The Grammar of Things

history and philosophy of technology

This essay for the inaugural issue of Technology and Language programmatically proposes that “technology” and “language” are two sides of the same coin and that one cannot talk about one without the other. Everyone agrees that technology cannot be defined as the application of science to the engineering of specific devices. Instead, it includes all the ways in which homo faber has always worked to transform the naturally given world into a technosphere. And everyone agrees that language cannot be discussed without consideration of the technical media and communicative practices that make up an infosphere. And yet, our traditional ways of thinking make it difficult to treat language as a kind of technology and technology as a kind of language. Once the obstacles are removed, however, multiple research perspectives open up for linguistics, philosophy, cultural studies, and engineering. These can theoretically illuminate and practically contribute to our lives in a socio-technically multilingual world.