What is language

What is language

Hey guys! It's me, Tim. Have you ever thought about what language actually is? How do you actually think about language, if not with language? Can we live without language? And if so, could we live with others or do we have to be alone? For a big question like "What is language?" of course, there cannot be just one “correct” answer. Everyone always thinks a little differently about what language means to them and why it is important. I am going to introduce you to a few approaches, all of which come from different disciplines such as anthropology, neurology, linguistics, rhetoric and psychology.

What is the difference between humans and animals? Anthropology claims that this is due to the unique language ability of humans: No other species has been able to develop such a delicate system for communicating with its conspecifics. As early as infancy, people begin to imitate older people, to imitate their sounds, in order to gradually learn the complex system of human language. So language is a natural ability. In addition, there is the amazing diversity of human language: there are more than 6500 languages ​​on earth, each one with its own grammar and vocabulary.

Grammar and vocabulary are integral parts of every language: grammar is the set of rules of the language that creates order between the individual words. The vocabulary defines the sound and the sign of the language. So language is what linguistics studies: an ordered system of characters, ordered by grammar and vocabulary. Every word is a sign that refers to something else: it interprets and therefore has a meaning; it makes sense as it indicates something sensual. The symbol stands for a real object of which we have an idea in our head. The order of grammar and vocabulary is by no means fixed: languages ​​are constantly changing, they take on new terms, forget outdated ones, even forget themselves until no one remembers them anymore. Some people, like Shakespeare, were so influential in their use of language that they were able to change the language permanently, for example by branding new words and phrases in the collective memory of their fellow citizens.

Language is so important because we “civilized” people today communicate primarily with language: In addition to everyday dialogues with family, friends, at work, school and leisure, we not only exchange news via constantly present media, but also solve them nowadays many conflicts with language, which tended not to be the case in the past. Other, extra-linguistic means of communication are of course indispensable: Without gestures, facial expressions and intonation, language is a lot more difficult to understand; Without other systems of signs such as music, visual art, but also physical cultures such as sport, our life would be many times poorer. We even communicate and understand each other about eating and drinking. However, anyone who has ever been abroad where no one speaks their language will have noticed that without language, every little thing is a time-consuming, nerve-wracking undertaking. So language is our most important means of communication! It is not for nothing that it is said: Knowledge is power. And: the pen defeats the sword. Those who are gifted with rhetoric and can express themselves well can talk about their minds and intellect and so dizzy that the other no longer notices their dizziness: Those who are good at rhetoric and can speak well have the power to over- talk. Language therefore not only transmits the pure information: It goes through the will of the people and is falsified and falsified along the way, so that it only hits the post of truth. So be careful: if you talk and find an ear, you have power, you can influence and use others.

Physiologically, language is understood as the ability to produce and receive utterances. Phonetics as the theory of sounds in speaking examines how language is created in our vocal cords, mouths, noses and many other organs. The African Khoisan languages, for example, generate their language through clicks that cannot be found in our Indo-European phonetics.

However, these click languages ​​have exactly the same important function as our language: They organize our thinking. Neurology even maintains that one could not think without language, or, to put it another way, the more complex and sophisticated a language, the more extensive the thinking ability. Because through language we categorize and classify our environment and the sensory impressions that flow on us by throwing the objects under the yoke of concepts, clamping them into our language system and thus being able to establish relationships: The concepts “tree” and “apple” create a context clear picture for most Germans. However, it should be clear to everyone that animals can also speak and think, even if we then - with great sensitivity - would call them “grunts” or “croaks”. In my estimation, however, one can say one thing: The elaborate language ability of people is the cause and effect of their large head as well as their arrogance and arrogance towards their non-human roommates.

On the other hand, I don't want to deny that most people find it more difficult to communicate with animals than with humans. We use language to convey impressions, information and wishes to others. This is how we can get them to act and create social interaction. With warnings we usually cause a feeling of alertness in the other, with declarations of love we trigger a feeling of happiness in the other at best - accompanied by a fast heartbeat, sweating, adrenaline and everything the body has to offer. Linguistics differentiate language into artificial and natural languages. Artificial languages ​​are languages ​​that people have thought up for some purpose. This includes, for example, the programming languages ​​in which our computers “think” and speak, but also human languages ​​such as Esperanto, a language influenced by various European languages, with its own grammar and vocabulary, constructed as a neutral, international language, i.e. with the same function as nowadays English. Natural languages, on the other hand, are all human and animal language systems that were not consciously created, but developed evolutionarily.

What else distinguishes language? Language and speaking - it sounds as if they necessarily belong together. But language can also be written. Like artificial languages, writing was invented sometime around 6000 years ago. However, it has developed so much since then that it is now much more complex than spoken language. And it has to be: We owe to the writing for the most part the transmission of knowledge that has brought us so far. The first writings can always be found where an early high culture developed, such as the Egyptians, the Chinese, the Maya and the Sumerians.

Language, words, rules, knowledge I would miss language very much: So what is language? It is - a complex system of signs, with grammar and vocabulary - the most important means of communication of humans - indispensable for thinking and acting: language orders our world - the decisive factor of social interaction: through language we live and survive together natural languages, and huge differences between spoken and written language. That's it again! Honor language! I say ciao and c ya!