The Role of Language in the Coordination of Our Lives
Language is often seen as fundamental to human life, as without it, complex communication is practically impossible. However, it is the product and expression of the high coordination exhibited by humanity rather than a prerequisite for it. Language is only meaningful as long as there is a consensus on what each visual or phonetic form that constitutes it means. However, people may succeed in reaching limited communication without this shared understanding, such as in cases where they speak different languages. It is this ability to understand each other and express basic meanings that preclude the emergence of language.
The role of language as an expression of coordination and shared knowledge also serves to deny its definition as solely phonetic or verbal in nature. It incorporates all parts of the lived experience within a group and categorizes them using specific and tightly constrained linguistic tools. Per Dove, language begins with movements and moves toward speech as people relate their experience to the more impersonal matter of a general understanding. As such, it is incapable of expressing events or intentions perfectly, but it is sufficiently general that a broad group can obtain a basic understanding of the meaning.
For this reason, language has emerged among humans as large groups congregated and found a need to coordinate their actions. People that are close to each can often communicate without the need for verbal utterances. However, in groups where such a degree of understanding is impossible for every member, the need for a formalized system of communication emerges. Over time, language has become the central form of communication and coordination as the number of people multiplied. However, it is essential to understand its origins and limitations for effective communication.