Could a technological society develop without language?

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Reading @Montero post on elephant communication, reminded me of problem I have in an unfinished novel idea. Namely:
How can a species develop a technological society without language?
It is trickier than you might at first think.
Ants nest or herd behaviour is one thing, wired in, but a developing a techno culture something else.
 
Language is simply a system of communication. We use words because we have vocal cords, but there are many other ways.
 
Well as is it still represents words. Though drawing may offer a way to communicate novel ideas? Pictograms being a possibility, I don't know enough about pictograms to know where they sit in the pictures vs words venn diagram. Do they represent words or simply things directly?
 
The problem is, for technology to advance there has to be an exchange of ideas, without a form of language is it possible to formulate an idea let alone exchange it?
 
The problem is, for technology to advance there has to be an exchange of ideas, without a form of language is it possible to formulate an idea let alone exchange it?
And that is precisely the problem @Vladd67 :unsure:
So if a technological (for our purposes spacefaring) species is only possible if it first evolves speech centres and sophisticated language then that could be why we seem to be alone here.
 
On the contrary, almost nothing about language lends itself to technology. Most of our language is dedicated to social interaction, and only by the use of referential language (foot pound) are we able to use language to communicate anything of the the experiential types of information necessary to interact with the physical world.

Consider what would be necessary to teach someone how to fix a bicycle with only text if that person had never seen a bicycle, screw driver, gear train, etc. The text would need to make analogy on top of analogy until the reader was taken back to a point of some sort of universal reference - like how their hands look and work. It would be an enormous undertaking. Now consider how quickly you could show someone who doesn't speak the same language how to fix a bike.

Technology is not verbal. It is acquired sensorially, and developed via non-verbal reasoning. No one made a better electric motor because they wrote down the problem really well and then rearranged the words until the solution was obvious.



For us, language is our social glue, and that's about it.
 
Showing alone will not work. I think the two (showing and talking about things) go hand in hand. I can show someone how to fix a bicycle - assuming the other knows what a bicycle is and does, what its possible applications are and why it needs the parts the bicycle consists of - without any verbal explaining of the how and why of what you are doing it would become a tiresome exercise.
A mute species (or deaf) will have a hard time surviving anyway.
 
Showing alone will not work. I think the two (showing and talking about things) go hand in hand. I can show someone how to fix a bicycle - assuming the other knows what a bicycle is and does, what its possible applications are and why it needs the parts the bicycle consists of - without any verbal explaining of the how and why of what you are doing it would become a tiresome exercise.
A mute species (or deaf) will have a hard time surviving anyway.
Mute species are the norm. Chimps and crows show each other how to use tools without a technical language.

What we use language for is to teach technology, but we use it to refer to other sets of already acquired knowledge. You can't do math with language. You can't teach a skill like throwing with language. Those mental processes don't take place in the verbal parts of the brain.


Clearly not having language is an impediment to all sorts of things including sharing and developing technology. But the basic work of inventing or copying technology is non-verbal. We use a mix of both, but if I had to choose teaching bicycle maintenance to a newbie via text or demonstration, the second would take one tenth the time.
 
Perhaps an illustration of what might happen without a language lies here on Earth. There are some people unfortunate enough to be born both deaf and blind and yet methods of communication have been formulated to help them get through life. Their language is tactile.


I believe that any civilisation seeking to advance will find a way to develop a language most suited to their own needs.
 
Perhaps an illustration of what might happen without a language lies here on Earth. There are some people unfortunate enough to be born both deaf and blind and yet methods of communication have been formulated to help them get through life. Their language is tactile.


I believe that any civilisation seeking to advance will find a way to develop a language most suited to their own needs.
That doesn't really demonstrate a lack of language, but that people with a lack of certain senses can find other ways of using their tremendous language ability.

Aliens without language probably don't have brains with enormous language centers sitting idle.
 
Years ago I read a novel where communication was done through movement (think dancing) and the assumption was, although it was never really spelled out, that they achieved space travel sans a "real" language.

I didn't buy the idea.
 
Years ago I read a novel where communication was done through movement (think dancing) and the assumption was, although it was never really spelled out, that they achieved space travel sans a "real" language.

I didn't buy the idea.
So deaf people using ASL couldn't develop technology with their non-"real" language?
 
Reading @Montero post on elephant communication, reminded me of problem I have in an unfinished novel idea. Namely:
How can a species develop a technological society without language?
It is trickier than you might at first think.
Ants nest or herd behaviour is one thing, wired in, but a developing a techno culture something else.
In the first instance I don't see how a species can develop technology without language. You need language be it verbal, visual or maybe even aromatic, to exchange ideas beyond the most basic hit-a-shell-with-a-rock type and even then you might have some means of signing or saying "not that rock the other one".
However many animals come into this world ready supplied with instincts that help them survive. An alien species that transmits whole libraries of knowledge via some advanced form of instinct would be interesting. Imagine beinng born with an instinctive knowledge of how to build a space ship from scratch.

Incidently I heard a radio programme recently where deaf children in Nigeria had developed their own language. Nearly all of them had been isolated but a change of regime meant they could go to school. Once they were able to interact with other children they soon formed ways of communicating but was was interesting was that the younger children watched the older children and developed the language even further adding grammer, syntax and past perfect, past imperfect etc.
 
So deaf people using ASL couldn't develop technology with their non-"real" language?
Most definitely they could develop technology. "We" were answering back with dancing which I can find evocative but have never thought of as informative. But put the way you put it, puts the whole idea in a different light for me.
 
Thinking about a friend who started training as a tailor, and then did a fashion degree. She was required to produce mood boards, designs on paper and then the garment itself. She didn't think that way, and started by draping cloth over a convenient obliging friend, and would work out her design to suit how the cloth moved and folded, then build the garment, then do the mood board last as she'd loose marks if she didn't. I think that people with a certain innate skill could potentially work together on some tasks, without having a spoken language in common, but with having an understanding of how materials work. Working out what the end common goal is, without spoken language, could be pretty tricky though. Drawings might do some of it.......
 

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