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Essay on Language and Communication | Human Behaviour | Psychology

Essay on Language Variation

❶So unless the background relating to a particular transaction on which action is to be taken is made clear, there may be a delay or even a wrong action at the end of the receiver. If such irrelevant communications are frequently sent, then even a relevant subsequent communication is likely to be ignored.

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Thus, we may see how fantastic languages are in that, though their basic units are limited, their combinations in various ways have resulted in the generation of unlimited number of morphemes. We may thus say that language is an open system, even mild variations in the intonations of these phonemics can result in new morphemes. One observation which has been engaging the attention of life scientists including psychologists is that many of the activities which we see at the human level are also seen in the behaviour of sub-human organisms.

This interest is a direct result of the Darwinian theory of evolution. Do sub-human organisms exhibit and employ a particular activity or activities seen at the human level, and if so how far down the levels of the evolution ladder this activity is seen? Further, if these activities are found to be present at the lower levels do they serve the same purposes as they do at the human level?

Do they show the same degree of complexity and individual variations? Are the differences between sub-human forms of such activities and human forms different only in degree or are they also qualitatively different?

This search for the presence of human level activities at the level of the lower organisms has been extended to languages also. Scholars have been trying to explore whether there exists some forms of social interaction among animals based on languages. Some of the earliest and classical studies of Wheeler and Fabre have shown evidence for the existence of some elementary forms of social organisation among animals and insects. It has also been shown that some forms of social interaction and communication exist among birds.

A number of studies have been undertaken on sub-human organisms at higher levels like apes and chimpanzees who are the immediate evolutionary ancestors of the human beings.

Such studies have shown that they live in clans and also possess embryonic forms of power hierarchy. This being so, it is only logical for forms of communication to exist among these animals, may be these forms of communication are not linguistic. If we define language as essentially a system of signs used for expressing and communicating, then there certainly appears to be some form of language though not necessarily phonetic in form.

A number of studies involving observation of animals in situations involving coping with certain crises situations have shown that at the levels of animals while one may not find linguistic and verbal communication, nevertheless a variety of body movements, sounds and even emission of certain odours exist and play a definite communicative role and perform functions including expression, influencing, signalling, etc.

Thus, certain sounds are made when an enemy is seen as an expression of a felt threat which in turn acts as a communication to other members of the group, thereby influencing their action and making them run away. Among the geese, a set of vocal displays have been repeatedly observed to prepare to escape as a group. Vocalization or other forms of sounds have been found in birds during hatching seasons and these vocalizations set in motion a general reaction to make other birds react in a similar manner.

Touch language is also prevalent as preliminary to mating between two members of the same species — one male and the other a female. Animals at the higher levels of the animal world like apes and chimpanzees have the ability to acquire, store and retrieve information to a much simpler extent than in the case of the human.

If this is the case then, at-least at the level of the chimpanzee, there should be some elementary form of language. A strong case for the presence of such a basic language at the level of the apes has been made out by investigators like C. Carpenter and many others have identified anywhere between 9 to 20 sounds with different meanings used by apes. But the one observation has been that while such a sound language may initiate action in other members of the species, nevertheless there is no dialogue or conversation.

The language and communication seems to operate one way. Further, they are found to be used only in emotion led situations and are very situation specific as in attracting a mate or signalling the arrival of an enemy. Thus, situationised considerations of direction and guiding physiological action seem to be the main functions of such sounds. Of course, there is nothing purely verbal and in that sense nonverbal language, speech or communication among members of lower organisms seems to exist.

One may then conclude, if we look at language purely as a tool of expression and communication directed to influence the behaviour of others, there does seem to be adequate evidence to indicate the existence of some rudimentary forms of language among animals and this is in parts in the form of physical movements or sounds or directly involve display, situation specific and one way.

Animals do not know how to use a word or a sentence or for that matter any form of verbiage. Certain investigators however, have gone a little further and tried to find out whether even if there is evidence in the case of higher level animals like gorillas or chimpanzees about their having a language, do they have the structural capacity of the brain?

This has been doubted by another group of investigators. Similarly, one can raise the question, can we teach human language to the apes? A few interesting studies have been undertaken in this regard. In a very interesting study along these lines, Keith Hays and Cathy Hays adopted an infant chimpanzee Vicki and brought her up as a human child. Despite intensive efforts they found that all attempts to teach Vicki to speak like a human child were futile, Vicki being able to utter hardly three barely recognisable words or sounds after three years of teaching.

