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.