Welcome to the DLG


A Distributed Community

Human cognitive and communicative abilities arise as we do things together while, at times, drawing on linguistic resources. Language activity is thus constrained by biology, circumstances and collective ways of life. While bodies sustain social coordination, our lived realities are extended by the resources of a partly shared collective world. Thus, language is inseparable from the artifacts, institutions and behaviour used by humans who undertake complex tasks. This distributed perspective challenges the mainstream view that what we do with language can be explained by individual competencies or microsocial rules. To ascribe ‘language’ to individual organisms is, we believe, an error. Building on cognitive science, the distributed perspective challenges cognitive centralism by presenting language as a prime case of embodied and culturally embedded cognition. We concur that people, mind and society depend on the heterogeneity of human languaging.

The DLG is geographically distributed and embraces varying beliefs and expertise. Our shared goal is that of transforming the language sciences by replacing linguistic ‘schools’ with a new perspective on language. Since our beginnings at a 2005 conference on the cognitive dynamics of language in Cambridge, we have come to number about 120 members. Most of us are scholars who work in disciplines that include cognitive science, linguistics, phonetics, psychology, philosophy, sociology and biology. In pursuing the distributed perspective, we have organized more than a dozen academic meetings and, drawing on these, many publications. If you are interested in becoming part of the self-organizing DLG community, the first step is to e-mail Stephen Cowley.


Speaking, writing and Learning: languaging and cognitive dynamics

When languaging, living bodies sustain very different cognitive dynamics. When conversing, we coordinate our activities as we pursue shared and individual goods. We both interact and co-act, and we depend on our caring for each other and the projects we engage in. Given human biology and cognitive dynamics, semiosis colours experience: people live meaning (and words) as they link circumstances with patterns that evoke response. From a distributed perspective, language impacts deeply on health, education and eco-systems. To rethink how human life draws on languaging alters how you think and act. We offer much to teachers, health professionals and others for whom language is central to their professional and personal lives. Therefore, this page introduces ecological, dialogical and distributed ideas in a more interactive fashion. You can also learn more from our publications or by looking at our position statement.



The Distributed Language Group (DLG) is a community of scholars and researchers at many universities, in many countries, brought together by an interest in studying language from a distributed perspective (link to position statement):


Here you can find information about the members of the DLG, as well as about our ongoing research projects and the shared interests that bring us together.