What does the word “language” mean to you?

For my first blog post, I decided to explore the meaning of the word “language”. That may sound kind of pointless at first; after all, everyone knows what language means. But after I thought about it for a bit, I realized that it’s actually really hard to put your finger on what language is as a concept. Here are my thoughts on what language really is.

When I think about the meaning of language, I tend to think of it as a form of oral communication. In truth however, language is the most sophisticated form of communication available to human beings. There are some forms of communication that do not involve language such as simple gestures and facial expressions, and even some forms of oral communication, such as grunts that you can’t consider to be language. What these forms of communication lack is the ability to properly express the complexity of human emotions. For example, if someone makes a face of displeasure and points to the cause of his or her displeasure, you can’t ascertain the degree of displeasure that the individual feels. Basically, these gestures are far more rudimentary than language is. In the various sign languages of the world, however, there are ways to express every facet of the emotion you feel. This ability to communicate the full range of emotions felt by human beings is what makes sign languages, well, languages, and not crude gestures. What language means to me is as follows: a sophisticated medium for communication that allows the user to express his or her emotions in as much detail and complexity as he or she desires. 

About the author

Om Satapathy

Hi, I'm Om, the author of Lingua Franca.

View all posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *