


“As long as language is viewed purely in terms of information transmission, it will be seen as bringing more benefits to the listener than to the speaker. The speaker already knows the information being conveyed, and learns nothing new by sharing it, but the listener does gain information by listening.... This leads to an interesting prediction: we should be a species of extremely good listeners and very reluctant talkers.

“This does not describe the human species as I know it.... People compete to say things. They strive to be heard.... [T]hose who fail to yield the floor are considered selfish, not altruistic.” Miller, G. The Mating Mind: How Sexual Choice Shaped the Evolution of Human Nature. William Heinemann. 2000. Pp. 350-1. Quoted in Hurford, James. The Origins of Meaning. 2007. Oxford University Press. P. 276.


“In the very early single-unit phase of hominid communication, the semantically unitary but phonologically complex signals, like gibbon songs, may have been sexually selected for their musical qualities. But any later exaptation of these calls for referential purposes seems unlikely to have been motivated by sexual selection.” Hurford, James. The Origins of Meaning. 2007. Oxford University Press. P. 285.


“‘Co-operative communication, in which manipulator and mind-reader roles share a common interest, should lead to cost-minimizing, muted signals, while non-cooperative signalling should give rise to conspicuous, repetitive signals.’” Krebs and Dawkins. “Animal signals: mind-reading and manipulation. From Krebs and Davies (eds). Behavioural Ecology: An Evolutionary Approach. Blackwell. 1984. P. 40. Quoted in Hurford, James. The Origins of Meaning. 2007. Oxford University Press. P. 288.


“The rules of the conversational game... may be formulated in this way:

1. Give information that is directly valuable, by pointing at improbable, desirable or undesirable states of affairs.
2. Try to lower the informational value of previous utterances.
3. Point out any logical inconsistency in the state of affairs described or observed.
4. Attribute status to speakers who are successful in the above.”
Dessalles, J.-L. “Altruism, status and the origin of relevance.” From Hurford, Studdert-Kennedy & Knight (eds.) Pp. 130-147. Approaches to the Evolution of Language. Cambridge University Press. 1998. P. 145. Quoted in Hurford, James. The Origins of Meaning. 2007. Oxford University Press. P. 290.


“‘The findings confirm that gossip can serve as a strategy of status enhancement and function in the interests of individuals.’” Refers to a validation of Dessalles’ work above. McAndrew and Milenkovic. “Of tabloids and family secrets: the evolutionary psychology of gossip.” Journal of Applied Psychology. 32, 1-20. 2002. P. 1. Quoted in Hurford, James. The Origins of Meaning. 2007. Oxford University Press. P. 291.


“In a recent survey of work on ‘What chimpanzees know about seeing’, Call and Tomasello admit to some bafflement as to what chimpanzees know about the intentional states of others: ‘Chimpanzees’ behaviour in many socially complex situations is decidedly mixed. They behave very intelligently in some ways–seeming to understand and reason about others–but they still do not seem to understand some social interactions in the way that humans do’. They settle, at this point in the saga of this research, for a middle position on chimpanzees, between the extremes of simple behavioural conditioning and full-blown Theory of Mind.”

“Knowing what another animal knows sets the scene for cooperation, which we will look at in the next section. Full cooperation requires that the cooperators each know that the other intends to work on the task concerned.” Hurford, James. The Origins of Meaning. 2007. Oxford University Press. Pp. 312-3. Subquote is from Call & Tomasello. “What chimpanzees know about seeing, revisited: an explanation of the third kind.” Pp. 45-64. From Eilan, Hoerl, McCormack & Roessler (eds.) Joint Attention: communication and Other Minds. 2005. Oxford University Press. P. 61.


“Silk et al. used an experimental setup in which a chimpanzee could choose between getting food delivered only to itself or to itself and another chimpanzee visible in an adjacent enclosure. There was no advantage or disadvantage to the actor chimp in either case, but there definitely was a possible benefit to the other chimp, if the actor pulled the appropriate handle. So this experiment was not even asking whether chimpanzees would behave altruistically, since there was never any cost to the chooser. All that was sought was ‘other-regarding’ behaviour, weaker than true altruism. The results showed all the experimental subjects to be indifferent to whether the other animal got any food.” Hurford, James. The Origins of Meaning. 2007. Oxford University Press. Pp. 314-5. Reference is to Silk, Brosnan, Vonk, Henrich, Povinelli, Richardson, Lambeth, Mascaro & Schapiro. “Chimpanzees are indifferent to the welfare of unrelated group members.” Nature. 437, 1357-1359. 2005.


“The ambiguity of the term I/intentionality rears its head here. For non-philosophers, it most naturally means the capacity to do things intentionally, with a will, and some future goal in mind; it is derived in this sense from intend as in I intend to go straight home. For philosophers, it has a different meaning, only very indirectly related to the first. In this sense, Intentionality is paraphrased by aboutness. Words are Intentional insofar as they are about things in the world. Mental states are Intentional insofar as they in some sense represent (are about) some situation in the world.” Hurford, James. The Origins of Meaning. 2007. Oxford University Press. P. 320.


“Just entering into discourse in the same language is communicatively cooperative, even though one’s utterances may be all materially uncooperative (like protracted verbal rows in dysfunctional relationships). Tomasello et al. include communicative cooperation within shared intentionality. ‘[T]he whole point of the Sperber and Wilson analysis is that there are different levels of motivation involved, and that whatever the ultimate goal of the speaker–even if it is for selfish/deceptive reasons in telling someone to do something–the speaker and hearer must cooperate for the message to be received’.

“It is this component of shared intentionality, an instinctive motivation to join the language-using club and share its purposes, that marks a huge difference in degree between human and non-human communication. Altriciality, coupled with a long period of dependency and plasticity in the social environment, would have promoted this. It is revealed in human babies’ apparently ‘unintelligent’ tendency to imitate where imitation has no other goal than to form a social bond, and to imitate rather than to emulate where some goal exists.” Hurford, James. The Origins of Meaning. 2007. Oxford University Press. Pp. 321-2. Reference is to Tomasello, Carpenter, Call, Behne & Hall. 2005. “Understanding and sharing intentions: the origins of cultural cognition.” Behavioral and Brain Sciences 28, 675-735. P. 724.


“Apes have rich mental lives, but keep their pictures of the world to themselves, like all other animals besides humans. Only humans tell each other in detail about events and scenes in the world. And this is something of an evolutionary puzzle, because giving information away would seem prima facie to be against the individual interests of the information-giver.

“Evolutionary theory has come up with a number of solutions to the riddle of why humans should, in general, act relatively altruistically, with this (apparent) altruism manifested saliently in language. No one theory on its own, such as Kin Selection, Reciprocal Altruism, or Sexual Selection, can adequately explain the unique human characteristic of freely giving information in such structurally complex ways as we do every day with language. A complex egalitarian social structure with shifting alliances, some degree of monogamy and equality between the sexes, and extended parental care of the young provides the most hospitable environment in which group-wide communicative codes can come to be adopted. Some degree of understanding of other minds is also required; some very limited evidence has only recently become available showing that in some circumstances, a chimpanzee can know what another animal knows. But this is not enough, and I have adopted Tomasello et al.’s concept of shared intentionality as a key ingredient of humans’ striking willingness to play complex language games with each other. This involves a degree of trust, a social attitude which is particularly well developed in humans. Our ape cousins have not evolved to exhibit shared intentionality or the appropriate degree of trust paving the evolutionary way for language.” Hurford, James. The Origins of Meaning. 2007. Oxford University Press. Pp. 332-3. Reference is to Tomasello, Carpenter, Call, Behne & Hall. 2005. “Understanding and sharing intentions: the origins of cultural cognition.” Behavioral and Brain Sciences 28, 675-735.


“Hermer-Vazquez, Spelke, and Katsnelson then probed the role of language in this task by asking subjects to solve problems requiring the integration of geometric and nongeometric information while performing one of two other tasks. The first task involved shadowing (repeating back) speech played over headphones. The other involved shadowing (with their hands) a rhythm played over the headphones. The working memory demands of the latter task were at least as heavy as those of the former. Yet subjects engaged in speech shadowing were unable to solve the integration-demanding problem, while those shadowing rhythm were unaffected. Agents’ linguistic abilities, the researchers concluded, are indeed actively involved in their ability to solve problems requiring the integration of geometric and nongeometric information.

“The precise nature of this linguistic involvement is, however, still in dispute. Hermer-Vazquez, Spelke, and Katsnelson, and following them Carruthers, interpret the results as suggesting that public language provides a unique internal representational medium for the cross-modular integration of information. The linguaform templates of encoded sentences provide, according to Carruthers, special representational vehicles that allow information from otherwise encapsulated resources to interact. This is an attractive and challenging story, and one that I cannot pretend to do justice to here. But it is one that presupposes a specific view of the mind as massively (not merely peripherally) modular, requiring linguaform templates to bring multiple knowledge bases into fruitful contact.” Clark, Andy. Supersizing the Mind: Embodiment, Action, and Cognitive Extension. 2008. Oxford University Press. P. 49.


“According to this conception, language works its magic not (or not solely) by means of translation into appropriate expressions of neuralese or the language of thought but also by something more like coordination dynamics. Encounters with words and with structured linguistic encodings act to anchor and discipline intrinsically fluid and context-sensitive modes of thought and reason.

“This notion of anchoring is best appreciated in the light of connectionist or artificial neural network models of memory, storage, and processing.” Clark, Andy. Supersizing the Mind: Embodiment, Action, and Cognitive Extension. 2008. Oxford University Press. P. 53.


“‘Words,’ Elman goes on to argue, ‘do not have meaning, they are cues to meaning’. Linguistic inputs, on this model, are quite literally modes of systematic neural manipulation and operate in similar ways both between and within human individuals. Words and sentences act as artificial input signals, often (as in self-directed speech) entirely self-generated, that nudge fluid natural systems of encoding and representation along reliable and useful trajectories. This remarkable display of virtuosic artificial self-manipulation allows language-laden minds to sculpt and guide their own processes of learning, of recall, of representation, and of selective attention. In this way, the symbolic environment (very broadly construed) can impact thought and learning both by selectively activating other internal representational resources and by allowing the material symbols themselves, or shallow imagelike internal representations of them, to act as additional fulcrums of attention, memory, and control.” Clark, Andy. Supersizing the Mind: Embodiment, Action, and Cognitive Extension. 2008. Oxford University Press. P. 54.


“Just such a view concerning the potential role of the inner rehearsal of sentences appears in Jackendoff, who suggests that the mental rehearsal of sentences may be the primary means by which our own thoughts are able to become objects of further attention and reflection.

“Linguaform reason, if this is correct, is not just a tool for the novice. Instead, it emerges as a key cognitive tool by means of which we are able to objectify, reflect upon, and hence knowingly engage with our own thoughts, trains of reasoning, and cognitive and personal characters. This positions language to act as a kind of cognitive superniche: a cognitive niche, one of whose greatest virtues is to allow us to construct an open-ended sequence of new cognitive niches.” Clark, Andy. Supersizing the Mind: Embodiment, Action, and Cognitive Extension. 2008. Oxford University Press. P. 59.


“Coming to grips with out own special cognitive nature demands that we take very seriously the material reality of language: its existence as an additional, actively created, and effortfully maintained structure in our internal and external environment. From sounds in the air to inscriptions on the printed page, the material structures of language both reflect, and then systematically transform, our thinking and reasoning about the world. As a result, our cognitive relation to our own words and language (both as individuals and as a species) defies any simple logic of inner versus outer. Linguistic forms and structures are first encountered as simply objects (additional structure) in our world. But they then form a potent overlay that effectively, and iteratively, reconfigures the space for biological reason and self-control.

“The cumulative complexity here is genuinely quite staggering. We do not just self-engineer better worlds to think in. We self-engineer ourselves to think and perform better in the worlds we find ourselves in. We self-engineer worlds in which to build better worlds to think in. We build better tools to think with and use these very tools to discover still better tools to think with.” Clark, Andy. Supersizing the Mind: Embodiment, Action, and Cognitive Extension. 2008. Oxford University Press. P. 59.


“Any linguistic pattern is recognized as a construction as long as some aspect of its form or function is not strictly predictable from its component parts or from other constructions recognized to exist. In addition, patterns are stored as constructions even if they are fully predictable as long as they occur with sufficient frequency.

“Unlike mainstream generative grammar, constructionist approaches tend to emphasize the detailed semantics and distribution of particular words, grammatical morphemes, and cross-linguistically unusual phrasal patterns; the hypothesis behind this methodology is that an account of the rich semantic/pragmatic and complex formal constraints on these patterns readily extends to more general, simple, or regular patterns.” Goldberg, Adele. Constructions at Work: The Nature of Generalization in Language. 2006. Oxford University Press. P. 5.


“Constructional approaches share with mainstream generative grammar the goal of accounting for the creative potential of language. That is, it is clear that language is not a set of sentences that can be fixed in advance. Allowing constructions to combine freely as long as there are not conflicts, allows for the infinitely creative potential of language. At the same time, constructional approaches generally recognize that grammars don’t generate sentences, speakers do. That is, a speaker is free to creatively combine constructions as long as constructions exist in the language that can be combined suitably to categorize the target message, given that there is no conflict among the constructions.” Goldberg, Adele. Constructions at Work: The Nature of Generalization in Language. 2006. Oxford University Press. P. 22.


“Language contains both large generalizations and idiosyncratic facts, and therefore we unavoidably find those who favor lumping, and those who favor splitting. The constructionist approach to grammar offers a way out of the lumper/splitter dilemma: the approach allows both broad generalizations and more limited patterns to be analyzed and accounted for fully. In particular, constructionist approaches are generally USAGE-BASED: facts about the actual use of linguistic expressions such as frequencies and individual patterns that are fully compositional are recorded alongside more traditional linguistic generalizations.” Goldberg, Adele. Constructions at Work: The Nature of Generalization in Language. 2006. Oxford University Press. P. 45.


“It is important to realize that exemplar-based models of categorization do not do away with abstraction completely. Generally attributes that are more relevant to the task at hand are more likely to be noticed. Any aspect of an exemplar that is not recorded because the learner failed to (unconsciously) notice it, is obviously not stored. This represents a degree of abstraction over the actual input: if a given stimulus, S, has attributes a, b . . . z, but the person witnessing S only records attributes a, b, c, and d, the resulting representation will be more abstract than S, in that it will not specify attributes e-z. Because of this selective encoding, what is actually recorded is not a fully specified memory of an encounter, but rather a partial abstraction over what was encountered. In addition, human beings’ knowledge erodes over time–the (unconscious) forgetting of attributes (and entire exemplars) also renders our representations more abstract than a collection of actual veridical reproductions of stimuli.” Goldberg, Adele. Constructions at Work: The Nature of Generalization in Language. 2006. Oxford University Press. P. 46.


“... there are a growing number of psychological models of categorization that combine exemplar-based knowledge with some type of generalizations. For example, on the exemplar-based abstraction view, categorizations are made using exemplars, but the effect is abstraction based on similarity that is additionally stored. Abstractions are created locally, on the basis of a small numbers of exemplars.” Goldberg, Adele. Constructions at Work: The Nature of Generalization in Language. 2006. Oxford University Press. P. 48.


“To perhaps most linguists, it goes without saying that languages contain generalizations. But if we take item-based knowledge seriously, it raises the question as to whether only individual tokens are stored without any generalization. This possibility has in fact been raised by certain researchers, insofar as they seem to make the claim that the totality of what is stored are specific usage events....

“Still, there is ample evidence that generalizations are essential to language. If generalizations were not necessarily made, we would expect to find languages whose argument structure patterns varied arbitrarily on a very-by verb basis....

“But in fact languages are much more regular. Semantically similar verbs show a strong tendency to appear in the same argument structure constructions.” Goldberg, Adele. Constructions at Work: The Nature of Generalization in Language. 2006. Oxford University Press. P. 58.


“Children are able to extract word forms from continuous speech based on transitional probabilities between syllables. For example, the phrase bananas with milk, contains four transitional probabilities across syllables (ba to na; na to nas; nas to with; and with to milk). The probability that ba will be followed by na, and the probability that (ba)na will be followed by nas is higher than the probability that nas will be followed by with. That is, transitional probabilities are generally higher within words than across words. Eight-month-old infants are sensitive to these statistical cues and treat these newly acquired words as part of their lexical inventory.” Goldberg, Adele. Constructions at Work: The Nature of Generalization in Language. 2006. Oxford University Press. P. 70.


“At least four factors have been proposed as relevant to predicting a pattern’s productivity [‘whether a pattern can be extended for use with new verbs for the sake of production’]: (a) the number of times an item occurs–its token frequency or degree of entrenchment; (b) statistical pre-emption: the repeated witnessing of the word in a competing pattern; (c) the absolute number of distinct items that occur in a given pattern or a pattern’s type frequency; and (d) the variability of the items that occur in a given pattern: a pattern’s degree of openness.

“In order for any of these factors to work in constraining generalizations, some memory of how particular words are used in particular constructions is essential.” Goldberg, Adele. Constructions at Work: The Nature of Generalization in Language. 2006. Oxford University Press. Pp. 93-4.


“Another source of evidence for the idea that the verb is a good predictor of sentence meaning comes from work on analogy. It has been richly documented that relational aspects of meaning are fruitful sources of analogy and similarity judgments. Markman and Gentner, for example, found that in making non-linguistic judgments, similarity is judged to be greater when two representations share the same relations between the entities in each representation. That is, the entities are aligned based on the structure that relates them, rather than on the basis of independent characteristics of the entities. The relevance to language is straightforward. In comparing two sentences, the main relational predicates, the verbs, are more likely to be used than the independent characteristics of the arguments.” Goldberg, Adele. Constructions at Work: The Nature of Generalization in Language. 2006. Oxford University Press. Pp. 104-5.


“We have offered two factors that likely encourage speakers to form the argument structure generalizations they do. Children initially generalize at the level of specific verbs plus argument slots (Tomasello’s ‘verb islands’) because the verb in an argument frame is the best single word predictor of overall sentence meaning. We argue further that children generalize beyond specific verbs to form more abstract argument structure constructions because the argument frame or construction has roughly equivalent cue validity as a predictor of overall sentence meaning to the morphological form of the verb, and has much greater category validity. That is, the construction is at least as reliable and much more available. Moreover, given the fact that many verbs have quite low cue validity in isolation, attention to the contribution of the construction is essential.” Goldberg, Adele. Constructions at Work: The Nature of Generalization in Language. 2006. Oxford University Press. Pp. 125-6.


“A usage-based model of grammar is required to account for speakers’ full knowledge of language, including both instances and generalizations. The usage-based model of frammar is supported not only by linguistic facts, but also by what we know about how non-linguistic categories are represented; they, too, involve both knowledge of instances and generalizations over instances. Far from being an arbitrary collection of stipulated descriptions, our knowledge of linguistic constructions, like our knowledge generally, forms an integrated and motivated network.” Goldberg, Adele. Constructions at Work: The Nature of Generalization in Language. 2006. Oxford University Press. P. 227.


