Deacon argues that no matter how abstract a symbol becomes, it is still grounded in physical reality because it refers to "indexical" words -- words we use to point directly to objects in the real world. That limits the number of relationships it can have with other symbol words. In turn, this defines the grammatical structure that emerges from stringing words together.
If that is true, then in the distant future it might be possible to invent a gadget that uses complex software to decode alien languages on the spot, Deacon said.
What if William Burroughs was right and language is an organism independent of the human nervous system? What if we're merely hosts?
Lately I've been almost painfully aware of thinking in words. How strange consciousness must have been before the invention of language; indeed, there's a theory that humans were effectively self-less zombies until the advent of words. Maybe we exist in a symbiotic relationship with the Word Virus, in which case my fear is that we've allowed language to eclipse more intuitive methods of imparting and extracting information. Nick Herbert's rather romantic notion of "quantum tantra" would seem to be an alternative worth investigating . . .