IS OS ALPHA SYMBOLIC OR LINGUISTIC?? The problem of deducing whether language precedes symbolic thought or vice versa is an important one because which one is true draws an important distinction in studying Universal Grammar. If language leads to symbolic thought/cognition, we can say all symbolic representation is a language and we can identify all the rules of those languages, much like we have with language in the study of linguistics. In essence, symbolic thought is the realization of language, and the features of Universal Grammar in language, as well as other linguistic principles, can be applied to symbolic thought. However, if the opposite is true, if symbolic cognition is what leads to the capacity for language, then language is just one extension of symbolic thought. The Rosetta Stone for Universal Grammar and language is in discovering the Universal Grammar and principles of symbolic thought. What do other manifestations of symbolic cognition look like? What would our language be like if we did not develop the physiological adaptations for verbal language, or even physical/visual patterns of language? Is there something other than language that symbolic cognition can produce?
These questions grow in complexity with an interesting distinction between two word classes that can be extracted from the Radford reading. Content categories represent ideas, objects, actions – things with a direct correlation with signs. Functional categories are a way of shaping those signs – a meta-analysis of what is possible in the content categories. If language precedes symbolic cognition, then these features are a clue to discovering the abstraction of stored knowledge, a “gist” of information we collect. However, if symbolic cognition precedes language, these features are inferences of the abstract ideas stored in our brains. The answer, as with Deacon’s argument of co-evolutionary adaptations, could be somewhere in the middle.