Thinking and Intelligence

Introduction to Language

What you’ll learn to do: describe language acquisition and the role language plays in communication and thought

The word language written on the chalkboard with a silhouette of children in front of the chalkboard.

Language is a communication system that involves using words and systematic rules to organize those words to transmit information from one individual to another. While language is a form of communication, not all communication is language. Many species communicate with one another through their postures, movements, odors, or vocalizations. This communication is crucial for species that need to interact and develop social relationships with their conspecifics. However, many people have asserted that it is language that makes humans unique among all of the animal species (Corballis & Suddendorf, 2007; Tomasello & Rakoczy, 2003). This section will focus on what distinguishes language as a special form of communication, how the use of language develops, and how language affects the way we think.

Learning Objectives

  • Define basic terms used to describe language use
  • Characterize the typical content of conversation and its social implications
  • Understand how the use of language develops
  • Explain the relationship between language and thinking

License

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General Psychology by OpenStax and Lumen Learning is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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