Laguage Brings People Together Essay

1163 words - 5 pages

Without language as a way of knowing, it would be very difficult for humans to communicate ideas and gather knowledge. A language’s ability to be “rule-governed, intended, and creative and open-ended” allows it to be a useful tool in the development of culture; and thus aid an individual in the process of discovering his or her own identity (Dunn 57). In essence, different languages to a certain degree affect the views an individual may hold about themselves and the world around them, but this is not the only factor; the environment and experiences also influences these concepts. The biggest implication for such differences in knowledge would be overall misunderstanding amongst people that speak different languages (i.e. language barrier), whether they are formal languages such as Japanese and English, or newly developed languages such as slang.
It is evident that language is not gained immediately at birth. From infancy, all babies start to experience the world with the most rudimentary ways of knowing, emotion and perception. However, it is through these two ways of knowing that babies can begin to learn language. According to Noam Chomsky, an American linguist and cognitive scientist, all humans are born with a language acquisition device (LAD), an “innate component of the human mind that yields a particular language…that [is converted] into a system of knowledge…” (Chomsky). If this is true, then all humans have the genetic predisposition to learn language through the use of morphemes, phonemes, and syntax. Thus, if all humans have the ability to learn language the same way, then it must be the complexities of the language learned and the environment that influences the overall knowledge gain of the individual.
Different languages elicit diverse behaviors that correspond to cultures. For instance, Japanese is built upon indirectness, “ambiguity and vagueness…play an important role;” in addition to this, hesitation and silence are also important in showing respect and politeness when conversing (Fuki). On the other hand, English speakers are more frank with their comments. People who speak English as a first language understand when to be reserved and only use ambiguity when it serves a purpose, such as sexual innuendo. This very forward manner of speaking connects with the practice of looking at the individual one is speaking to in the eyes as sign of respect. Even more direct is Spanish, in which the individual simply says what they mean without thinking. This coupled with the act of speaking in very close proximity to one another at a raised volume would be overwhelming to any outside observer. Thus, different languages constitute different behaviors and different ideas of what is polite, rude, right, and wrong in eyes of the individual. Looking at a strictly monolingual standpoint, if a native Japanese man was to meet a native Cuban man, they might find each other to be rude. The Japanese man would find the Cuban man too forward, and the...

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