What is Language: Definition and 610 Discussions

A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, based on speech and gesture (spoken language), sign, or often writing. The structure of language is its grammar and the free components are its vocabulary. Many languages, including the most widely-spoken ones, have writing systems that enable sounds or signs to be recorded for later reactivation.
The scientific study of language is called linguistics. Critical examinations of languages, such as philosophy of language, the relationships between language and thought, etc, such as how words represent experience, have been debated at least since Gorgias and Plato in ancient Greek civilization. Thinkers such as Rousseau (1712 – 1778) have debated that language originated from emotions, while others like Kant (1724 –1804), have held that languages originated from rational and logical thought. Twentieth century philosophers such as Wittgenstein (1889 – 1951) argued that philosophy is really the study of language itself. Major figures in contemporary linguistics of these times include Ferdinand de Saussure and Noam Chomsky.
Estimates of the number of human languages in the world vary between 5,000 and 7,000. However, any precise estimate depends on the arbitrary distinction (dichotomy) between languages and dialect. Natural languages are spoken or signed (or both), but any language can be encoded into secondary media using auditory, visual, or tactile stimuli – for example, in writing, whistling, signing, or braille. In other words, human language is modality-independent, but written or signed language is the way to inscribe or encode the natural human speech or gestures. Depending on philosophical perspectives regarding the definition of language and meaning, when used as a general concept, "language" may refer to the cognitive ability to learn and use systems of complex communication, or to describe the set of rules that makes up these systems, or the set of utterances that can be produced from those rules. All languages rely on the process of semiosis to relate signs to particular meanings. Oral, manual and tactile languages contain a phonological system that governs how symbols are used to form sequences known as words or morphemes, and a syntactic system that governs how words and morphemes are combined to form phrases and utterances.
Human language is unique among known systems of animal communication in that it is not dependent on a single mode of transmission (sight, sound etc.), it is highly variable between cultures and across time, and affords a much wider range of expression than other systems. It has the properties of productivity and displacement, and relies on social convention and learning. Language is thought to have gradually diverged from earlier primate communication systems when early hominins acquired the ability to form a theory of mind and shared intentionality. This development is sometimes thought to have coincided with an increase in brain volume, and many linguists see the structures of language as having evolved to serve specific communicative and social functions. Language is processed in many different locations in the human brain, but especially in Broca's and Wernicke's areas. Humans acquire language through social interaction in early childhood, and children generally speak fluently by approximately three years old. Language and culture are codependent. Therefore, in addition to its strictly communicative uses, language has social uses such as signifying group identity, social stratification, as well as use for social grooming and entertainment.
Languages evolve and diversify over time, and the history of their evolution can be reconstructed by comparing modern languages to determine which traits their ancestral languages must have had in order for the later developmental stages to occur. A group of languages that descend from a common ancestor is known as a language family; in contrast, a language that has been demonstrated to not have any living or non-living relationship with another language is called a language isolate. There are also many unclassified languages whose relationships have not been established, and spurious languages may have not existed at all. Academic consensus holds that between 50% and 90% of languages spoken at the beginning of the 21st century will probably have become extinct by the year 2100.

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  1. H

    What is the meaning of 'Hapless'?

    I always thought it meant "incompetent," but the dictionary says "unlucky." Huh. I now say that hapless is used as a euphemism for incompetence.
  2. H

    How Do Tagalog Words Express Complex Emotions?

    nakakapagpabagabag It's Tagalog for "worrisome."
  3. J

    How do you switch language from German to English with 8.1 knoppix usb

    Hello I'm booting from 8.1 Knoppix usb and want to switch the language settings from German to UK English but don't know how. Thanks
  4. R

    How Can Returning Students Overcome Challenges in Online Physics Courses?

    Hello everyone! I am a returned student after 15 years of being out of school. Physics is very challenging for me, especially taking it in a different language. I like this forum because the instructors here don't just give the answers to the problems students ask, but they help the students...
  5. N

    Comp Sci Acoustic Model and Language Model

    Question: My Answer: Is it correct? Thank you
  6. ohwilleke

    Physics Guidance For Writing Scientific Papers In A Second Language

    I feel compelled to note a valuable new article in the magazine Science about the task of writing scientific papers in English when your native language is not English. The article is written by a Chinese scientist who did his PhD in the U.K. The basic message is to keep it simple. Use short...
  7. Eclair_de_XII

    Is it normal for a student to get frustrated learning a coding language?

