Introduction: Questions and tasks

3. The number of messages animal can send is restricted to the number of basic sounds. Human language, on the other hand, works quite differently. Each language has a store of approximately 40 sound units (Phonemes), which are in fact similar to the number of sound units an animal possesses. However, each sound unit is meaningless on its own. It becomes meaningless only when combined with other sound units. Thus human language is divided into two layers. One layer of mere sounds, and one layer of larger units. This is called duality. The most unique feature of human language is that there is no limit to how many sentences can be produced.

13. The advantages of the spoken language is that it more easily conveys feelings, or rather the speakers state of mind. For example: Irony, sarcasm, affection, interest, concern, etc. The disadvantages may be that the speaker must think of what to say to say ,more or less, on the same time as he or she utters the sentence. Whereas the written language offers a great deal of time to contemplate. Most speakers find it easier to express themselves eloquently with the written language. However its disadvantages are that it is, contrary to the spoken language, hard to convey emotions and one’s state of mind with the words on paper alone.

Because of its element of interaction I believe that the spoken language is to be preferred in most circumstances. For instance if one raises a query it is to be preferred because usually each answer raises counter question. And in virtually all circumstances one saves time by using the spoken language. However if one needs to be very formal the written alternative might be to prefer. The written word, in internet form, can also offer anonymity for the shy. But ,like before mentioned, it is sometimes difficult to express feelings and one’s state of mind (especially irony) with the written word. Therefore misunderstandings occur frequently when people communicate via computers.

22. At the beginning of the fourth century B.C., some Greek philosophers believed that words had a natural connection to reality. This standpoint was called the physis position. Supporters of the Nomos position, however, argued that virtually all words are arbitrary. Which means that the words have no connection to what they represent. It did not take many centuries before the latter position became the predominant one. The reason for this is simple. When the Greeks started collecting and analyzing language data they did it only with their own language; and every languages have some instances of onomatopoeia and sound symbolism. If you know only English, for example, you could be “tricked” to see a pattern that will support the physos position by observing the recurrence of word-initial sn in sneeze-snivel-sniff-snore. However if you also acquire French you will notice that their corresponding words lack the pattern you thought you had found.

37. * A language naturally reflects its society. For instance, the Samis rely on their raindeers and have several names for this animal. “Each language allows it speakers to easily talk about whatever is important to discuss in that society.” I would assume that the people living on the Amazon have many words and metaphorical phrases describing their way of life in the jungle; just as New Yorkers have developed a rich vocabulary and phrase-system describing the way of life in the urban jungle: “Cesspool”, “gutter”, “drain”, “sewer”. These are all actual words describing the city’s water system, but they are also words used in a metaphorical sense-describing the decay of the city. The Amazon Indians, however, would with the highest certainty not describe their areas of widespread poverty as being a “cesspool”.
A society’s language is influenced by the given time’s most predominant phenomena. During the cold war Nuclear weapons attracted a high figure of metaphors, new words and expressions, just like computers seem to boost linguistic novelty these days.
Another interesting factor is how social class and sex shapes the language used. People talk differently to those belong to different gender, age and class. The foundation of society is language and therefore inevitably society is reflected in language. And, perhaps also the other way around…
Ponder this (perhaps a poor farfetched example): All those who win a green card to USA are when arriving to America put in a language school held by inner city kids. When they have finally acquired the language they apply for jobs and search for apartments using slang terminology like: “Hey, dude, wazzup?.” They would most certainly end up where their type of language is used.