Friday, October 19, 2007

What is Language?

Hi All,

This week we made an introduction to the concept of "Language", your first week assignment:

Please answer the question "What is Language?", remembering our class discussion and Steven Pinker's article "An Instinct to Acquire an Art".

Good luck,

Tuncer Can

47 comments:

Anonymous said...

we all agree with the statement that the language is a communication means and also conveys somethings about the culture and the society.however,after reading the text ı have understood that it is more than a communication means and a biological system.It have been a question to be solved through the years.however, it is still unclear that how it has emerged and developed and still develops.moreover,every nation has had its own language.So,my belief is that it will be always a concept to be searched about;no matter how much it's have been uncovered about.
at the end of your text ,the question 'why anyone should believe that human language is a part of biology -an instict- has prompted me to think about my own use of language.ıt's really provoking thought.ı must admit that ı have been complexed since many processes occurs till our thoughts are conveyed,that's,letters and voices come together in an order and then come up with a reasonable structure accordign to the rules of the language.this is really interesting,So ı can say that it is like a mechanism which runs on its own frame.
finally,ı would like to convey that it's the most known and common concept that the language is a bridge for people to communicate,to convey their ideas and also a carrier of the culture in which we live.However,it's more than a communication system as far as ı have understood from the text and it's still a secret how it works.
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Anonymous said...

In our last class discussion we tried to define "Language" and came to a lot of results.The most significant and simple ones were that language is a way to communicate, has a key-role in culture and that language and culture are strongly connected to each other. But when I look at a student´s definition as a "fundamental need" and "instinct" , I can say that I support these ideas more strongly than before I had read Pinker´s article "An Instinct to Aquire an Art" and would like to emphasize their importance to language. The article brings closer that language is not "neccessarily" only learned and a result of interaction with community. On the contrary, it is rather a biological instinct. Here I would like to add a convincing idea also brought up by Didem in class: even if a person left alone in a jungle without a source to copy the sounds of a language from, ends up by whether making up his own kind of language and trying to make noises in order to communicate whether with himself or with animals.Of course a language has to be learned but the keypoint is the urge to communicate and the reasons why certainly THIS urge arises. Furthermore,Chomsky points out that since an individual´s conversation is always a new combination of words, there has to be a program to combine them according to new contexts, called "mental grammar" and therefore children have to be innately provided with the plan to this grammar. I would like to conclude with Pinker´s citation with a point that no one had brought up: "...I think it is fruitful to consider language as an evolutionary adaption, like the eye, its major parts designed to carry out important functions.",(1995:24).

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Anonymous said...

to interact with the world we use language.ıt is the most important necessity of the people.also by using language we could develop our position in our social life. in ancient times people succeeded in creating communication between eachother by using language.
in class ı agreed that language is a fundamental need and instinct.because as ı said in the second sentence without language the world wouldn't be improved as recent times.
ıt's instinct because even the people who lived in antiquity,didn't have tutors like we have,but they could create communication between each other. when ı read the article,called "an instinct to acquire an art" ı took a chance to support my previous opinions about languge. ıt is impossible to live without it. when we are making noises with our mouths,we can easily express ourselves.ı liked the idea which is about similarity between spin webs and language too.also as ı understood from Dinker's article the theories of Noam Chomsky give information about language's instinctive.so briefly language is an art,cultural invention,necessity and wonder of our life.
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Anonymous said...

Before reading the article'AN Instinct to Acquire an Art',I thought that language was a communication tool which helps people live together.After reading it, I realized that I had misunderstood the language.I knew that language has a biological backround whereas I have never thought the language as an instinct to learn,speak and understand.
Moreover,writer defines language as a distinct piece of the biological make up of our brains and says language is a complex,specialized skill,which develops in the child spontaneously,without conscious effort or formal instruction.
To sum up,the article taught me what language is.It was not a tool but humankind as Chomsky said.
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Anonymous said...

Language is a marvelous thing consisting of a limited number of sounds, a limited number of words and a limited number of rules for combining words into sentences. It is only the human beings who are endowed with that talent.
After reading the text, new concepts about language started to appear on my mind. One of this concepts is that we are innately gifted with speaking ability. When our brain lobes and functions are examined, it can be easily seen that each lobe has different tasks such as motor skills, muscle movements and some language and reading functions. According to this fact, it is no more astonishing for a five-year-old child to put words in correct order so as to make sentences.
In my opininon, child development books are very important sources for us. One can easily see the periods of acquiring a language. For instance, a baby starts to babble when two or three months old until twelve months. Between the twelfth and fifteenth months, a baby starts to use one syllable words. This is almost the same all around the world. Because of that I can say language is also the product of human instinct.
According to the things I’ve mentioned above, language is a precious thing bestowed on human beings. But for language, we would have very difficulty in understanding each other, conveying our thoughts, expressing ourselves… thanks god for this unique beauty.
3231060083-AYSE TAN

Anonymous said...

Language is means of communication. All the information that a human being needs to live in a society, is transfered through the language. The actual development of the human being as a kind, wouldnt be possible without language. The language has made it possible to construct, develop and carry on a collective suit of knowledges, experiences and ideas, which all society-members can enjoy all the time.
The language arranges the experiences and shapes the thoughts. Through the first language that we learn, we develope the ability to think, and in that way we develope us into independent and conscious individuals. Because of that we say that the native tounge is an insoluble part of our identity. The language also tells who we are, because it belongs to different groups as nationality, ethnic groups, class, local society etc.

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Anonymous said...

Language is something like an exactly productive land.it is both faithful and ever-lasting friend of us.you can easily fınd everythıng ın ıt no matter what you want to get from it.you plant the seed of which you want to get the fruit,and thıs fruit is necessary to live,to get enough energy to do your routıne works and to live your life.Like that,firstly you get the words ın the language that are necessary to explaın what you want to say as it's in planting the seeds to the land,then you build up these new(for you)words as the time passes like the growıng up of a plant,and lastly you can get the product of this effort and you can use any of these words in the language whenever you want.because the language has everything to give what you want when you go to the door of it.it comes to your aid,like land...and this fact is a necessity for us as Chomsky said.this need comes from inner of us.always we want to apply to this productive and generous land(language) in our deepness.namely;there is a ready land which waits to be planted and harvested inner of us:language...
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Anonymous said...

In my point of view; the most important thing that is worth mentioning , to answer the question:"What is language?" is its' being a fundamental need for humankind.I agree with the assumption, advocating the idea that languages appeared because of peoples' basic requirements.For me; Speaking and communication are just like the other needs of human beings.I mean; like eating,drinking and wearing; the use of language is a basic need as well.Since language is the verbal expression of feelings and ideas in ones' mind.As an example;When a man sees a wonderfull sea and gets suprised,he feels the urge to reflect his feelings to the others near him.He needs a tool to do it.This is mostly achived verbaly.So; we call this "Language".This is also what separates mankind from animals.

Also In the article, "An Instinct to Acquire an Art" Pinker,S(1995:17) states that;"It is scarcely possible to imagine a life without it". I agree with him, who supports the idea that when two or more people come together, after a certain time they feel the need to talk to each other.So, by exchanging words they start communication.Even lonely people often searches somebody to chat with.Some of them speak on their own ,with their dogs or flowers to make for this deprivation.

These all show that all human beeings in the world need speaking; also this could be true that they are created to speak instinctively.So,we can say that language is a tool to supply the communication need of people.

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Anonymous said...

language is our identity.you can understand where people from, with their language.on the other hand it is a bridge between members.it is important for societies culture.because the language carries history to the future and future subscribers.speech makes community weld and come to agreement.how?when members meets and married ,new communities will be born.and this is important for governments pass..

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Anonymous said...

Before I read the article 'An Instinct to Acquire an Art',I thought that people are born with an ability to acquire language,but if they are not exposed to language,they cannot learn it.After reading the article,I noticed that the opinion of writer is not opposite to mine.Humankind has made lots of descriptions about language but I will not explain them.Also I must say that the article has added a lot of new information to my mind.The most important word of it is 'instinct'.To me,language can be instinct in aspect of acquision.Because human learn how to speak in society without any education.This shows that human is ready to learn biologically when he/she is born.However being ready is not enough to learn language and I think this subject is much more complex than my opinion,writer's opinion and any other's opinion !!!

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Anonymous said...

Language is the mind and heart of human beings.Both language and feelings are like that a pearl in the sea and thanks to language,our ideas and feelings are expressed, the things that we want to share reach our heart and mind. And so language gets its aim. EDA AKKAYA

Anonymous said...

Language is based on a NAMING process,by which things get associated with a word or name.Howevver that is not enough:words must be put together within a grammatical system to make MEANING.Ferdinand de Sausure says 'Language could be resembled a paper.While the front part of the paper is thought,the back part of it is sounds.When you cut the front part,the back part is cut,too,whether you want or not.The situation is same in language.You could not separate thought from sounds.' I completelt agree with Ferdinand.If you have a word in your lexical knowledge,you most probably have this thing in one part of your life.I think language and thought are bound to each other.Humankind express their thoughts by the way of language.In other words,your language is limited with your world...
as for the article 'An Instinct to Acquire an Art', I am in the same opinion with pinker that human language is a part of human biology-an instinct-. In my opinion,when we born,a small part of our lang. is in our brain,but then,we face with the earth.(I mean new things,feelings,objects..etc.)As a result of this experience,our language improves and our meaningful world gets progress..
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Anonymous said...

