Language is the method in which all human beings communicate. It is what separates human beings from the rest of the animal kingdom. However, while the languages of the world share similarities, the differences cause problems in understanding. These problems stem from the differences in culture, language, and how people in those cultures thing. Cross-cultural interpretation causes cognate and emotive meaning to be lost due to cultural differences.
What is language? Language is the primary means of communication for human beings. Language is based on arbitrary, learned associations between words and the things for which they stand. Like culture in general, of which language is a part, language is transmitted through learning as part of enculturation. Language allows people to conjure up elaborate images, to discuss the past and future, to share our experiences with others, and to benefit from their experiences.
Language is different from animal call systems. While animals do use complex call systems to communicate, these systems do not share the same properties as a language. Primates, for example, will not use a call unless an environmental stimulus is present. If a primate sees food, he will use his call system to announce the presence of food. The primate only has command of a limited number of calls that cannot be combined to produce new ones. The calls tend to be species specific, transmitted genetically, and contain little variation among communities of the same species for each call.
Human language has the capacity to speak of and events that are not present. This is called displacement. A human can use language to describe food that is present, food that was there in the past, or food that will be there in the future. Human language is productive, it allows the combination of words and expressions to create new expressions.
While the calls of the primate tend to be species specific, human language is group specific. All humans have the...