From Wordings to Dynamic Language

The language stance has hypnotic power. It induces us to replace dynamics and history with systems that allegedly 'process' linguistic forms. Having challenged input/output modellings, I show how we depend on integrating wordings with more primitive language

6 The model commits the mereological fallacy (Bennett and Hacker, 2003).

7 Ross (2004), following tradition, opposes the verbal patterns of 'language' to the dynamics which he calls metalinguistic signalling. For Cowley and Love (2006), together, these constitute first-order language.

(attitudes and affect). Specifically, I suggest how integration uses our grasp of connotations. We thus make sense of what we hear and, strangely perhaps, use sensing for learning. Attention to strategic signals thus highlights how human signalling draws on dynamics. Later, I show that related processes influence how babies learn to talk. Our brains turn us into agents whose motivations connect experience with normative signals. We become persons who use what we hear to harness the digital power of language.

While the language stance deems expression non-cognitive, this jars with experience. While heeding wordings, we also use perceived dynamics. Multimodal expression is intrinsic to human agency (Thibault, 2004a,b). Alongside wordings, we exploit vocal, facial, and gestural expression. Cognitive dynamics allow us to hear voices and use the language stance to talk about individual differences, affect, mood, attitude, and circumstances (which elude constructed process models). Quite clearly, expression prompts us to anticipate vocal and other signals. While communicative, these also exert causal or cognitive effects. What we say is influenced by human bodies because, among other things, we respond to their dynamics. While wordings pick out objects and actions, interpersonal, and textual meaning draw on events. We integrate segments (speech sounds) with pitch, pace, cadence, rhythm, tempo, duration, loudness, etc. For Darwin (1871) language and song had the same roots. Far from being dependent on formal representations, we also use expressive dynamics. Given history, cultural patterns can facilitate sense making.

The temporal dimension of language is often neglected. First, Markova, Foppa, Linell and others pioneered emphasis on real-time dialogue (see, Markova and Foppa, 1990, 1991). Linking conversational analysis to phenomenology, they abandoned the monological approach to language. By focusing on the effects of dialogical patterns, they rejected centralised systems. Avoiding input/output models, Linell et al. (1988) showed that utterances are prospective and retrospective. Even turn taking may owe less to sequencing than cognitive dynamics, politeness, and a language stance. Second, we exploit asymmetries of status, power, knowledge, etc (Linell and Luckmann, 1991). In social life, strategic interaction is dominated - not by wordings - but presentations of self. Third, as Linell (2007) shows, dialogical principles also apply to the brain. Related views are increasingly corroborated. For example, in influential work, Pickering and Garrod (2004) show that semantic priming matters to conversation. We align utterances in meaningful ways. These, moreover, characterise individuals, groups, and cultures (see, Thibault, 2005). Further, artificial agents can use coordination to simulate the rise of grammar (Lyon et al., 2007; Cangelosi et al., 2006). Strikingly, robots that align behaviour can warp feature detection to simulate discovery of shared colour categories (Steels and Belpaeme, 2005).

Cognitive dynamics spread between people. In seminal work, Hutchins (1995a,b) shows that to land planes, or navigate ships, we depend on integrating wordings with artefacts, routines, knowledge, and myths. People act as distributed cognitive systems. Recently, Alac (2005) has extended this view by emphasising how important bodily coordination is to humans. In so doing, she documents how, without instruction, an assistant's body transforms her into an expert on fMRI displays. Although wordings have a part, she also depends on subtle coordination of words, postures, gestures, and video images. More generally, of course, language varies in space, between groups (e.g. Hudson, 1996) and across individuals (e.g.

Johnstone, 1996). Further, wordings and dynamics drive the ubiquitous affiliation and distancing that enacts accommodation (see, Giles et al., 1991). When human beings are co-present, we exploit psychobiological functions or 'emotion, mood, cognition, bodily orientation and muscular effort' (Goffman, 1983, p. 3).

In important work Erickson and Shultz (1982) showed how a counsellor's advice (i.e. what was said) correlated with shared rhythmic patterns. Worryingly, in 1970s America, coordination often echoed ethnic origins. For perceptual and social reasons, we treat 'communication' as the norm. In spite of this comfortable view (based on the language stance), human experience is influenced by both visible expression and what Abercrombie (1967) called voice dynamics. Indeed, the feel of social life may depend heavily on the flow of events in a micro-dimension. In Kravchenko's (2007) terms, cognitive dynamics enable us to experience semiosis. Strangely, we hear what people mean - not just words that are actually spoken. Documenting this, Goodwin (2002) shows how meaning arises as gestures are coordinated with vocal activity. Cowley (1994) shows that human relationships use, how voices are orchestrated. More recently, resulting duets have been traced to Haken's (1993) enslavement principle (Cowley, in press a). Finally, in bold synthesis, Thibault (2004a,b) provides theoretical elaboration of how bodily coordination shapes multi-scalar human interaction.

Dynamic aspects of language connect bodies across time and space. Language, therefore, is irreducible to centralist processing. Thus not only do bodies affect what we say but, generally, they do so in accordance with the claims of Love (2007), Kravchenko (2007), and Ross (2007). Dynamics evoke connotations as lived events are coordinated around wordings, biomechanics, and circumstances. Second, since signalling warps even robot 'perception', social strategies may well help us partition the world. Something like Davidson's primitive triangle may turn out to be the basis for digital semantics. Were this the case, human perspective taking would change as other peoples' reactions compressed information based on direct experience. We might differ from wild primates because of how cultural ecology enabled us to modify what we perceive, identify, and value.

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