Coordination in language: Temporality and time-ranging.

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    Temporality underpins how living systems coordinate and function. Unlike measures that use mathematical conventions, lived temporalities grant functional cohesion to organisms-in-the-world. In foxtail grasses, for example, self-maintenance meshes endogenous processes with exogenous rhythms. In embrained animals, temporalities can contribute to learning. And cowbirds coordinate in a soundscape that includes conspecifics: social learning allows them to connect copulating with past events such that females exert 'long-distance' control over male singing. Using Howard Pattee's work, we compare the foxtail's self-maintenance, gender-based cowbird learning and how humans manage multi-scalar activity. We argue that, while all living things coordinate, temporal ranging is typical of vertebrates. As primates, humans too use temporal ranging - they can draw on social learning, anticipate winter and manage coordinated action. However language behaviour (or languaging) grants new control over the scales of time. People connect the impersonal to lived experience in narratives, as they draw on autobiography and enact cultural practices. Humans become singular individuals who use temporal experience to manage affect, relationships, beliefs, fictions, and knowledge. Individual subjectivity permits collaborative and competitive activity based on linking events with quite different histories. As a result, alone of the vertebrates, we claim that humans become time-rangers.

    Original languageEnglish
    JournalInteraction Studies
    Issue number3
    Pages (from-to)474-494
    Publication statusPublished - 2015


    • Distributed language
    • Ecological psychology
    • Interactivity
    • Social interaction
    • Temporality
    • Time


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