Language Is Communication Essay, Research Paper
When we think of an intelligent being we think of someone like us, a creature that is able to think and communicate effectively . Communication or language is a process every child learns from birth, and we continue to use it until our death. The structure of our language gives us the ability for abstract thinking. Because of this we are able to expand our knowledge and evolve as a society.
Language is a system of terms that are used in a particular manner and carry a particular meaning. The building blocks of language are words, each one carries a meaning which Langer describes in her essay Language and thought as having symbolic significance. Symbols and signs are the words of the language, where symbols can trigger a particular thought and not just a mere announcement of an object as signs do. This symbolic expression allows us to think outside of our immediate stimuli, and this is ? a tangent that takes us far away from the mere biological cycle that animal generations accomplish.?(Langer 27). This gives us the ability to think of the past, the present and most importantly the ability to dream.
So if symbolic meaning of words is what makes language, how did it evolve? One theory is that language evolved from signs, which are used by animals. In her essay Langer discards this theory on the basis of language being ?symbolic, not signific?(29). This makes sense because we use language to hold ideas and important events in our mind. At the same time symbols can be an extension of signs combined with more evolved thinking. As the debate over development of language continues one thing we know foe sure, language is an ever evolving process, ?Languages are not invented; they grow with our need for expression?(Langer 30).
With human evolution, a need for language and communication has become as Langer calls it an ?organic need.? This suggests that communication is vital to man just as water or food. In an essay A Word for Everything written by Helen Keller she describes her experiences as being deaf and blind child trying to understand language and communication. After she learns that words have meaning and symbolic messages she is able to use language not only to communicate her ideas but also to expand her knowledge, ? I learned more words, my field of inquiry broadened, and I would return again and again to the same subject eager for further information?(Keller 59). As she learns the basic concept of language she is able to experience scholarship that helps her become an intelligent person.
Malcolm X describes how his knowledge and intellect was expanded through his studies of language in his essay Homemade Education. When imprisoned in jail he feels a need to be able to express himself better and more accurately, so he studies the language by memorizing words and their meanings from a dictionary. Just like Keller through language he is able to broaden his knowledge, ?Anyone who has read a great deal can imagine the new world that opened?(Malcolm X 55). Both of these great scholars became knowledgeable through their studies and exposure to language.
When a person learns about history or mechanics or even reads the newspaper he or she begins formulating their own ideas. This causes a person to take action to improve a certain situation. Because of this we as humans have evolved as a highly intelligent society, we are able to use language not only to communicate with each other but we are able to enlighten and educate ourselves. We are able to not only share ideas but also to formulate our own helping the human race to continue evolving.
Language and its use symbols has set us apart from the rest of the animal world. Because of language we can share ideas, educate ourselves and improve our lives. Language helps us as a society to keep evolving, without it we still would have been like apes pointing fingers at what we see.