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    Language is the capacity of communication. The English language is an example of this system of communication.¹ Linguistics is the study of languages. The estimated number of languages in the world varies between 6000 and 7000. This estimate depends on the distinction made by the scholar between languages and dialects.¹

    Languages can be spoken or signed. All languages can be encoded into a secondary media such as braille, which is used by people who are blind. All languages rely on sounds or symbols with particular meanings. Oral and sign languages contain a system that determines how to form sequences of words.¹


    Human language is distinct from any known system of animal communication. It has the properties of productivity and displacement which other species’ communications do not have as far as scientists know.¹ Human language relies entirely on social convention and learning through observing. It has a complex structure that has a much larger range of possible expressions to use than any known system of animal communication.¹

    Languages often evolve and change over time. The history of language evolution can be studied by comparing modern languages and determining which traits their ancestral languages must have had in order for the current language to exist. The understanding between scientists is that 50% to 90% of the languages spoken at the beginning of the twenty-first century will be extinct by 2100.¹



    Image source: Wikimedia


    1. History World. History of Language. Retrieved May 23, 2014, from http://www.historyworld.net/wrldhis/plaintexthistories.asp?historyid=ab13

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