Portal:Language

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A mural in Teotihuacan, Mexico ( c. 2nd century) depicting a person emitting a speech scroll from his mouth, symbolizing speech
Braille writing, a tactile variant of a writing system
Cuneiform is the first known form of written language, but spoken language predates writing by at least tens of thousands of years.
Two girls learning American Sign Language

A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech and gesture ( spoken language), sign, and often writing. The most widely-spoken languages have writing systems of glyphs that enable sounds or gestures to be inscribed for later reactivation.

The scientific study of language is called linguistics. Critical examinations of languages, such as philosophy of language, the relationships between language and thought, etc, such as how words represent experience, have been debated at least since Gorgias and Plato in ancient Greek civilization. Thinkers such as Rousseau (1712 – 1778) have debated that language originated from emotions, while others like Kant (1724 –1804), have held that languages originated from rational and logical thought. Twentieth century philosophers such as Wittgenstein (1889 – 1951) argued that philosophy is really the study of language itself. Major figures in contemporary linguistics of these times include Ferdinand de Saussure and Noam Chomsky.

Estimates of the number of human languages in the world vary between 5,000 and 7,000. However, any precise estimate depends on the arbitrary distinction (dichotomy) between languages and dialect. Natural languages are spoken or signed (or both), but any language can be encoded into secondary media using auditory, visual, or tactile stimuli – for example, in writing, whistling, signing, or braille. In other words, human language is modality-independent, but written or signed language is the way to inscribe or encode the natural human speech or gestures. Depending on philosophical perspectives regarding the definition of language and meaning, when used as a general concept, "language" may refer to the cognitive ability to learn and use systems of complex communication, or to describe the set of rules that makes up these systems, or the set of utterances that can be produced from those rules. All languages rely on the process of semiosis to relate signs to particular meanings. Oral, manual and tactile languages contain a phonological system that governs how symbols are used to form sequences known as words or morphemes, and a syntactic system that governs how words and morphemes are combined to form phrases and utterances.

Human language has the properties of productivity and displacement, and relies on social convention and learning. Its complex structure affords a much wider range of expressions than any known system of animal communication. Language is thought to have originated when early hominins started gradually changing their primate communication systems, acquiring the ability to form a theory of other minds and a shared intentionality. This development is sometimes thought to have coincided with an increase in brain volume, and many linguists see the structures of language as having evolved to serve specific communicative and social functions. Language is processed in many different locations in the human brain, but especially in Broca's and Wernicke's areas. Humans acquire language through social interaction in early childhood, and children generally speak fluently by approximately three years old. The use of language is deeply entrenched in human culture. Therefore, in addition to its strictly communicative uses, language also has many social and cultural uses, such as signifying group identity, social stratification, as well as social grooming and entertainment. ( Full article...)

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Portion of the Temple Scroll, one of the longest of the Dead Sea Scrolls discovered at Qumran

Hebrew (עִבְרִית‎, Ivrit, IPA:  [ivˈʁit] or [ʕivˈɾit]) is a Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic language family. Historically, it is regarded as the language of the Israelites, Judeans and their ancestors. It is the only Canaanite language still spoken and the only truly successful example of a revived dead language, and one of only two Northwest Semitic languages still spoken, the other being Aramaic.

The language was not referred to by the name Hebrew in the Hebrew Bible, but as Yehudit ("the language of Judah") or səpaṯ Kəna'an ("the language of Canaan"). Mishnah Gitin 9:8 refers to the language as Ivrit meaning Hebrew; however, Mishnah Megillah refers to the Hebrew language as Ashurit, meaning Assyrian, which is derived from the name of the alphabet used, in contrast to Ivrit meaning the paleo-Hebrew alphabet. The earliest examples of written Paleo-Hebrew date to the 10th century BCE. ( Full article...)

