What is language and who can be said to have it? In this essay we consider this question in the context of interactions with non-humans, in particular: animals and computers. While perhaps an odd pairing at first glance, here we argue that these domains can offer contrasting perspectives through which we can explore and reimagine language. Human-animal interaction and human-computer interaction reveal the core and the limits of language: from examining the role of sequence and contingency in human-animal interaction, to unravelling the challenges of interactivity in today’s ‘smart’ speakers and language models. By bringing together disparate fields around foundational questions, we aim to push the boundaries of linguistic inquiry and uncover new insights into what language is and how it functions in diverse non-human-exclusive contexts.
|Linguistics in the Netherlands
|Published - 2023