How languages work is a question that has plagued me for as long as I can remember. Being bilingual and understanding two wildly different languages with the same fluency was always something I found strange. Being able to communicate with a person in one language but not in the other became puzzling. As well as certain phrases or words having complex meanings in one but not the other. This vast difference in interpretation and how language became the basis of human communication is what allows us to express our thoughts and feelings. This can be communicated with each other but also out and into the world. Humans have immense power in their ability to communicate their ideas to others, with different translation techniques but also being able to boil it down to the basics. 

In the article, “How Language Works” by Vyvyan Evans, he explains the range of functions needed in order to use language as a communication tool. Languages’ main function is one that “encodes and externalizes our thoughts” (Evans, 2019). This is expressed through different symbols which contain different forms. Those forms are what we use to express ourselves in written terms, verbally, etc. These forms being expressed then represent the idea of the word. This meaning or idea is associated with a particular mental representation. Vyvyan uses a pear to explain this simply, “ When we use language and utter the form pear, this symbol corresponds to a conventional meaning, and therefore ‘connects’ to a concept rather than directly to a physical object in the external world” (Evans, 2019). 

However, language conceptualizes a boundary that limits the human idea. Sometimes, we are unable to articulate our thoughts to express our own ideas. This represents the limiting system that language is in order to represent our thoughts. Nevertheless, language is rich with deep history and gives us the ability to conceptualize elaborate ideas. 

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October 19, 2023 5:42 pm

This is a great post Bledina, I think you explained your points very well and this is a question that has puzzled me as well. I always felt like the language barrier is something I wished we could get past because even speaking the same language we can’t get the right thing out with the words we know. I also wonder how so many diverse languages came to fruition because it is very interesting to listen to them all. I wonder if we can find a universal way to communicate sometime in the future.

October 19, 2023 5:25 pm

I too have always wondered how languages have been shared changed and interpreted. I can only speak English, and I feel very strange when learning how to speak another or learn the grammar behind it. I agree with how language is a representation of what we are thinking and how we are feeling. I feel that without language our world would be lost, confused and have gone no where. Language does have so much history, starting with the Rosetta Stone. I think language is incredibly important and has so much more to give us.

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