these are the meanings of language:
S: (n) language, linguistic communication (a systematic means of communicating by the use of sounds or conventional symbols) "he taught foreign languages"; "the language introduced is standard throughout the text"; "the speed with which a program can be executed depends on the language in which it is written"
S: (n) speech, speech communication, spoken communication, spoken language, language, voice communication, oral communication ((language) communication by word of mouth) "his speech was garbled"; "he uttered harsh language"; "he recorded the spoken language of the streets"
S: (n) lyric, words, language (the text of a popular song or musical-comedy number) "his compositions always started with the lyrics"; "he wrote both words and music"; "the song uses colloquial language"
S: (n) linguistic process, language (the cognitive processes involved in producing and understanding linguistic communication) "he didn't have the language to express his feelings"
S: (n) language, speech (the mental faculty or power of vocal communication) "language sets homo sapiens apart from all other animals"
S: (n) terminology, nomenclature, language (a system of words used to name things in a particular discipline) "legal terminology"; "biological nomenclature"; "the language of sociology"
LANGUAGE is the expression of human communication through which knowledge, belief, and behavior can be experienced, explained, and shared. This sharing is based on systematic, conventionally used signs, sounds, gestures, or marks that convey understood meanings within a group or community. Recent research identifies "windows of opportunity" for acquiring language--written, spoken, or signed--that exist within the first few years of life
CHOMSKY SAYS:the study of language is, for the moment, unique in the combination it affords of richness of data and susceptibility to sharp formulation of basic issues.

It would, of course, be silly to try to predict the future of research, and it will be understood that I do not intend the subtitle of this lecture to be taken very seriously. Nevertheless, it is fair to suppose that the major contribution of the study of language will lie in the understanding it can provide as to the character of mental processes and the structures they form and manipulate. Therefore, instead of speculating on the likely course of research into the problems that are coming into focus today, I will concentrate here on some of the issues that arise when we try to develop the study of linguistic structure as a chapter of human psychology.

It is quite natural to expect that a concern for language will remain central to the study of human nature, as it has been in the past. Anyone concerned with the study of human nature and human capacities must somehow come to grips with the fact that all normal humans acquire language, whereas acquisition of even its barest rudiments is quite beyond the capacities of an otherwise intelligent ape a fact that was emphasised, quite correctly, in Cartesian philosophy.' It is widely thought that the extensive modern studies of animal communication challenge this classical view; and it is almost universally taken for granted that there exists a problem of explaining the "evolution" of human language from systems of animal communication. However, a careful look at recent studies of animal communication seems to me to provide little support for these assumptions. Rather, these studies simply bring out even more clearly the extent to which human language appears to be a unique phenomenon, without significant analogue in the animal world. If this is so, it is quite senseless to raise the problem of explaining the evolution of human language from more primitive systems of communication that appear at lower levels of intellectual capacity.
YOU CAN search MORE OF THEM from www.chomsky.info
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Anonymous said...

Before participating in this lesson,ı have never thought about what ıs language.and ıf ı had thought,ı thınk ı would have never thought about ıt such a deep way.for ınstance from the chomsky's comments as well,ı notıced that language not only pegs of sounds and words and then sentences.now ı can easıly say lots of thıngs about what ıs language.for ınstance ı can say that ıt ıs a comlpete mıracle,ıt ıs not only words,but our mımıcs,body language,sounds as well.the fılm BIBLE for ınstance affected me so much that now ı can say that even people do not speak common language wıth words,they can share lots of thıng agaın thanks to the their body language,or thoughts.As a result,language ıs not only words,sentences or grammer, ıt ıs completely lıfe's ıtself.3231060009

Anonymous said...

Kicking the womb of his mother so as to communicate with his mother, the baby, even before the birth has the instinct of communication need. This need appears as the acquisition of language right after the baby leaves the womb.The more his vocal tracts grow, the more he tends and tries to imitate the sounds going around. These sounds, which can only be understand by mother instincts, are the initial paces of language.

'People know how to talk in more or less the sense that spiders know how to spin webs.'

Language is neither the objective of communication nor the means of it. It is the communication's essence.

'I think it is fruitful to consider language as an evolutionary adaptation, like the eye, its major parts designed to carry out important functions.'

Mr. Darwin was wrong!

Anonymous said...

3231060006
that is a shame:)

Anonymous said...

