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Section A 1. What is language (sounds, symbols, a complex system, speech and writing) Language defined in simplest terms is a system of communication using vocal symbols. Although its origin will never be fully known the oldest written symbolic language known is only 7,900 years at most. Spoken language is believed to have been developed long before that. Linguists divide the study of spoken language into two categories, phonology and grammar. Phonology is the study of sounds. Grammar is how the sounds are used to make sense. (Dalby, 1999) Human language is a symbolic communication system that is learned, rather then an inherited trait, such as barking. Symbols in the form of sounds have been arbitrarily assigned meanings. For instance, the English word "rock" does not in any way physically resemble the object it stands for. All symbols have a material form but the meaning cannot be revealed by simple sensory inspection of their forms, they are abstractions. Speech and language is not the same thing. Speech is a term that refers to patterns of verbal behavior. The rules of how the symbolic sounds, (words), are spoken in order to communicate meaning constitutes a language. Language is the set of rules used to generate speech. Human language is a complex serious of sounds, with rules governing the proper order a meanings of individual words and how they are strung together. The complex nature of human language lends itself to an almost infinite flexibility. Word's meanings can change over time, as can what constitutes proper or improper use of words, (grammar). The word "queer" for example has come to be a somewhat derogatory designation for, generally, males who are homosexual. However, in the not so distant past queer was used to denote unexpected, or odd or unusual ideas or objects, with no sexual connotation. In fact, a modern thesaurus will list an assortment of synonyms for the w...

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Language. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 16:27, August 30, 2014, from