“Even very simple constructions in language depend upon complex blending. It is natural to think that adjectives assign fixed properties to nouns, such that ‘The cow is brown’ assigns the fixed property brown to cow. By the same token, there should be a fixed property associated with the adjective ‘safe’ that is assigned to any noun it modifies. Yet consider the following unremarkable uses of ‘safe’ in the context of a child playing at the beach with a shovel: ‘The child is safe,’ ‘The beach is safe,’ ‘The shovel is safe.’ There is no fixed property that ‘safe’ assigns to child, beach, and shovel. The first statement means that the child will not be harmed, but so do the second and third–they do not mean that the beach or the shovel will not be harmed (although they could in some other context). ‘Safe’ does not assign a property but, rather, prompts us to evoke scenarios of danger appropriate for the noun and the context. We worry about whether the child will be harmed by being on the beach or by using the shovel. Technically, the word ‘safe’ evokes an abstract frame of danger with roles like victim, location, and instrument. Modifying the noun with the adjective prompts us to integrate that abstract frame of danger and the specific situation of the child on the beach into a counterfactual event of harm to the child. We build a specific imaginary scenario of harm in which child, beach, and shovel are assigned to roles in the danger frame. Instead of assigning a simple property, the adjective is prompting us to blend a frame of danger with the specific situation of the child on the beach with a shovel. This blend is the imaginary scenario in which the child is harmed. The word ‘safe’ implies a disanalogy between this counterfactual blend and the real situation, with respect to the entity designated by the noun. If the shovel is safe, it is because in the counterfactual blend it is sharp enough to cause injury but in the real situation it is too dull to cut.” Fauconnier, Gilles & Mark Turner. The Way We Think: Conceptual Blending and the Mind’s Hidden Complexities. 2002. Basic Books. Pp. 25-6.


“The reason language can prompt for blends that result in the same word’s being used to pick out different meanings is that language does not represent meaning directly; instead, it systematically prompts the construction of meaning. All of the ‘father’ examples [‘I’m your father today.’ ‘Pope is the father of all Catholics.’ ‘George Washington is the father of his country.’ ‘Fear, father of cruelty.’] are examples of the familiar XYZ construction (‘X is the Y of Z’) whose purpose is to systematically prompt for blends.

“We feel that the word ‘father’ has different meanings because ‘father’ is in each case attached to one of the inputs, blending as a conceptual operation applies to those inputs, and ‘father’ comes to pick out elements in the blend and to participate in phrases that pick out structure in the blend but not in the inputs. The meanings of ‘father’ are not properties of the word ‘father’ but byproducts of the operation of conceptual integration and of the fact that words, like anything else attached to inputs, can be projected to blends.” Fauconnier, Gilles & Mark Turner. The Way We Think: Conceptual Blending and the Mind’s Hidden Complexities. 2002. Basic Books. Pp. 142-3.


“We may think of language as a system of prompts for integration.” Fauconnier, Gilles & Mark Turner. The Way We Think: Conceptual Blending and the Mind’s Hidden Complexities. 2002. Basic Books. P. 143.


“But now we see that the purported property safe attributed to the beach in ‘The beach is safe’ and to the child in ‘The child is safe’ would have to be two different properties: something like not potentially harmful in the first sentence and not likely to be harmed in the second. By the same token, the word ‘safe’ in the sentence ‘The beach is safe’ would have to apply many different properties depending on whether the beach is legally protected from development, has a statistically low number of drownings, is a low-crime area, is owned in such a way that its ownership cannot be taken away from the owner, or is a vacation spot that can be proposed without problem to some. On inspection, then, ‘safe’ can seem to mean many different things, but users of the word feel that it is the same word and the same concept.

“In order to do justice to the meaning of ‘safe,’ we must regard it not as applying a particular property but, instead, as prompting for a particular kind of blend.” Fauconnier, Gilles & Mark Turner. The Way We Think: Conceptual Blending and the Mind’s Hidden Complexities. 2002. Basic Books. P. 143.


“Consider ‘Vanity is the quicksand of reason.’ The mapping scheme prompts us to find an unnamed w in the space with quicksand and an unnamed relationship between quicksand and that element w. It seems straightforward to select traveler as w, since quicksand is a potential trap for the traveler just as vanity is a potential trap for reason....

“Suppose that you hear ‘Vanity is the quicksand of reason.’ It launches the XYZ mapping scheme, and your brain is now looking for a w. Suppose also that your brain has complete lattitude and tries bacteria. What happens at that point in pursuing the elaboration of the integration network? We need a frame in the quicksand-bacteria input space that will project to the blend and contribute to its emergent meaning. A minimal requirement on that frame is that it must contain the elements quicksand and bacteria and a relationship between them. But for most people, such a frame is not available because they have no conventional public knowledge or personal memories of such a frame. So even if the brain does try out bacteria, nothing comes of it, no blend is formed, and there is no conscious memory of the attempt. Alternatively, suppose we bring into existence the appropriate frame just before ‘Vanity is the quicksand of reason’ comes along. Then this frame will be activated and probably tried out. In that case, bacteria might prove a superbly successful candidate for the missing w. This prediction is easily confirmed by interpreting ‘Vanity is the quicksand of reason within the following context:

“‘Did you know that some bacteria can live only in quicksand and depend on it for everything? For them, quicksand is not a trap, it is what they need to live at all. Well, for some people, vanity is the quicksand of reason. Their vanity gives them the self-confidence to think well.’

“In any theory of meaning, activation does not come for free. The existence of frames, knowledge, experience, scenarios, and memories does not come for free. Ease of activation and degree of entrenchment by themselves impose very strong constraints on the imagination and the use of language. Linguists, logicians, and, for the most part, even psychologists tend to focus on the entrenched cases, which are already built and usually easy to activate. When only the rigid and entrenched patterns are used, meaning becomes predictable based on the mapping schemes and those patterns. This is probably why linguists, logicians, and analytic philosophers of language have often incorrectly excluded inventive, figurative, creative, and literary examples from their domain of inquiry. The mistaken view was that only predictable composition of meaning can be scientifically tractable and important, and that only predictable composition of meaning can support genuine rational thought as opposed to the glinting ephemera of whimsy. As we discover repeatedly, the power of thought–whether rational or whimsical, emotional or practical–lies in the same basic mental operations. To focus exclusively on the entrenched cases is to be blind to the way we think. It obscures not only our general operations of thought but nearly all of what is happening in the entrenched cases themselves. The action on stage in the entrenched cases is possible only because of much greater activity in the wings of the imagination.” Fauconnier, Gilles & Mark Turner. The Way We Think: Conceptual Blending and the Mind’s Hidden Complexities. 2002. Basic Books. Pp. 166-8.


“The world of human meaning is incomparably richer than language forms. Although language has been said to make an infinite number of forms available, it is a lesser infinity than the infinity of situations offered by the very rich physical mental world that we live in. To see that, take any form, such as ‘My cow is brown,’ and try to imagine all the possible people, cows, and shades of brown to which it might apply, as well as all the different uses of the phrase as ironic or categorical or metaphoric, including its use as an example in this paragraph.” Fauconnier, Gilles & Mark Turner. The Way We Think: Conceptual Blending and the Mind’s Hidden Complexities. 2002. Basic Books. P. 178.


“The extraordinary evolutionary advantage of language lies in its amazing ability to be put to use in any situation. We will call this crucial property of language ‘equipotentiality.’ For any situation, real or imaginary, there is always a way to use language to express thoughts about that situation. The key to the amazing power of the equipotentiality of language, which we take for granted and use effortlessly in all circumstances, is double-scope conceptual integration.” Fauconnier, Gilles & Mark Turner. The Way We Think: Conceptual Blending and the Mind’s Hidden Complexities. 2002. Basic Books. P. 179.


“Utterances made in English would lose a great deal of their emotional impact and meaning were it not for the specific intonations that are given to certain words. But while the exaggeration of prosody in IDS [infant directed speech] may have the same function, it also plays a role in language acquisition itself. When adults are introducing a new word to their infants, they are likely to stress that word with a particularly high pitch and place it at the end of an utterance; but they would not make the same use of pitch when teaching a new word to another adult. Prosody is also used to help children acquire the syntax of language; the placement of pauses is a more reliable cue to the end of one clause and the beginning of another in IDS than it is in adult speech. In general, the exaggerated prosody of IDS helps infants to split up the sound stream they hear, so that individual words and phrases can be identified. In fact, mothers of young children fine-tune the manner in which they use prosody to their infants’ current linguistic level.” Mithen, Steven. The Singing Neanderthals: The Origins of Music, Language, Mind, and Body. 2006. Harvard University Press. P. 70.


“The idea that IDS [infant directed speech] is not primarily about language is supported by the universality of its musical elements. Whatever country we come from and whatever language we speak, we alter our speech patterns in essentially the same way when talking to infants.” Mithen, Steven. The Singing Neanderthals: The Origins of Music, Language, Mind, and Body. 2006. Harvard University Press. P. 72.


“Cooperation would have been essential for hominid life, whether in terms of foraging behaviour, food sharing or social interaction. Social tension would have been considerable within the hominid groups, and hence communal song, inducing emotions of contentment while diffusing those of anger, may have been common.” Mithen, Steven. The Singing Neanderthals: The Origins of Music, Language, Mind, and Body. 2006. Harvard University Press. P. 136.


“Beattie’s experimental work indicates that gestures are particularly important for conveying information about the speed and direction of movement, about the relative position of people and objects, and about the relative size of people and objects.” Mithen, Steven. The Singing Neanderthals: The Origins of Music, Language, Mind, and Body. 2006. Harvard University Press. P. 155.


“Wray uses the term ‘segmentation’ to describe the process whereby humans began to break up holistic phrases into separate units, each of which had its own referential meaning and could then be recombined with units from other utterances to create an infinite array of new utterances. This is the emergence of compositionality, the feature that makes language so much more powerful than any other communication system.

“Wray suggests that segmentation may have arisen from the recognition of chance associations between the phonetic segments of the holistic utterance and the objects or events to which they related. Once recognized, these associations might then have been used in a referential fashion to create new, compositional phrases. She provides the following hypothetical example: if, in the holistic, manipulative proto-language, there was a phrase tebima that meant ‘give that to her’, and another phrase kumapi that meant ‘share this with her’, an individual might recognize that ma was a common phonetic segment in both phrases, and ‘her’ a common aspect of their meaning. Hence that individual might conclude that ma could be used referentially for ‘female person.’” Mithen, Steven. The Singing Neanderthals: The Origins of Music, Language, Mind, and Body. 2006. Harvard University Press. Pp. 253-4.


“It may be the case, therefore, that the social arrangements of Homo populations other than Homo sapiens were such that infants had intense and continuous exposure to a limited number of ‘Hmmmmm’ speakers, resulting in the acquisition of the entire ‘Hmmmmm’ suite of utterances, with no need for generalization.

“This would indeed have been quite likely in the type of hominid and Early Human communities I have outlined in previous chapters, whether comprised of Homo habilis or Neanderthals. They lived in socially intimate groups with limited, if any, need for the type of novel utterances that could only be produced by compositional language, as opposed to ‘Hmmmmm’. Moreover, there would have been little need and few opportunities to communicate with members of other groups than one’s own – although some contacts involving the movement of individuals would have been essential to maintain demographic and genetic viability. But little need have been said on such occasions.

“It may have been only within the earliest Homo sapiens communities in Africa that people began to adopt specialized economic roles and social positions, that trade and exchange with other communities began, and that ‘talking with strangers’ became an important and pervasive aspect of social life. Such developments would have created pressures to exchange far greater amounts of information than was previously necessary in the socially intimate, undifferentiated groups of Early Humans. Only then would there have been the need for generalization, in the manner that Kirby describes within his simulation, and the need continually to generate novel utterances at a rate and of a type beyond the capability of ‘Hmmmmm’.” Mithen, Steven. The Singing Neanderthals: The Origins of Music, Language, Mind, and Body. 2006. Harvard University Press. Pp. 257-8.


“It appears, therefore, that when we enter the world, we have perfect pitch but that this ability is replaced by a bias towards relative pitch as we grow older.

“Why should this be? In the West, a reliance on perfect pitch is thought to be disadvantageous to learning both language and music, as it prevents generalization. Saffran and Griepentrog suggested that categorizing sounds by their perfect pitch ‘would lead to overly specific categories. Infants limited to grouping melodies by perfect pitches would never discover that the songs they hear are the same when sung in different keys or that words spoken at different fundamental frequencies are the same.’ They would even be unable to recognize that the same word spoken by a man and by a woman with differently pitched voices is indeed the same word.” Mithen, Steven. The Singing Neanderthals: The Origins of Music, Language, Mind, and Body. 2006. Harvard University Press. P. 77.


“Moreover, laughter-like vocalizations are present in our closest living relatives, the chimpanzees, who produce them when tickled or during play. These sound different from human laughter because they are produced while breathing in and out, whereas human laughter arises from ‘chopping up’ a single expiration. Chimpanzee laughter also lacks the discrete, vowel-like notes of human laughter (for example, ha, ha, ha). Indeed, if one were simply to listen to chimpanzee laughter without watching the animal itself, one might not recognize it as laughter at all.” Mithen, Steven. The Singing Neanderthals: The Origins of Music, Language, Mind, and Body. 2006. Harvard University Press. P. 82.


“Instead, in the current view, a large part of the explanation for humans’ uniquely complex ways of communicating gesturally is that ‘context’ for humans means something very special. For humans the communicative context is not simply everything in the immediate environment, from the temperature of the room to the sounds of birds in the background, but rather the communicative context is what is ‘relevant’ to the social interaction, that is, what each participant sees as relevant and knows that the other sees as relevant as well–and knows that the other knows this as well, and so on, potentially ad infinitum. This kind of shared, intersubjective context is what we may call, following Clark, common ground, or, sometimes, the joint attentional frame. Common ground includes everything we both know, from facts about the world, to the way that rational people act in certain situations, to what people typically find salient and interesting.” Tomasello, Michael. Origins of Human Communication. 2008. MIT Press. Pp. 74-5. Reference is to Herbert Clark. Using Language. 1996. Cambridge University Press.


“This leads us to propose a kind of typology of common ground based on three distinctions. The first is whether the common ground is based in our immediate perceptual environment, what I will call joint attention, or rather is based in shared experiences from the past. Second, we may also distinguish between common ground created by top-down processes–for example, we are pursuing a shared goal together and so know together that we are focusing on certain things relevant to our goal–and common ground created by bottom-up processes–for example, we both hear a loud noise and know together that we did. Later I will argue that common ground created by top-down processes in an immediately copresent perceptual environment–specifically in the joint attention of collaborative activities–is in some sense primary in that it provides for especially salient and solid common ground. Third and finally, common ground may be based on such generalized things as common cultural knowledge, never explicitly acknowledged between us–often signified by cultural markers of various sorts–or it may be based on things overtly acknowledged, for example, when we look to one another knowingly as a mutually known friend approaches.” Tomasello, Michael. Origins of Human Communication. 2008. MIT Press. Pp. 78-9.


“We may thus posit three general types of evolved communicative motives. They are determined by the kind of effect the communicator is attempting to have on the recipient, expressed here in terms of the shared intentionality motivations of helping and sharing with others:

“Requesting: I want you to do something to help me (requesting help or information);

“Informing: I want you to know something because I think it will help or interest you (offering help including information);

“Sharing: I want you to feel something to that we can share attitudes/feelings together (sharing emotions or attitudes).” Tomasello, Michael. Origins of Human Communication. 2008. MIT Press. P. 87.


“When joint attention is measured very generally as joint visual focus on potential referent objects, it is found to correlate quite strongly with young children’s initial acquisition of words. Specifically, the way mothers use language inside joint attentional frames facilitates their children’s acquisition of words, whereas the way mothers use language outside these frames has no effect. We may thus think of joint attentional frames as ‘hot spots’ for language acquisition. Interestingly, however, this correlation seems to decrease over the second year of life. This may be for two reasons. First, infants may be learning to acquire new words more flexibly by ‘eavesdropping’ on third parties’ use of language to one another–perhaps by imagining themselves in the interaction, which they comprehend, whether they are participating or not, from a ‘bird’s-eye-view.’ Second, joint visual attention may become less important for language acquisition, as children become able to use language itself for establishing joint attention. Thus, at some point, children do not need to determine where the adult’s visual attention is focused when she says to them ‘Give me that modi you’re playing with’–as they know the meaning of the language around the unknown word, and this establishes the joint attentional frame within which the novel word is understood.” Tomasello, Michael. Origins of Human Communication. 2008. MIT Press. Pp. 159-60.


“Children’s early use of both pointing and language show the same complementarity between what must be expressed in the referential act itself and what may be left implicit in common ground; that is to say, pointing and linguistic utterances have the same ‘information structure.’ Thus, in most cases pointing presupposes the joint attentional common ground as ‘topic’ (old or shared information), and the pointing act is actually a predication, or focus, informing the recipient of something new, worthy of her attention. In other cases, pointing serves to establish a new topic, about which further things may then be communicated. Both of these are functions served by whole utterances in linguistic communication.” Tomasello, Michael. Origins of Human Communication. 2008. MIT Press. P. 163.


“Our proposal is that human cooperative communication was adaptive initially because it arose in the context of mutualistic collaborative activities in which individuals helping others were simultaneously helping themselves.” Tomasello, Michael. Origins of Human Communication. 2008. MIT Press. P. 170.


“The intimate relation between collaborative activities and cooperative communication is most readily apparent in the fact that they both rely on one and the same underlying infrastructure of recursively structured joint goals and attention, motivations and even norms for helping and sharing, and other manifestations of shared intentionality. This common infrastructure is most clearly evident in the fact that great apes have noncooperative forms of both group activities and intentional communication, underlain by skills for understanding individual intentionality, whereas human infants develop cooperative forms of both collaboration and communication underlain by skills and motivations for shared intentionality (and before language).” Tomasello, Michael. Origins of Human Communication. 2008. MIT Press. Pp. 170-1.


“Apes understand that others have goals and perceptions and how these relate to one another in intentional action, perhaps even rational action. So this is not the reason they do not collaborate in human-like ways. Rather, as might be expected, we believe that whereas apes understand what the other is doing as an individual intentional agent, they have neither the skills nor the motivations to form with others joint goals and joint attention or otherwise participate with others in shared intentionality.

“A recent experiment supports this interpretation. Warneken, Chen, and Tomasello presented 14- to 24-month-old children and three human-raised juvenile chimpanzees with four collaborative tasks: two instrumental tasks in which there was a concrete goal, and two social games in which there was no concrete goal other than playing the collaborative game itself (e.g., the two partners using a kind of trampoline to bounce a ball up in the air together). The human adult partner was programmed to quit acting at some point in the tasks as a way of determining subjects’ commitment to the joint activity. Results were clear and consistent. In the problem-solving tasks, chimpanzees synchronized their behavior relatively skillfully with that of the human, as shown by the fact that they were often successful in bringing about the desired result. However, they showed no interest in the social games, basically declining to participate. Most importantly, when the human partner stopped participating, no chimpanzee ever made a communicative attempt to reengage her–even in cases where they were seemingly highly motivated to obtain the goal–suggesting that they had not formed with her a joint goal. In contrast, the human children collaborated in the social games as well as the instrumental tasks.” Tomasello, Michael. Origins of Human Communication. 2008. MIT Press. P. 177-8.


