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What is Language - Essay Example

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Summary
What is Language?
Many unanswered questions on language have been asked. People would often correct themselves when they pronounce words in the wrong way or say a sentence in a structure they think is wrong. …
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What is Language

Download file to see previous pages... This essay will look into Smith and Wilson’s theory of what a language is, and their arguments on the idea that language is rule-governed. What is a Language? There have been a number of definitions on what a language is and in each definition, there is an aspect that points out language is rule-governed. This is where Neil Smith and Deidre Wilson come in to justify the claim that language is governed by rules. Language uses the concept of grammar. Grammar is a set of rules whose main tasks are to separate grammatically from ungrammatical sentences and to provide a description of grammatical sentences. Individuals who are fluent in a particular language often correct themselves when they make mistakes in grammar while talking even when no one has corrected them (Smith and Deirdre 327). A language speaker will also feel and know when someone from a different language makes a mistake in grammar when trying to speak his language. For example, an American will feel and know the mistake when a German pronounces the word ‘what’ as ‘vat’. When two speakers of different dialects of the same language meet and talk, each will feel the other one is making grammatical mistakes in their sentences and would want to correct them but out of politeness will keep away from correcting the other. A speaker of British English will for example see a fault in a sentence like ‘I done gone to school’. He will feel like the sentence is supposed to be ‘I had gone to school’. The speaker of the other English dialect will similarly feel that the British English speaker’s sentence needs some correcting. This not only shows that languages have a set of rules that they follow but it also shows that these rules do differ (Smith and Deirdre 327). Rules can be created and operated by a single individual easily. There are two such instances in language. One of them is when children are learning how to speak and the case of grownups with idiosyncratic speech patterns. Kids learning their first language often make their own rules on how they pronounce the words and how their sentence structure should be. These rules are more often than not wrong according to the adults but to them they cannot be more right. An instance of such a grammar rule is when a child asks: mummy what that was? Instead of: mummy what was that? Adults on the other hand could have a difference in their linguistic rules (Smith and Deirdre 329). A sentence like ‘’what did you want to do before going out’’ might seem wrong to another individual. People who have also suffered a brain damage and consequently suffered aphasia or speech loss also fall in this category of creating their own rules. This results in the construction of sentences that are ungrammatical pronounce words in the wrong way (Smith and Deirdre 330). Rules’ patterns cannot be reversed and still have the same meaning. Sometimes they become meaningless when reversed. The same applies to language. A pattern of a sentence construction loses its meaning or becomes meaningless when changed. A sentence like ‘’we ate the food ourselves’’ when changed to ‘’ourselves ate the food we’’ it becomes meaningless though the words are still the same. Therefore, like rules, language pattern loses its meaning when changed (Smith and Deirdre 332). Like rules, language has a feature of being universal (Smith and Deirdre 337). There is a striking similarity in the language that cuts across all language patterns of the globe. The pattern of a sentence structure of different languages pointing out to the same thing will have almost of not exactly the same pattern when all of them are translated into one language. A sentence like “ ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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