Language is a unique biologıcal distiction of humankind from animals.We communicate,express ourselves,share feelings and so on thanks to language.it´s inevitable need for men.it is a gift given by GOD to human to name the things.ther is an expression called ´haves and haves-not´.so I think that we are the haves and lucky ones.Can you imagıne what if we wouldn´t have language?
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Anonymous said...

we can not say that language has come into being certainly in this way or something else.but if we want to explain or learn something we must know a bit about historical side of it.as we did in our class there ara some theories about beginnig of language.for instance,in bible there is a sentence like this'kelam (söz,di) başlangıçta vardı ve kelam allahın yanında idi ve kelam allah idi''This is a theory about religion.as ı have said before we don'n know the beginning of language but we can say language has answered our needs.it has come into being from a necessity.we all human-being need to speak for expres our thoughts, emotions and all things in our minds.language is a tool which we can transport our culture,way of live and experiences to next generation.language is our personalities.it is the thing that makes us the thing we are.#3231060037#

Anonymous said...

'How can I say?'
'I don't know how to tell!'
'What is it called as?'
'I mean...'

In our daily lifes we use sentences like these many times. We have something in our mind but we can't convey our message and idea to other people, unless we make it concrete by means of language. It is one of the major needs of human. Even if we didn't have a social environment, we would still have a language (created by ourselves) so as to communicate with ourselves, so as to be able to think and talk with our own brain and heart. It is instinctional. It is a need. It is a quite natural responsibility. We don't bear into it, we bear with the instinction of language.

Sinem Şenliler

Anonymous said...

3233060007
Natali Boşnakyan (Çift Anadal,Fr. Öğr.)



In every corner of the world, there is a communication every second, in many ways. We, human beings, have an ability of expressing ourselves which makes the “human communication” easier – man accepting himself as the most advanced creature, accepts also his ‘givens’ the best and the most advanced – and something more concrete. The word concrete is a refer to observation here, as the human language is accepted as a phenomenon. This communication between people is provided by the language, constituted by phonemes, that researchers call in general, symbols. Being the smallest and meaningful unit of language (morphemes), it is these symbols that separate human’s language from the “animal language”, which can sometimes be cacophonic – instinctively.

Throughout the history, men tried to talk to others in order to have relations with them; for the continuation of his race, or to be more powerful to be able to hunt easier and maybe faster. So he created a system that can ensure these actions. First, he makes incomprehensible sounds by roaring or yelling, then he uses just one word to mean something, and after he starts to set up sentences that seem to have more or less a meaning. We can say that these were the first steps to the today’s communication, to today’s language.

Language, for me, is a way of expressing oneself. Contrarily Saussure, the Swiss linguist, I think that language is not only composed by signals that are verbal, and that it is not something apart from the society. Language, as I said, includes every way of expression, which sends a message – such as cinema, photography, and posters. In my opinion, language is not an ability or a totality of rules (a ready-made grammar). It can not be neither a response (Behaviorism), as stressed by Chomsky, because language is not a predefined action that we produce unconsciously after a while and I don’t think that man chooses his words accidentally. We can talk about an unconsciousness fact, but that is because speaking becomes automatic, and that we don’t spend hours to articulate, to use a word. So it is not something taught to children at the early ages; what is taught is, the proper way of using it and its organization, I mean syntax, in an academic context.

So language, for me, is (dis)order of words, (dis)organization of phrases, concretization of images or the voices in our heads, animation of feelings, sharing of ideas, in a verbal or non-verbal way. A cliché definition such as “Language is a person, then a society” can also be made. In spite of its superficiality, this definition sums up the basic components that language includes: man himself, reflection of culture, traditions, habitudes, social life, history etc. of a community, and of human being’s race.

Anonymous said...

language is amiracle.fist of all,it is the omly thing which differ humankind from others.as chomsky said,it is unique to humankind.it stands as apreeminent trait.when you look at it firstly,you can think it is a simple thing.but it is a complex,specialized skill.its complexity is from our biological instinct.contrary to its complexity,it develops in a child spontaneously without any conscious effort.for that reson it can be thought as a mental organ,as a piece of our brain.
by means of it,people can communicate with each other.it is a fundamental need.tey reach new informations.so,they make some investments for humankind.in the story of tower of babel humanity.speaking a single language,communicated very well and thought to reach to the heaven.god felt threatened and punished them by speaking different languages.it would be impossible to think life without it.because it connects people,generations.so,it is an important part of culture,too.to sum up it is everythig,all of life...

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Anonymous said...

language can be described communication by word of mouth, a system of words used to name things in a particular discipline or something else. everybody has an idea about this thing. that makes it subjective. it is one of the important sides of language, because every human being sees language different, so uses it in a differen way. by this use, we can understand the person's mood, past events about him/her, his graduation etc. i mean even just the way a person describes what's language can tell us a lot of things about him/her. so with the other uses, it gains so much importance. for example, to relax people, they can be made to listen music which is made of language. i think even that thing may tell the importance of language, but of cours it is not all.