“Further support for this interpretation [see quote above] comes from a recent longitudinal study in which the same three human-raised chimpanzees were assessed on a whole suite of social-cognitive skills. It was found that the chimpanzees were very similar to human infants on the more individually based social-cognitive skills involving the understanding of goals and perceptions. But in a series of simple cooperative tasks in which a human played one role and the chimpanzee a complementary role–for example, the human held out a plate and the chimpanzee placed a toy on it–when the human forced a role reversal chimpanzees basically either did not reverse roles, or else they performed their action without reference to the human. In a similar series of tasks, human infants not only reversed roles, but when they did so they looked expectantly to the adult in anticipation of her playing her new role in their shared task. Our interpretation is that human infants understand joint activity from a ‘bird’s-eye view,’ with the joint goal and complementary roles all in a single representational formal–which enables them to reverse roles as needed. In contrast, chimpanzees understand their own action from a first-person perspective and that of the partner from a third-person perspective, but they do not have a bird’s-eye view of the interaction–and so there really are no roles, and so no sense in which they can reverse roles, in ‘the same’ activity.” Tomasello, Michael. Origins of Human Communication. 2008. MIT Press. Pp. 178-9.


“That fact that individuals choose partners for mutualistic collaboration based in some sense on their reputation means that individuals who understand this may now seek to enhance their reputations by public acts of helping and cooperation, assuming that they understand that others are observing and assessing them.” Tomasello, Michael. Origins of Human Communication. 2008. MIT Press. P. 201.


“Most critically, the common conceptual ground, which is the fundamental source of pointing’s communicative power, is also a source of its limitations. Thus, if you and I have much experience together at a watering hole and sometimes see a gazelle there, and today you see me returning from that direction and pointing excitedly back there, you will probably assume there is now a gazelle there; I have succeeded in referring to an absent entity by pointing. But, of course, if we do not share the previous experience, I cannot point to the absent referent; pointing is essentially impotent in situations in which the participants have little or no common ground, especially where large inferences are required.” Tomasello, Michael. Origins of Human Communication. 2008. MIT Press. P. 202.


“Iconic gestures rely on common ground in the same basic way [as pointing does], but a bit less so because more information is potentially in the gesture itself.” Tomasello, Michael. Origins of Human Communication. 2008. MIT Press. P. 203.


“To use an iconic gesture one must first be able to enact actions in simulated form, outside their normal instrumental context–which would seem to require skills of imitation, if not pretense. But even more importantly, to comprehend an iconic action as a communicative gesture, one must first understand to some degree the Gricean communicative intention; otherwise the recipient will suppose that the communicator is simply acting bizarrely,...” Tomasello, Michael. Origins of Human Communication. 2008. MIT Press. P. 203.


“Complying with the requests for help of others and indeed offering help to others thus likely began in mutualistic collaboration, where compliance is always adaptive because it benefits the self, and then generalized to nonmutualistic situations owing to their positive effects on the reputation of the helper.” Tomasello, Michael. Origins of Human Communication. 2008. MIT Press. P. 206.


“It is interesting to note, in this regard, that whereas humans have norms for helpfulness in communication–apparent in obligations for informing in certain situations (e.g., informing you that your car lights are on if I discover this)–such norms do not govern expressive declaratives. There is no social sanction for not expressing oneself to others or for not agreeing with such expressions–only a personal loss in terms of diminished opportunities for friendship and affiliation.” Tomasello, Michael. Origins of Human Communication. 2008. MIT Press. Pp. 212-3.


“The move to communicative conventions is thus, paradoxically, a natural one. No one intends, certainly not initially, to invent any conventions. Communicative conventions happen naturally as organisms who are capable of role reversal imitation and who already know how to communicate in fairly sophisticated ways–cooperatively, with gestures–imitatively learn one another’s iconic gestures. Then individuals who are not privy to the iconic relation observe the communicative efficacy of the gesture and use it on that basis only, without any iconic motivation–at which point it has become, for these new users, arbitrary.” Tomasello, Michael. Origins of Human Communication. 2008. MIT Press. P. 225.


“... iconic gestures are typically used for two basic functions: (i) to indicate an action, and (ii) to indicate an object associated with the enacted action (or, less often, the object depicted in a static display). We may then posit that the elements of language that correspond to iconic gestures are the referentially contentful words such as verbs and nouns. On almost everyone’s account verbs and nouns are the most fundamental types of content words in a language, as they are the only two classes that are plausibly universal, and most of the other types of words in a particular language can be shown to be historically derived from nouns and verbs. The proposal would thus be that initially humans used some vocalizations while pantomiming actions or objects in a naturally meaningful way. These became conventional as others learned the vocalizations socially, conventionally, making the pantomime unnecessary–with vocalizations having some of the advantages listed above such as freeing the hands, long-distance communication, making things public, and so forth.” Tomasello, Michael. Origins of Human Communication. 2008. MIT Press. Pp. 233-4.


“In terms of our quasi-evolutionary story, then, we may go all the way back to ape attention-getter and intention-movement gestures, then move through the human use of pointing and pantomiming as natural communicative acts, and end in human communicative conventions for directing attention (demonstratives) and inducing the recipient to imagine intended referents (content words such as nouns and verbs and their derivatives).

Ape attention getters ----> human cooperative pointing –––> demonstratives and deictics in language.
Ape intention movements ----> human iconic gestures –––> content words in language.

These two lines of correspondence simply reflect that in action-based gestures there are really only two things that humans can do to refer others’ attention to things, at least naturally: we can direct their visual attention in space (as in the top row), or we can do something to evoke absent objects and events in the imagination (as in the bottom row). Human linguistic conventions simply provide us with special ways of doing these things based less on current common ground and more on a shared history of social learning.” Tomasello, Michael. Origins of Human Communication. 2008. MIT Press. Pp. 234-5.


“But mutualistic collaborative activities could not emerge until humans first became more tolerant and generous in sharing the spoils of group activities (e.g., meat of the prey in group hunting), and then evolved a new piece of cognitive machinery: recursive mindreading. This critical component created joint goals, which then created joint attentional frames relevant to the joint goal, which then served as the common conceptual ground giving meaning to pointing and other cooperative communicative acts.” Tomasello, Michael. Origins of Human Communication. 2008. MIT Press. Pp. 239-40.


“The two major problems that narrative discourse sets are: relating events to one another in time, and keeping track of the participants in those events when they are sometimes the same and sometimes different across events (and playing different roles in different events when they are the same). First, keeping track of events in time leads to some incredibly complex grammatical structures.” Tomasello, Michael. Origins of Human Communication. 2008. MIT Press. P. 284.


“One of the great theoretical advances in twentieth-century linguistics is the recognition that conventionalized grammatical constructions may take on Gestalt properties of their own independent of the meanings of the individual words, and this creates a kind of autonomy at the grammatical level of analysis. Thus, if I say to you ‘The dax got mibbed by the gazzer,’ you know–without knowing the meaning of a single content word–that the gazzer did something (called mibbing) to the dax (and we have entered that event from the perspective of the dax, as patient). Indeed, the Gestalt properties of constructions can even ‘override’ individual word meanings in many cases. For example, the grammar books will say that the verb sneeze is an intransitive verb, used with a single actor, the one who sneezes. But I can say something like ‘He sneezed her the tennis ball’ and you will concoct a scene in which his sneezing causes a ball to go from him to her. That movement is not communicated by the verb sneeze, but rather by the construction as a whole (the ditransitive construction).” Tomasello, Michael. Origins of Human Communication. 2008. MIT Press. P. 297.


“Recall that in accounting for the emergence of linguistic conventions in human evolution, we postulated a kind of ‘drift to the arbitrary’ based on the fact that outsiders, who are missing some common ground as a basis for ‘naturalness,’ may have a difficult time comprehending and parsing the communicative signs of the others. What seems to happen in the case of grammar is something similar. Children hear utterances and just want to learn to do things like adults–they do not know or care anything for ‘natural’ roots of these. Thus, when they hear utterances whose constituent parts are hard to hear or absent, they may understand how that utterance works in a different manner from the adult producing it. This is called functional reanalysis, and it results from the fact that comprehenders typically do two things simultaneously. On the one hand, they attempt to understand the overall meaning of the utterance: what does the speaker want me to do, know, or feel? But in addition they also engage in a kind of ‘blame assignment’: in the overall meaning, what role is being played by each of the internal constituents of the utterance? Thus, if a child hears an adult say ‘I’d better go,’ she might not hear the -‘d so well and just assume that better is a simple modal auxiliary like must, as in ‘I must go’ or “I should go’ or ‘I can go.’ That is then a blame assignment that differs from that of the adult, and so, if there are many similar children, at some historical point better will indeed become a modal auxiliary like must in the English language at large. This kind of reanalysis happens constantly, and it often spreads to related constructions by analogy.” Tomasello, Michael. Origins of Human Communication. 2008. MIT Press. Pp. 304-5.


“Second, the creation and change of grammatical constructions–especially the process of reanalysis over time–depends crucially on the way common ground and joint attention work. Specifically, aspects of linguistic communication that are predictable owing to strong common ground (and which might be transparently iconic or compositional) become reduced in form as interlocutors are able to use this common ground, even with a weak linguistic signal, to make the appropriate inferences about the intended message. This is fine for the cognoscenti, but for outsiders, such as children, this makes the linguistic formulations less transparent, and so they must simply learn form-function parings [sic] arbitrarily (and imperfectly). In doing this, they engage in a blame assignment process–that is, they identify which parts of the construction are effecting which subfunctions–that may differ from that of mature speakers. Our specific proposal is thus that the conventionalization of grammatical constructions–grammaticalization and similar processes–can occur only in species who have cognitive skills for constructing common ground in joint attention, and in communities that have enough sociological complexity such that different individuals have different common ground with one another.” Tomasello, Michael. Origins of Human Communication. 2008. MIT Press. Pp. 307-8.


“The basic cognitive skill of shared intentionality is recursive mindreading. When employed in certain social interactions, it generates joint goals and joint attention, which provide the common conceptual ground within which human communication most naturally occurs.” Tomasello, Michael. Origins of Human Communication. 2008. MIT Press. P. 321.


“Language use is really a form of joint action. A joint action is one that is carried out by an ensemble of people acting in coordination with each other.” Clark, Herbert. Using Language. 1996. Cambridge University Press. P. 3.


“Speaking and listening are themselves composed of actions at several levels. As Erving Goffman noted, the commonsense notion of speaker subsumes three agents. The vocalizer is ‘the sounding box from which utterances come.’ The formulator is ‘the agent who puts together, composes, or scripts the lines that are uttered.’ And the principal is ‘the party to whose position, stand, and belief the words attest.’ The principal is the agent who means what is represented by the words, the I of the utterance. In Goffman’s view, speaking decomposes into three levels of action: meaning, formulating, and vocalizing.”

“In face-to-face conversations, the speaker plays all three roles at the same time – principal, formulator, and vocalizer. When Alan asks Barbara ‘Did you happen to see my dog run by here?’ he selects the meaning he wants to be recognized; he formulates the words to be uttered; and he vocalizes those words. In nonbasic settings, these roles often get decoupled. When a spokewoman reads a statement by the Secretary of State, she vocalizes the announcement, but it is the Secretary whose meaning she represents, and an aide who formulated them.” Clark, Herbert. Using Language. 1996. Cambridge University Press. P. 20. Reference is from Goffman, E. Forms of Talk. 1981. Univ. of Pennsylvania Press. P. 226.


“Language use, I assume, is what John Stuart Mill called a natural kind. It is a basic category of nature, just as cells, mammals, vision, and learning are, one that affords scientific study in its own right. And what makes it a natural kind is the joint action that creates a speaker’s meaning and an addressee’s understanding.” Clark, Herbert. Using Language. 1996. Cambridge University Press. P. 21.


“In most joint activities, the participants pursue many goals at once. Their dominant goal, as I have called it, is a domain goal – getting their business transacted, the chess game played, the lecture completed, the witness interrogated. But the participants also have procedural goals, such as doing all this quickly and efficiently, making clear moves, attending to what is being done. They also have interpersonal goals, such as maintaining contact with the other participants, impressing them, being polite, maintaining self-respect.” Clark, Herbert. Using Language. 1996. Cambridge University Press. P. 34.


“Joint actions are created when people coordinate with each other. Why should they coordinate? The reason, according to Thomas Schelling, is to solve coordination problems. Two people have a coordination problem whenever they have common interests, or goals, and each person’s actions depend on the actions of the other. To reach their goals, they have to coordinate their individual actions in a joint action.” Clark, Herbert. Using Language. 1996. Cambridge University Press. P. 62. Reference is to Schelling, Thomas. The Strategy of Conflict. 1960. Harvard University Press.


“Most situations – perhaps every situation for people who are practiced at this kind of game – provide some clue for coordinating behavior, some focal point for each person’s expectation of what the other expects him to expect to be expected to do. Finding the key, or rather finding a key – any key that is mutually recognized as the key becomes the key – may depend on imagination more than on logic; it may depend on analogy, precedent, accidental arrangement, symmetry, aesthetic or geometric configuration, casuistic reasoning, and who the parties are and what they know about each other.” Schelling, Thomas. The Strategy of Conflict. 1960. Harvard University Press. P. 57. Quoted in Clark, Herbert. Using Language. 1996. Cambridge University Press. P. 64.


“Coordination devices range even more widely. When you and I want to meet, we can meet in Jordan Hall at eight on the basis of an explicit agreement, or on the basis of precedent – that’s when and where we met last week. We can meet for a seminar in Room 100 at noon on the basis of a convention – that’s when and where the seminar conventionally meets.”Clark, Herbert. Using Language. 1996. Cambridge University Press. P. 65.


“Principle of joint salience. The ideal solution to a coordination problem among two or more agents is the solution that is most salient, prominent, or conspicuous with respect to their current common ground.” Clark, Herbert. Using Language. 1996. Cambridge University Press. P. 67.


“In language use, a central problem is coordination what speakers mean and what their addressees understand them to mean. These are really participant coordination problems – Schelling games set by speakers for their addressees and themselves to solve. Their solutions should therefore reflect joint salience, solvability, and sufficiency: Speakers and addressees should take for granted, within limits, that speakers have in mind unique solutions they believe their addressees will converge on.” Clark, Herbert. Using Language. 1996. Cambridge University Press. P. 73. Reference is to Schelling, Thomas. The Strategy of Conflict. 1960. Harvard University Press.


“Contextual constructions rely on an appeal to context – to the participants’ current common ground. They always require non-conventional coordination for their interpretation....”

“The common ground needed for contextual constructions often lies far outside language. For Ann to tell Ben ‘I Houdini’d my way out of the closet,’ she must suppose they share salient biographical facts about Harry Houdini, the great escape artist. For her to say ‘Max went too far this time and teapotted a policeman’ and by ‘teapot’ mean ‘rub the back of with a teapot,’ she must suppose she and Ben share knowledge of Max’s peculiar penchant for sneaking up behind people and rubbing them with a teapot. And for satirist Erma Bombeck to write ‘Stereos are a dime a dozen’ and by ‘stereos’ to mean ‘potential roommates who own a stereo,’ she must suppose she and her readers understand she is writing about difficulties in finding a roommate. Contextual constructions offer a convincing demonstration of the cumulative view of discourse: They can only be understood against the current state of the discourse.” Clark, Herbert. Using Language. 1996. Cambridge University Press. Pp. 78-9


“If convention isn’t the only coordination device we exploit in language use, what are the others? The answer is, almost any device we can appeal to successfully. The ultimate criterion is, as before, joint salience. Three such devices are explicit agreement, precedent, and perceptual salience.” Clark, Herbert. Using Language. 1996. Cambridge University Press. P. 80.


“The synchrony principle. In joint actions, the participants synchronize their processes mainly by coordinating on the entry times and participatory actions for each new phase.” Clark, Herbert. Using Language. 1996. Cambridge University Press. P. 86.


“Principle of processing time. People take it as common ground that mental processes take time, and that extra processes may delay entry into the next phase.

“The principle is useful because we have surprisingly accurate heuristics for estimating processing difficulty. Here are a few. In speaking, processing should take longer, all else being equal, (a) the rarer the expression; (b) the longer the expression; (c) the more complex the syntax or morphology; (d) the more precise the message; and (e) the more uncertain a speaker is about what he or she wants to say. And in understanding, processing should take longer, all else being equal, (a) the rarer the expression; (b) the longer the expression; (c) the more complex the syntax or morphology; (d) the more precise the message; (e) the more extensive the implications; and (f) the less salient the referents.” Clark, Herbert. Using Language. 1996. Cambridge University Press. P. 89.


“Principle of shared bases. For something to be a coordination device, it must be a shared basis for a piece of common ground.” Clark, Herbert. Using Language. 1996. Cambridge University Press. P. 99.


“If I know something, I am more likely to expect others to know it too. This has come to be known as the false consensus effect, and it is ubiquitous in judgments of factual information, political opinions, personal problems, and other types of information.” Clark, Herbert. Using Language. 1996. Cambridge University Press. P. 111.


“What sort of memory representations do we need for inferring personal common ground? We need more than an encyclopedia, with its facts, beliefs, and assumptions about entire communities, since it won’t represent your or my personal experiences. We need a personal diary, a log of those events we have personally experience or taken part in with others.” Clark, Herbert. Using Language. 1996. Cambridge University Press. P. 114.


“If communal common ground defines cultural communities, then personal common ground defines friends versus strangers.” Clark, Herbert. Using Language. 1996. Cambridge University Press. P. 115.


“It is odd to have to explain the differences between speaker’s meaning and signal meaning. In German, they are called Gemeintes and Bedeutung, in Dutch, bedoeling and betekenis, and in French, intention and signification.” Clark, Herbert. Using Language. 1996. Cambridge University Press. P. 127


“Signal recognition principle. Signaling and recognizing in communicative acts are participatory acts.

“The joint act of one person signaling another and the second recognizing what the first meant I will call a communicative act.” Clark, Herbert. Using Language. 1996. Cambridge University Press. P. 130.


“Communication with language takes actions at many levels, as Austin also recognized. I have argued that these levels form a ladder of joint actions. An action ladder is a set of cotemporal actions ordered with upward causality, upward completion, and downward evidence. In language use, these levels are joint actions. At the bottom, Ann executes behaviors and, in coordination with her, Ben attends to them; by these joint actions, Ann presents a signal and, in coordination, Ben identifies with it; by these joint actions in turn, Ann signals something to Ben and, in coordination, Ben recognizes what she means; and by these joint actions, Ann proposes a joint project and, in coordination, Ben considers her proposal. These may not be the only levels, but they are the main ones.” Clark, Herbert. Using Language. 1996. Cambridge University Press. Pp. 153-4.