But at the same time, they found that although Vicki could not utter these words, she was able to comprehend many more words of the English language.

Thus, in many other chimpanzees who were studied, it was found that though there is no ability on the part of the animals to utter or speak, they were able to understand and interpret.

In view of this, it was concluded that human language is unique to the human species because they are distinct from animals. Human infants are not capable of producing many speech sounds. It has been found that this is because of their underdeveloped vocal tracts and memory and also because of their inability to make certain articulate movements needed for speech production. Lie Beevan and others found that many mature non-human primates faced the same problem as human infants.

Their vocal tracts are smaller like those of human infants. On the other hand, studies intending to find out whether primates perceive the speech sounds, in ways similar to the ways perceived by human beings, have produced mostly negative results or at any rate results which are not clear. Overall, there appears to be a broad consensus, perhaps, tentative that primates including chimpanzees are not well endowed with the capacity to acquire the ability to communicate using speech.

But, what about other aspects like comprehension? Children who are not able to speak certainly appear to be quick in other aspects like responding, interpreting, comprehending, etc. Beatrice and Garner undertook a pioneering investigation attempting to teach American sign language to Owashowe — a chimpanzee.

Owashowe was brought up in the house trailer, interacting with a number of human beings who while in her presence never spoke verbal languages but used sign communication extensively. Signs were used to communicate objects; questions were asked in sign form. In the beginning the progress was very slow. But by the end of about 22 weeks Owashowe could acquire a vocabulary of nearly 34 signs and use these under appropriate situations. Other investigators like Premark based on their studies on chimpanzees arrived at more interesting conclusions.

The task involved here was slightly different. Here, the chimpanzee Sara had to learn to equate certain utterances with a set of distinctly coloured and shaped plastic pieces arranged in a pattern and stuck to a plastic board. The utterances were a pattern of sticking together a set of such pieces. Results were really surprising and the chimpanzees could learn this language to a very high degree of complexity.

Here, the attempt by the experimenter does not require the animal to translate the language into human language terms. She only had to learn a non-verbal way of uttering what was uttered by the investigator.

Researches like this show that while chimpanzees may not go far in learning a human language and speak the same, their ability to code, encode and decode symbolic cognitive inputs like colour pieces, cannot be written off. Research in this area has certainly pointed out that even at the higher level of evolution, the animals are not very capable of learning and speaking the human type language and produce speech sounds. But, because of this, one cannot say with the same degree of certainty that they do not comprehend language symbols, or forms of relations among them.

A chimpanzee can learn a language of different types. Of course, it does not mean much, but one or two sounds become clear. The nature and structure of the brain and the vocal apparatus at the human level thus make a qualitative and quantitative difference in the language behaviour of sub-human organism and the human being.

Apart from this basic biological structure, there are greater number of language based interactions, and also more numerous opportunities for mastering a language, at the disposal of the human being which definitely make for a difference between human language and sub-human language. If language is such an important part of human life, then it certainly must have served human beings very well and also useful purposes.

What are the various functions of language? Essentially, as a common man sees, language has two obvious functions; first it serves a person to express oneself and then communicate. Through an expression one is able to inform, request, persuade, threaten or influence others. This is the beginning of social life. When people are able to express to each other, naturally they are able to interact with each other and understand what others are saying or doing. Based on such an interpretation there is the beginning of action.

This phenomenon goes on. Thus, we may see that language helps in expressing, understanding, interpreting and communicating events those inside a person and when there is a reciprocal action one can see how social interaction starts.

The entire fabric of social life is thus based on an ability to express, interpret, understand and influence, first reciprocally, then in an extended manner. Thus, one may see that language is at the very foundation of human civilisation. Perhaps, this is a very simple statement of what is happening. When I say I understand and interpret, there is a cognitive function; when I say, make others accept or act, there is a social function, one of relating myself to others.

When I talk and smile, this is an affective function. Language helps people to develop, shape perception, share interpretations, share expectations, and share expressions and also feelings and emotions. We may now briefly examine some of the basic functions of language. Some of these are obvious and others are not so obvious. Let us for a moment imagine that a sub-human organism or a primitive human being faces for the first time a condition of hunger or fear, sees another strange animal or hears a sudden noise.

