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"Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men."

Col 3:23

Language: Indispensable to Humans

What critical evolutionary events does the span of human progression include? Anthropologists agree that decisive transitions such as sedentism, domestication, the use of language, and the arrival of culture and complex societies are associated. Although this is true, and all these issues will be addressed in some capacity, the main objective of this piece will be to examine the marvel of language thoroughly, along with its effects.

Why is language so essential to humanity, and how has it affected human history so profoundly? Examining the relationship between language and its derivatives is vital, and it becomes imperative to distinguish which came first in order to better understand the history of man.

There are language principles that are “universal by biological necessity and not mere historical accident” (Chomsky, 4). It is this text’s declaration that language stands alone as the greatest accomplishment of man and it is language, sequentially, that fostered a myriad of cultural products. First, the concept of language should be discussed. What is it, exactly? As Joel Davis notes in his work, Mother Tongue, “Everybody uses language, but nobody knows quite how to define it” (6).

He indicates that renowned linguists, such as Edward Sapir, G. Trager, and Robert Hall have all attempted their own classifications but have not quite succeeded. Some of these proposed definitions seemed accurate at the time, but then excluded individuals who use Sign Language (through a purely nonverbal transmission), or animals, some of which are known to employ a kind of communication in their own interaction.

Perhaps a meaningful classification with which to proceed can be found in Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary, wherein the definition of language is: “A systematic means of communicating ideas or feelings by the use of conventionalized signs, sounds, gestures, or marks having understood meanings” (Davis, 8). This acknowledges that language is not necessarily limited to sounds and that, possibly, (some) other animals are capable of something like it.

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