The Use of a Language
- THE USE OF A LANGUAGE
The use of language is commonplace in the world today, and has been since the dawn of recorded time. We take our use of language for granted; it is something that occurs naturally to us. Why do we use language? Is the spoken word the only type of language that we as human use? And is language and communication limited to humans, or do animals use language as we humans do? An examination of these questions may help to dispel some of our ideas and conceptions of how we communicate with the world around us.
Why do we use language?
The why and the how of language use has been mulled over by linguists throughout the centuries. Language is used to dispense information, give commands, express emotional feelings and responses, social conversing, word play and poetry, and to talk about language. These seem to the primary uses. Charles Darwin suggested that language evolved from enabling of "thought" that transcended from the calls and cried of animals to the discovery of the ability to use on vocal organs as a means of conveying wants and needs and ideas as man's grasp of the world around him grew and made communication increasingly needed.
The role of language can perhaps be summed up in three subheadings:
a.. Interpersonal communication: Can be classed as verbal and non-verbal language, communication between a mother and her baby as well as other classifications. It can be affected by gender, emotional and geographic origins. Often defined as unintentional and intentional linguistics.
b.. Language within a person: This embodies such aspects of humanity as thought, rationalization, creativity, memory, self direction and expression and humor.
c.. Language and society: formed on the building blocks of the other subheadings, this is how we define our place in the world. Our culture and believe structures are directly formed and enhanced by language of ourselves and those around us.
What is clear is language cannot be traced to any one event or person. There is no set or universally accepted definition of language. Nature has given most species the ability to communicate, and most of these abilities are unique to the given species. The purpose of communication is the preservation, growth, development of the species. Information exchange is apparent in all species forms of communication. Many species show and share some of the features that characterize human language. But most interesting there is one tantalizing morsel of information that most scholars tend to agree upon. The marked separation of human and non-human communication seems to hinge upon the behavioral system of the various species. It is agreed that animals react instinctively, whereas humans react voluntarily. It is generally taken as a given that only humans have language.
All animals, including humans, engage in various forms of social communication. All species share in basic functions, not including the advantage that spoken language may provide humans. It is this supposed difference that separates us as humans from the "animals of the jungle". However, the example of the longevity of chimpanzees as a species would be able to 'speak in human terms' indicates the need for spoken language is not a criterion for survival in animals that are so similar to humans.
We use language to communicate ideas and express feelings. We use it to describe the world around us and how we perceive it. We learn to communicate as our bodies mature. We learn many ways to say the same word, but to make it have many different meanings and contexts.
But to say that we as human beings are the only species to be able to communicate is absurd. Every species has the ability to communicate, and it is only human arrogance that has determined that ours is the only true language, simply based in what we have ascertained is cognitive thought. We are limited in our realization that we are only one of many species, and that perhaps it is safer to think that because we cant understand what an animal thinks, then there is no way that can be as smart as we think we are.
Marc M. Mangalindan
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