We explain what language is and what are the functions of language. Also, how has its evolution been. Types and examples of languages.
What is the language?
Language is a system of signs, oral, written or gestural , that through their meaning and relationship allow people to express themselves to achieve understanding with the rest.
The communication requires this system of signs to reach the objective of common understanding. Various factors come into play when communication is carried out through language, for example functions such as intelligence , and linguistic memory are implemented.
Language, on the other hand, constitutes one of the main characteristics that separate humankind from animals . This begins to develop from gestation, and is definitely established in the relationship that the individual maintains with the social world in which he develops his activity.
From his development he acquires communicative skills , learns to listen, understand and emit certain sounds . Mastering your communication capacity helps you to express what you want to communicate and also to do it in the particular way you want it.
Language arises from the need of men to establish relationships between them in order to survive the human species.
However, current theories about language understand that language integrates the cerebral constitution of the human being , so it can find different ways of manifesting itself, hence the different known languages would derive, and education would only perform the function of developing in individuals this biological impulse that is latent.
Difference between language and speech
It is necessary to establish a distinction between two terms that are often confused or used as a synonym for the concept of language: language and speech.
- Language. On the one hand, language refers to a specific system of signs that people use to communicate. For this to work, that system must be retained in the memory of the speakers and must be known by individuals with whom the communication in question is to be established.
- Speaks. Speech, on the other hand, is to put into use that system of signs by a group of individuals. This term refers to the individual and voluntary act in which the specific signs that will be needed to initiate a communication are chosen .
Several authors have established that language has six functions, which are the following:
- Referential Function This refers to the fact that an individual makes use of language for the sole purpose of communicating a certain information, without issuing any value judgment or with the aim of causing any kind of effect on the recipient. This is why this function focuses on the message itself or the referent. An example of this function would be: “Today is a sunny day”.
- Emotional function. This function focuses on the sender, who, through language, tries to convey some mood or physical state. An example would be: “My head hurts.”
- Appellate function Here, the communication focuses on the receiver, with the aim of provoking a particular reaction, whether or not doing something. For example: “Turn off the TV, please.”
- Phatic function This function focuses on the communication channel and what is tried, through language, is to verify that it remains open in order to establish or continue with a communication. An example could be: “Hello, yes? Can you hear me?”.
- Aesthetic function in this, the language itself predominates, which is used in order to create some kind of beauty. This is the function that predominates in novels , stories , poems , songs and other creations. Here, what matters in language is not its content, but its form. An example of this function is: “All the leaves are from the wind, minus the sunlight” (Luis Alberto Spinetta).
- Linguistic function In this function, centered on the code, the language is used to talk about itself or another. An example in which this function predominates can be: “Shoe is written with Z, not with S”.
Language is a very complex faculty of the human being , which on the one hand is stable and on the other it maintains a certain malleability , that is, it changes and adapts according to the time, the context, the events. In this way the language has the ability to incorporate new expressions, idioms and neologisms .
It is constantly evolving, but language is always permeated by the different currents of expression that characterize the era. The Spanish language has evolved throughout history , it is not the same one that was used during the pre-Roman era than the one that was later used in the stage of “Middle Spanish” (auric Spanish or known as Spanish of the golden centuries ), the Spanish variant used between the end of the 15th and 17th centuries.
On the other hand there are central elements that do not vary , not everything is malleable and transitory in the language, if this were the case, understanding and communication would be difficult to carry out. Every system of linguistic signs must refer to a system of stable codes, which guarantee that people, beyond the particularities of the case, can understand the message.
There are a large number of applications of the term, some are:
- Sign language. It is a set of body gestures that represent different signs. This serves to achieve communication primarily with people who have reduced their hearing.
- Programming language . Within the field of computer science, one can speak of programming language, which allows computer experts tocreate programs based on the use of syntax rules, operators and instructions. Through these, the programmer can communicate with them with the different software and hardware devicesat his disposal.
- Figurative language. It is the use of words or expressions whose use refers to an idea different from that of its literal meaning. An example may be the term “animal”, when used as a derogatory adjective to a person; when in fact its literal meaning is: “multicellular living being that feeds on other living beings and has the ability to be sensitive and move.”
- Musical language. It is the set of signs that are interpreted and understood by people dedicated to artistic musical expression. Fundamentally they are expressed in written form in the scores.