In discussing the book by K. David Harrison called When Languages Die, Michael Erard at Design Observer says languages are design objects, pointing out that they serve to encode valuable information in the same way design does, by building an effective representational system. This suggestion about the efficiency of language appeals to me:
Butwhat caught my eye was this claim by Harrison: 'Languages can package knowledge in radically different ways, thus facilitating different ways of conceptualizing, naming, and discussing the world.' Elsewhere he calls languages 'packaged information.' In systems of kinship terms, for instance, which vary dramatically among different cultures, each one is 'the result is a highly compact, highly efficient system of knowledge that packs multiple bits of information into small spaces.'
Reading the post, I thought of Jaron Lanier's notion that language would be transcended, which he expressed in response to the question "What are You Optimistic About?" at the Edge.
One extravagant idea is that the nature of communication itself might transform in the future as much as it did when language appeared. This is not easy to imagine, but here's one approach to thinking about it: I've been fascinated by the potential for 'Post-symbolic Communication' for many years.
If one accepts the idea that spoken languages are abstractions of detailed local knowledge, what will post-symbolic languages express? What will they reference?