The English Language
The English Language
Language is a constant. It is a component that will be forever intertwined into the fabrication of our global society. This multi-sensory means of communication, consists of not only the verbal and writing, but also touch, smell, sound, body, and gestural elements. As human beings are social animals, people have the instinct to communicate with others, to share our feelings and thoughts, and as a result, language development in each individual becomes an instinct (Pinker, 1994). Since language is the tool used for communication, Wittgenstein says, “The limits of my language are the limits of my world”. It is implied that people speak just one language and thus live in only one world, and if you are not capable of using the language, your world is narrowed. However, Einstein has an opposite opinion; he devalues the importance of language and says, “The words of a language as they are written and spoken do not seem to play any role in the mechanism of my thought.”
It is widely believed believe that language is the bridge connecting individuals and the outside world; thus, it is a crucial element of human life. Language can be inextricably tied to identity, and it can also be disentangled. In Einstein’s quote, he says that the language of speech and writing doesn’t influence his thought, because the mechanism of his thought is extraordinary. As a widely recognized great scientist, his point might be that people should think something beyond what is already written, and also, “the sum of human wisdom is not contained in any one language, and no single language is CAPABLE of expressing all forms and degrees of human comprehension.” (Ezra Pound, The ABC of Reading). With language as your tool, you are capable of exploring other worlds. Wittgenstein’s statement failed to include the fact that there are worlds formed based on different languages. It is through such language that one is either included or excluded from social groups.
Language pervades social life. It is the principal vehicle for the transmission of cultural knowledge, and the primary means by which we gain access to the contents of others’ minds. Language is implicated in most of the phenomena that lie at the core of social psychology: attitude change, social perception, personal identity, social interaction, intergroup bias and stereotyping, attribution, and so on. Just as language use pervades social life, the elements of social life constitute an intrinsic part of the way language is used. Linguists regard language as an abstract structure that exists independently of specific instances of usage (much as the calculus is a logico-mathematical structure that is independent of its application to concrete problems), but any communicative exchange is situated in a social context that constrains the linguistic forms participants use. How these participants define the social situation, their perceptions of what others know, think and believe, and the claims the make about their own and others’ identities will affect the form and content of their acts of speaking.
For present purposes, it may be more helpful to think about language as a set of complex, organized systems that operate in concert. A particular act of speaking can be examined with respect to any of these systems (G. Miller, 1975), and each level of analysis can have significance for social behaviour. For example, languages are made up of four systems—the phonological, the morphological, the syntactic, and the semantic—which, taken together, constitute its grammar. Australia is often described as one of the ‘classical countries of immigration’. The concept of being a ‘nation of immigrants’ is at the centre of Australian identity.
Australia is a unique country, and it has a long history of population growth due to immigration. Australia is a young country and has not fully developed. It is commonly called “The Land of Opportunity.” Such grammar can be exclusive to specific culture along with social purposes. Melbourne, for example, has many sub-cultures that combine to create the overwhelmingly diverse and generalized culture that defines the city as a whole. We are constantly influence through the language that other cultures have introduced into our traditional linguistics. The English Language has changed and shifted drastically form the Anglo-Saxon version to our current speech. Over time, linguistics from cultures such as French, Latin and Greek have evaded our traditional tongue, creating a new cultural identity; ever evolving and adapting to the modern world.
In the modern world, human need to belong still influences language development and identity established through such language. People are proud of their accents, dialects, and languages. It is a mark of uniqueness and simultaneously a mark of belonging and excluding. People who live in different areas are proud to speak the way they do, because they are different from the rest, but are still part of a group. Whereas, accents and dialects are marks of belonging, and something that most people are proud of, language development has been influenced by less idealistic reasons. We can see how important language is in both the purpose of communication and widening the world of an individual; it is a way of knowing.
If an individual is not capable of using a language, his world is limited yet it is reasonable to assume that the language used by most people is not always significant in mechanism of everybody’s thoughts, because somebody’s mind might work differently. Throughout history, human needs have affected their behaviour, how they lived, and how their language develops. Food, water, and a place to belong were some of the major needs to begin with, but as time went by, they were joined by other needs. Economic, political and scholarly needs also influence language development. The influence of human development and need will continue to effect language expansion, and will continue to as long as the world lasts.
University/College: University of Chicago
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 8 January 2017
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