Question of the Month
How Does Language Work?
The following answers to the question of linguistic meaning each win a random book.
The human vocal tract can make a wide range of sounds, which allows us to move beyond the grunts and shrieks of our primate cousins, at least some of the time. As many as fifty regions in the human brain are involved in language, controlling the complex movements needed to produce speech, translating vibrations in the air into neural activity in the brain to hear, and manipulating the symbols that make up the thoughts and ideas of our minds to reason. These adaptations of the individual are all necessary for full language use, but language isn’t much use to a solitary individual, and would never have arisen were we not a social species.
Sounds alone, of course, are not enough to create meaning, since a non-English speaker won’t understand the word ‘cat’ although they hear the sound. Language works by attaching a symbol e.