    ... after many failed attempts at figuring it out? Is it normal for him to soon after declare himself done trying to figure out the solution and the language, only to return to it after only a short period of distancing himself from it by a short walk or some number of hours goofing off? Is it...
  8. S

    Physics Most Common Programming Language in Physics Career

    HELLO ALL, First off, my apologies if this topic is redundant, but I was wondering which programming language is widely applicable to a physics career. What positions in a Physics related career use what specific languages? What is one's best option if one is pursuing a research position versus...
  9. H

    Lingusitics What is the Easiest Spoken Language to Learn?

    What is the easiest foreign language to learn? It depends strongly on your native language. To mitigate this, I'm making the rule that the language has to be in a different language group than your native tongue. You English speakers are forbidden to chose any Indo-European language.
  10. C

    Call program written in language B from program written in language A

    Let's say I have an algorithm ## ALG_A ## written in language ##A##, and I wish to call algorithm ## ALG_B ## written in language ##B## through ## ALG_A ##. What are some ways of achieving this in implementation? For example, say I want to calculate stuff in C language and provide this...
  11. gleem

    Ethical and social risks of harm from Language Models

    I thought this paper might be of interest to those who are interested in how large language models such as GPT-3 pose various hazards. From the abstract: It is quite long but particularly attractive because it gives advice on how to read it for those who can only afford a minute or 10...
  12. S

    [BASIC language] Removing an array element -- how?

    I cannot figure how to do this. I looked through some old programming textbook and tried an online search and still cannot find. How can one element from an array be removed, and then the array put together but now with the one item less, and so the array is now one item smaller than it was...
  13. F

    Lingusitics Is English a Soft or Harsh Language for Communication?

    English is a soft language. How to make the language soft? Is the tongue relax, not tense...?I ask this question because my voice is hard.English also rounded, less angular language than example Germany.Does soft voice lead to rounded, less angular voice?
  14. M

    Comp Sci Interrupts on pic18f452 not shooting in mplab X, help? C language

    I am using MPLAB X, everything is working great when I work on examples that require smaller or no preload at all, I do not understand why that is the case, is there a limit to the TMR0L? Hello please help asap, my specific case I have: 4MHz crystal -----> 1 / (4MHz / 4) = 1MHz timer I...
  15. C

    Help with this emu8086 assembly language problem please

    Summary:: my code has been successfully showing the right decrement of the letter. however, i tried to put space in between the letter output but its output became repititive letters. this is the original output when i try to put space it become like this i want to put spaces on the output...
  16. BillTre

    Lingusitics Great Human Genetics, Language and Culture Podcast

    I just listened to a great podcast on the explosion of human genomic data about human migration, which ties in with the spread of ancient language groups, and reveals some of past cultural practices. It is Sean Carroll's Mindscape podcast #179; David Reich on genetics and ancient humanity...
  17. LCSphysicist

    Computational Book on data/error analysis using R language?

    Hello there. Could you please recommend me a book that focus on data/error analysis and that, at the same time, provides examples of how to use the R programming language to such things? It could be using the python or c++ languages instead. The only books i have came across use fortran, but...
  18. C

    Comp Sci Complexity for generating strings of length k from CNF grammar

    Here's the following code I've written for generating strings of length k given a CNF grammar ( Chomsky Normal Form grammar ) ( The code is a recursive variant of the CYK algorithm ). The algorithm is recursive and uses memoization. def generate_language(rule_dict, start_var, k): mem =...
  19. T

    Lingusitics Question about irrationality and irrational language <moved>

    What part of the brain and/or mind does interpreting irrationality or irational language exersize/use? Hi, I couldn't find anything about this on nets and also went on a teachers forum and still haven't herd back from them for about 1 month or over a month now so I am positng this question here...
  20. L

    Relativity Special relativity in Lagrangian and Hamiltonian language

    Some introduction books on Lagrangian and Hamiltonian mechanics use classical mechanics as the theoretical framework, and when it come to special relativity it goes back to the basics and force language again. I would like to ask for some recommendations on good books that introduces Lagrangian...
  21. phoenix-anna

    Turing-recognizable infinite language, decidable subset

    Summary:: Show that every infinite Turning-recognizable language has an infinite decidable subset Sipser's Theory of Computation, third edition, chapter three contains and exercise that asks us to demonstrate this. I don't know how to do this; I have certain ideas. We could modify the...
  22. N

    Programming language: what to study after the basics?

