Language is one of those things that you can’t go around without complicating everything. It is the ultimate topic for the long and winding going-nowhere discussions filled with truisms and obvious arguments. Nevertheless, it is important to understand why language matters and what role it plays in the foundation of society.
Origin of Language
Human being tends to socialize. The ability to communicate with its peers for certain purposes is one of the fundamental characteristics of mankind. The quality and quantity of communication is something that differentiates us from other mammals. In order to understand one another in the most effective way – mankind had moved to produce complex, multi-layered systems of language – each serving its own purpose, each being vital to the further progress.
Charles Winick defines language as a system of arbitrary vocal symbols – used to express thoughts and feelings thus enabling the members of a social group to interact and co-operate. Why language happened in the first place? As the old saying goes Necessity is the mother of invention. Desire for communication is the reason. Willingness to satisfy the needs of everyday life leads to the commitment to express ones’ thoughts to one another.
Basically, language is used for such things as:
- to inform;
- to persuade;
- to query;
- to express emotions;
- to transmit complex ideas and data;
- to transcend beyond casual meaning as in verse.
There are several factors that can be counted as critical to the inception of language in its modern concept. Language is a social creation – the one that to the formation and solidifying of a human community as the whole band together with interest of survival and evolution. It is informed by unwritten laws that are regulated by the needs of the greater good of developing society.
Linguist William Whitney considered that conception of language was a mere incident of social life and cultural growth. As he wrote in his studies It is as great an error to hold that at some period men are engaged in making and laying up expressions for their own future use and that of their descendants, as that, at another period, succession shall find expression. Each period provides just what it has occasion for, nothing more. The production of language is a continuous process; it varies in rate and kind with the circumstances and habits of the speaking community, but it never ceases; there was never a time when it was more truly going than at present.
Importance of Language
Language is one of the organizing factors of the human beings. It is the main difference of mankind from animals. While animals possess some form of language – it should be noted that it is nowhere near as complex and all-reaching diversity as any of the human languages. Language is the foundation of human civilization. It is what characterizes the man. Language raised mankind from a gleeful savage state into highly evolved dominant species it is today. In many ways language is the transcending matter that furthers human understanding – it draws things into the reach of human mind. Language is not only a mean of communication – it also a way of representing and expressing the personality of the one who utilizes it.
The importance of language can be described in three elements.
- Social contactLanguage makes connections go smooth and steady. Society is built upon understanding each other, thus language is the glue that keeps that complex mechanism together without falling apart.Language helps individual to establish himself in the social group by interacting with its members, exchanging the information and cooperating in a variety of different ways.
- Carrier of the cultureGeneral consensus defines culture as the result of accumulation of attitudes, knowledge, things, ideas, mistakes, misunderstandings and prejudices processed over time. It is the direct result of mankind’s rise from a savage state to the evolved society. Language helps to spread the culture inside the society.Language can be used as a tool to impose rules and regulations unto members of the social groups. It helps to express certain concepts in a digestible way so that anyone can appreciate and elaborately work upon them. Ideas can be expressed and evolved through language.Vocabulary is a constant state of evolution due to exchange of words and concepts between languages. Some languages have terms for certain concepts while other languages borrow these words to represent other ideas. Language conserves and preserves culture within the bearer of the language.
- Language as a space for conveyance of ideas
Earliest forms of language consisted of signs and cries with no generally agreed uniformity. It made the communication a tough thing to do. Over time some kind of order started to appear and thus the society started to evolve.
Language has an unlimited capacity of conveying ideas on any given subject in any given form. In that way language is a tool that can make something out of nothing. Language helps to express ideas – get them understandable clearly and easy to follow.
Language turned man from a savage blocky brute into a higher being able to transcend and go beyond what is imaginable. Needless to say that without language mankind will quickly devolve into an animal state. What is your opinion on language? Do you have any thoughts? Share them in the comments.