what is human language system

language tree

زبان مادری human language system


Human language refers to the grammar and other rules and norms that allow humans to make utterances and sounds in a way that others can understand

Notes linguist John McWhorter, an associate professor of English and comparative literature at Columbia University.

Guy Deutscher said in his seminal work, “The Unfolding of Language: An Evolutionary Tour of Mankind’s Greatest Invention,” it is “what makes us human.”

Discovering what is language, then, requires a brief look at its origins, its evolution through the centuries, and its central role in human existence and evolution.

language, a system of conventional spoken, manual (signed), or written symbols by means of which human beings,

as members of a social group and participants in its culture, express themselves.

The functions of language include communication, the expression of identity, play, imaginative expression, and emotional release.


language system tree

Definitions of language

Henry Sweet, stated: “Language is the expression of ideas by means of speech-sounds combined into words.

Words are combined into sentences, this combination answering to that of ideas into thoughts.”

The American linguists Bernard Bloch and George Trager formulated the following definition:

“It is a system of arbitrary vocal symbols by means of which a social group cooperates.”

Any succinct definition of language makes a number of presuppositions and begs a number of questions. The first, for example, puts excessive weight on “thought,” and the second uses “arbitrary” in a specialized, though legitimate, way.

A number of considerations (marked in italics below) enter into a proper understanding of itas a subject:

Every physiologically and mentally typical person acquires in childhood the ability to make use, as both sender and receiver, of a system of communication that comprises a circumscribed set of symbols (e.g., sounds, gestures, or written or typed characters).

 In spoken language, this symbol set consists of noises resulting from movements of certain organs within the throat and mouth.


In signed languages, these symbols may be hand or body movements, gestures, or facial expressions.

By using these symbols, people are able to impart information, to express feelings , to influence the activities of others,

and to comport themselves with varying degrees of friendliness or hostility toward persons who make use of substantially the same set of symbols.

final words

Yet, clearly, no one would say that they speak different languages.

Generally, systems of communication are recognized as different languages if they cannot be understood without specific learning by both parties,

though the precise limits of mutual intelligibility are hard to draw and belong on a scale rather than on either side of a definite dividing line.

Substantially different systems of communication that may impede but do not prevent mutual comprehension are called dialects of a language.

Subsequent “second” languages are learned to different degrees of competence under various conditions.

sources of this post are: britannica and thoughtco



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