What is Language?

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We are all insiders to language, so for many purposes, we have the right to take this term for granted. For instance, we all know English. Yet, English is not spoken the same way In Glasgow as it is in say Jamaica. There are no single forms of speech or writing for ‘English’ instead there are many ‘Englishes’.

“We must, in reality, distinguish as many languages as there are individuals” (Hermann Paul, 1880).

Linguists are often asked just how many languages there are. The answer they give tends to centre on around 5000 to 6000. Definitions of languages can vary from one country to another.

“A language is a dialect with an army and a navy” (Max Wenreich, 1945).

It is best not to worry too much about what we call things; both dialect and language are terms applied to ways of speaking we perceive as different. So, in reality, how many languages are there?

In conclusion, everyone speaks language in a different way. It could be argued that every human being on earth has their own language, but the differences are small so communication is still possible. Language, therefore, is the general structure of words and sounds that are commonly understood by speakers of the language.

(203 Words)


Building Language

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As much as a teacher tries to build language, it helps to highlight certain grammar points that help to expand the students’ sentences by questioning them about factors such as time, place and manner. We can add details to the students’ speech or writing with adverbial phrases.
Example #1

Time (answers the question ‘When?’)

She will be arriving in a short time.

Place (answers the question ‘Where?’)

He is waiting near the wall.

Manner (answers the question ‘How?’)

They are discussing the matter in a civilized way.

Example #2

“Sue went” doesn’t convey much information.

S: Sue went.

T: Where did Sue go?

S: Sue went to the gym.

T: And, when did Sue go to the gym?

S: Sue went to the gym after work.

T: And also, why did Sue go to the gym after work?

S: Sue went to the gym after work to keep her New Year’s resolution.

“Sue went to the gym after work to keep her New Year’s resolution” explains the where, when and why of the event.

Moreover, adverbial phrases can be created by using prepositions to tell how, where, when, and how often. For example, “Sue swam with perfect technique in the pool before lunch on Tuesday.”