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Anonymous said...

what is language?first being asked i replied 'it s a communication tool'..it was not that simple.after reading the article i started to think in a wider point of view.it changes according to the person replying that question for instance a biologist will say it s a biological tool,even about dna.let's examine it in a deep way start from birth.we are born start crying not deliberately it s just an instinct,go on doing that and see that it helps us to gain what we want,show our discomfort.also we smile when we are pleasent.you see we start to use a kind of language even in first seconds of our life story.chomsky and pinker say it s a kind of instinct,yes exactly it is.we are born with an instinct to communicate.why do we need a language?simple.we want to express ourselves,declare our mind openly.it's also a mental constructwe want to take part in community.you see the word community has the same derivation with the word communicationhow can we achive this?of course via language..it s also a system of sounds,words,sentences..
BUT MY OWN DEFINITION according to the things i read and searched is like that:it s the unique code of our personality,feelings,life..it s the code of us..

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Anonymous said...

first of all,i'm so sorry for lating.i hope that you forgive me.
the question which i have wondered since i am intersted in english language is 'what is language.i answered this with only one word before.'communication'.however,i've understood that language is too complex to think about it or to answer it a word in a simple way.like people,animals communicate each other without having a language.sounds,breathnesses,roars...etc help them.i mean only language is not necessary for comunicating.
this is a special feature belongig to human.the thing that gives to people politeness,social life,thinking and trasnmitting what they think is language.moreover,language is development,technology,science.thank to language new things culd be invented by adding thoughts in the past.
so,language is life or art shaped us at each step in lives of people
3231060039 m.u

Anonymous said...

letters, words, sentences all makes up language.. language is human, it is not only communication. language could be shared.. thinking,planing,convincing,arguing doing something together etc... every livingthing is in language some are deeply are are not.. language is something that everone needs.. IT IS A NEED which people can't live without it.. not only people every creature has its own language in between.. Language is a friend even if you don't have someone to talk next to you.. You can talk by yourself, in yourself.. I, for example talk to my cactus.. There is a movie called 'Cast Away' it is about a guy who survived after his plane crashed into the sea, he stayed 4 years in an island and becomes friends with Wilson which is a volleyball.. He even cries for the ball when he loses it.. The ball survived with him too.. So, what i mean is language is a need which is an ART..
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Anonymous said...

Language,the principal means used by human beings to communicate with one another and is system,used to communıcate,comprised of a set of rules by which the manipulation of these symbols is governed.These symbols can be combined productively to convey new information,distinquishing languages from other forms ofcommunication.Many animal and even plant species communicate with each other.human beings are not unique ın thıs capability.But human language is unique in being a symbolic communication system that is learned instead of bıologically inherited.But apart from human, no kinds of animals can communıcate with symbolic sounds(words).Animals communicate with their own languages such as moaning,barking,fighting,etc...They have no ability to name things in nature.Only human beings have that ability to name things.After reading that article,something in my mind begins to change about the language;I learned that language is not onlycomposed of speech sounds but also everything as long as two can communıcate.Even animals have a language that we have never fully understood.Nobody taught them,how they know and how can they communicate each other is quıte impressive.It ıs an INSTINCT that every creature has innately.Language is a tool for living creatures and it is itself living.To me language is such a thing that humankind can never fully understand because it is improving like us.And it is not only useful for cultural transferring it is also owner of culture.It has been saıd that language is the very essence of what makes us human.Thanks to it we can communıcate,we can live better.thanks to language l learned and wrote these and you are reading.
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Anonymous said...

Language is not a basic thing to say it is just cultural invention or fundamental need. It has complexity and a kind of system. It supplies communication. And also it is biological tool.
There are two theories about language acquisition. Some theorists think that human mind is like an empty table and the baby gets all what he/she hear. Conversely others state that language is not an acquisition learnt afterwards, instead it is an “innate knowledge”. According to this theory there is a device in human brain and it operates the baby’s learning. The theorists adduce that almost all babies have the same quality for language acquisition.
I think innate knowledge theory is more logical. Language can not acquired by learning it. It is something instinct as S. Pinker repoted like crying, laughing, feeling hungry, etc.We do not make any effort to learn it.We are not aware of it.
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Anonymous said...

language is not only comunicatıon tool,its an art of mankınd.its a sıgn of freedom for natıons,its past of our cıvılızatıon.ıts also comunıcatıon of cıvıl lıfe.its the mental faculty or power of vocal communication; 'language sets homo sapiens apart from all other animals'.we cant ımagıne mankınd wıthout language.if ı'm in turkey now ıt s happend by means of language.ıf ı m ın HAYEF now ıts really the fırst motıve is language.you see our life depends on it.do you want earn ın our country?an answer is very simple;language(englısh).if ı have frıendshıp ıts thanks to language.
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HACIYEV

BETÜL BAŞARAN ÇAKMAK/3231020049 said...

I could not attend the first class discussion because of my wedding ceremony.so sorry,sir!but l searched about the article "an instinct to acquire an art" from the internet.

Assume that the language did not exist in the world!!!

