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Role of language in the creation of meaning essay

University of North Florida What is language? But much of what we learn about language in schools belongs more to a folk model than to an analytic model of language.

Here are several pervasive aspects of our folk model of language.

Language is a communication system. It is true that we use language to communicate with others. However, language is much more than a communication system. The most recent thinking about the nature of language suggests that language is first and foremost a representational system; a system which provides us with the symbols we need to model for ourselves, to ourselves, inside our heads, the universe around us.

This modeling, carried out using the symbols "words" provided by language, is commonly called "thinking. Primitive people speak primitive languages. We know, from anthropological research, that there are no primitive people on Earth today; indeed, it may be that the "Neandertals" were the last truly primitive people. And, there are role of language in the creation of meaning essay primitive languages, either.

Even languages that have been reconstructed, such as Proto-Indoeuropean the parent language of most European languages as well as Persian, Hindi, etc. Some languages are "harder" than others. While languages differ from one another in just which parts are simple and which are complex, all languages seem to be about equally complex or difficult to learn in their totality.

For example, if we compare English and Russian we find that English nouns are relatively simple, while verbs are rather complex; in Russian, the nouns are hard and verbs are relatively simple. If we ask a naive English speaker how many vowels English has, the answer is usually "five".

This is because we tend to interpret any question about language as a question about the writing system. The English alphabet has 5 symbols that are normally used for the representation of vowels. But the English language has between 10 and 12 basic vowel sounds; this is the answer the linguist is interested in. Language is first and foremost oral; speech as a means of communication has been around for perhaps 200,000 years or more, while writing has existed for only about 6,000 as far as we know.

Many languages, including many Native American languages as well as most of the creole languages of the Caribbean, exist without a written tradition. This in no way diminishes their language-ness.

  1. These sorts of changes, and others, are still going on in English even as we speak. This modeling, carried out using the symbols "words" provided by language, is commonly called "thinking.
  2. It is this last domain, the lexicon, that forms much of the subject matter of semantics. Probably the man had to undergo the same labour in learning the speech which a child has now to undergo in learning its mother-tongue with this difference that primitive man was a grown child who painfully elaborated a language for himself whereas the individual child has but to acquire a language already formed.
  3. In spoken language , this symbol set consists of noises resulting from movements of certain organs within the throat and mouth. Language interacts with every aspect of human life in society, and it can be understood only if it is considered in relation to society.
  4. Speakers of a language have to know what the distinctive sounds of their language are. Grammatical forms and grammatical structures are part of the communicative apparatus of languages, and along with vocabulary , or lexicon the stock of individual words in a language , they serve to express all the meanings required.
  5. Spoken language makes use of a very wide range of the articulations and resultant sounds that are available within the human vocal and auditory resources.

Grammar is a set of prescriptive rules. When we think of grammar, we tend to think of the sorts of rules drilled into us by our language arts and English teachers: We follow most of these rules unconsciously. In most cases no-one ever teaches them to us see below ; and, in most cases, we cannot articulate them. We "know how" to use our language, but we don't typically "know why.

This ain't no joke. The prescriptive rule mentioned above, about not using double negatives, was created by Bishop Robert Lowth in 1762 in England. The idea was to make English more like formal mathematical logic, role of language in the creation of meaning essay thus improve the thinking of English speakers.

But this was not a descriptive rule for English; English has always used double negatives, as this sentence from the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles written in the time of Alfred the Great illustrates: Note the Spanish and Russian expressions for I don't see anything.

Ya ne vizhu nichevo. These are the normal, indeed the only, way of expressing this in Spanish and Russian. If language worked like formal logic, Spanish and Russian speakers would be suffering from a permament case of illogic. Since speakers of Spanish and Russian appear to be normal human beings, we have to conclude that language does not obey the rules of formal logic.

Thus, the rule against double negatives formulated by Bishop Lowth is not a grammar rule, but rather a social rule having to do with what he considered to be the acceptable use of English. Language is pure and unchanging.

As a conservative society heavily focused on written, rather than oral, forms of language, we tend to think that change, in language as in many other things, is bad. A whole industry of language "experts" such as Edwin Newman and William Safire regularly rant and rave against whatever shift in meaning or usage is current.

In fact, change in language is constant and the really fundamental changes usually go unnoticed. For example, between Middle and Modern English many English vowels changed their pronunciation, so that words like "house" and "wife", today pronounced [haws] and [wayf], were pronounced as [hu: These sorts of changes, and others, are still going on in English even as we speak.

An analytic model of language A language is a representational system composed of a set of oral or, in the case of the hearing impaired, signed symbols shared by the members of a social group, and a computational system or grammar for combining the symbols into phrases and sentences.

People use language for internal representation thinking and for external representation communicating. For linguists, the "grammar" of a language is what the native speakers of the language know about their language. Some of the things speakers of a language need to "know" in order to speak a language are: Speakers of a language have to know what the distinctive sounds of their language are.

Speakers need to know how to combine the sounds of their language into meaningful units: For example, English speakers "know" how to form the plural of words like cat, dog, and bush by adding the appropriate suffix to form cat[s], dog[z], and bush[iz]. Speakers have to know how to combine their words into meaningful sentences that call attention to something and then provide information about it.

Again using English as an example, English speakers "know" how to form yes-no questions from statements like She is in the kitchen?

Speakers must know the meaning of the words they use. Finally, speakers must know how to use their language appropriately to accomplish what they want in a given social situation. Perhaps the most compelling evidence for this can be found in the area of children's acquisition of language.

Language and its Importance to Society | Essay

All normal human children, everywhere, acquire the language of their social setting at about the same pace and in the same way. These differences do not seem to affect the rate or quality of children's acquisition of language; in a sense, children acquire language in much the same way as they acquire the skill of walking.

However, children who are isolated, for some reason, from all forms of linguistic interaction do not acquire language, and if they reach puberty without exposure to language they may never be able to acquire more than a very rudimentary linguistic ability. By the time they are around 3-4 years of age, children have mastered some of the most complex and subtle rules of their language, rules which no teacher of language could ever teach them.

Of course, they still have lots of vocabulary to learn, as well as some of the pragmatic rules of language use in different social situations, and they have to learn to read and write.

While the underlying shape of language is biological, any given language itself is a cultural artifact. The best way to illustrate this is to take the words for the domesticated animal which English speakers refer to as a dog. All languages have a word for this animal; no language has a word for "half-a-dog.

At the same time, though, the words we find in different languages are as different as dog English ; perro Spanish ; anu Aymara ; kelb Arabic ; sobaka Russian. None of these words has a privileged connection to the animal itself. Each is an arbitrary but conventional answer to the problem of naming these familiar domesticated animals.