“When I gesture to show you how Queen Elizabeth holds a teacup, I am creating an icon by which I mean something: I am demonstrating how Queen Elizabeth holds a teacup. When I point at a bicycle for you, I am producing an index by which I mean something. I am indicating the bicycle. And when I use dog in telling you ‘I see a dog,’ I am producing a symbol by which I mean something. I am describing the type of thing I am seeing as a dog. At one point, Peirce argued for much the same functions:

“‘Icons and indices assert nothing. If an icon could be interpreted by a sentence, that sentence must be in a ‘potential mood,’ that is, it would merely say, ‘Suppose a figure has three sides,’ etc. Were an index so interpreted, the mood must be imperative, or exclamatory, as ‘See there!’ or ‘Look out!’ [Symbols] are, by nature, in the ‘indicative,’ or, as it should be called, the declarative mood.’” Clark, Herbert. Using Language. 1996. Cambridge University Press. P. 160. Peirce subquote is from Buchler, J. (Editor). Philosophical Writings of Peirce. 1940. Routledge and Kegan Paul. P. 111.


“Another class of symbolic gestures are what I will call junctions – certain joint physical actions by pairs of people. These include shaking hands, hugging, and kissing used for expressing affection in greetings and farewells. The details of shaking hands, hugging, and kissing vary enormously from one cultural community to the next, and so does what they mean. Junctions have been ignored as signals probably because they are joint actions – generally symmetrical – that require behavior from two participants at once. They are no less symbolic for that. Every signal requires the coordination of actions between speaker and addressees. With junctions it is just that both participants express their feelings simultaneously.” Clark, Herbert. Using Language. 1996. Cambridge University Press. P. 164.


“The index must satisfy these requirements:
1. Attention The index is in the participants’ joint focus of attention.
2. Location The index locates the object in space and in time.
3.. Physical connection The index locates by means of a physical connection with the object.
4. Description The object is specified under a particular description.
5. Computability The speaker presupposes that the addressees can work out 1 through 4 based on their current common ground.

“The first four requirements embody Peirce’s notion of index; the fifth holds for all signals.

“Suppose George points at a book for Helen and says ‘That is mine.’ His act of pointing is the index (index is Latin for ‘forefinger’) and the book is the object. His intention is to get Helen to recognize that he is using that index to locate the book for her. To that end, he must point while she is attending. He must locate the book for her by the direction of his forefinger – a physical connection. And he must get her to see that he is pointing at the object qua ‘book’ and not qua ‘example of blue,’ ‘piece of junk,’ or whatever.” Clark, Herbert. Using Language. 1996. Cambridge University Press. P. 165.


“People are opportunistic in their choice of indices and may even exploit fortuitous events. When George hears a loud crash, he can ask Helen, ‘What was that?’ He assumes the crash was in their joint attention and locates the source of the crash by a physical connection – the source caused the crash – and he appropriates the fortuitous index for the demonstrative reference ‘that.’ Almost any event will do – sudden sounds, conspicuous sights, salient smells, another person’s silly actions – as long as it can be brought to the joint attention of speaker and addressees.

“People can also indicate by performing an action in a manifestly conspicuous manner. When a clerk in a drugstore says ‘Can I help you?’ I can respond by conspicuously placing the items I wish to buy on the counter. That is, I don’t simply place the items on the counter. I place them in such a conspicuous or stylized manner that I intend the clerk to recognize that I am indicating the placement for her (so she will recognize those as the items I wish to buy). My action isn’t coincidental, but a response to her offer.” Clark, Herbert. Using Language. 1996. Cambridge University Press. P. 167.


“Demonstrations, Richard Gerrig and I have argued, are selective depictions. Each demonstration divides into four types of aspects:

“1. Depictive aspects. These are the aspects of a demonstration that are intended to depict aspects of the referent. George depicts the way Elizabeth holds her hands, sticks out her pinkie, purses her lips, holds her head, and closes her eyes; he also depicts the trajectory of her hand from the saucer to her mouth. Yet he doesn’t even try to depict a great many other things – the way she sits, holds her shoulders, or licks her lips. The depictive aspects define the demonstration proper, the actions essential to the demonstration.
“2. Supportive aspects. These are the aspects of a demonstration that aren’t intended to depict, but to support or enable the performance of the depictive aspects. George doesn’t use a real cup and saucer, or sip actual liquid, or swallow, or become small and female. And Helen, for her part, doesn’t assume Elizabeth drinks tea without a real cup and saucer, without sipping or swallowing, or by becoming a large man. She merely takes these as the aspects George has to include to perform the depictive aspects.
“3. Annotative aspects. These are the aspects of a demonstration that are included as simultaneous commentary on what is being demonstrated. When George exaggerates the daintiness of Elizabeth’s gestures, the pursing of her lips, the closing of her eyes, Helen isn’t to take these as depictive. The exaggerations are merely commentary on what he is depicting. The annotative aspects are sometimes as important as the depictive ones.
“4. Incidental aspects. These are the aspects of a demonstration that are incidental to the demonstrator’s purpose, what is left over once he or she has chosen the depictive, supportive, and annotative aspects.” Clark, Herbert. Using Language. 1996. Cambridge University Press. P. 173. Reference is to Clark and Gerrig. “Quotations as Demonstrations.” 1990. Language. 66, 764-805.


“The act of demonstrating, like the act of indicating, generally encompasses an instrument and depictive actions performed with it.” Clark, Herbert. Using Language. 1996. Cambridge University Press. P. 174.


“Iconic gestures, like other demonstrations, divide into two kinds, component and concurrent gestures. Component gestures are embedded as parts of other utterances,...

“One class of component gestures are those in quotations, ...”

“Concurrent iconic gestures are produced at the same time as other utterances. When Fran utters ‘they wheel a big table in,’ she also gestures, depicting the height and forward movement of the table.” Clark, Herbert. Using Language. 1996. Cambridge University Press. P. 178.


“Most signals, as we have seen, are composites that are knitted together from the three methods. George sees Helen and says ‘Hello.’ He uses the conventional meaning of hello to describe his action as a greeting. He uses his voice and eye gaze to indicate himself as speaker, Helen as addressee, and now as the time of greeting. He uses his smile, open eyes, and magnified intonation to demonstrate his enthusiasm. Helen, in turn, not only interprets each of these methods, but integrates them to understand him as meaning, roughly, ‘I, George, now greet you, Helen, enthusiastically.’ The point is this: ‘Hello’ is treated not as three parallel signals with separate interpretations, but as a single signal with a unified interpretation.” Clark, Herbert. Using Language. 1996. Cambridge University Press. P. 185.


“Certain social events come in what I will call event-reaction pairs. They have five main properties:

“1. Event-reaction pairs consist of two ordered events – an instigating event and a reaction.
“2. The two events have different origins.
“3. The instigating event is any event mutually recognized by A and B.
“4. The reaction is an action by B that is or includes a signal to A.
“5. B’s reaction is intended, among other things, to display B’s construal of the target event.”

“Example: A car accident is an instigating event, and B’s ‘How awful!’ is a reaction. When the instigating event is an action by A toward B, we have an action-response pair, e.g., A’s offering B a cup of coffee, and B’s accepting it.” Clark, Herbert. Using Language. 1996. Cambridge University Press. P. 194.


“What if Jack doesn’t construe Kate’s action as intended? If Kate has brought the wine for Helen and not for Jack, and Jack says ‘Thanks,’ she has two main choices. She can consider his construal to be incorrect and correct it, ‘Oh, this is for Helen – what would you like?’ This way she provides a shared basis for the mutual belief that her action was intended as a favor to Helen and not him. Or she can accept Jack’s construal unchanged. She might reason: ‘Aha, Jack wanted wine too. I can just as well leave this glass for him and bring another for Helen.’ She would then answer ‘You’re welcome,’ laying down a shared basis for the mutual belief that her action was indeed to be taken as a favor to Jack.” Clark, Herbert. Using Language. 1996. Cambridge University Press. P. 194.


“...adjacency pairs have five essential properties:
1. Adjacency pairs consist of two ordered utterances – the first pair part and the second pair part.
2. The two parts are uttered by different speakers.
3. The two parts come in types that specify which part is to come first and which second.
4. The form and content of the second part depends on the type of the first part.
5. Given a first pair part, the second pair part is conditionally relevant – that is, relevant and expectable – as the next utterance.” Clark, Herbert. Using Language. 1996. Cambridge University Press. P. 197.


“Uptake is evidence of understanding. That is why second parts of adjacency pairs serve both functions – uptake and evidence of understanding – and why they are expected to be adjacent.” Clark, Herbert. Using Language. 1996. Cambridge University Press. P. 200.


“Joint projects serve joint purposes, and any joint purpose must fulfill these four requirements:

For A and B to commit themselves to joint purpose r
1. Identification A and B must identify r
2. Ability It must be possible for A and B to do their parts in fulfilling r
3. Willingness A and B must be willing to do their parts in fulfilling r
4. Mutual belief A and B must each believe that 1,2,3, and 4 are part of their common ground.”
Clark, Herbert. Using Language. 1996. Cambridge University Press. P. 203.


“Pre-questions and their responses are only one type of pre-sequence. Just as pre-questions gain consent to ask a question, pre-announcements gain consent to make an announcement, pre-invitations to make an invitation, pre-requests to make a request, and pre-narratives to tell a story.” Clark, Herbert. Using Language. 1996. Cambridge University Press. P. 210.


“Embedding, pre-sequencing, and chaining are the three basic ways of creating extended projects on the fly. With embedding, the initial minimal project emerges with another minimal project embedded within it: [a1 [b1 b2] a2]. With chaining, the initial project is linked to the next to form a more encompassing joint project, [a1 [a2 = b1] b2]. And with pre-sequencing, the initial minimal project becomes embedded in a more encompassing one: [[a1 a2] b1 b2]. All three methods are achieved locally and opportunistically. Most extended joint projects in conversation – no matter how large – are created by a combination of these methods. Clark, Herbert. Using Language. 1996. Cambridge University Press. P. 212.


“In the view I will argue for, the notion ‘what the speaker means’ is replaced by ‘what the speaker is to be taken to mean.’ The change is small, but radical. The idea is that speakers and addressees try to create a joint construal of what the speaker is to be taken to mean. Such a construal represents not what the speaker means per se – which can change in the very process of communicating – but what the participants mutually take the speaker as meaning, what they deem the speaker to mean. The idea is captured in this principle:

“Principle of joint construal. For each signal, the speaker and addressees try to create a joint construal of what the speaker is to be taken to mean by it.” Clark, Herbert. Using Language. 1996. Cambridge University Press. P. 212.


“Each pattern starts with A’s proposal of a joint project. What happens next depends on B’s uptake. It may show B’s construal to be complete, acceptable though unintended, acceptable but narrowed, or incorrect. Or it may be inadequate to show whether B’s construal is correct or not. A then has to choose whether to accept or to follow up on B’s construal.” Clark, Herbert. Using Language. 1996. Cambridge University Press. P. 216.


“The final type of construal, elective construals, emerges from what have traditionally been called indirect speech acts. When Jack asks Kate, ‘Can you reach the mustard?’ he appears to be asking whether or not she can reach the mustard, a yes/no question. Yet if the situation is right, he appears also to be asking her to pass the mustard, a request. The question is a direct or literal speech act, and the request is an indirect speech act....”

“Utterances like ‘Can you reach the mustard?’ can be viewed, instead, to have elective construals.” Clark, Herbert. Using Language. 1996. Cambridge University Press. Pp. 216-7.


“The canonical joint project is accomplished with adjacency pairs, as illustrated in this question-answer pair:

“1. Proposal Ann: when is it
“2. Uptake Ben: four thirty tomorrow - - -

“With ‘When is it’ Ann proposes a transfer of information from Ben to Ann, and with ‘four thirty tomorrow’, Ben takes up her proposal and completes it.” Clark, Herbert. Using Language. 1996. Cambridge University Press. P. 219.


“The hypothesis is that people try to ground what they do together. To ground a thing, in my terminology, is to establish it as part of common ground well enough for current purposes. On this hypothesis, grounding should occur at all levels of communication.” Clark, Herbert. Using Language. 1996. Cambridge University Press. P. 221.


“Principle of closure. Agents performing an action require evidence, sufficient for current purposes, that they have succeeded in performing it.” Clark, Herbert. Using Language. 1996. Cambridge University Press. P. 222.


“Packaging is always an issue in contributing to discourse: How large a contribution should the two participants try to complete if they are to minimize their joint effort? If there were a presentation and acceptance phase for each word separately, conversation could double in length. On the other hand, if each contribution were a paragraph long, a minor misunderstanding at the beginning might snowball into a major misunderstanding by the end. With limited working memory for what the speaker said, the two people would have great trouble repairing it. The optimal size of a contribution ought to be somewhere in between.”

“Participants, in fact, vary the size of these packets depending on their skills and purposes. When the going is easy, they make their packets large, but when the going gets tough, they make them smaller, sometimes no more than a word long.” Clark, Herbert. Using Language. 1996. Cambridge University Press. P. 235.


“Contributions are therefore hierarchical. Both the presentation and acceptance phases may themselves contain contributions, each with its own briefer presentation and acceptance phases. What is remarkable is the many different forms these embedded contributions come in – side sequences, installment utterances, collaborative completions, fade-outs, truncations, trial constituents. Each is shaped by the purpose it serves.” Clark, Herbert. Using Language. 1996. Cambridge University Press. P. 241.


“The claim is this: Every presentation enacts the collateral question ‘Do you understand what I mean by this?’ The very act of directing an utterance to a respondent is a signal that means ‘Are you hearing, identifying, and understanding this now?’ This is one goal of the presentation phase, and one goal of the acceptance phase is to take up that question.” Clark, Herbert. Using Language. 1996. Cambridge University Press. P. 243.


“In conversation, speakers don’t just speak, and listeners listen. They demand closure on their actions – even their joint actions. According to the grounding hypothesis, people work hard to ground their joint actions – to establish them as part of their common ground. If so, contributing to a conversation should take the efforts of both contributors and their respondents, and it does. Contributors present signals to respondents, and then contributors and respondents work together to reach the mutual belief that the signals have been understood well enough for current purposes.

“In this picture, contributions can emerge in many forms. Two forms predominate. In concluded contributions, respondents presuppose they understand a presentation by proceeding to the next relevant contribution. When asked a question, they take it up, their answer displaying their construal of the question. In continuing contributions, respondents assert they understand with an acknowledgment like ‘uh huh’ or ‘yeah’ or a nod. Other forms of contributions depend on how contributors design their presentations (in installments, with rising intonation, with fade-outs) and how respondents respond to them (with queries, evidence of misunderstanding, collaborative completions). There is no end to the variety of forms of emergent contributions.

“People in conversation are therefore engaged in two tracks of actions at once. They talk about official business in track 1 and about their communicative acts in track 2. It is in track 2 that contributors ask for confirmation or invite completions, and respondents provide acknowledgments and other evidence of understanding.” Clark, Herbert. Using Language. 1996. Cambridge University Press. P. 252.


“The temporal imperative. In a joint action, the participants must provide a public account for the passage of time in their individual parts of that action.” Clark, Herbert. Using Language. 1996. Cambridge University Press. P. 267.


“What is attention? If we think of people as attending to a strand of events over a period of time, attention has three notable properties:

“1. Selectivity. People can attend to only one level of one strand of events at a time.
“2. Redirectability. People can redirect their attention to a second level or strand of events very quickly, often within milliseconds.
“3. Vulnerability. Attention to one strand of events is fragile and easily captured by another strand of events.”
Clark, Herbert. Using Language. 1996. Cambridge University Press. P.275.


“Speakers, therefore, generally observe a one-primary-spoken-presentation-at-a-time limit during conversatins. To do this, they need to manage who speaks when, and the result is an emergent system of turn taking, ...” Clark, Herbert. Using Language. 1996. Cambridge University Press. P. 277.


“Executing a presentation and attending to that execution, then, takes continuous coordination. Ann and Bob need to coordinate their entry, continuation, and exit from these actions. For her part, Ann needs valid, economical, and timely evidence that Bob is attending to what she is producing, and he needs to attend to her and give her evidence that he is doing so. They manage this coordination by exchanging gazes, managing sources of interference, and making repairs when coordination goes wrong. Actions at the level of execution and attention are just as much joint actions as those at higher levels of talk.” Clark, Herbert. Using Language. 1996. Cambridge University Press. P. 282.


“The evidence Ann and Bob need for closure can be divided initially into self- and other-evidence. Self-evidence comes from monitoring oneself – Ann monitoring her actions in speaking, and Bob monitoring his mental states in reception. Ann and Bob also monitor for other-evidence, and that takes coordination.” Clark, Herbert. Using Language. 1996. Cambridge University Press. P. 283.


“Bob shows his attention by gazing at Ann, and she returns his gaze, all in interval b. So at level 1 [attending to execution] Ann and Bob ordinarily reach joint closure almost immediately.

“At levels 2, 3, and 4, [identification of presentation, understanding of meaning, consideration of proposed joint project] in contrast, both self- and other-evidence become available only periodically. At level 2, self-evidence is available in interval b, but only a word or phrase at a time. Bob can be certain of Ann’s presentation only after major phrases, after all her replacements, and she cannot be certain of his identification until he has nodded, smiled, said ‘uh huh,’ or given other evidence, sometimes in interval b, but often in interval c or d. At levels 3 and 4, self-evidence is available only as Ann completes larger units in interval b - phrases or entire sentences. But other-evidence usually isn’t available to Bob until interval c, or to Ann until interval d, when Bob takes up what Ann has proposed.

“To gather up these points, self-evidence is generally available before other-evidence. And the higher the level, the later either type of evidence is available.” Clark, Herbert. Using Language. 1996. Cambridge University Press. Pp. 283-4.


“Social objects are what people jointly construe them to be, nothing more and nothing less. They are both presupposed and created in every joint activity.”

“One type of social object is the social situation itself, the set of conditions in which particular joint activities are carried out. It has long been noted that people compare what they put into a social situation with what they get out of it – their perceived costs and benefits.” Clark, Herbert. Using Language. 1996. Cambridge University Press. P. 290.


“The thrust of equity theory, in brief, is that A and B try to maintain equity, and empirical evidence shows that they will go to extraordinary lengths to do that. Assume that A causes an inequity with B by doing k. The techniques they have for restoring equity fall into three basic types:

“1. Compensation. A and B can perform acts to equalize the costs and benefits of k.
“2. Reevaluation. A and B can change the perceived value of k.
“3. Redefning the situation. A and B can redefine the situation to make k equitable.” Clark, Herbert. Using Language. 1996. Cambridge University Press. P. 292.