Cutting across all these one would have faced a condition of disturbed equilibrium which might have resulted in the feeling of fear, surprise, joy, delight, hunger, or whatever it is. However scientific our modern researches may be, common sense tells us that the earliest form of linguistic reaction must have originated under such a situation.

A classical example is the birth cry of a new born child. In all these instances, it may be seen that the origins of language lay in an articulation or expression of the state of the organism; but while being an act of expression, it also becomes an act of trying to understand and interpret the strange feelings or state of affairs.

Now, we may begin our attempts to understand various usages, and functions served by language or linguistic behaviour which includes the sound language of some animals and also the sign language used in various categories. The functions of language can be classified under two or three broad categories — 1. Expressive and Communicative Functions 2. The Functions of Remembering and Thinking 5. Social Functions of Language 7. Various languages spoken by different groups of people differ in as many dimensions as there are to language behaviour.

The simple language of a stone-age tribal community is far different from one of the developed and complex languages of today. Not only this, languages also change, grow and evolve. For example, some languages like Latin or Sanskrit are referred to as dead languages in that they have not changed over a time because of not being actively used, particularly in speech, and also because they have not interacted with other languages.

But, amidst all these variations across space, and over time, are there any universal characteristics and structures of language?

Here again there is a debate with one group of scholars who argue for the existence of universal characteristics, others deny the existence of any such universal characteristics.

But the controversy notwithstanding, there are some universal characteristics of language. The message words and sentences , in any language are brought out from a limited number of units. Language terms are arbitrary. No one can explain why an elephant should be called an elephant and a man by the word man.

There is no reason, or if there is any reason, we do not know. Of course, there are some words in every language where one can see a similarity between a word and the object, it denotes. This word is based on the sound of the crow crowing. Such a connection is called onomatopoeic — similarity in sound.

This means that tomorrow if we decide to call a cat as a cow and a cow as a cat, there is nothing to stop it. As pointed out, in every language new terms, words and messages are generated easily. Every language grows, and the number of words, sentences and idioms keep on growing depending on experience, increasing complexity of life and interaction with other people and other languages.

This means no one can claim that he or she has completely learnt or mastered a certain language or the messages in a particular language. These three characteristics-discreteness, arbitrariness and openness are universal features of all languages. The presence of such universal features has raised the question as to whether there is a certain universal language or linguistic structures present in all human beings cutting across languages and therefore, not language specific.

A leading advocate of such a view is Chomsky. According to Chomsky there are some universal structures or formal operations in languages, which underline the semantic or meaning aspect.

These theorists have been trying to identify certain universalities, similarities and regularities in language behaviour across language and cultural variations.

It is hoped that such research can ultimately help in building up a universal grammar. Once such universal grammar is developed, then it is easier for one person to learn another language. But more than this, if this possibility becomes true it will help us to achieve a better understanding of the entire system of cognitive processes including speech, memory, learning, thinking and perception.

Such a view would help us to understand the innate biological processes and necessities which condition language behaviour. According to Chomsky, language behaviour is not purely learnt by accident or conditioning and much of it is biological and species-specific.

The human being is basically a biological organism, born as a biological creature becoming a social and psychological organism.

Certainly, some views hold that the human being is inherently social. Assuming that the adult human being is more social than merely physiological, it may be pointed out that, elementary forms of social behaviour are evident even in lower animals. While the human being may be much more social and complex, social nature of behaviour is not an exclusive privilege of the human organism. Secondly, all social actions of the human organism take place only through the available bio-physiological mechanisms and if human social behaviour is much more advanced than that of the lower organisms, this is very much because of the highly advanced and developed body system he or she is endowed with, particularly the human brain.

All human actions therefore, have their basis in physiological and neurological possibilities. This is true of language behaviour including speech behaviour. The question is, how far is language behaviour including speech is determined by biological endowments. Here theories of language behaviour differ, in the degree of importance they attain biological mechanism. Though no theory questions the essential minimal requirements of the biological equipment and mechanisms for achieving normal and effective language behaviour, some scientists like Chomsky argue that there are innately endowed biological language structures which are universal.

Lenneberg believes that the unique human pattern of communication is possible only because of certain biological propensities and possibilities for complex language behaviour, particularly speech. According to Lenneberg, there must be clear specialisation in the brain in relation to its anatomical structure and other speech related mechanisms. Further, the fact that children across the culture and sub-culture show a lot of similarities in language and speech behaviour indicates that there should be a regular and uniform pattern of development in children regardless of socio-cultural variations.