Can you imagine to live without speaking,yelling or even whispering to yourself..?:)

Of course,NOT!!!(if you're a normal human-being:)}
You're just thinking and can not say even a word!you can't tell who really you're and what you feed your inside.come to this point;there is no difference between you and an animal!!!ok this is rude but true.even ı think about the language,ı'm confused!!!
When we look at the backround of human-being,we see that languages are the uniqe function that brings them today!the first steps of the civilization of mankind starts with the existance of tha languages.first,they knew each other and realised how precious they were in universe cause given such a wonderful chance.then,they started to communicate.they shared their thoughts,feelings,etc..also they fought with each other,but they agreed at the end of the wars!
only thanks to THE LANGUAGE...

Fortunately,language is with us!it's the key of to say who you are!in fact,LANGUAGE İS YOU!

[3231060015] said...

-Why do we represent the notion of language with the word of "language"?
-By means of language...

Walter PORZIG,a philologist,asks us a question:"How can past and future;near and far;if it is need to be said briefly the whole world go into the several sounds produced by the human's speaking organs?"

We can speak of that question as the point of the process of the discoursing the notion of language.

Once upon a time,when it was investigated that which one of all technical invitations was the most astonishing;remote controller was the answer.People were very fascinated by the way of remote controller's using its power to make a model plane in flight move around from a distance. That was just like a supernatural phonemenon
!Then,what is the relation between the remote controller and the language.Or is there any?Of course there is.Let me give you an example:You are in a room.There are two another people standing in front of you.You and one of them know the English language.The other one has no ability to write or read and speaks a different language from English.For a second,you think about an order to give and write it on a paper(Stand up.Walk the door.open it.)you give the paper to both of them.The one who knows the same language with you follow your directions in a correct way.But what about the other one?..Can you see that?I mean we can use our words like a remote controller.

Language is such a great thing that we can carry out something someone wants us to,by the help of his or her a few mouth motions.

Language is also just like a MIRACLE then.Yes, that's true but to explain such a sophisticated phonemenon,that's not enough.To make more understandable the definition of the language,first of all we should seperate it from "utterance" and "speaking".Speaking is an ability.Utterance("performance" as Chomsky says)is a system which is constructed by the means of some of the elements of language.Language,("competence" as Chomsky says)however,is a formation created by the experiences of a nation-maybe- for centuries or thousand years, but on the other hand,grown a little bit independent from the nation.

Because language is not a PRODUCTION or OUTPUT or something like that.Language is an OCCURENCE itself.You can never stop it or make it come to an end.We are human beings. We need food for living so we have mouth,stomach..etc.We need communication for living so we have languages.That's all.

-GK-

Anonymous said...

Language is a kind of symbols which was invented by human to improve their oral skills.It's a fundamental need of human being to communicate other people to express our needs.According to "An Instinct to Acquire an Art" language is something instictive.That's true we need to speak when we born.For example infants try to tell caregivers their needs by crying, babling( it is begining to make sounds)In other words we need to express in a verbal way.However ,in my opinion it is not completely instictive because if it' instictive there is no need to learn how to speak when we born.It needs a talking skill.In spite of this we need communication that's why we learn how to speak.
When we examined a human brain there are lobes of some skills as an example there is a part for speaking which manage to learn languages to speak.Due to this knowledge i want to nerrate a news.There was a man who has been shot on head and his speaking lobe has been demaged.Thus he can't able to speak now.i mean that it is not completely instictive.
Human who has a thinking brain is sensitive and emotional and never likes being lonely without speaking which is as important as breathing and eating.that explains what language is for human.
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Anonymous said...

I used to think language as a social tool that combines people each other.After I read article I understood that language is something that biological that separates us from animals.It is so instinctive that we aren't aware of what we are doing when words go out of our mouths.Also it isn't only imitation of words that we hear because we can create new sentences or words even if we didn't hear them before.Although there are lots of different languages,people can learn it in same way so there must be a common area forming language in our brains.So without language humanbeing isn't different from animals thinking that they also have some instinct like us.
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Anonymous said...

A language is a system, used to communicate, comprised of a set of symbols and a set of rules (or grammar) by which the manipulation of these symbols is governed. These symbols can be combined productively to convey new information, distinguishing languages from other forms of communication.Language involves listening, speaking, reading and writing.Many animal and even plant species communicate with each other. Humans are not unique in this capability.Over the last few centuries, deaf people have developed sign languages that are complex visual-gestural forms of communicating with each other.
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Anonymous said...

before i read the article i thought that language is a communication tool that makes peole closer and understand each other but after reading article i understood taht language is a more complex system..actually it is an instinct that although we arent aware that we are acquaring it,we are getting genius about language day by day from birhth..it s a gift given to humankind that differentiate us from animals
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Anonymous said...

