Abstract: Confusions about the nature of symbolic reference are at the core of two major challenges to understanding human language. A failure to take into account the complex iconic and indexical infrastructure of symbolic interpretation processes has blocked progress in the study of language structure, language evolution, neural processing of language, and language acquisition. Simplistic notions of symbolic interpretation are critiqued, the semiotic infrastructure of symbolic interpretive processes is described, and some implication for understanding the universals of grammar and syntax are explored. Finally, the evolutionary problem of language origins is re-examined and an unexpected important role for relaxation of selection is demonstrated.

PDF: BeyondSymbolicSpeciesProof