Lenneberg further states that there ought to be innate and biological processes of the system which makes language development possible in spite of many handicaps and disabilities. The failure of sub-human organisms to acquire comparable language and speech abilities, according to Lenneberg is a further proof of the unique and distinct structure and specialised characteristics of the human body particularly the cerebral cortex. Finally, Lenneberg cites the existence of language universality in phonology, syntax, grammar, etc.

One of the basic functions of language is communication. Communication plays a very important role in our lives. We communicate with members of our family who are living with us, with our friends, with our colleagues, with our bosses and everyone including a pet-dog. Let us not forget that we communicate with ourselves. Of course, this is not the same as talking to oneself.

We communicate with people who are present with us. Thus, when your mother, or the father or the teacher says something to you, this is called direct communication. Similarly, when you talk to your friend on the telephone, this is also called direct communication. But if you are leaving on some urgent work and ask your brother to pass on a message to your parents or some other friends, this is indirect communication. Here you are passing on a message to one person through some other person. This communication is not direct, but indirect.

Similarly, a teacher teaching to a class of pupils is engaged in direct communication. This is communication between an individual on one side and a group of people on the other. So is the case where a chief executive officer of a company calls for a meeting of his senior colleagues and addresses them; this is again direct communication with a group.

On the other hand when the same chief, instructs these senior executives to pass on a message to other officers of various branches, this is an individual communicating with a group, but indirect. Thus, in direct communication we communicate with those for whom a message is meant and in indirect communication we communicate with those to whom there is a message through somebody else and the concerned people do not receive the message themselves from us.

Now what is communication? Essentially communication is a form of social interaction where two or more people are involved. There is a transmission and exchange of information, knowledge or message. When you go to a railway booking office and find out whether accommodation is available by a certain train, you get the answer as to whether it is there or not. Here you are seeking some information and you get the same. But in a classroom, the teacher passes on not only information but also knowledge.

But, if you are reading a book on a particular subject, you get knowledge. On the other hand if you are writing a letter to a friend or talking to him on the telephone informing him that you will be reaching him the next day at a particular place and time, this is a message.

Generally, the term communication is used to describe the kind of interaction between two or more individuals where one person or a set of people interacts with others with the intention of influencing the opinions or actions, of the latter. Thus, an advertisement is a piece of communication where the advertiser wants to influence people to buy a particular product. Clearly there is an intention behind a communication. Along with the intention, there is also an expectation as to whether the other person or persons would do what you want them to do.

Thus, when you leave a message for your friend that you would be meeting him at a particular place and time, you have the intention of asking him to wait for you and also expect him to wait for you or call you back to tell you whether it is possible or not. The degree of expectation varies. The advertiser, for example, cannot be certain that everybody who reads his advertisement will buy his product.

But when a boss sends a message to a subordinate asking him to wait for him, his expectation is more. Thus the degree of certainty is decided by intention and expectation. And even if the intentions are strong, and the expectation is low, the communication may not take place. On the other hand, if both are strong, communication will take place. Thus, whether communication occurs or not is decided by the strength of intention and the certainty of expectation.

We may say that communication arises whenever there is an intention or need. Of course, factors like availability of means also decide whether communication will take place or not. Communication involves symbols and signs. Thus, every communication involves words, gestures, movements, etc. At the human level, communication is to a large extent verbal or involves words, numbers, symbols, etc. This type of communication involving language or related symbols is known as verbal communication.

But a large part of our communication also uses non-verbal symbols like gestures, movements, lights, sounds, etc. The traffic signal is a clear example of non-verbal communication using light symbols. The horn of an automobile behind you is an example of a non-verbal communication with a sound symbol where the driver behind intends to overtake and expects you to give him the side clearance.

Gestures are also commonly employed as in the case of the traffic constable who gestures with his hand to the vehicles coming from a particular direction to stop or move.

Similarly, you are sitting in a class and your friend standing outside is asking you to come out with a gesture and you ask the friend to wait for sometime with a gesture. The umpire on the cricket field raises his finger to communicate to the batsman i. Touch is also a means of communication. If you are sleeping in the classroom and the teacher is about to notice the same, your friend touches you and you get up.

