In a view of language as part of embodied and situated cognition, reduction of its meaning to individual mental representations ceases to be sufficient. Language relies on and at the same time enables distributed cognition thus the key aspects of meaning are in the interaction of individuals within their world. This special issue is an outcome of a workshop, which gathered representatives of several disciplines in a common effort to find appropriate theoretical concepts for the characterization of those aspects of meaning that lie in the mutual constraining between language and collective practice. The emerging picture is complex, involving multimodal participatory construction of meaning in multiple systems and on multiple timescales. The Authors, however propose also several innovative methods to navigate this complexity. In this short introduction we aim at placing the works contained in this issue on a broader map of ongoing efforts to understand language as a proper part of human ecology.