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Dagupan City

A Term Paper
Submitted in Partial Fulfillment
of the Requirements in

Communication Skills

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Submitted to:



June 08, 2015

What is Language?

Language is the most important aspect in the life of all beings.

We use language to express inner thoughts and emotions, make sense of complex and
abstract thought, to learn to communicate with others, to fulfill our wants and needs, as well as to
establish rules and maintain our culture.

Language can be defined as verbal, physical, biologically innate, and a basic form of
communication. Behaviorists often define language as a learned behavior involving a stimulus
and a response. (Ormrod,1995)

Often times they will refer to language as verbal behavior, which is language that
includes gestures and body movements as well as spoken word. ( Pierce,& Eplin,1999)

Language is the ability to acquire and use complex systems of communication,

particularly the human ability to do so, and a language is any specific example of such a system.
The scientific study of language is called linguistics.

Questions concerning the philosophy of language, such as whether words can represent
experience, have been debated since Gorgias and Plato in Ancient Greece. Thinkers such as
Rousseau have argued that language originated from emotions while others like Kant have held
that it originated from rational and logical thought. 20th-century philosophers such as
Wittgenstein argued that philosophy is really the study of language. Major figures in linguistics
include Ferdinand de Saussure and Noam Chomsky.

Estimates of the number of languages in the world vary between 5,000 and 7,000.
However, any precise estimate depends on a partly arbitrary distinction between languages and
dialects. Natural languages are spoken or signed, but any language can be encoded into
secondary media using auditory, visual, or tactile stimuli – for example, in graphic writing,
braille, or whistling. This is because human language is modality-independent. 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 and sign 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 has the properties of productivity, recursivity, and displacement, and
relies entirely on social convention and learning. Its complex structure affords a much wider
range of expressions than any known system of animal communication. Language is thought to
have originated when early hominins started gradually changing their primate communication
systems, acquiring the ability to form a theory of other minds and a shared intentionality.[1][2]
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 when they are approximately three
years old. The use of language is deeply entrenched in human culture. Therefore, in addition to
its strictly communicative uses, language also has many social and cultural uses, such as
signifying group identity, social stratification, as well as 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. The Indo-
European family is the most widely spoken and includes English, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian,
and Hindi; the Sino-Tibetan family, which includes Mandarin Chinese, Cantonese, and many
others; the Afro-Asiatic family, which includes Arabic, Amharic, Somali, and Hebrew; the Bantu
languages, which include Swahili, Zulu, Shona, and hundreds of other languages spoken
throughout Africa; and the Malayo-Polynesian languages, which include Indonesian, Malay,
Tagalog, Malagasy, and hundreds of other languages spoken throughout the Pacific. The
languages of the Dravidian family that are spoken mostly in Southern India include Tamil,
Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam. Academic consensus holds that between 50% and 90% of
languages spoken at the beginning of the twenty-first century will probably have become extinct
by the year 2100.
Why Do Languages Change?

Why do languages change? Well, there's been many theories about why languages
change. This has intrigued people since time immemorial and it seems that almost everybody has
an idea. One early example can be found in Bible in the form of the Tower of Babel, where God
decided humans got a little too much hubris and so made their lives miserable by giving
everybody different languages.

As science became a more dominant force in society, scientific explanations to language

change were proposed. Here's a few through the years:

Language Decay?

The 18th century view of language is one of decay and decadence. Their reasoning is that
the old Indo-European languages like Sanskrit, Greek and Latin all have complex declension and
conjugation schemes, where as the modern Indo-European languages have far fewer cases for
declension and conjugation. This "loss" of declension and conjugation cases was a result of
speakers of the language getting increasingly careless about their speech (read "lazy"), so the
modern speakers are "decadent" as they have allowed the once complex language to decay into
such a "simple" language.

Obviously, this "decadence" argument has one major flaw. Even though the number of
declensions and conjugations has dwindled, other parts of speech such as particles and auxiliary
verbs have evolved to take their place. Anything that can be expressed in the ancient tongue can
still be expressed today. Ultimately, this theory is highly subjective, as it relies on personal
opinions, not scientific facts, of what is "highly evolved" and what is "decadent". Therefore this
is not science.

Even though linguistics has moved beyond this 18th century theory of language decay,
many self-appointed pundits are still using this excuse to stamp out dialectal variations
throughout the world by justifying the dialects as "decadent". This is, of course, complete
nonsense, as even the most weird sounding dialect has regular grammatical structure and works
perfectly to express ideas as well as the standard language.

Natural Law?

The next theory, proposed by the Neogrammarians (Junggrammatiker) in the late 19th
century, is one of natural process. The Neogrammarians stated that changes are automatic and
mechanical, and therefore cannot be observed or controlled by the speakers of the language.
They found that what sounds like a single "sound" to a human ear is actually a collection of very
similar sounds. They call these similar sounds "low-level deviation" from an "idealized form".
They argue that language change is simply a slow shift of the "idealized form" by small

The obvious problem here is that without some kind of reinforcement, the deviation
might go back and forth and cancel out any change. Then the Neogrammarians patched this
theory by adding reasons for reinforcing the deviation such as simplification of sounds, or
children imperfectly learning the speech of their parents.

