So far in this chapter we have emphasized two main points:
- Meaning arises in listening to the commitment expressed in speech acts.
- The articulation of content – how we talk about the world – emerges in recurrent patterns of breakdown and the potential for discourse about grounding.
From these points, we are led to a more radical recognition about language and existence: Nothing exists except through language.
We must be careful in our understanding. We are not advocating a linguistic solipsism that denies our embedding in a world outside of our speaking. What is crucial is the nature of ‘existing.’ In saying that some ‘thing’ exists (or that it has some property), we have brought it into a domain of articulated objects and qualities that exists in language and through the structure of language, constrained by our potential for action in the world.
– Terry Winograd and Fernando Flores, Understanding Computers and Cognition: A New Foundation for Design (Boston: Addison-Wesley, 2000 [first published Norwood, NJ: Ablex Corporation, 1986), pp. 68-69