“In social encounters, the participants are expected to act with deference toward each other – to display their appreciation of each other to each other. According to Goffman, they rely on two broad strategies. The first he called presentation rituals ‘through which the actor concretely depicts his appreciation of the recipient.’ Alan, for example, may provide Barbara with salutations, invitations, compliments, or other minor services. The second type of strategy Goffman called avoidance rituals, ‘taking the form of proscriptions, interdictions, and taboos, which imply acts the actor must refrain from doing lest he violate the right of the recipient to keep him at a distance.’ Alan will try to avoid interfering with Barbara’s normal activities or invading her privacy. Presentation rituals are designed to maintain the partners’ feelings of self-worth, and avoidance rituals, their feelings of autonomy, or freedom of action. These two sides of a person’s face, self-worth and autonomy, have sometimes been called positive and negative face.” Clark, Herbert. Using Language. 1996. Cambridge University Press. P. 293. Subquotes are Goffman, Erving. Interaction Ritual: Essays on face-to-face behavior. Anchor. 1967. P. 73.


“All joint projects require participatory commitments, and that is why equity and face are so important to them.

“How do people maintain equity in completing joint projects? The hypothesis I wish to entertain is that they follow this principle:

“The equity principle. In proposing a joint project, speakers are expected to pre-suppose a method for maintaining equity with their addressees.

“When Alan offers Barbara sherry, he takes for granted that they can reach an equitable outcome, and that Barbara will coordinate in reaching it. Indeed, Barbara goes beyond accepting Alan’s offer with ‘yes.’ She defers to his autonomy with the concession ‘please’ (meaning ‘if you like’) and to his self-worth with the compliment ‘that’d be lovely.’ These gestures appear to be partial recompense for the benefits she receives at Alan’s cost. Of course, not all joint projects are designed to maintain equity. If Alan wants to insult, put down, embarrass, or flatter Barbara, he will deliberately violate the equity principle.” Clark, Herbert. Using Language. 1996. Cambridge University Press. P. 295.


“In proposing a transfer of goods, speakers often frame the situation in which the joint project is to be carried out. When I asked Verona ‘Do you know where Goldberg’s Grocery is?’ I framed a miniature social situation with two highlighted components:

“1. I wasn’t certain whether she knew where Goldberg’s Grocery was; and
“2. I wanted to know where Goldberg’s Grocery was.

“Component 2 would belong to any procedure I would use for that request, but I had a choice with component 1. I could have framed the situation as one in which she wasn’t allowed to tell me, or hadn’t heard of Goldberg’s Grocery, or was in a hurry, or many other things. People initiating a regular procedure have options about the situation to frame, and take that option in their choice of pre-request.” Clark, Herbert. Using Language. 1996. Cambridge University Press. Pp. 305-6.


“Finally, there are conditions on A’s and B’s willingness to commit to a transfer of goods. It requires (1) A to want B to take an action, (2) B to intend to do it, and (3) A and B to recognize the equity of B’s doing it. Pre-requests are often designed to address these obstacles:

“A’s desire                     I want you to leave right now.
                                      I’d like to hear what happened the other day at the office.
“B’s intention                Will you tell me where Ken is?
                                      Do you want to pour mea cup of coffee?
                                      Would you mind holding this for me a second?
                                      You are allowed to go in now.
“A and B’s equity           I’d appreciate it if you didn’t do that.
                                      It’d be a great help if you read to Benny for a while.

“Many other pre-requests fall into these categories.

“The situations framed by these pre-requests differ in equity. By equity theory, whenever the situation, as A frames it, increases B’s self-worth or autonomy, A should be judged polite. Whenever it lowers either one, A should be judged less polite.” Clark, Herbert. Using Language. 1996. Cambridge University Press. P. 307.


“In several experiments, people were placed, or were asked to imagine themselves, in a variety of situations and asked to make requests. When there were no obvious potential obstacles, they tended to use simple requests or questions, like ‘What time is the governor’s lecture tonight?’ When there were obstacles, their requests tended to be directed at the greatest obstacle – whether it was B’s potential ignorance, inability, unwillingness, or lack of memory.

“Pre-requests vary in how specific they are in identifying an obstacle. Alan could have asked Barbara any one of these questions:

“1. Can you tell me when the governor’s lecture is?
“2. Do you know when the governor’s lecture is?
“3. Do you happen to know when the governor’s lecture is?
“4. Did you happen to see when the governor’s lecture is?
“5. Did you happen to read in the newspaper this morning when the governor’s lecture is?

“These are ordered from general to specific. To answer yes to question 5 is to entail yes to questions 1 through 4, but not vice versa.

“Which pre-request should Alan use? By the greatest obstacle principle, he should be as specific as reasonable. Question 1 wouldn’t pinpoint the potential obstacle as precisely as 5 would: It wouldn’t help Barbara find the wanted information nor would it give her a convincing excuse if she didn’t have it.” Clark, Herbert. Using Language. 1996. Cambridge University Press. Pp. 309-10.


“People often have only a vague idea of the potential obstacles to compliance, yet have to frame a situation of some sort. One strategy is to select a general yet plausible obstacle and frame a situation to overcome it. You want Susan to hand you a pencil, believing she is able and willing to if asked. If you order her, ‘Hand me a pencil,’ that implies you have authority over her. Your tactic, instead, is to identify an innocuous obstacle – an unspecified inability or unwillingness to hand you a pencil – and frame the situation to overcome it, as with ‘Can you hand me a pencil?’ or ‘Could you hand me a pencil?’ This way you frame an equitable situation.

“The tactic is to assume one of a small set of generic obstacles that are useful in situation after situation....”

“... The vaguer the obstacle, the more useful it should be, and indeed, ‘Can you ...?’ and ‘Could you ...?’ are among the commonest pre-requests in English.” Clark, Herbert. Using Language. 1996. Cambridge University Press. Pp. 310-11.


“Indeed, managing face is the primary purpose for many. Compliments, offers, thanks, congratulations, greetings, and apologies increase the self-worth or autonomy of one or both of the participants, whereas insults, reprimands, censures, and criticisms do just the opposite. Exchanges of goods are different in that their primary purpose is to effect the transfer of goods, yet they cannot be carried out without managing face. Equity and face appear to constrain all actions that require joint commitments.” Clark, Herbert. Using Language. 1996. Cambridge University Press. P. 317.


“Viewed as a whole, the conversation consists of a hierarchy of parts: conversation, sections, adjacency pairs, and turns.” Clark, Herbert. Using Language. 1996. Cambridge University Press. P. 319.


“Conversations, therefore, are purposive but unplanned. People achieve most of what they do by means of joint projects, both large and small, in which they establish and carry out joint purposes they are willing and able to commit to. To complete these, they have to work at the level of minimal joint projects, for it is with these that they negotiate broader purposes and complete extended joint projects.” Clark, Herbert. Using Language. 1996. Cambridge University Press. P. 319.


“In the opportunistic view, the hierarchical structure of conversation is an emergent property.” Clark, Herbert. Using Language. 1996. Cambridge University Press. P. 319.


“Opening a conversation has to resolve, among other things, the entry time, the participants, their roles, and the official business they are to carry out. One way to resolve these face to face is with a summons-answer pair, as here:

“Ben: Charlotte?
“Charlotte: Yes?

“With his summons, Ben does several things. He proposes that moment as the entry time for a conversation. In using ‘Charlotte,’ he presupposes the other person to be Charlotte and to have a particular status (he could have said, ‘Miss Stone?’ or ‘Madam?’) and proposes that the participants of the conversation are to be Charlotte (in that status) and himself. By using rising intonation, he turns the floor over to Charlotte and asks her if she is tentatively willing and able to talk on a topic yet to be specified.

“Charlotte now has several choices. She can take up the proposed joint project (‘Yes?’), alter it (‘It’s Miss Stone. Yes?’), decline it (‘Sorry, I can’t talk now’), or withdraw from it (by turning away). Here she takes it up. In doing so, she accepts his utterance as marking the entry into a potential conversation. She also displays her recognition of Ben, accepting his identification of her as Charlotte and of the two of them as the participants. With the rising intonation on ‘Yes?’ she proposes that Ben raise the first topic. This way she shows that her willingness to continue is conditional on what Ben specifies as the first topic. If she finds it unacceptable, she can still withdraw. So two people can coordinate on the entry time, participants, role, and conditional content of a conversation with just a single adjacency pair. The summons is really a pre-topic opening designed for entry into a conversation.” Clark, Herbert. Using Language. 1996. Cambridge University Press. P. 332.


“Here are five minor projects people often accomplish in taking leave, and in this order:

“1. Summarize the content of the conversation just completed
“2. Justify ending contact at this time
“3. Express pleasure about each other
“4. Indicate continuity of their relationship by planning for future contact either specifically or vaguely
“5. Wish each other well” Clark, Herbert. Using Language. 1996. Cambridge University Press. P. 336.


“Conversations often seem organized around a set plan, but that is an illusion. This organization is really an emergent property of what the participants are trying to do. When Ben talks to Charlotte, he has goals, some well defined and some vague, and so does she. Most of Ben’s goals, however, require her cooperation. She has the power to complete, alter, decline, or withdraw from any joint project he proposes, and she can propose joint projects of her own. The broadest projects they agree on emerge as sections, and the narrower ones, as subsections or digressions. The organization of their conversation emerges from joint actions locally planned and opportunistically carried out.” Clark, Herbert. Using Language. 1996. Cambridge University Press. P. 337.


“What the trace does represent are the opportunities Ben did take, and these bear several relations to one another. Three of the commonest relations between two tasks s and t are these:

                       “Relation of t to s                       Condition on s
“Sequence        t is subsequent to s                    s must be complete before t is begun
“Part-whole      t is part of s                               t must be complete for s to be complete
“Digression      t is a digression from s               s need not be complete before t is begun or completed

“In our example, baking the mixture is subsequent to mixing the ingredients, and measuring flour is subsequent to getting out a mixing bowl. In contrast, putting flour into the mixing bowl is part of mixing the ingredients, and setting the oven temperature is part of baking the mixture. Answering the telephone is a digression from making the cake, mixing the ingredients, and putting flour into the bowl.” Clark, Herbert. Using Language. 1996. Cambridge University Press. P. 338.


“Congratulations and apologies can also be ostensible. When the loser of a game congratulates the winner, the congratulations and its acceptance are usually recognized as ostensible. The loser isn’t honestly happy that the winner won, and the winner recognizes this. Or when a child is required by a mother or school teacher to apologize to another child for some wrong, that apology and its acceptance are ordinarily ostensible as well. The first child, apologizing under protest, isn’t really sorry, and the second child recognizes this. These congratulations and apologies are heard not as insincere but as ostensible. The loser and the child, by asking their partners to imagine the real congratulations and apology, display a sincere regard for the recipients or the system they belong to.” Clark, Herbert. Using Language. 1996. Cambridge University Press. Pp. 381-2.


“In the simplest layering, people perform two joint actions simultaneously. The actions in layer 1 take place in one domain, and those in layer 2 take place in a second domain jointly created by the participants in the first domain. The best examples come from joint pretense. Alan and Beth, in urban San Francisco in 1952, make believe they are Wild Bill and Calamity Jane in the Deadwood gold rush of 1876. When Alan picks up a pebble in San Francisco (layer 1), he and Beth construe his behavior simultaneously as Wild Bill picking up a gold nugget in Deadwood (layer 2).”

“In joint activities, people use layering when they want to contrast some hypothetical world with the current, real world. With layering, they don’t describe the hypothetical world: They demonstrate it.” Clark, Herbert. Using Language. 1996. Cambridge University Press. P. 384.


“Language is rarely used as an end in itself. It is primarily an instrument for carrying out broader activities – buying goods, planning parties, playing games, gossiping, exchanging stories, entertaining and being entertained. All of these are joint activities in which two or more people, in socially defined roles, carry out individual actions as parts of larger enterprises. Language is simply a device by which they coordinate those individual actions.” Clark, Herbert. Using Language. 1996. Cambridge University Press. P. 387.


“Many phenomena have been treated as features of language use when they are really features of the joint activities in which the language is being used. These phenomena include coordination, cooperation, conventions, turns, closure, joint projects, opportunistic actions, and the accumulation of common ground.” Clark, Herbert. Using Language. 1996. Cambridge University Press. P. 388.


“The track I have taken is to identify language use with the use of signals – acts by which one person means something for another. There are, I have argued, three basic methods of signaling: describing-as, indicating, and demonstrating. We describe something as a fish when we present the word fish. We indicate an individual fish when we point at it. And we demonstrate the size of a fish when we hold our hands so far apart. Most signals are composites of the three methods. The signals created by these methods form a coherent category of human action, whereas linguistic utterances do not.” Clark, Herbert. Using Language. 1996. Cambridge University Press. P. 391.


“The ‘language’ of language use, languageu, is therefore not the same as the ‘language’ of language structure, languages.” Clark, Herbert. Using Language. 1996. Cambridge University Press. P. 392.


“In collaborative activities, participants not only jointly pay attention to matters relevant to the common goal, but they each have their own perspective as well. Indeed, the whole notion of perspective depends on first having a joint attentional focus that we may then view differently. This dual-level attentional structure–shared focus of attention at a higher level, differentiated into perspectives at a lower level–is directly parallel to the dual-level intentional structure of the collaborative activity itself (shared goal with individual roles) and ultimately derives from it.”

“Perspective in joint attention plays a critical role in human communication. To illustrate, consider an experiment with one-year-old children. An adult entered the room, looked at the side of a complex toy from a moderate distance, and said ‘Oh! Cool! Look at that!’ For some of the children, this was their first encounter with the adult, so they assumed she was reacting to this cool toy she was seeing for the first time. But other children had previously joined the adult in playing with this complex toy extensively. The toy was thus old news, a part of their common ground. In this case the children assumed that the adult could not be talking about the whole object–one does not emote excitedly to another about something that is well-known to both. The children assumed that the adult was excited about either some other object or some other aspect of the toy.” Tomasello, Michael. Why We Cooperate. 2009. MIT Press. Pp. 70-1.


“... Tomasello argues that the unique features of human cognition are rooted in an evolved, species-specific capacity and motivation for shared intentionality that gives rise to distinctive kinds of communication and joint action. Humans, on this view, are naturally driven to cooperate with one another and to share information, tasks, and goals. From this capacity spring all of our other distinctive achievements, from tool use to mathematics to symbols.

“I think Tomasello’s hypothesis has a chance of being right, but at least one competitor is alive and well: the view that human language is the source of our unique cognitive achievements.” Spelke, Elizabeth. Response in Tomasello Forum. Tomasello, Michael. Why We Cooperate. 2009. MIT Press. Pp. 155-6.


“Both human infants and adult monkeys can learn about the functional properties of specific objects–though slowly, in a piecemeal fashion. Neither young infants nor adult monkeys, however, are rapid and flexible tool learners. In their second year of life, human children, and only human children, start putting together information about objects and actions productively. They come to view virtually every new object they see both as a mechanical body with a particular kind of form and as a potentially useful tool with a particular, dedicated function in the service of goal-directed action.

“What accounts for this explosion of learning about artifacts? Recent research suggests children’s artifact concepts have two sources: the core system of object representation just described and a second core system for representing agents and their goal-directed actions. From a very early age, human infants represent the actions of other people and animals as directed toward goals and as similar in purpose and form to the actions of the self. Like core representations of objects, core representations of goal-directed actions are very similar in human infants and in nonhuman primates. In their second year of life, however, human children start putting together information about objects and actions productively. The productive joining of object representations and action representations appears to be unique to our species, even though the core systems on which it builds are not.

“What sparks the prolific development of tool concepts in children? Research from a number of sources suggests that this development depends in some way on children’s learning of words as names for kinds of objects. This new linguistic format functions to join core representations. For instance, when infants learn their first object names, they put together information about object form and object function that previously was represented quite separately. Object names also focus infants’ attention on object categories: on what two different hammers or cups have in common. Even adults who imagine tool objects and their associated functions, such as hammering, activate secondary language areas of the brain: areas that may orchestrate representations of object structure and function. Language–a combinatorial system par excellence–serves to combine representations of objects and actions rapidly, flexibly, and productively, giving rise to our prolific capacity to learn about and use tools.” Spelke, Elizabeth. Response in Tomasello Forum. Tomasello, Michael. Why We Cooperate. 2009. MIT Press. Pp. 161-3.


“Language acquisition, in Tomasello’s view, is not the product of a genetically specified language faculty. Instead, it is constructed by children over the course of their interactions with other people as they, and their social partners, focus jointly on objects and on one another. On this view, natural language is the product, not the source, of our uniquely human ways of cooperating and communicating.

“It is possible, however, that the causal arrow points in the opposite direction. Uniquely human forms of shared intentionality may depend upon our uniquely human capacity for combining core representations productively. On this rival view, there are no uniquely human core systems in any substantive domain of cognition, including the domain of social reasoning. Only language has uniquely human core foundations, and it serves to represent and express concepts within and across all knowledge domains.” Spelke, Elizabeth. Response in Tomasello Forum. Tomasello, Michael. Why We Cooperate. 2009. MIT Press. P. 165.


“In contemporary syntax there are two main approaches to accounting for all the structural rules that human languages use to build meaning: the Chomskyan approach and the ‘parallel architecture’ approach....”

“...In this new way of accounting for structure in language [the ‘parallel architecture’ approach], words and phrase are as important as the rules that combine them, and the idea of pure syntax is downplayed.”

“Instead of being objects, words are best thought of as interfaces. A word lies at the intersection of a number of systems–the sound of the word (phonology), syntactic structure (the structures that the word can license or appear in), and meaning (some of which may be specific to language, and some of which may be a more general kind of meaning).” Kenneally, Christine. The First Word: The Search for the Origins of Language. 2007. Penguin. P. 164.


“Even to achieve this level of protolanguage, you must have two or three very important innovations in place. ‘The construction-based view of language,’ Jackendoff explained, ‘makes it natural to conceive of syntax as having evolved subsequent to two other important aspects of language: the symbolic use of utterances and the evolution of phonological structure as a way of digitizing words for reliability and massive expansion of vocabulary.’” Kenneally, Christine. The First Word: The Search for the Origins of Language. 2007. Penguin. P. 168.


“The result of the co-evolution of the human brain and language is that we now have an overall cognitive bias toward the ‘strange associative relationships of language.’ In this sense our whole brain is shaped by language, and many of our cognitive processes are linguistic. What this means, according to Deacon, is that once we have adapted to language, we can’t not be language-creatures. For us, everything is symbolic.” Kenneally, Christine. The First Word: The Search for the Origins of Language. 2007. Penguin. P. 252.


“Language is not a single thing, and getting from no language to modern human language takes many steps.” Kenneally, Christine. The First Word: The Search for the Origins of Language. 2007. Penguin. P. 264.


“Accordingly, Ferrer i Chanco’s models explore what happens when there are small shifts in the balance between the effort of the speaker and the hearer. In fact, a tiny change in the balance between the two can dramatically alter the properties of a communication system. Says Ferrer i Cancho, it’s possible that similarly small changes may underlie a dramatic shift from a communication system with a simple vocabulary made up of a few precise words to a larger vocabulary with varying levels of semantic precision.” Kenneally, Christine. The First Word: The Search for the Origins of Language. 2007. Penguin. Pp. 276-7.


