Human language as form of technology?


I wanted to follow-up on a very important question asked by (if I recall correctly) Taylor and Dillon in the afternoon class for which there was not enough time to discuss, but that still demands some additional conversation here on our course blog. Here, I offer a better articulated response than the one I gave in class, along with some helpful reading.

Your thoughts are welcome in the comments.

In class, the question was asked

Does human language constitute a form of technology?

Let’s start by revisiting our definition of technology from Lecture 1:

Technology – Any modification of the natural or designed world done to fulfill human needs or desires

We see the key concept of modification.

Biologically, we are hardwired to produce sounds by the complex coordination of the lungs, vocal cords, and mouth.

So, we have the ability to produce sound. But, we also have a need or desire to communicate, and to do so requires the modification of  this natural ability — the evolution and spread of language, perhaps? Sounds a lot like our definition of technology, right?

Is then language itself a form of technology? Is it a tool that we use? Is the Internet (another technology) and computer-mediated communication (CMC) changing this ancient tool of ours? Check out the following articles and share what you think abou this idea.

Is Language a Technology?

Evolution of Language Takes Unexpected Turn

How the internet is changing language

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2 Responses to Human language as form of technology?

  1. Dillon Paiva says:

    So the point I was trying to get across in class was this: In our first lecture we learned that, Technology is “Any modification of the natural or designed world done to fulfill human needs or desires.” I think language falls into this category perfectly. Language in the form of sentences, words, grunts, or even crying was created to communicate between 2 or more human beings. After all, we were not always able to talk, that happened after millions of years of evolution.

  2. kind of like the language of texting! there is an entire different language for texting, which goes along with technology. Seriouly imagine if we spoke in texting lingo? whoa! lol! omg! It would be weird!

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