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Distributed language and dynamics

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Language is coordination. Pursuing this, the present Special Issue of Pragmatics & Cognition challenges two widely held positions. First, the papers reject the claim that language is essentially ‘symbolic’. Second, they deny that minds (or brains) represent verbal patterns. Rather, language is social, individual, and contributes the feeling of thinking. Simply, it is distributed. Elucidating this claim, the opening papers report empirically-based work on the anticipatory dynamics of reading, their cognitive consequences, Shakespearean theatre, what images evoke, and insight problem-solving. Having given reasons for rejecting linguistic autonomy, the papers turn to theory building. Initially, attention is given to a possible origin for semiotic cognition. Then, it is claimed that language functions by realizing values. Next, it is argued that human dynamics are co-regulated by cultural and biological symbols. Finally, in a review article, the distributed view of language is used to contrast Clark’s (2008) organism-centered cognition with what is here called ecologically extended cognition.
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Keywords: biosemiosis; cognition; distributed cognition; distributed language; dynamical systems; embodiment; general linguistics; semiotic cognition

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 2, 2009

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