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Linguistics: Computational linguisticsGrammarHistorical linguisticsMorphologyPhoneticsPhonologyPragmaticsReadingSemanticsSociolinguisticsSyntaxWriting

Languages: Language familiesPidgins and creolesSign languages

Linguists: By nationalityHistorical linguistsMorphologistsPhoneticiansPhonologistsSociolinguistsSyntacticiansTranslators

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Stubs: Constructed languagesLanguagesLinguistsPidgins and creolesTypographyVocabulary and usageWriting systems

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The grammar of the Sanskrit language has a complex verbal system, rich nominal declension, and extensive use of compound nouns. It was studied and codified by Sanskrit grammarians from the later Vedic period (roughly 8th century BCE), culminating in the Pāṇinian grammar of the 4th century BCE. ( Full article...)
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Maryada Patral letter of conduct written by Acharya Bhiksu (first head of Jain Swetamber Terapanth sect) written in Rajasthani language

Language News

5 June 2021 – COVID-19 pandemic
Belgian federal and regional health ministers agree to open vaccination for teenagers aged 16 to 17 years old using Pfizer–BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. The programme will begin once the vaccination of adults has been completed. (The Guardian)
16 May 2021 – International protests over the 2021 Israel–Palestine crisis
A convoy covered with Palestinian flags drives through North London shouting antisemitic language. Four people are arrested on suspicion of racially aggravated public order offenses. (The Jewish Chronicle) (Times of Israel)
11 February 2021 – COVID-19 pandemic
Prime Minister Andrej Plenković announces a slight easing of restrictions beginning on February 16, citing the stable number of new cases in the past few weeks. Foreign language schools, casinos, gyms and betting shops can reopen and restaurants and bars can also sell coffee to go. (The National Herald)
4 February 2021 – China–United Kingdom relations
British broadcasting regulator Ofcom revokes the license of China Global Television Network (CGTN), an English-language Chinese news network, after concluding the network was "ultimately controlled" by the Chinese Communist Party. China responds to the move by accusing BBC News of spreading " fake news" about COVID-19. (Reuters)
24 January 2021 –
American manufacturer Tesla files a lawsuit against one of its former software engineers for allegedly copying confidential computer scripts onto a personal file hosting service. The former employee denies the company's allegation, claiming he transferred the files by mistake. (AFP via ABS-CBN News)
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Languages of the world
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Languages of Africa: Arabic, Chadic, Cushitic, Kanuri, Maasai, Setswana, Swahili, Turkana, Xhosa, Yoruba, Zulu, more...

Languages of the Americas: Aleut, Carib, Cherokee, Inuktitut, Iroquois, Kootenai, Mayan, Nahuatl, Navajo, Quechuan, Salish, American Sign Language, more...

Languages of Asia: Arabic, Assamese, Balochi, Bengali, Chinese, Japanese, Hajong, Hebrew, Hindustani, Kannada, Kokborok, Marathi, Khasi, Korean, Kurdish, Malayalam, Manipuri, Meithei, Mongolian, Persian, Rajasthani, Sindhi, Sanskrit, Sylheti, Tamil, Tanchangya, Tulu, Telugu, Tibetan, Thai, Turkish, Vietnamese, Khowar, more...

Languages of Austronesia: Austric, Fijian, Hawaiian, Javanese, Malagasy, Malay, Maori, Marshallese, Samoan, Tahitian, Tagalog, Tongan, Auslan, more...

Languages of Europe: Basque, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English ( book), French, German, Greek, Italian, Latin, Leonese, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Slovak, Spanish, Ukrainian more...

Constructed languages: Esperanto, Ido, Volapük, more...


Language types

Agglutinative language, Analytic language, Constructed language, Creole, Context-free language, Extinct language, Dialect, Fusional language, Inflectional language, International language, Isolating language, Language isolate, National language, Natural language, Pidgin, Pluricentric language, Polysynthetic language, Proto-language, Sign language, Spoken language, Synthetic language, Variety (linguistics)


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Applied linguistics, Cognitive linguistics, Accent (dialect), Computational linguistics, Descriptive linguistics, Eurolinguistics, Generative linguistics, Historical linguistics, Lexicology, Lexical semantics, Morphology, Onomasiology, Phonetics, Phonology, Pragmatics, Prescription, Prototype semantics, Psycholinguistics, Semantics, Stylistics, Sociolinguistics, Syntax

See also: List of linguists


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Alphabets: Arabic alphabet, Bengali alphabet, Cyrillic alphabet, Hebrew alphabet, Latin alphabet, more...

Other writing systems: Abjad, Abugida, Braille, Hieroglyphics, Logogram, Syllabary, SignWriting, more..

See also: History of the alphabet, Script

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