“Think back now to the worldwide language web. Imagine all the language networks, parent to child, that extend from the present back through time. It’s small wonder that humans dream in myth and in art about other worlds, because we all have the experience of inhabiting one world and, as we are taught language, of walking through a door into another. Even physicists are obsessed with the idea of a multiverse. But we already live in one.” Kenneally, Christine. The First Word: The Search for the Origins of Language. 2007. Penguin. Pp. 289-90.


“People need to create imaginal representations simply to interpret single words. Take approach in these three descriptions:

“(3) I am standing on the porch of a farm house looking across the yard at a picket fence. A tractor [or: mouse] is just approaching it.

“(4) I am standing across the street from a post office with a mailbox in front of it. A man crossing the street is just approaching the post office [or: mailbox].

“(5) I am standing at the entrance to an exhibition hall looking at a slab of marble. A man is just approaching it with a camera [or: chisel].

“In one experiment, people were given one of the two alternatives of these and other descriptions and asked to estimate the distance of, say, the tractor, or mouse, from the picket fence. The average estimates were as follows:

“(3') tractor to fence, 39 feed; mouse to fence, 2 feet

“(4') man to post office, 28 feet; man to mailbox, 13 feet

“(5') man with camera to marble slab, 18 feet; man with chisel to marble slab, 5 feet

“People arrived at a denotation for approach apparently by considering how near one object must be to a landmark in order to be in ‘interaction with it’ for its assumed purpose. Tractors come into interaction with a fence at 39 feet, whereas mice do so only at 2 feet. These judgments depended on the size of the referent object (3), the size of the landmark (4), and the approachers’ purpose (5).” Clark, Herbert & M Van Der Wege. “Imagination in Discourse.” From From Schiffrin, D., D. Tannen & H. Hamilton. The Handbook of Discourse Analysis. 2003. Blackwell. Pps. 772-786. Pp. 773-4. Referenced experiment is from Morrow and Clark. “Interpreting words in spatial descriptions.” Language and Cognitive Processes, 3, Pps. 275-291. 1988.


“In the early 1990s, psychologists developed the notion of schema to account for how people understand and remember stories. A schema is a set of cultural preconceptions about causal or other types of relationships. In the classic experiments by Bartlett, people were told a Native American folk story, ‘The War of the Ghosts,’ which included many elements unfamiliar to western norms. In retelling that story, people often distorted it to fit their cultural expectations. For example, many changed ‘hunting seals’ into ‘fishing,’ a more likely pastime in their schema.

“Schemas of a different type were proposed for the structure of stories themselves. According to one account, stories consist of setting followed by an episode; an episode consists of an event plus a reaction to it; a reaction consists of an internal response plus an external response; and so on. Listeners are assumed to parse stories into these functional sections in much the way they parse sentences into constituents. In a rather different account, narratives of personal experience consist of six parts: (1) an abstract, briefly summarizing the story; (2) an orientation, a stage setting about the who, when, what, and where of the story; (3) a complicating action; (4) an evaluation of these actions; (5) the result or resolution of the complicating action; and (6) a coda, a signal of completion. Narrators and their audience presumably refer to such schemas in producing and understanding stories.

“A third class of schemas, called scripts, was proposed as representations for events. The argument was that scripts guide our expectations about the presence and order of everyday events. When we go to a restaurant, our ‘restaurant script’ informs us that we need to order from a menu, wait for our food, and pay at the end.” Clark, Herbert & M Van Der Wege. “Imagination in Discourse.” From From Schiffrin, D., D. Tannen & H. Hamilton. The Handbook of Discourse Analysis. 2003. Blackwell. Pps. 772-786. P. 781.


“Mental models can also represent dynamic events. If you are asked how many windows there are in your house, you are likely to imagine yourself walking around the house counting the windows – a dynamic process.” Clark, Herbert & M Van Der Wege. “Imagination in Discourse.” From From Schiffrin, D., D. Tannen & H. Hamilton. The Handbook of Discourse Analysis. 2003. Blackwell. Pps. 772-786. P. 782.


“... it is reasonable to describe language learning as the development of attractors. Or, given the complex relations among multiple attractors, a better description is the development of an ontogenic (probability) landscape of basins (attractors) and ridges (repellers).

“Semantics, says Juarrero, is embodied in such a landscape. Categories are basins of attraction for words representing similar items. As already mentioned, it is the coarse-coding strategy of neural networks that allows them to form general categories. Constrained pathways through the landscape embody syntax.” Murphy, Nancey & Warren Brown. Did My Neurons Make Me Do It?: Philosophical and Neurobiological Perspectives on Moral Responsibility and Free Will. 2007. Oxford Univ. Press. P. 174. Reference is to Juarrero, Alicia. Dynamics in Action: Intentional Behavior as a Complex System. 1999. MIT Press. P. 173.


“Human culture involves a vast array of artifacts that scaffold cognitive processing, the most remarkable of which is language. E. Hutchins and B. Hazelhurst performed an experiment with a simulated neural network that illustrates both the emergence of more and more useful symbols and the contribution of symbol systems to group problem solving. The simulation involved a group of ‘citizens’, each a connectionist neural network. Input to each citizen involved both information about events themselves, and symbols from other citizens representing these events. The task was to predict the tides based on the phases of the moon. The simulation also involved sequential generations of groups of citizens, who did not inherit the knowledge of the previous generation, but did inherit the current meanings of the symbols. There were two outcomes of this simulation that are important in considering the relationship of language to the problem of mental causation: (1) there was a gradual evolution of better and better symbols, and (2) the improved symbols allowed later generations to learn environmental regularities involved in the task that earlier generations could not learn. Thus, the emergence of better symbols allowed for the emergence of better group problem solving.” Murphy, Nancey & Warren Brown. Did My Neurons Make Me Do It?: Philosophical and Neurobiological Perspectives on Moral Responsibility and Free Will. 2007. Oxford Univ. Press. Pp. 225-6. Reference is to E. Hutchins and Hazelhurst. “Learning in the Cultural Process.” From Langton (editor) Artificial Life II. Addison-Wesley. 1991.


“Language provides ‘structuring causes’ for forms of problem solving not possible without the use of language tools.” Murphy, Nancey & Warren Brown. Did My Neurons Make Me Do It?: Philosophical and Neurobiological Perspectives on Moral Responsibility and Free Will. 2007. Oxford Univ. Press. P. 226.


“Because of the nature of meaning itself, there are five and only five possible types of illocutionary speech acts, which I have labeled, respectively, Assertives (which we use to tell how things are, for example, statements and assertions), Directives (which we use to tell people to do things, for example, orders and commands), Commissives (which we use to commit ourselves to doing things, for example, promises and vows), Expressives (which we use to express our feelings and attitudes, for example, apologies and thanks), and Declarations (which we use to make something the case by declaring it to be the case, for example, declaring war and adjourning a meeting). Of these types, the Declaration is peculiar in that it creates the very reality that it represents.” Searle, John. Making the Social World: The Structure of Human Civilization. 2010. Oxford University Press. P. 16.


“... there is no prelinguistic analogue for the Declarations. Prelinguistic intentional states cannot create facts in the world by representing those facts as already existing. This remarkable feat requires a language.” Searle, John. Making the Social World: The Structure of Human Civilization. 2010. Oxford University Press. P. 69.


“Now the fact that conscious experience already segments objects and features will provide a basis for corresponding elements of language. True, different languages segment experiences differently. Famously, not all languages have a color vocabulary that matches that of the standard European languages. But there are limits to how many different ways we can reasonably segment experiences in language. We could easily imagine a language that does not have words for material objects. But though such a language is imaginable, it runs counter to our perceptual experience, which makes the material object salient. In normal perception, as shown by the Gestalt psychologists, the perception is typically of an object with its features against a background.” Searle, John. Making the Social World: The Structure of Human Civilization. 2010. Oxford University Press. Pp. 70-1.


“It is customary, and I think correct, to distinguish between the standing conventional meaning of a sentence, or sentence meaning for short, and the speaker’s meaning that the speaker has on the particular occasion of a particular utterance. We will explain speaker meaning before we explain conventional sentence meaning, because speaker meaning is logically prior, in the sense that the conventional meaning of a sentence is, so to speak, a standard or communicable or fungible form of speaker meaning.” Searle, John. Making the Social World: The Structure of Human Civilization. 2010. Oxford University Press. P. 73.


“In the case of our early humans, suppose that one early human wishes to convey some information to another, such as that there is danger or fire or food here, and he makes an utterance with the intention of communicating that information. What fact about that utterance makes it meaningful? The distinction between just intentionally producing an utterance and producing an utterance and meaning something by it is a matter of the difference in the intentional content in the two cases. In both cases, the speaker has the intention to make an utterance, but if the utterance is meaningful, then the speaker intends that the utterance itself has further conditions of satisfaction. We can say, then, that the essence of speaker meaning, when a speaker says something and means something by it, is that the speaker intentionally imposes conditions of satisfaction on conditions of satisfaction.

“I can best illustrate this point by showing how it works for existing languages. Suppose I am standing in the shower practicing French pronunciation. I say over and over ‘Il pleut.’ The conditions of satisfaction of my intention in action are that I should correctly produce the French sounds. If somebody shouts at me ‘It’s not raining, you idiot. You are simply standing in the shower,’ he will have misunderstood what I was trying to do. I did not mean that it’s raining. But now suppose that later we go outside and I discover that it’s raining. This time I say ‘Il pleut,’ and I mean it. What is the difference between the two cases? In both cases I intend to produce the French sounds, and the correct production of the sounds is a condition of satisfaction of both utterances. But in the second case I intend that the production of the sounds should itself have further conditions of satisfaction, namely, that it is raining. Speaker meaning, to repeat, is the imposition of conditions of satisfaction on conditions of satisfaction.” Searle, John. Making the Social World: The Structure of Human Civilization. 2010. Oxford University Press. Pp. 73-4.


“It ought, by the way, to strike us as amazing that all languages have sentences and a very large number (possibly all) also have noun phrases and verb phrases. The obvious explanation of the fact that all languages have sentences is that the sentence is the minimal unit for performing a complete speech act and thus for expressing an entire intentional state. The principle that guides the selection of the syntactical devices within the sentence is that they perform a semantic function. There must be repeatable devices each of which can function as a possible communication unit (sentence), and these must be composed of elements (words) which are such that the communicative content of the whole is determined by the elements and by the principles of their combination in the sentence.” Searle, John. Making the Social World: The Structure of Human Civilization. 2010. Oxford University Press. Pp. 76-7.


“There are two components to the notion of a commitment. Roughly speaking these are, first, the notion of an undertaking that is hard to reverse and, second, the notion of an obligation. These typically combine, for example, in the notion of promising. When I make a promise I make an undertaking that is not easily reversible. But at the same time, I create an obligation. These two features of irreversibility and obligation combine in speech acts performed according to rules. The animal has the intention both to impose conditions of satisfaction on conditions of satisfaction (and thus to create meaning) and to communicate those conditions of satisfaction (and thus, that meaning) to other animals. It does this according to conventional procedures. Those collectively accepted conventional procedures enable the hominids to create a type of commitment that is internal to the procedures but is not present without the conventional procedures. There is no way I can say to someone, publicly, intentionally, explicitly, ‘There is an animal coming toward us,’ without being publicly committed to the truth of the proposition that there is an animal coming toward us, and that commitment is much stronger than the commitment to truth of the corresponding belief by itself. Both the belief and the corresponding statement involve commitments. But the commitment of the statement is much stronger. If the privately held belief turns out to be false I need only revise it. But in the case of the statement, I am committed not only to revision in the case of falsehood, but I am committed to being able to provide reasons for the original statement, I am committed to sincerity in making it, and I can be held publicly responsible if it turns out to be false.

“So once we have an explicit language in which explicit speech acts can be performed according to the conventions of the language, we already have a deontology. We already have commitments, in the full public sense that combines irreversibility and obligation. Language is the basic form of public deontology, and I am claiming that in the full sense that involves the public assumption of irreversible obligations, there is no such deontology without language. I am now arguing that once you have language, it is inevitable that you will have deontology because there is no way you can make explicit speech acts performed according to the conventions of a language without creating commitments.” Searle, John. Making the Social World: The Structure of Human Civilization. 2010. Oxford University Press. Pp. 81-2.


“In following the common-sense idea that language could have evolved, and may in fact have evolved, out of prelinguistic forms of intentionality, we found that language so evolved provides something not present in prelinguistic intentionality: the public assumption of conventionally encoded commitments.” Searle, John. Making the Social World: The Structure of Human Civilization. 2010. Oxford University Press. P. 84.


“A recent body of work has revealed that words are not linked in an arbitrary way to their referents but are grounded in perception, action and in sensorimotor processes. According the ‘embodied’ theory of language comprehension, understanding a sentence regarding an object would entail a mental simulation of the situation the sentence describes. This implies that the same neural areas are recruited as those involved during perception and interaction with the object. Much recent evidence obtained with response time studies, with kinematic measures, with eye tracking studies, and with brain imaging studies, suggests that words evoke perceptual and motor information regarding their referents. In particular, words, like visual stimuli, evoke objects affordances. Affordances are what the environment offers acting organisms. They pertain to both perception and action.” Borghi, Anna & Lucia Riggio. “Sentence comprehension and simulation of object temporary, canonical and stable affordances.” Brain Research. 1253. 2009. Pp. 117-128. P. 117.


“The components required for cultural evolution to produce a simple, traditionally transmitted, semantic and productive system seem to be fairly minimal:

“(i) ability to modify own produced signal forms based on observed usage;
(ii) ability to learn to associate meanings with signals;
(iii) ability to infer communicative intentions (meanings) in others;
(iv) these meanings are drawn from a reasonably large and structured meaning space.

“At a first approximation, cultural evolution in a population of social learners meeting these four preconditions should yield a productive and semantic communication system. The first three conditions are simply the component parts required for a traditionally transmitted semantic communication system. The fourth stipulation relates to the requirement for a learning bottleneck (a bottleneck is more likely if the system contains lots of meanings to be communicated), but also the possibility of generalizing from meaning to meaning, which requires some similarity structure among meanings–when this similarity structure is reduced, the learnability advantage of compositional language is reduced.” Smith, Kenny & Simon Kirby. “Cultural evolution: implications for understanding the human language faculty and its evolution.” Philosophical Transactions of The Royal Society – Biological Sciences. 2008. 363, Pp. 3591-3603. P. 3601.


“The cause of cultural stability is not genetic, assimilation, as the evolutionary psychologists would have it, but rather, the stabilizing influence of enduring informational infrastructures in modern societies that play a significant role in mediating human interactions, cultural and otherwise.” Aunger, Robert. “Human Communication as Niche Construction.” From Shennan, S., Editor. Pattern and Process in Cultural Evolution. 2009. University of California Press. Pp. 33-43. P. 41.


“The faculty of language in broad and narrow senses: two ways in which the term ‘language’ can be used. FLB (faculty of language in the broad sense) is the all-inclusive sense, incorporating any mechanism that is involved in language processing. FLN (faculty of language in the narrow sense) is the exclusive sense: by definition it includes only that subset of mechanisms that are both specific to humans, and specific to language within human cognition.” Fitch, Tecumseh. The Evolution of Language. 2010. Cambridge University Press. P. 22.


“Language is only one of the communication systems we have available to us, as humans, and its defining features are its scope and unbounded flexibility (extending to all we can think).” Fitch, Tecumseh. The Evolution of Language. 2010. Cambridge University Press. P. 26.


“Although in the supermarket you may categorize all the objects in one bin as ‘potatoes,’ you are still perfectly capable of distinguishing one potato from another. Categorical perception, originally discovered in the perception of speech sounds, is a more complex perceptual phenomenon than this ‘normal’ type of simple categorization. In its purest form, categorical perception is when a listener is unable to discriminate between the different members of a category. Speech scientist Alvin Liberman and his colleagues at the Haskins Laboratories discovered that an artificially generated continuum of speech sounds, each different from the others, does not sound like a continuum, but rather like a series of /ba/ sounds, followed by a series of /pa/ sounds. Even for the experimenters, who know exactly what is going on, it is difficult to hear the differences between two different sounds if both are categorized as ‘pa.’ The term ‘categorical perception’ is used only for such situations, when the discrimination of stimuli within a category is significantly worse than that between categories.” Fitch, Tecumseh. The Evolution of Language. 2010. Cambridge University Press. Pp. 98-9. Reference is to Liberman, A. M and Mattingly, I.G. 1989. “A specialization for speech perception.” Science. 243. Pp. 489-494.


“A third aspect of chimpanzee behavior was discovered most recently: a chimpanzee self-medication. Like humans in most populations, chimpanzees are afflicted with various parasites, nutritional deficiencies, and infectious diseases. Sick chimpanzees seek out and ingest particular substances (mostly plants, but also soils with particular mineral composition; ...).” Fitch, Tecumseh. The Evolution of Language. 2010. Cambridge University Press. Pp. 238-9.


“But chimpanzees go far beyond infanticide. The first and most destructive chimpanzee ‘war’ was witnessed at Gombe by Jane Goodall, who was able to document a series of vicious inter-group encounters that led eventually to the death of all the males of the losing group, and the emigration of the remaining females to the victors. Since then, similar fatal attacks have been documented in chimpanzees throughout Africa.” Fitch, Tecumseh. The Evolution of Language. 2010. Cambridge University Press. P. 239.


“In conclusion, at some point in our evolution hominids diverged from other great apes in our reproductive behavior, in a manner quite familiar among vertebrates: we adopted paternal care and alloparenting. Rather than the strongly dyadic relationship of mother and infant seen in most apes, hominid infants were born into a richer social environment, including other solicitous adults who provisioned, cared for, and played with them. Furthermore the dependent period of human children is actually extended, probably because of this extended ‘support network,’ with major implications for all aspects of human life history. Given the centrality of reproductive success to all aspects of evolution, these changes had at least three important impacts on subsequent human evolution:

“(1) it selected strongly for coordination and cooperation among adults, both mother and father and other related individuals;

“(2) it selected for infants and children able to engage with, and learn from, multiple members of this extended social group; and

“(3) this enhanced sociality further selected for sophisticated social intelligence, both in terms of pragmatic inference in receivers and intentional information sharing by signalers.”
Fitch, Tecumseh. The Evolution of Language. 2010. Cambridge University Press. Pp. 247-8.


“The changes surrounding infant care would thus have provided an important boost to any adaptations that helped transfer information from adults to the young, thus increasing their survival, and speeding their independence. I think these factors provide a compelling explanation for why hominids, in contrast to any other vertebrate clade, evolved a linguistic system capable of transferring thoughts form one individual’s head to another’s, once we acknowledge the importance of such a system in the survival and success of human children.” Fitch, Tecumseh. The Evolution of Language. 2010. Cambridge University Press. P. 248.


