Language | Definition, Etymology, Synonyms & Antonyms

Language

Language (noun)

Definition

Language is a system of communication that uses words, symbols, and rules to convey meaning and express thoughts, ideas, emotions, and information between individuals or groups. It is an essential aspect of human culture and is used for various purposes, including interpersonal communication, expression of culture and identity, education, literature, and scientific research.

Etymology

The word "language" has its roots in the Latin term "lingua," which referred to the tongue or speech. It entered Old French as "langage" and later became "language" in English. The term has been used to describe the human faculty of speech and communication for centuries.

Synonyms

  • Tongue
  • Communication
  • Speech
  • Expression
  • Vernacular
  • Dialect

Antonyms

  • Silence
  • Nonverbal communication
  • Gesture (as a form of communication)

Example

A unique example of language is sign language. Sign languages are complete, natural languages that use manual gestures, facial expressions, and body movements to communicate meaning. They are used by deaf individuals and communities worldwide and have their own grammar and syntax distinct from spoken languages.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

How many languages are there in the world?

The number of languages in the world is estimated to be over 7,000. However, this number can vary depending on how one defines distinct languages versus dialects.

How do languages evolve over time?

Languages evolve through a process called linguistic evolution. Over time, languages change due to various factors, such as cultural influences, contact with other languages, migration, and social developments. These changes may result in the formation of new dialects or even separate languages.

What is a "mother tongue" or "first language"?

A "mother tongue" or "first language" refers to the language that an individual learns as their native language during early childhood. It is the language typically spoken in the family and community where the individual grows up.

Is language limited to spoken communication?

No, language encompasses various forms of communication, including written language, sign language, and nonverbal communication through gestures and body language. Each form of language has its unique rules and conventions.

How do people learn languages?

People learn languages through a process called language acquisition. In childhood, individuals naturally acquire their first language through exposure and interaction with native speakers. Later in life, people can learn additional languages through formal instruction, immersion programs, self-study, and practice.

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