You touch or fondle a little child or a pet to show your affection. In lower organisms, even smell is used as a communication. Thus we see that the communication can make use of any sensory modality, visual, auditory, touch and smell and can involve words, sounds, figures, lights, signals, gestures, etc. Though verbal language is our major medium of communication, there are other forms of communication and also that, any speech is not a piece of communication.

Further, in many situations we speak not only with our mouths, or words but also through our body movements, expressions of the eye, posture, etc. A speaker uses a lot of gestures, modulations of voice, movements like bending, pacing up and down and does many other things to make the communication more effective.

In recent years, there have been a lot of research studies trying to understand the role of non-verbal communication including body movement, expressions, etc.

Such movements, expressions, gestures, etc. Attempts have been made to prepare a dictionary giving a list of body movements and the meaning they generally convey. An American anthropologist, B. Hall based on a very careful study of postures, degree of bending, angle of vision, etc.

Body language is widely employed by lower organisms and it is also used more extensively in simple human societies where verbal language has not developed to a very high degree. People employ body language very often not as a part of conscious effort. This just flows as a supplement to reinforce and strengthen the verbal communication. However, today body communication experts are attempting to train people to use body language selectively and more effectively.

In fact, dance is a learnt and organised form of body language. Non-verbal or body language communication has been evident in arts like dance, sculpture, music, etc. But the disciplines which study its status as a means of communication today are linguistics, anthropology, history, clinical psychology, etc.

Some of the scientists of these disciplines brought together a long list of expressive movements in the form of a dictionary, thus, trying to associate specific meanings, motives, etc.

Some of these movements are blinking, fingering the nose, crossing the finger, finger or knuckle cracking, loosening the collar, shrugging the shoulders, shaking a leg or legs, etc. However, this type of research has a long way to go. Psychoanalytic literature, beginning with the writings of Freud, contains many explanations of the relationship between expressive movement or gesture and an unconscious motive.

For instance, according to them, blinking the eyelids may indicate a desire to conceal something or the desire to hide from others. Dittmann studied pattern of movements composed of interaction between head, hands and legs for five different moods. The frequency of movement within each of the body segments was arrived at from motion pictures of a patient during psychotherapy.

The moods were judged in accordance with what the patient was expressing verbally. It was found that anger correlated with increased movements of the head and legs, with the hands remaining inactive while a depressed mood correlated with increased leg motion, both head and hands being inactive. Pursuing this observation, Reich began to see muscle tension as the bodily equivalent of psychological blocks and defences.

Tension protects a person from threats and the dangers he does not think about consciously. People hold their breath, stiffen their arms, tense their necks and shoulder muscles when they are on the defensive.

Rigidity not only protects the person from external threats but also prevents the free flow of emotions. Reich began looking for a way to relieve these tensions. Ida Rolf, who was trained as a bio-chemist, arrived at much the same conclusion through her work in physiology.

Gloria Anzaldua is a strong activist when it comes to the connection between language and identity. Your identity is determined by language, the language you speak is a part of your culture, and your culture is what defines a person because of their beliefs, norms and values.

Work Cited Page Anzaldua, Gloria. Motives for Writing ed. Comley, David Hamilton, Carl H. Our language our identity. Accessed September 14, We will write a custom essay sample on Our language our identity specifically for you. Leave your email and we will send you an example after 24 hours If you contact us after hours, we'll get back to you in 24 hours or less. Our language our identity Essay. How to cite this page Choose cite format: English , Identity Essay Introduction How about make it original?

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The standard language, in contrast, is seen as more developed, more of a true language. The standard language is the form insisted upon for writing, for use in formal .

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Free Language papers, essays, and research papers. The Development of Language and Memory Recall - The Development of Language and Memory Recall The ability for an infant to develop speech is dependent upon the ability of the child to distinguish rhythms of sounds and tones.

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Jun 06,  · English language is an example for the importance of a language because it is the international language and has become the most important language to people in many parts of the world. It is most widely used in communicating around the world, Also it . Essay on Language Variation Introduction The following conversation is between Andy an American businessman doing business in London and Carter a British native based in London.

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Essay On Language 1. Name Candidate Number Atlantic College May "All of the other Ways of Knowing are controlled by language.". In this essay we will discuss about Language. After reading this essay you will learn about: 1. Definition of Language 2. Structure of Language 3. Characteristics. Essay # Definition of Language: The term language is derived from the Latin word language which means tongue. While the need to express one’s desires, interests, feelings and emotions [ ].