“Signed languages of the deaf are full, complex, grammatical languages, independent of but equivalent to spoken languages, and this demonstrates that speech is not the only signaling system adequate to convey language....”

“One of the first distinctions to be made in studying language evolution is therefore that between speech (a signaling system) and language (a system for expressing thoughts, which can incorporate any one of several signaling systems).” Fitch, Tecumseh. The Evolution of Language. 2010. Cambridge University Press. P. 297.


“Such models [the most intuitive class] posit a ‘lexical’ protolanguage, with a large learned lexicon of meaningful words, but no complex syntax. Words in a lexical protolanguage are not combined into complex syntactic structures, leaving modern syntax as the final step in language evolution. This ‘syntax-final’ model of language evolution is shared by a diverse group of scholars who disagree about almost everything else. A lexical protolanguage assumes, as prerequisites, an ability for vocal imitation (necessary to develop a shared spoken vocabulary) and a capacity and drive for referential communication.” Fitch, Tecumseh. The Evolution of Language. 2010. Cambridge University Press. P. 401.


“Children appear to use similar cognitive resources for learning facts as for word meanings, suggesting that the cognitive capacities in question are not specific to language.” Fitch, Tecumseh. The Evolution of Language. 2010. Cambridge University Press. P. 411.


“The powerful selective pressures involved in child-rearing for all great apes, combined with a large store of knowledge worth sharing in humans, would have made honest information sharing with kin unusually valuable in some protolinguistic stage prior to modern language.” Fitch, Tecumseh. The Evolution of Language. 2010. Cambridge University Press. P. 427.


“Crucially, reciprocal altruism, gossip, status seeking, and courtship would not have paved the way for pervasive parent-offspring communication, because offspring do not yet have much of value to contribute. The facts of contemporary language require an explanation of both child language and adult language, but non-kin models can explain only the latter.

“This two-stage model – a stage of kin communication followed by the implementation of regulated information exchange among adults – does not, in principle, require any further biological adaptation during the second stage. That is, reciprocal regulation could evolve culturally, as a set of social norms, without any further biological specializations beyond those already present ‘for free’ by virtue of our shared primate heritage of ‘Machiavellian intelligence.’” Fitch, Tecumseh. The Evolution of Language. 2010. Cambridge University Press. P. 428.


“Specifically, Tomasello argues that syntactic rules derive from a cultural process termed ‘grammaticalization’, whereby basic content words such as nouns and verbs are transformed, over historical time, into function words like prepositions and modifiers. Such changes are an important source for both specific function words in the lexicon and at least some more abstract grammatical constructions. Many independent researchers have observed similar processes in agent-based models, and agree that grammaticalization provides a plausible mechanism of generating grammatical constructions over historical (rather than biological) time. However, a focus on grammaticalization as a cultural process alone begs the question of why it takes the specific, highly constrained forms that it does. For example, grammaticalization is almost always a one-way, irreversible process, and only a small subset of imaginable transformations are actually attested in the historical data.” Fitch, Tecumseh. The Evolution of Language. 2010. Cambridge University Press. P. 430.


“A second source of biological constraints on syntactic structures comes from conceptual constraints. The rich world of semantic complexity in higher vertebrates evidently evolved long before human language. Because the interface between syntax and these conceptual complexes must clearly play a role in structuring specific syntactic constructions, we might profitably seek the origins of some aspects of grammar (e.g. nouns and verbs) in pre-existing, innately determined concepts (e.g. objects and events).” Fitch, Tecumseh. The Evolution of Language. 2010. Cambridge University Press. P. 430.


“However powerful conceptual constraints might be in helping to explain the evolution of syntax, few scholars think that such constraints can shoulder the entire burden. One reason for this is that there are many aspects of syntactic categories that do not map transparently onto semantic/conceptual ones. Even the apparently simple category ‘noun’ is by no means co-extensive with objects in any ordinary sense. We have abstract nouns like truth or justice, verb-like nouns such as thunder or explosion, and grammatical particles like -ing that convert between verbs and nouns. Thus, most theorists posit syntactic categories that are distinct from semantic categories. Also, although grammaticalization can account for the origin of function words or inflectional markers, the very notion of a syntactic marker seems quite specific to language, with no obvious parallel in non-linguistic cognition. Once language is off the ground, it is easy to see how grammaticalization provides grist for the syntactic mill, but it fails to address the basic questions of how the more general properties of syntax arose. Thus, such biological factors as innate semantic constraints or constrained cultural change seem to go only part of the way in explaining human syntactic competence.” Fitch, Tecumseh. The Evolution of Language. 2010. Cambridge University Press. P. 431.


“Finally, empirical studies examining what viewers gain from watching a speaker gesture have provided equivocal results: the contribution of gestures towards understanding is weak, if present at all. Such observations have led virtually all informed commentators to agree that gestures play an important role, for the speaker, in structuring thought, while leaving their communicative efficacy in doubt.” Fitch, Tecumseh. The Evolution of Language. 2010. Cambridge University Press. P. 436.


“Gesture thus offers a smooth transition between the mostly imperative gesturing of apes and declarative, joint-attentional communication in humans. Furthermore, there can be little doubt that gesture has co-existed alongside vocal communication throughout the evolution of our lineage. Any broad theory of language evolution should incorporate the fact of sophisticated gesture in humans, not just the existence of speech.

“But advocates of gestural protolanguage go beyond the mere co-existence and complementarity of speech and gesture to postulate that a primarily gestural communication system once existed in our lineage, and that its existence was a necessary precondition for the evolution of spoken language. From this perspective, several of these virtues transform into flaws. The most powerful flaw is the failure of gestural origins theories to convincingly explain the transition to spoken language – as some gesture advocates concur.” Fitch, Tecumseh. The Evolution of Language. 2010. Cambridge University Press. Pp. 464-5.


“In short, prosodic protolanguage possessed phonology, and parts of syntax, but lacked lexical, propositional semantics.” Fitch, Tecumseh. The Evolution of Language. 2010. Cambridge University Press. P. 476.


“The notion that the origin of music is to be found not in interactions between related adults, but in these earliest interactions between mother and infant, has considerable theoretical appeal. We know that major changes in parental care have occurred in the hominid line since the LCA, with important effects on all aspects of human sexuality (pair-bonding, concealed ovulation, male parental care, reduced dimorphism, ...).” Fitch, Tecumseh. The Evolution of Language. 2010. Cambridge University Press. P. 493.


“Wray's model assumes the pre-existence of phonology and semantics, and posits only the simplest form of link between the two. Specifically, Wray envisions a protolanguage with a complex, culturally transmitted vocal repertoire plus a simple, holistic mapping between meanings and whole phonological signals. The model is holistic because, although both the phonological structures and the meanings are complex, there is no compositional mapping between the parts. The model posits the existence of a complex generative phonology and a complex generative conceptual system, but only simple holistic/associative links between these two systems, linking wholes to wholes.” Fitch, Tecumseh. The Evolution of Language. 2010. Cambridge University Press. Pp. 496-7.


“Wray stresses the discontinuity between holistic protolanguagve and the analytic, rule-based, generative system that followed, taken by many linguists as the core of language. She suggests that true syntax derives not from such communicative needs but from its use in thought.” Fitch, Tecumseh. The Evolution of Language. 2010. Cambridge University Press. P. 497.


“The multi-stage model below synthesizes many authors’ writings, building on Darwin’s core hypothesis that proto-song preceded language. The resulting model posits the following evolutionary steps and selective pressures, leading from the unlearned vocal communication system of the LCA to modern spoken language in all of its syntactic and semantic glory:

(1) Phonology first: The acquisition of complex vocal learning occurred during an initial song-like stage of communication that lacked propositional meaning. Based on comparative data, Darwin’s proposal of a sexually selected function remains one plausible driving force, but the kin-selection model proposed by Dissanayake and others is an equally plausible contender, and these suggestions are not mutually exclusive. This system of ‘bare phonology’ provided a learned, complex, generative vocal communication system, with multiple units being combined into a hierarchical, but propositionally meaningless, signaling system. Thus, the sharpest distinction between humans and chimpanzees – vocal imitation – arose first, along with simple ‘phonological’ aspects of syntax (sequencing, hierarchy, and phrase structure). This innovation satisfies the ‘evolvability’ constraint, as Darwin argued, because of its frequent convergent evolution in other vertebrate clades, including birds, whales, and seals.”

(2) Arbitrary, holistic meaning: The addition of meaning proceeded in two stages, perhaps driven by kin selection. First, holistic mappings between whole, complex phonological signals (phrases or ‘songs’) and whole semantic complexes (context-bound entities: activities, repeated events, rituals, and individuals) were linked by simple association. This connection between arbitrary signals and concrete conceptual entities gives us Saussurian arbitrariness naturally (avoiding a problem faced by gestural models). The system was used communicatively to influence others, either among adults or between parents and their offspring. At this stage, musical protolanguage was a manipulative, emotionally grounded vocal communication system, not a vehicle for the unlimited expression of thought.”

(3) Analytic meaning: During an extended ‘analytic’ phase, these linked wholes were gradually broken down into parts: individual lexical items ‘coalesced’ from the previous wholes. This is the step stressed by Jespersen and Wray, and modeled by Kirby. It requires no further genetic changes. Pre-existing conceptual primitives were the seeds for the semantic components of these proto-words and, as argued by Bickerton, for complex syntax. The mapping onto phonological components was arbitrary, driven by chance associations, gradually regularized by the ‘ratchet’ of glossogenetic, cultural transmission. Even today, this fusion of analyzed conceptual structures to analyzed phonological structures remains incomplete. The unanalyzed ‘residue’ forms a relatively peripheral component of spoken language but, as Wray stresses, one that remains in constant pragmatic use. Holistic protolanguage is still with us today. The mismatch between language as a successful vehicle for thought, and its frequently depauperate use in social intercourse, is intelligible by this model, due to the dual origin of the phonological and semantic components of language. Thus, Premack’s paradox (that language is vastly more powerful than necessary for communication), and the apparent contradiction between the two uses of language (for communication versus thought) is resolved.”

(4) Modern language – genetic fixation of the analytic urge: As the language of its community grew more analytic, pressure for rapid analytic learning by children became strong. This drove the last spurt to our modern state, where language is mostly composed of atomic meaning units (morphemes, or true words). As argued in Chapter 12, this last stage seems most likely to have been driven by kin selection, for the sharing of truthful information among close relatives.”

“By this model, some components of syntax evolved early, during the musical protolanguage stage (e.g. hierarchy and concatenation, as well as linearization). But the central aspect of syntax in many modern theories – the assembly of large, complex semantic structures that map in a compositional form onto such basically phonological structures – came later. Many of the complexities studied by modern syntacticians (variations in inflection and conjugation, different restrictions on order, agreement, and many other factors) would not, by such a model, be a biologically evolved aspect of language at all. Rather, they would represent various culturally discovered solutions to the ill-defined problem of mapping high-dimensional conceptual complexes onto simple hierarchical phonological representations, and out to the sensory-motor interface of speech or sign.” Fitch, Tecumseh. The Evolution of Language. 2010. Cambridge University Press. Pp. 503-5.


"The idea of a global human society which indeed constitutes a system on a world scale has regained much attention in recent years. However, the fact that humanity, divided by a multitude of languages, but connected by a lattice of multilingual speakers, also constitutes a coherent language constellation, as one more dimension of the world system, has so far remained unnoticed." De Swaan, Abram. Words of the World: The Global Language System. 2001. Polis. Pp. 1-2.
 

"Any two peripheral groups are mutually connected through members that speak the languages of both. But on the whole such ties tend to be scarce. Or rather, they are becoming scarcer since communication between the inhabitants of adjacent villages has become less important, as they increasingly come to deal with traders and administrators in the district capital. As a result, members of the various peripheral groups are more likely to acquire one and the same second language, one that is therefore ‘central’ to these groups. All or most communication between the peripheral groups occurs through this central language. The peripheral languages, grouped around the central language, may be compared to moons circling a planet. There may be about one hundred languages that occupy a central or ‘planetary’ position in the global language system." De Swaan, Abram. Words of the World: The Global Language System. 2001. Polis. P. 4.
 

"Apparently, language learning occurs mostly upward, in a ‘centripetal’ mode: people usually prefer to learn a language that is at a higher level in the hierarchy. This again reinforces the hierarchical nature of the world language system." De Swaan, Abram. Words of the World: The Global Language System. 2001. Polis. P. 5.
 

"There are about a dozen of these supercentral languages. Their position in the global language system resembles that of so many suns surrounded by their planets, the central languages, which, in turn, are encircled by their respective satellites, the peripheral languages. The supercentral languages are Arabic, Chinese, English, French, German, Hindi, Japanese, Malay, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish and Swahili. All these languages, except Swahili, have more than one hundred million speakers and each serves to connect the speakers of a series of central languages." De Swaan, Abram. Words of the World: The Global Language System. 2001. Polis. P. 5.
 

"Clearly, language is not used up in using it, rather the opposite. With practice an every larger part of its potential becomes available to the speaker. Moreover, the more people use a language, the more valuable it is to each one of them." De Swaan, Abram. Words of the World: The Global Language System. 2001. Polis. P. 27.
 

"... a language’s utility does not just remain equal as its speakers increase in number. It actually increases. This is due to the operation of external network effects. Since languages both satisfy the definition of a collective good and display external network effects, they constitute a very special category; they are ‘hypercollective’ goods. All non-excludable transport and communication networks that are also collective goods share this property of hypercollectivity." De Swaan, Abram. Words of the World: The Global Language System. 2001. Polis. P. 31. [A "collective good" is defined by four qualities: 1) no one can be excluded from enjoying it, 2) it is maintained by many but not necessarily all, 3) no one person alone can create or maintain it, and 4) its utility does not decrease as other people use it.]
 

"Languages define areas of communication. Beyond these limits, cultural practices and products travel with greater ease the less they depend on language: the visual arts cross much more easily than, say, poetry." De Swaan, Abram. Words of the World: The Global Language System. 2001. Polis. P. 41
 

"Language both insulates and protects the language-bound cultural elites in its domain." De Swaan, Abram. Words of the World: The Global Language System. 2001. Polis. P. 41.
 

"This insulation operates more intensely for the less widely spread languages. As a result, the cultural elites concerned are faced with a dilemma: adopt a more widely spread second language and compete with many more producers in a much larger market – the ‘cosmopolitan strategy’; or stick to the less widely spread language and compete with only a few others for a much more restricted public – the ‘local’ strategy." De Swaan, Abram. Words of the World: The Global Language System. 2001. Polis. P. 41.
 

"Accordingly, merit goods can be defined as commodities that one agrees others should be using." De Swaan, Abram. Words of the World: The Global Language System. 2001. Polis. P. 49.
 

"The symbolic potential of language as the paramount source of integration has gained saliency only in modern politics, often reinforcing or replacing religion, dynasty, common descent or geographic proximity as constitutive elements of the movement." De Swaan, Abram. Words of the World: The Global Language System. 2001. Polis. P. 64.
 

"Deploying phylogenetic methods across 87 Indo-European languages, Pagel and his colleagues showed how the frequency with which words are used within modern languages predicts their rate of replacement over thousands of years. Frequently used words evolve at a slower rate, whereas infrequently used words evolve more rapidly, a relationship that holds across four major European languages." Laland, Kevin & G. Brown. Sense and Nonsense: Evolutionary Perspectives on Human Behaviour. 2011. Oxford University Press. P. 155. Reference is to Pagel, M., Q. Atkinson & A. Meade. 2007. "Frequency of word-use predicts rates of lexical evolution throughout Indo-European history." Nature. 449: 717-720.
 

"Language has a fundamentally social function. Processes of human interaction along with domain-general cognitive processes shape the structure and knowledge of language. Recent research in the cognitive sciences has demonstrated that patterns of use strongly affect how language is acquired, is used, and changes. These processes are not independent of one another but are facets of the same complex adaptive system (CAS). Language as a CAS involves the following key features: The system consists of multiple agents (the speakers in the speech community) interacting with one another. The system is adaptive; that is, speakers’ behavior is based on their past interactions, and current and past interactions together feed forward into future behavior. A speaker’s behavior is the consequence of competing factors ranging from perceptual constraints to social motivations. The structures of language emerge from interrelated patterns of experience, social interaction, and cognitive mechanisms. The CAS approach reveals commonalities in many areas of language research, including first and second language acquisition, historical linguistics, psycholinguistics, language evolution, and computational modeling." Ellis, Nick & D. Larsen-Freeman, Eds. 2009. "Language Is a Complex Adaptive System: Position Paper." Language as a Complex Adaptive system. Wiley-Blackwell. Pp. 1-26. Authored by editors plus the following: C. Beckner, R. Blythe, J. Bybee, M. Christiansen, W. Croft, J. Holland, J. Ke & T. Schoenemann. Pp. 1-2.
 

"The nature of language follows from its role in social interaction. Although social interactions can sometimes be uncooperative and characterized by conflict, they are often characterized by what philosophers of action call shared cooperative activity or joint actions. Joint actions are dependent on what might be broadly called shared cognition, a human being’s recognition that she can share beliefs and intentions with other humans. Joint action involves individuals performing individual actions that are intended to carry out a jointly intended shared action, such as moving a piano or performing in a string quartet. Bratman enumerated several mental attitudes for shared cooperative activity, including meshing of subplans to carry out the joint action, a commitment to help out the other, and shared belief of all of the above.

"Finally, Bratman also pointed out that the individual actions that form the joint action must be coordinated for the joint action to be carried out successfully. This is where language ultimately comes in. Joint actions pose coordination problems between the participants. There are various coordination devices that solve the coordination problems of joint actions, of which the simplest is joint attention to jointly salient properties of the environment. However, by far the most effective coordination device is, of course, for the participants to communicate with each other. However, communication is a joint action: The speaker and hearer must converge on a recognition of the speaker’s intention by the hearer. Humans have developed a powerful coordination device for communication–that is, convention or, more precisely, a conventional signaling system. Convention is a regularity of behavior that is partly arbitrary and entrenched in the speech community. As a coordination device, it solves a recurring coordination problem, namely the joint action of communication. Additionally, communication is in turn a coordination device for any joint action that human beings wish to perform or have happen. On this basis, human culture is built.

"Language is a two-level system embedded in the two higher levels of communication (i.e., meaning in the Gricean sense) and joint action." Ellis, Nick & D. Larsen-Freeman, Eds. 2009. "Language Is a Complex Adaptive System: Position Paper." Language as a Complex Adaptive system. Wiley-Blackwell. Pp. 1-26. Authored by editors plus the following: C. Beckner, R. Blythe, J. Bybee, M. Christiansen, W. Croft, J. Holland, J. Ke & T. Schoenemann. Pp. 3-4. Reference is to Bratman, M. 1997. "I intend that we." From Holmstroem-Hintikka & R. Tuomela (Eds.), Contemporary action theory, 1997, Vol. 2, pp. 49-63. Kluwer.
 