Pinker describes the language pretty good in a five to ten page-article and after reading it I couldn't have the right to write anything else about language but I want to mention about which explanation attracted my attention most in this article named 'An Instinct to Acquire an Art'.Steven Pinker is very right when he says 'We belong to spcies with a remarkable ability and this ability is language .We can cause precise new combinations of ideas to arise in each other's minds thanks to language.This ability is present in everyone of us and it is not possible to imagine a life without it.While there are some other descriptions of language Pinker prefers the term 'instinct'.His opinion is that language is the product of a well-engineered biological instinct.Darwin also says that language ability is 'an instinctive tendency to acquire an art,' a design that is not peculiar to humans but seen in other species such as song-learning birds.
I think language will always maintain certain advantages,will always be with us and it will always be the glue that holds the things together,the stick that pushes thoughts (and other things) along.
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Anonymous said...

Language is communication,a device,grammer,vocabulary,feeling...Language is everything we see,hear,touch,smell and sound of course.It is natural thing despite the fact that the way of language acqusition is same in everyone,it,the language itself,changes.That is not important.It is stated by Pinker that language is an instinctual thing because the language of spiders is webbing and they communicate by webbing.Webbing does not need any education for spiders and it is same in people.Mother tongue is learnt by people without thinking the abilities of person.There are also some psychological,social effects on language.For instance;think a language,it was born somehow but that is not the real case,it will take new words or lose words and there will be amendments due to the effects of outside world to the language.Language is a thing that learnt by taking as a model and this shows the environmental effect.Children must innately be equipped with a plan to learn the language grammer(Pinker:1995).Everyone borns with the ability to learn language but the language learnt changes according to the environment.As a result,language is an instinctual,social,biological thing and according to the place you are,the language changes,such as animal language,doctor's language,philosopher's language...

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Anonymous said...

when we look up a dictionary it says as language;
1)a language is a system of symbols and the rules used to manipulate them.
2)language can also refer to the use of such systems as a general phenomenon.Though commonly used as a means of communication among people.... etc
I think all these aren't enough to express what means it for us.yes,it is technically like that;the combination of symbols,letters,words an so.but the role it has in our lives is vital.also as darwin said it is an instictive tendency to acquire an art.in the first article in our book it is written like that'they know that it is man's most important cultural invention,the quintessential example of his capacity to use symbols,and a biologically unprecented event irrevocably seperating him from other animals'Its always wondered if language is instictive,from birth or developing but linguists have never come up with a result yet.
finally,I hing language is our basic need,helper we can't even plan anything or dream.nations' identity is solved with it also
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Anonymous said...

Language is a communication tool that we need to use in our life.Of course we can communicate without language.But language facilitiates communication and interaction.
Language is biological so humans can speak,the other animates can not.Because humans have the biological capacity for producing language.
There are a lot of languages in the world.Members of a society interact with each other with their languages.So language is a part of culture and has the characteristics of its culture.And it is transferred to next generations.
Language is acquired by all people in much the same way.And it has some universal characteristics(sounds,words,verbs,grammar...)Language is systematic and generative and it has arbitrary symbols.Alphabets are formed by these vocal symbols.Language can be verbal and non-verbal.for example;body and sign language are non-verbal.
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Anonymous said...

When the question"What is language is asked?",the first thing which comes to our mind is that ıt is a device which helps people communicate with each other.Even though this may be a true answer,It is still not an adequate one.Language isnt just the device to communicate but it is something which help us continue our lives.Think that there was no language on earth by which we could understand each other.It would be real chaos.In fact this is shown us by the story of Bable.When people were taken the ability of speaking,there was confusiıon among people.From this respect we can say that language is something which gives meaning to our lives.
In another sense language is something which changes with each new day or even with each hour.When we have change in technology,we also have change in language.In other words new words are added to it evrey day.From this respect we can say that language is a social being.It is effected by every change or developmet we go through.
I dont think ıt would be right thing to look language just from the perspective of grammer.It is not just comprised of grammer rules.Of course grammer is very significant in language and without it there may be some misunderstandings.However language doesnt mean just grammer and sometimes without gramer it is sometimes posible to communicate.In fact this is what the sailers in the streets do while selling something to foreigners.Nevertheless this is not to say that grammer is not necessary.
All in all I think language means life without which it is imposible to live and a social being effected by social situations.
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Anonymous said...

