Language

Language is the normal way humans communicate.[1] Only humans use language, though other animals communicate through other means.

Human language has syntax, a set of rules for connecting words together to make statements and questions. Language can also be changed, by adding new words, for example, to describe new things. Other animals may inherit a set of calls which have pre-set functions.

Language may be done by speech or by writing or by moving the hands to make signs. It follows that language is not just any way of communicating. Even some human communication is not language: see non-verbal communication. Humans also use language for thinking.

Language is a word that may be used by extension:

  1. The language of a community or country.
  2. The ability of speech.
  3. Formal language in mathematics, logic and computing.
  4. Sign language for deaf people (people who cannot hear).
  5. A type of school subject.

UNESCO says that 2,500 languages are at risk of becoming extinct.[2]

Universals of language

All languages share certain things which separate them from all other kinds of communication.[3][4]

  1. A language has rules which are shared by a community.
  2. All human languages are based on sound and hearing, or in the case of sign language, vision. All the basic sound units, or phonemes, have this in common: they can be spoken by the human voice, and heard by the human ear.
  3. The sounds come out in a sequence, not all at once. This is mimicked in writing, where the marks are put on the paper or screen in the same sequence.
  4. The stream of sounds have little gaps between them, and come in bigger packages. We call the bigger packets sentences or questions or replies or comments.
  5. In most languages, English being one, the syntax or order of the words can change the meaning: "the cat sat on the man" is different from "the man sat on the cat".
  6. Words (which may be made up of more than one phoneme) divide up into two classes: content and non-content. Content words have meaning: nouns, verbs, adjectives, etc. Non-content words are there to make the language work: and, not, in, out, what, etc. Grammar consists of studying how words fit together to mean something.
  7. All languages have:
    1. sentences with two types of expression: nouns and verbs: Jill is here.
    2. adjectives to modify nouns: good food.
    3. ways of linking: sink or swim.
    4. dummy elements: Jill likes to swim, so do I.
    5. devices to order or ask questions: Get up! Are you ill?
  8. Most of the languages have a written form. Before the invention of audio recording, the writing system was the only way to keep track of spoken information.
  9. All languages constantly evolve. New words appear, new forms of saying things, new accents.

There are many more things in common between languages.[5]

Inheritance

The capacity to learn and use language is inherited. Normally, all humans are born with this capability. Which language is learned by a child depends on which language is spoken by the child's community. The capacity is inherited, but the particular language is learned.

Children have a special period, from about 18 months to about four years, which is critical for learning the language. If this is seriously disrupted, then their language skills will be damaged. Older people learn differently, so they seldom learn a second language as well as they learn their native language.