    Hey everyone :). after studying c++ and a bit of phyton in the university (not in a career related to programming), I was wondering what to study after the basics. youtube tutorials are at about the same level as I was at (inheritance, class, pointer), not more advance... what is the...
  23. D

    Python How does one assess progress when learning a programming language?

    I'm a physics major (Junior) who would like to learn a programming language. Many suggest Python as a good starting language, so let's suppose that is the language I want to first learn. This isn't for employability or general usefulness; rather, I'm just curious. How exactly does one go about...
  24. bagasme

    Playing Video Games in a Language You Don't Understand

    Hi, I have PlayStation(R) 2 gaming console on my house. It is considered legacy per today's standard (as there are new-generation PlayStation(R) 5), but still popular here. One of games that I installed on the console is Sengoku Basara. The gameplay is similar to Dynasty Warriors, but I won't...
  25. bagasme

    Lingusitics Learning Target Language with Mother Tongue-subtitled Series

    Hi, Supposed that Raul was learning Korean, because he would like to work with BTS and BLACKPINK's agency, which requires fluency in Korean. And let's assumed that his mother tongue language is Indonesian. After several months of courses and he adequately understood Korean, he decided to watch...
  26. Astronuc

    Lingusitics (BBC) Bolze is more than a just a language: it’s a cultural identity

    Cool article by By Molly Harris (BBC), 23rd April 2019 https://www.bbc.com/travel/article/20190422-the-swiss-language-that-few-know I've wondered about places like Alsace and Lorraine that have moved back and forth among two nations/states/regions, or for that matter, the borders of nations...
  27. A

    MHB Proof that lim loga_n/n = 0 in epsilon delta language

    Let $\,a>0\,,\,a\neq1\,$ be a real number. We can prove by using the continuity of $\ln n$ function that $\;\lim\limits_{n\to\infty}\dfrac{\log_an}n=0\;$ However, this problem appears in my problems book quite early right after the definition of $\epsilon$-language definition of limit of a...
  28. Arman777

    A Tensorial calculations - Best computational Language

    I have given a metric in terms of the spherical coordinates ##(r, \theta, \phi)##. The problem is that I need to find the Riemann/Ricci Tensor and Riccl Scalar from the given metric by using code. I wonder what type of language (such as Python, Mathematica, Matlab, etc.) I should use it to make...
  29. A

    Comp Sci Appendix C problem -- Machine Language Subtraction

    2010 210F Can only get this far without running into issues
  30. Y

    Best Programming Language for a Smart Teenager

    OK, since you guys are just talking amount yourselves, I want to ask a question about learning C++. I really want to expose my grand daughter to programming. She's 14 only. I was going to learn Python and work with her as it's supposed to be easier. But I am thinking, what if I work with her to...
  31. I

    Comp Sci C language "too many arguments for format" error

    I have a problem there,I want to Users decide a,b,c,d,e numbers. if I write printf("enter numbers:"); scanf("%d",&a); printf("enter numbers:"); scanf("%d",&b);... if ı do like that ,it has not any problem but its not effective,Program always asking number a,b,c etc. My wish is...
  32. htam9876

    Lingusitics Foreign language translation help please, “have been around”

    I am a guy whose first language is not English. Sometimes I feel hard to understand what an English word means exactly even resorting to dictionary or machine. So, I start this thread to learn English. Any help will be appreciated. Liqiang Chen Sept 18, 2020 ……………………………….. Yesterday, I...
  33. Whipley Snidelash

    Lingusitics Why haven’t we given any other species the gift of language?

    Why haven’t we given any other species the gift of language? It’s pretty clear that there are several other species with not only the capability to learn communication, like sign language, but also the ability to pass it on. We have seen various primates and others pass on the knowledge of tool...
  34. Borek

    Lingusitics Another language question - where do you run from the world?