The simplification of sounds basically states that certain sounds are easier to pronounce
than others, so the natural tendency of the speakers is to modify the hard-to-say sounds to easier
ones. An example of this would be the proto-Romance word /camera/ "room" changing into early
French /camra/. It is hard to say /m/ and /r/ one after another, so it was "simplified" by adding /b/
in between, to /cambra/ (hence leading to modern French "chambre"). A more recent example is
the English word "nuclear", which many people pronounce as "nucular". The problem with this
patch is that since not everything in a language is hard-to-pronounce (unless you're speaking
Klingon), the process would only work for a small part of the language, and could not be
responsible for a majority of sounds changes. Secondly, it is highly questionable to determine
whether "nucular" or "nuclear" is easier to pronounce. You'll get different answers from different
people. Simplification no doubt exists, but using it as a reason (not a symptom) of language
change is too subjective to be scientific.

The next patch, that of children incorrectly learning the language of their parents, doesn't
work either. Let's take an extreme case in the form of immigrants. What is observed is that
children of immigrants almost always learn the language of their friends at school regardless of
the parents' dialect or original language. (And yes, the children become multilingual, but that's
another story...) In fact, children of British immigrants in the United States nearly always speak
with one of the many regional American accents. So in this case, the parents' linguistic
contribution becomes less important than the social group the child is in. Which leads to...

It's Social Bonding

The last theory advanced during this century is a social one, advocated by the American
linguist William Labov. What he found was that at the beginning a small part of a population
pronounces certain words that have, for example, the same vowel, differently than the rest of the
population. This occurs naturally since humans don't all reproduce exactly the same sounds.
However, at some later point in time, for some reason this difference in pronunciation starts to
become a signal for social and cultural identity. Others of the population who wish to be
identified with the group either consciously or (more likely) unknowingly adopt this difference,
exaggerate it, and apply it to change the pronunciation of other words. If given enough time, the
change ends up affecting all words that possess the same vowel, and so that this becomes a
regular linguistic sound change.
We can argue that similar phenomena apply to the grammar and to the lexicon of
languages. An interesting example is that of computer-related words creeping into standard
American language, like "bug", "crash", "net", "email", etc. This would conform to the theory in
that these words originally were used by a small group (i.e. computer scientists), but with the
boom in the Internet everybody wants to become technology-savvy. And so these computer
science words start to filter into the mainstream language. We are currently at the exaggeration
phase, where people are coining weird terms like "cyberpad" and "dotcom" which not only drive
me crazy but also didn't exist before in computer science.
Reaction Paper on the Given Blog

English is used by many different people in many different settings for many different
purposes. It is considered as the “international language” since most of the countries use English
in their communication, instruction, and transactions.

According to the article of Mr. Richard Firsten in a blog, English is a constantly evolving
language. In his article, he presented some changes in the language which are basically proper
and most of us are not aware of these.

It is quite true that changes in the English language cannot all be found in the textbooks.
Some changes in the language are brought by technology, and time. And we must be aware of
these changes so that what we are accurate and up-to-date.

On the second article of Mr. Firsten entitled “Wussup Wit’ Dat?”, he emphasized the
importance of having solid skills in using standard dialect that is understood by everybody.
Having these skills will be absolutely a great advantage. Since you are equipped with these
skills, surely you will be easily understood and misunderstanding and miscommunication are

Likewise, having the skills in dialectical variation can be considered as immense benefit.
If you have these skills, you can be easily understood by other people who have the same dialect
with yours. However, better if you know how to switch and use standard English in settings
appropriate for that dialect as well.
Varieties of English

English is spoken today on all five continents as a result of colonial expansion in the last
four centuries or so. The colonial era is now definitely over but its consequences are only too
clearly to be seen in the presence of English as an official and often native language in many of
the former colonies along with more or less strongly diverging varieties which arose in particular
socio-political conditions, so-called pidgins which in some cases later developed into creoles.
Another legacy of colonialism is where English fulfils the function of a lingua franca. Many
countries, like Nigeria, use English as a lingua franca (a general means of communication) since
there are many different and mutually unintelligible languages and a need for a supra-regional
means of communication.

English is used by many different people in many different settings for many different
purposes. Naturally, the result is that English is not a single unified whole but comes in many
different packages. Linguists have had to develop a number of different specialized terms to
label the different ways we have of using English.

1. Regional variations abound in England, the U.S., Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, Australia,
India, Africa, Asia. These varieties differ considerably in pronunciation and much less so in
vocabulary and grammar.

2. Within those regions, sub-regions exist Southern U.S., for example and the many dialect
groupings in England. An important point: someone from England might not be able to sort out
all the various U.S. dialects but would lump us all together as American where we hear clear
differences between people from Ohio and people from Alabama.

3. All of these varieties of English are different but also alike they share a common core of
language that makes them all English.

4. In addition to regional variations, English has sub-groups of speakers who are alike in
education or social standing. Features of pronunciation and grammar are used to link people
together as members of the same social group and are part of the social identity of the members.

5. English can also be analyzed into subsets based on the language of particular types of
communication discourse types. The language of applied linguists, for example, or of car
mechanics. Generally, these types are identified with specialized vocabulary.

6. English can also differ depending on whether it is written or spoken. This topic is a complex
one that we’ll return to throughout the semester. The language of conversation is different from
the language of a research report, but the language of conversation can be quite like the language
of written advertisements. This topic is hugely important for ESL/EFL teachers as we sort out
which type of English we are teaching and help students learn to use language appropriate to the
communication setting.

7. Finally, linguists sometimes talk about varieties of English based on style. Style is often
divided into loose sub-groups labeled things like formal, neutral, and informal.