When the question"What is language is asked?",the first thing which comes to our mind is that ıt is a device which helps people communicate with each other.Even though this may be a true answer,It is still not an adequate one.Language isnt just the device to communicate but it is something which help us continue our lives.Think that there was no language on earth by which we could understand each other.It would be real chaos.In fact this is shown us by the story of Bable.When people were taken the ability of speaking,there was confusiıon among people.From this respect we can say that language is something which gives meaning to our lives.
In another sense language is something which changes with each new day or even with each hour.When we have change in technology,we also have change in language.In other words new words are added to it evrey day.From this respect we can say that language is a social being.It is effected by every change or developmet we go through.
I dont think ıt would be right thing to look language just from the perspective of grammer.It is not just comprised of grammer rules.Of course grammer is very significant in language and without it there may be some misunderstandings.However language doesnt mean just grammer and sometimes without gramer it is sometimes posible to communicate.In fact this is what the sailers in the streets do while selling something to foreigners.Nevertheless this is not to say that grammer is not necessary.
All in all I think language means life without which it is imposible to live and a social being effected by social situations.
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Anonymous said...

When we asked students to tell us what language is? The most common answer is that language is a communicational tool.Which helps us to understand each other and provides our necessity .But it is not such a simple thing.When I read the article '' An insctint to acquire an art''.I realise that language is a complex,specialized skill.Sometimes we see people talking on their own.It's a simple example to show that language is an instinct.As Pinker says language is a biological instinct.
Noam Chomsky has two point of views to define language.Firstly a person has to contain resipe or programme to understand the sentences .Because every sentence that we speak is created by us just for one time.As chomsky says ''virtually every sentence that a person utters or understands is a brand-new combination of words,appearing for the first time in the history of the universe''.
Secondly children develop these complex grammars rapidly and without formal instruction and grow up to give consistent inter pretations to novel sentence constructions that they have never before encountered.Language is something learned unconsiously by a child ,he has an innative urgue to talk and is not something that is learned consciously at school,at least not primarily.A good example: Language affect children and adults differently.For children who don't use language from birth,or who acquire an impairment during childhood ,Language may not be fully developed or acquired.
Even babies bableing because they need to talk,it comes from inside therefore it can be called insctinctive tendency.We can see simular thing in the spin webs like their web.Nobody forces them to or tells them how to spin webs,they do it on their own because of the need that comes from inside.


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Anonymous said...

Language is very important for communication. But it has more means. It is a complex thing. It is about culture and instinct. Language is very valuable for mankind. Because we understand people with language. In my opinion language is life.
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Anonymous said...

Language is a system of comLanguage is a system of communucation .we use it to explain or tell our desir ,wishes or problems etc.it is a biological and mental construct ,and it is future of human mind.
May be you’ll say that we can use the gestures and mimics for comunication.for ex. İf we are angry at someone, we can knit eyebrowss or if we ‘re happy we can smile and as a result person is able to understand us what we want to tell.but language is the most developed tool between them.speaking sperate human from the animal and other creatures.they produce sounds or the plantes open and close their leaves when it is necessary for living but we take it via environement and acquisation.Language has a social caracter.because it tells opinions.it assure agreement between the human and it refers to notions .it is a device of tought and tought is a voiceless speaking.Shortly,language is perception of universe and its reflextion using voices and words.language is a reason as well as result 0323050040 N.B

Anonymous said...

Voice is the most important component of language which is the main point of communication without any arguements.
A new-born baby comes to world with a crying voice. Unless a baby cries, he is smacked;thus the baby gives the first sign of life by his voice.
For a human being learning his native language is an unevenness journey which starts with imitation. Family and marginal circumstances effect and give form to the vocabulary that is used. Language is a whole with talking, reading, writing and thinking; so it is almost a livingthing which explains who we are.
There are myths about kids who were left to the jungle and learned how to act, eat and "talk" like the animals they were with. This refers to Pinker's text which says that laguage is instinctional. Language changes through geographical, psychological, historical, religious, social and individually overripe and acquired things of people.
As a conclusion is the sole thing that gives the oppotunity of sharing our souls with others.

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Özge Kavak

Anonymous said...

...God created the first person,
and then the others came to the earth.God gave lots of needs and abilities to his masterpiece.To find a place for living,to search food,to make clothes and to avoid from cold and harsh winter days,people had to communicate and share their ideas.It was a must for them.The way and the device of these necessities was language.A person in a society learn how to use language and how to speak to satisfy his/her desires.
so what is LANGUAGE?
Language is a rule system.A system of habits,disposition and abilities based on analogies and assosiations.
Our language ability is biologically innate.Some grammatical knowledges are already hardwired in our brain.Besides,our ability to use language is an instinct like the instinct to walk and see.
It is a gift given by God to his masterpiece.

Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

language is more than a communication device such as a technological staff or a bridge to bind culture and society.every new born baby or even a living creature has a way to express what it keeps in its poor mind. it cannot utter a sound like its elder ones, though.there is a system to communicate between two person, two plant or two animal. what is more there is a way to understand each other for a human and an animal. people speaks to themselves while waiting at a station, for instance. they express their own ideas to their own essence. all these above show a language students dilemma to define the term "language" so I can say language is just a key.

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