"Language exists both in individuals (as idiolect) and in the community of users (as communal language). Language is emergent at these two distinctive but interdependent levels: An idiolect is emergent from an individual’s language use through social interactions with other individuals in the communal language, whereas a communal language is emergent as the result of the interaction of the idiolects." Ellis, Nick & D. Larsen-Freeman, Eds. 2009. "Language Is a Complex Adaptive System: Position Paper." Language as a Complex Adaptive system. Wiley-Blackwell. Pp. 1-26. Authored by editors plus the following: C. Beckner, R. Blythe, J. Bybee, M. Christiansen, W. Croft, J. Holland, J. Ke & T. Schoenemann. Pp. 14-5.
 

"It is in the coadaptation in the micro-discursive encounters between conversation partners that learners experience relevant and accessible exemplars from which they will learn. Cognition, consciousness, experience, embodiment, brain, self, human interaction, society, culture, and history–in other words, phenomena at different levels of scale and time–are all inextricably intertwined in rich, complex, and dynamic ways in language, its use, and its learning. So we require perspectives on dynamic interactions at all levels, perspectives provided by general approaches such as Emergentism, Chaos/Complexity Theory, and Dynamic Systems Theory as they apply to usage-based theories of language and first language acquisition and second language acquisition." Ellis, Nick & D. Larsen-Freeman. 2009. "Constructing a Second Language: Analyses and Computational Simulations of the Emergence of Linguistic Constructions From Usage." Pp. 90-125. Ellis, Nick & D. Larsen-Freeman, Eds. Language as a Complex Adaptive system. Wiley-Blackwell. P. 91.
 

"It [language] is constituted by a structured network of constructions as conventionalized form-meaning-use combinations used for communicative purposes. As speakers communicate, they coadapt their language use on a particular occasion. From such repeated encounters, stable language-using patterns emerge. The patterns are eventually broken down and their form-meaning-use is extended in novel ways. Usage leads to these becoming entrenched in the speaker’s mind and for them to be taken up by members of the speech community.

"Constructions are of different levels of complexity and abstraction; they can comprise concrete and particular items (as in words and idioms), more abstract classes of items (as in word classes and abstract grammatical constructions), or complex combinations of concrete and abstract items (as mixed constructions). The acquisition of constructions is input-driven and depends on the learner’s experience of these form-meaning-use combinations in interactions with others. They develop following the same cognitive principles as the learning of other categories, schemata, and prototypes. Creative linguistic usage emerges from the collaboration of the memories of all of the utterances in a learner’s entire history of language use and the frequency-biased abstraction of regularities within them." Ellis, Nick & D. Larsen-Freeman. 2009. "Constructing a Second Language: Analyses and Computational Simulations of the Emergence of Linguistic Constructions From Usage." Pp. 90-125. Ellis, Nick & D. Larsen-Freeman, Eds. Language as a Complex Adaptive system. Wiley-Blackwell. P. 92.
 

"Psychological analyses of the learning of constructions as form-meaning-use combinations is informed by the literature on the associative learning of cue-outcome contingencies for which the usual determinants include the following: factors relating to the form such as frequency and salience; factors relating to the meaning such as significance in the comprehension of the overall utterance, prototypicality, ambiguity, generality, redundancy, and surprise value; factors relating to use such as the social value of particular forms or their value in discourse construction; factors relating to the contingency of form and meaning and use; and factors relating to learner attention, such as automaticity, transfer, and blocking. These various factors conspire in the acquisition and use of any linguistic construction.

"Whereas some constructions, like walk, are concrete, imageable, and specific in their interpretation, others are more abstract and schematic. For example, the caused motion construction, (e.g., X causes Y to move Zpath/loc [Subj V Obj Oblpath/loc]) exists independently of particular verbs; hence ‘Tom sneezed the paper napkin across the table’: is intelligible despite ‘sneeze’ being usually intransitive." Ellis, Nick & D. Larsen-Freeman. 2009. "Constructing a Second Language: Analyses and Computational Simulations of the Emergence of Linguistic Constructions From Usage." Pp. 90-125. Ellis, Nick & D. Larsen-Freeman, Eds. Language as a Complex Adaptive system. Wiley-Blackwell. P. 93. Example is from Goldberg, Adele. 1995. Constructions: A construction grammar approach to argument structure. University of Chicago Press.
 

"Taken together, these considerations of language acquisition as the associative learning of schematic constructions from experience of exemplars in usage, adjusted for comprehension/learning, generate a number of hypotheses concerning VAC [verb-argument construction] acquisition:

"H1. The frequency distribution for the types occupying the verb island of each VAC will be Zipfian.

"H2. The first verbs to emerge in each VAC will be those which appear more frequently in that construction in the input.

"H3. The pathbreaking verb for each VAC will be much more frequent than the other members.

"H4. The first verbs to emerge in each VAC will be prototypical of that constructions’s interpretation.

"H5. The first verbs to emerge in each construction will be those which are more distinctively associated with that construction in the input. [These hypotheses were supported by experiments.]" Ellis, Nick & D. Larsen-Freeman. 2009. "Constructing a Second Language: Analyses and Computational Simulations of the Emergence of Linguistic Constructions From Usage." Pp. 90-125. Ellis, Nick & D. Larsen-Freeman, Eds. Language as a Complex Adaptive system. Wiley-Blackwell. P. 99.
 

"Three major factors seem to have conspired to drive the evolution of language: first, the general elaboration of–and increasing focus on–the importance of learned behavior; second, a significant increase in the complexity, subtlety, and range of conceptual understanding that was possible; and third, an increasingly comnplex, sociallly interactive existence. Each of these is reflected by a variety of changes in the brain during human evolution. Because language itself facilitates thinking and conceptual awareness, language evolution would have been a mutually reinforcing process: Increasingly complicated brains led to increasingly rich and varied thoughts, driving the evolution of increasingly complicated language, which itself facilitated even more complex conceptual worlds that these brains would then want to communicate. The interplay between internal (conceptual) and external (social) aspects of human existence that drove this coevolutionary process highlights the usefulness of thinking about language evolution as a complex axdaptive system." Schoenemann, P. Thomas. 2009. "Evolution of Brain and Language." Pp. 162-186. Ellis, Nick & D. Larsen-Freeman, Eds. Language as a Complex Adaptive system. Wiley-Blackwell. P. 181.
 

"A particular subset of models have looked extensively at the impact of repeated learning on the process of emergence. They investigate how a form of cultural evolution known as iterated learning affects the structure of language. In these models, each agent (i.e., simulated individual) must acquire a set of (initially random) mappings between meanings and signals by observing the behavior of agents in the previous generation. Once this mapping is acquired, the learner becomes a teacher, and the process repeats. Crucially there is a bottleneck in the transmission process that puts pressure on the system to be generalizable. This bottleneck models the data-sparsity present in real language acquisition and is typically enforced in the simulations by the learner only being exposed to signals for a subset of the total meanings during training.

"Overall, two consistent conclusions have been drawn from this computational research: Over time, iterated learning ensures languages evolve to (a) become easier to learn and (b) become more structured." Cornish, Hannah, M. Tamariz & S. Kirby. 2009. "Complex Adaptive Systems and the Origins of Adaptive Structure: What Experiments Can Tell Us." Pp. 187-205. Ellis, Nick & D. Larsen-Freeman, Eds. Language as a Complex Adaptive system. Wiley-Blackwell. P. 188.
 

"... without virtually immediate resolution of the production and reception problems, the interaction can be stalled indefinitely with unpredictable consequences; without ways of spotting departures from intersubjectivity and restoring it, the shared reality of the moment is lost, again with unpredictable consequences." Schegloff, Emanuel. "Interaction: The Infrastructure for Social Institutions, the Natural Ecological Niche for Language, and the Arena in which Culture is Enacted." Pp. 70-96. From Enfield, N. & S. Levinson. 2006. Roots of Human Sociality: Culture, Cognition and Interaction. Berg. P. 78.
 

"It is repair that allows our language use not only to allow but to exploit many of the features that have been treated as its faults–ambiguity, polysemy, contradiction, and so forth...."

"The practices of repair and their ordered deployment are probably the main guarantors of intersubjectivity and common ground in interaction.... The practices of repair make intersubjectivity always a matter of immediate and local determination, not one of abstract and general shared facts, views, or stances." Schegloff, Emanuel. "Interaction: The Infrastructure for Social Institutions, the Natural Ecological Niche for Language, and the Arena in which Culture is Enacted." Pp. 70-96. From Enfield, N. & S. Levinson. 2006. Roots of Human Sociality: Culture, Cognition and Interaction. Berg. P. 79.
 

"Some actions are positioned not with respect to turns or sequences (although they are done in turns and sequences) or the repair space but by reference to the occasion of interaction as a unit with its own organization. Greetings and good-byes are the most obvious exemplars, ..." Schegloff, Emanuel. "Interaction: The Infrastructure for Social Institutions, the Natural Ecological Niche for Language, and the Arena in which Culture is Enacted." Pp. 70-96. From Enfield, N. & S. Levinson. 2006. Roots of Human Sociality: Culture, Cognition and Interaction. Berg. P. 82.
 

"... certain other features of talk in interaction are plausible candidates for universal relevance and merit mention here.

"One is minimization...."

"... A second feature is the special character of ‘nextness,’ or next-prior positioning, operating at various levels of granularity...."

"... A third feature is a preference for progressivity, again, at work at various levels of granularity." Schegloff, Emanuel. "Interaction: The Infrastructure for Social Institutions, the Natural Ecological Niche for Language, and the Arena in which Culture is Enacted." Pp. 70-96. From Enfield, N. & S. Levinson. 2006. Roots of Human Sociality: Culture, Cognition and Interaction. Berg. Pp. 85-6.
 

"... joint commitments are the driving force behind joint activities." Clark, Herbert. "Social Actions, Social Commitments." Pp. 126-150. From Enfield, N. & S. Levinson. 2006. Roots of Human Sociality: Culture, Cognition and Interaction. Berg. P. 127.
 

"Joint commitments are subject to the sedan-chair principle. Suppose Susan and Tom are two porters carrying Veronica in a sedan chair. They cannot pick the chair up, or set it down, without doing it together. If one of them tries, they risk not only spilling Veronica onto the street, but injuring each other." Clark, Herbert. "Social Actions, Social Commitments." Pp. 126-150. From Enfield, N. & S. Levinson. 2006. Roots of Human Sociality: Culture, Cognition and Interaction. Berg. P. 131.
 

"No matter what the joint action, agreement must be reached, explicitly or implicitly, on at least five elements:

"Participants. Who are to take part in the joint action?

"Roles. In what roles?

"Content. What actions are they to perform, or what positions are they to adopt?

"Timing. When are the actions to take place, or the positions to be in effect?

"Location. And where?

"Let me call these joint elements. Reaching agreement on these elements tends to be incremental and hierarchical, leading to the gradual emergence of joint activities." Clark, Herbert. "Social Actions, Social Commitments." Pp. 126-150. From Enfield, N. & S. Levinson. 2006. Roots of Human Sociality: Culture, Cognition and Interaction. Berg. Pp. 134-5.
 

"Common ground constitutes the open stockpile of shared presumption that fuels amplicative inference in communication, driven by intention attribution and other defining components of the interaction engine. Any occasion of ‘grounding’ (i.e., any increment of common ground) has consequences for future interaction of the individuals involved, thanks to two perpetually active imperatives for individuals in social interaction. The informational imperative compels individuals to cooperate with their interactional partners in maintaining a common referential understanding, mutually calibrated at each step of an interaction’s progression. Here, common ground affords economy of expression. The greater our common ground, the less effort we have to expend to satisfy the informational imperative. Second (but not secondary), the affiliational imperative compels interlocutors to maintain a common degree of interpersonal affiliation (trust, commitment, intimacy), proper to the status of the relationship, and again mutually calibrated at each step of an interaction’s progression. In this second dimension, the economy of expression enabled by common ground affords a public display of intimacy, a reliable indicator of how much is personally shared by a given pair (trio, n-tuple) of interactants. In these two ways, serving the ends of informational economy and affiliational intimacy, to increment common ground is to invest in a resource that will be drawn on later, with interest." Enfield, N.J. "Social Consequences of Common Ground." Pp. 399-430. From Enfield, N. & S. Levinson. 2006. Roots of Human Sociality: Culture, Cognition and Interaction. Berg. Pp. 399-400.
 

"A canonical source of common ground is joint attention, a unique human practice that fuses perception and inferential cognition." Enfield, N.J. "Social Consequences of Common Ground." Pp. 399-430. From Enfield, N. & S. Levinson. 2006. Roots of Human Sociality: Culture, Cognition and Interaction. Berg. P. 400.
 

"Common ground is a resource that speakers exploit in inviting and deriving pragmatic inference, as a way to cut costs of speech production by leaving much to be inferred by the listener. As Levinson points out, the rate of transfer of coded information in speech is slow, thanks to our articulatory apparatus. Psychological processes run much faster. This bottleneck problem is solved by the amplicative properties of pragmatic inference. Interpretative amplification of coded messages feeds directly on the stock of common ground, in which we may include a language’s semantically coded linguistic categories (lexicon, morphosyntax), a community’s set of cultural practices and norms, and shared personal experience. (This implies different categories of social relationship, defined in part by amount and type of common ground; e.g., speakers of our language, people of our culture, and personal associates of various types; see below.) The more common ground we share, the less constrained we are in communication. Hanks captures this notion in his ‘principle of relative symmetry’, by which greater common ground licenses a greater range of semiotic possibilities for referential differentiation." Enfield, N.J. "Social Consequences of Common Ground." Pp. 399-430. From Enfield, N. & S. Levinson. 2006. Roots of Human Sociality: Culture, Cognition and Interaction. Berg. Pp. 401-2.
 

"Just as each little choice we make in communicative interaction can be assessed for its optimality for information exchange, it can equally be assessed for its optimality for maintaining (or forging) the current social relationship at an appropriate level of intensity of intimacy. The management of common ground is directly implicated in our perpetual attendance to managing personal relationships within our social networks." Enfield, N.J. "Social Consequences of Common Ground." Pp. 399-430. From Enfield, N. & S. Levinson. 2006. Roots of Human Sociality: Culture, Cognition and Interaction. Berg. P. 412.
 

"Spending more time interacting with certain individuals means more opportunities to increment common ground with those individuals, by virtue of the greater opportunity to engage in joint attentional activity such as conversation. This results in greater access to amplicative inference in communication." Enfield, N.J. "Social Consequences of Common Ground." Pp. 399-430. From Enfield, N. & S. Levinson. 2006. Roots of Human Sociality: Culture, Cognition and Interaction. Berg. P. 412.
 

"Common ground–knowledge openly shared by specified pairs, trios, and so forth–is by definition socially relational, and relationship defining. In an informational dimension, common ground guides the design of signals by particular speakers for particular recipients, as well as the proper interpretation by particular recipients, of signals from particular speakers. Richer common ground means greater communicative economy, because it enables greater amplicative inferences on the basis of leaner coded signals. In a social-affiliational dimension, the resulting streamlined, elliptical interaction has a property that is recognized and exploited in the ground-level management of social relations: these indices of common ground are a means of publicly displaying, to interactants and onlookers alike, that the requisite common ground is shared, and that the relationship constituted by that degree or kind of common ground is in evidence.

"In sum, common ground is as much a social-affiliational resource as it is an informational one." Enfield, N.J. "Social Consequences of Common Ground." Pp. 399-430. From Enfield, N. & S. Levinson. 2006. Roots of Human Sociality: Culture, Cognition and Interaction. Berg. P. 422.

 

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Cowley, Stephen. “Early hominins, utterance-activity, and niche construction
De Swaan, Abram. Words of the World: The Global Language System
Deacon, T. The Symbolic Species: The Co-evolution of Language
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Deutscher, Guy. The Unfolding of Language: An Evolutionary Tour of Mankind’s Greatest Invention
Ellis, Nick & D. Larsen-Freeman et al. “Language Is a Complex Adaptive System:
Ellis, Nick & D. Larsen-Freeman. “Constructing a Second Language: Analyses and
Enfield, N.J. “Social Consequences of Common Ground.”
Fauconnier, Gilles. Mappings in Thought and Language
Fauconnier, Gilles & Mark Turner. The Way We Think: Conceptual Blending and the Mind’s Hidden Complexities
Fitch, Tecumseh. The Evolution of Language.
Foucault, Michel, The Archaeology of Knowledge & The Discourse
Gibbs, Raymond. Embodiment and Cognitive Science
Goldberg, Adele. Constructions at Work: The Nature of Generalization in Language
Guiraud, Pierre, Semiology
Harris, Roy. The Language Myth
Hofstader, Douglas, Goedel, Escher, Bach
Hudson, Richard. 2007. Language Networks: The New Word Grammar
Hurford, James. The Origins of Meaning.
Hutchins, Edwin. Cognition in the Wild
Ingold, Tim. Lines: A Brief History.
Jenkins, Henry. Convergence Culture; Where Old and New Media Collide
Johnson, Mark & George Lakoff. Philosophy in the Flesh: The Embodied
Kenneally, Christine. The First Word: The Search for the Origins of Language
Lakoff, Robin, Talking Power; The Politics of Language in Our
Lanham, Richard. The Economics of Attention: Style and Substance in the Age of Information
Leonard, Michael and Chris Ricks, The State of the Language
Lucaites, J. et al, editors. Contemporary Rhetorical Theory: A Reader
Mithen, Steven. The Singing Neanderthals: The Origins of Music, Language, Mind, and Body.
Moeller, Hans-Georg. Luhmann Explained: From Souls to Systems. 
Murphy, Nancey & Warren Brown. Did My Neurons Make Me Do It?
Ochs, E., Schegloff & Thompson, ed. Interaction and Grammar
Pattee, H. H. “The Physics of Symbols and The Evolution of Semiotic
Percy, Walker, Lost in the Cosmos: The Last Self-Help Book
Schegloff, E. “Interaction: The Infrastructure for Social..., Natural ... Niche for Language
Schiffrin, D., D. Tannen & Hamilton. The Handbook of Discourse Analysis
Schoenemann, P. Thomas. “Evolution of Brain and Language.”
Searle, John. Making the Social World: The Structure of Human Civilization.
Sebeok, Thomas, "Zoosemiotic Components of Human Communication"
Smith, K. & S. Kirby. "Cultural evolution: implications for understanding the human language
Steiner, George, After Babel
Stern, Daniel, The Interpersonal World of the Infant
Taylor, Mark C. The Moment of Complexity: Emerging Network Culture
Tomasello, Michael. Constructing a Language: A Usage-Based Theory
Tomasello, Michael. The Cultural Origins of Human Cognition
Tomasello, Michael. The New Psychology of Language: Cognitive
Tomasello, Michael. Origins of Human Communication.
Tomasello, Michael. Why We Cooperate
Van Schaik, Carel. Among Orangutans: Red Apes and the Rise of Human
Willard, Charles Arthur. Liberalism and the Problem of Knowledge

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