    In Polish we have a saying "to move to Bieszczady Mountains". While technically it means just relocating to a beautiful part of Poland, it is usually used in the context of running away from the civilization, hiding from problems related to corporate or academia work, moving to a place where...
  35. Borek

    Lingusitics Ah, another of these language questions....

    Chemical calculators, chemistry calculators, calculators for chemists - which of these sounds/looks best? (If it matters, let's say US audience). I need it for an ad and I don't want the ad to be ruined by an awkward wording. After all, I will pay for impressions so I want the highest possible...
  36. J

    Best Environment/Programming Language for simple physics Simulations

    Hello, I am looking for something to simulate/visualize simple particles and classical physics equations, preferably moving in real time Requirements: -Able to turn matrices/functions into geometric representations(visualize sphere, visualize a cylinder etc.) -Can do the classic ball bouncing...
  37. Y

    Trying to decide which programming language I want to learn

    Hi I just want to learn a language, but I don't know which one is best for me. I did programming back in the 70s and early 80s, mainly in assembly language. I learned Fortran, Basic and Pascal before, but they are so old. I since changed my career to analog and RF electronic designs and had not...
  38. T

    B Do we need another language other than math?

    Hi, a little question. What if mathematics can't be used to understand the quantum world because, quantum world is the building blocks of mathematics? What if there's another "language" we need to use to interpret "the manual" on how to use the building blocks of the quantum world? Sorry...
  39. nughii

    Error in trapezoidal integration using a Programming language

    Summary:: I want to iterate a mathematical model using a programming language. The equation of the mathematical model is simple. The following is a brief explanation. I want to iterate a mathematical model using a programming language. The equation of the mathematical model is simple. The...
  40. w4y021

    Can a Body Language Algorithm Reveal Our True Emotions?

    These days there is a question confuses me if it can be real or not. 2-3 years ago when I was looking around papers about computer sciences on the web, I came across to a sceintific paper which mentions an algorithm about analysing your language even it's a foreign language. So when you speak...
  41. P

    Comp Sci MIPS assembly language homework

    All I have is li $t0, 0xaaaaaaaa li $t1, 0x24924924 move $s0, $t0 Because I think it is best to hardcode them in.
  42. filip97

    A Huygens Principle - how to explain this with classical language?

    I was read this article(https://engineering.purdue.edu/wcchew/ece604f19/Lecture%20Notes/Lect31.pdf). I was read this paper about Huygens' principle(https://engineering.purdue.edu/wcchew/ece604f19/Lecture%20Notes/Lect31.pdf) Main idea of Huygens' principle is how wave function ##ψ(r)##...
  43. sysprog

    Computational Free Programming Language Textbooks

    Links to pages for open source textbooks for 35 programming languages and for no-charge textbooks for 3 more: https://www.ossblog.org/opensourcebooks/.
  44. S

    Which resources are best for learning assembly language as a beginner?

    So I made it one of my projects to learn assembly language. Hoo boy. Started looking through online pdfs and some are extremely advanced jumping into like 5 different developing environments and others assume I'm dumb as a nut and don't even know binary representations of numbers or simple logic...
  45. B

    Second programming language to get under the belt: python vs C

    Hello everybody, I am a master student in Theoretical Chemistry and I am working in the DFT realm. Both TDDFT and DFT applied to extended systems (eg. using QUANTUM ESPRESSO). Of course I work with these softwares from a end-user point of view, not as a developer. But anyway, even if some of...
  46. A

    Courses What language should I learn for Physics/Astronomy jobs?

    I need to take a language course to complete my physics degree and I am wondering which language will be more beneficial in the job market for physics/astronomy. I am either going to take Spanish or Mandarin. I did notice that there are a lot of physics/astronomy jobs in Latin America so will...
  47. D

    MHB Natural Language Processing Help

    Hey, I need some help with the following exercise, it's probably not as hard as I think but I can't really think clear right now. I would really appreciate your folks help, thanks in advance :) I wasn't sure wether to post this in the computer science or statistics category so I posted it in...
  48. arcTomato

    Engineering The power spectrum of a sine wave (C language)

    Hi I would like to Derive the power spectrum of sinusoid.I tried like this. But It doesn't work. <Moderator: CODE tags added> #include <stdio.h> #include <math.h> #define pi 3.1415926535 FILE *in_file, *out_file; int main() { dft(); } int dft(int argc, char *argv[]) { char...