Breaking the Silence - Language and the Making of Meaning in Plants

Monica Gagliano, Mavra Grimonprez

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    6 Citations (Scopus)


    © Copyright 2015, Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. Language is often considered a key feature of being human, and human linguistic behavior has been adopted as the universal template for studying the nature of language and its evolution. Yet it is not always clear what "language" actually is, and the lack of definition calls into question the notion that human language is unique because it has no equivalent in any nonhuman species. We ask whether the use of language is truly an activity, a form of behavior, which makes us so unique and unlike other species. We tackle this question by examining language from an ecological perspective and then considering language from a wider biological viewpoint, one that enables us to explore language as a meaning-making activity at the core of every form of life, including plants. We examine how innovative philosophical thinking and scientific research similarly call into question the current limits of language in describing the botanical world and human-plant dynamics. By providing an overview of the most recent empirically grounded advances in our understanding of the "language" of others, and particularly plants, we propose that the nonhuman world is not lacking in language the way we think it is. Ultimately, the overall aim is to invite the emergence of a new truly interdisciplinary dialogue to inspire novel approaches in further philosophical and scientific investigations, where language and its power are re-focused toward conceptualizing a more integrated perception of the world.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)145-152
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 2015

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