After going through the readings, I was able to identify certain commonalities about what a language is. Hoping that my thoughts are resting on an adequate level of abstraction, here is what I was able to come up with, in regards to defining and characterizing the concept of “language.”
- Understanding a language is different than understanding how a language works.
- Languages consist of structures.
- There are multiple structures in a language.
- The structures in a language are interdependent.
- Spoken languages differ from other symbolic systems
- Natural acquisition of languge suggests what is evolutionary about language
- What differentiates a native language from a computer language, or any other structural meaning system is due to its relation with cognition.
- Cognition and language co-developed.
Natural acquisition of language is the most prominent cue that tells us what is really significant about a spoken language. Language has an inherent ability of being naturally acquired at young ages – and this is a difference that makes a difference, and defines why spoken languages differ from software languages.
Acknowledging that a certain part of the brain is structured to acquire a language suggests something evolutionary about language. Languages did not only evolve in relation to cognition; they have also provided contextual basis for cognition to evolve. Therefore, languages do not only function for interpersonal communication, it also provides a neural basis for thought. Considering the co-development of cognition and language, it is not possible to differentiate cognition from language.
This awareness can shed light on other social concepts, like how to words function to create emotion, and how acquired language renders human brain path-dependent to the already acquired language. Furthermore, understanding language can give insight to development of certain cultures, cultural trends, and whether lacking certain abstractions or conceptual frameworks restricts human understanding as well.