Other Languages
Acèh: Bahsa
Afrikaans: Taal
Alemannisch: Sprache
አማርኛ: ቋንቋ
Ænglisc: Sprǣc
العربية: لغة
aragonés: Luengache
armãneashti: Limbâ
arpetan: Lengoua
অসমীয়া: ভাষা
asturianu: Llinguaxe
Avañe'ẽ: Ñe'ẽ
Aymar aru: Aru
azərbaycanca: Dil
تۆرکجه: دیل
bamanankan: Kan
বাংলা: ভাষা
Bân-lâm-gú: Giân-gú
Basa Banyumasan: Basa
беларуская: Мова
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Мова
भोजपुरी: भाषा
Boarisch: Sproch
བོད་ཡིག: སྐད་རིགས།
bosanski: Jezik
brezhoneg: Yezh
буряад: Хэлэн
català: Llenguatge
Чӑвашла: Чĕлхе
Cebuano: Pinulongan
Chamoru: Lengguahe
chiShona: Mutauro
Cymraeg: Iaith
dansk: Sprog
davvisámegiella: Giella
Deitsch: Schprooch
Deutsch: Sprache
ދިވެހިބަސް: ބަސް
eesti: Keel
Ελληνικά: Γλώσσα
emiliàn e rumagnòl: Langua
English: Language
español: Lenguaje
Esperanto: Lingvo
euskara: Hizkuntza
فارسی: زبان
Fiji Hindi: Bhasa
føroyskt: Mál
français: Langage
Frysk: Taal
furlan: Lengaç
Gàidhlig: Cànan
galego: Linguaxe
贛語: 語言
گیلکی: زوان
ગુજરાતી: ભાષા
गोंयची कोंकणी / Gõychi Konknni: भास आनी भासविज्ञान
客家語/Hak-kâ-ngî: Ngî-ngièn
한국어: 언어
Հայերեն: Լեզու
हिन्दी: भाषा
hrvatski: Jezik
Ido: Linguo
Ilokano: Pagsasao
Bahasa Indonesia: Bahasa
interlingua: Linguage
Interlingue: Lingue
Iñupiak: Uqautchit
Ирон: Æвзаг
isiXhosa: Ulwimi
íslenska: Tungumál
italiano: Linguaggio
עברית: שפה
Basa Jawa: Basa
kalaallisut: Oqaatsit
ಕನ್ನಡ: ಭಾಷೆ
къарачай-малкъар: Тил
ქართული: ენა
kernowek: Yeth
Kiswahili: Lugha
коми: Кыв
Kongo: Ndînga
Kreyòl ayisyen: Lang (pawòl)
kurdî: Ziman
Кыргызча: Тил
лезги: ЧIал
ລາວ: ພາສາ
latgaļu: Volūda
Latina: Lingua
latviešu: Valoda
Lëtzebuergesch: Sprooch
lietuvių: Kalba
Limburgs: Taol
lingála: Lokótá
la .lojban.: bangu
lumbaart: Idioma
magyar: Nyelv
मैथिली: भाषा
македонски: Јазик
Malagasy: Fiteny
മലയാളം: ഭാഷ
मराठी: भाषा
მარგალური: ნინა
مصرى: لغه
مازِرونی: زوون
Bahasa Melayu: Bahasa
Baso Minangkabau: Bahaso
Mìng-dĕ̤ng-ngṳ̄: Ngṳ̄-ngiòng
монгол: Хэл
မြန်မာဘာသာ: ဘာသာစကား
Nederlands: Taal
Nedersaksies: Taol
नेपाली: भाषा
नेपाल भाषा: भाषा
日本語: 言語
Napulitano: Lengua
Nordfriisk: Spräke (iinjtål)
Norfuk / Pitkern: Laenghwij
norsk: Språk
norsk nynorsk: Språk
Nouormand: Laungue
Novial: Lingues
occitan: Lengatge
олык марий: Йылме
ଓଡ଼ିଆ: ଭାଷା
oʻzbekcha/ўзбекча: Til
ਪੰਜਾਬੀ: ਭਾਸ਼ਾ
पालि: भाषा
پنجابی: بولی
Papiamentu: Idioma
پښتو: ژبه
Patois: Languij
Перем Коми: Кыв
ភាសាខ្មែរ: ភាសា
Picard: Langache
Piemontèis: Langagi
Tok Pisin: Tokples
Plattdüütsch: Spraak
português: Linguagem
Ripoarisch: Sprooch
Romani: Chhib
rumantsch: Lingua
Runa Simi: Rimay
русиньскый: Язык
русский: Язык
саха тыла: Тыл (саҥарар)
Gagana Samoa: Gagana
संस्कृतम्: भाषा
sardu: Limbas
Scots: Leid
Seeltersk: Sproake
Sesotho: Dipuo
සිංහල: භාෂාව
سنڌي: ٻولي
slovenčina: Jazyk (jazykoveda)
словѣньскъ / ⰔⰎⰑⰂⰡⰐⰠⰔⰍⰟ: Ѩꙁꙑкъ
ślůnski: Godka
Soomaaliga: Luuqad
کوردی: زمان
Sranantongo: Tongo
српски / srpski: Језик
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Jezik
Basa Sunda: Basa
suomi: Kieli
svenska: Språk
Tagalog: Wika
தமிழ்: மொழி
татарча/tatarça: Тел
తెలుగు: భాష
ไทย: ภาษา
тоҷикӣ: Забон
ತುಳು: ಭಾಷೆ
Türkçe: Dil
Türkmençe: Dil
українська: Мова
اردو: زبان
vèneto: Łéngua
vepsän kel’: Kel'
Tiếng Việt: Ngôn ngữ
Volapük: Pük
walon: Lingaedje
文言: 語言
Winaray: Yinaknan
Wolof: Kàllaama
吴语: 語言
Xitsonga: Ririmi
ייִדיש: שפראך
Yorùbá: Èdè
粵語: 語言
Zeêuws: Taele
žemaitėška: Kalba
中文: 語言
ГӀалгӀай: Мотт
Lingua Franca Nova: Lingua