The linguistic behavior of humans is usually considered the point of reference for studying the origin and evolution of language. As commonly defined, language is a form of communication between human beings; many have argued that it is unique to humans as there is no apparent equivalent for it in non-human organisms. How language is used as a means of communication is examined in this essay from a biological perspective positing that it is effectively and meaningfully used by non-human organisms and, more specifically, by plants. We set out to draw parallels between some aspects characterizing human language and the chemical communication that occurs between plants. The essay examines the similarities in ways of communicating linked to three properties of language: its combinatorial structure, meaning-making activities and the existence of dialects. In accordance with the findings of researchers who have demonstrated that plants do indeed communicate with one another and with organisms in their environment, the essay concludes with the appeal for an interdisciplinary approach conceptualizing a broader ecological definition of language and a constructive dialogue between the biological sciences and the humanities.

Cracking the code: a comparative approach to plant communication

Bonato, Bianca
;
Peressotti, Francesca;Guerra, Silvia;Wang, Qiuran;Castiello, Umberto
2021

Abstract

The linguistic behavior of humans is usually considered the point of reference for studying the origin and evolution of language. As commonly defined, language is a form of communication between human beings; many have argued that it is unique to humans as there is no apparent equivalent for it in non-human organisms. How language is used as a means of communication is examined in this essay from a biological perspective positing that it is effectively and meaningfully used by non-human organisms and, more specifically, by plants. We set out to draw parallels between some aspects characterizing human language and the chemical communication that occurs between plants. The essay examines the similarities in ways of communicating linked to three properties of language: its combinatorial structure, meaning-making activities and the existence of dialects. In accordance with the findings of researchers who have demonstrated that plants do indeed communicate with one another and with organisms in their environment, the essay concludes with the appeal for an interdisciplinary approach conceptualizing a broader ecological definition of language and a constructive dialogue between the biological sciences and the humanities.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11577/3399780
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