The problem with your question is that you use the word "precede", which on first reading suggests that you are looking for some evolutionary story. There is one sub-area of linguistics that speculates about the pre-history of language. My own speculation (the antithesis of Chomsky's) is that the crucial evolutionary spark was developing refined volitional control over articulatory muscles. Then we figured out what to do with it.
Alternative, you might be asking about domains of study that "logically precede" language, or which language depends on. That would be the areas of epistemology in philosophy, from a cognitivist perspective. It is part of the classical question of the nature of knowledge: what is a concept, and how is it different from a word? What is a proposition, and how is it different from a sentence? Cognitive psychology becomes important in guiding you towards a specific epistemology, since certain trends (the Fregean stream of thinking) tend towards an abstract mathematical characterization of concepts and propositions. Lakoff and Johnson are examples of cognitively-oriented theorizing about concepts and propositions.
There is unfortunately a widespread tendency for people to think that there is an underlying (universal) "language of thought" and natural language is a translation device from LOT to real language. I have never seen a palatable argument for such a hidden "language". This article gives a good introduction to that idea (advanced by Fodor, most prominently). The main problem that I see with Mentalese is the lack of a plausible set of representational primitives, given the known facts about syntax and semantics across languages.