L is for Language and Logic
L = Language, the instrumentality of Language and Definition.
In the beginning was the word…..genesis of human capability.
See also: Proto-Indo-European.
lan·guage (lăngʹgwĭj) noun
1. a. The use by human beings of voice sounds, and often written symbols representing these sounds, in organized combinations and patterns in order to express and communicate thoughts and feelings. b. A system of words formed from such combinations and patterns, used by the people of a particular country or by a group of people with a shared history or set of traditions.
2. a. A nonverbal method of communicating ideas, as by a system of signs, symbols, gestures, or rules: the language of algebra. b. Computer Science. A system of symbols and rules used for communication with or between computers.
3. Body language; kinesics.
4. The special vocabulary and usages of a scientific, professional, or other group: “his total mastery of screen language-camera placement, editing-and his handling of actors” (Jack Kroll).
5. A characteristic style of speech or writing: Shakespearean language.
6. a. Abusive, violent, or profane utterance: “language that would make your hair curl” (W.S. Gilbert). b. A particular manner of utterance: gentle language.
7. The manner or means of communication between living creatures other than human beings: the language of dolphins.
8. Verbal communication as a subject of study.
9. The wording of a legal document or statute as distinct from the spirit.
[Middle English, from Old French langage, from langue, tongue, language, from Latin lingua.]
Language, principal means of human communication. Language is primarily spoken, although it can be transferred to other media, such as writing or sign language. A prominent characteristic of language is the arbitrary relation between a linguistic sign and its meaning: There is no reason other than convention among speakers of English that a dog should be called dog. Language can be used to discuss a wide range of topics, a characteristic that distinguishes it from animal communication, which generally has limited and specific uses.
Linguistics and Components of Language
Linguistics is the scientific study of language. There are several subfields of linguistics. Phonetics is concerned with the physical properties of sounds: how sounds are produced, the characteristics of sound waves, and how sounds are perceived. Morphology is the study of morphemes (grammatical elements smaller than words) and the ways in which they combine into words. For example, the word cats has two morphemes, cat, meaning “feline animal,” and -s meaning “more than one.” Syntax is the study of how words combine to make sentences: A general characteristic of language is that words are not directly combined into sentences but rather into intermediate units, called phrases, which then are combined into sentences. This hierarchical structure serves an important role in establishing relations within sentences. Semantics is the field of study that deals with the meaning of these elements.
Language acquisition is the process by which children and adults learn new languages. First-language acquisition is a complex process. Young children have certain innate characteristics that predispose them to learn language. These characteristics include the structure of the vocal tract and the ability to understand a number of general grammatical principles. Second-language acquisition frequently refers to the acquisition of a new language after a person has reached puberty. Adults generally must expend greater effort than do children to learn a second language, and they often achieve lower levels of competence.
A dialect is a variety of a language spoken by a subgroup of people, usually within a specific geographic area. Dialects develop primarily as a result of limited communication between different parts of a linguistic community. When linguistic changes in one part of the community do not spread elsewhere for a long enough period, separate languages develop. Sociolects are dialects determined by social factors such as socioeconomic class and religion.
Slang, argot, and jargon are more specialized terms for certain social language varieties usually defined by specialized vocabularies. Slang refers to nonstandard informal vocabulary, especially short-lived coinages. Argot refers to a vocabulary used by secret groups, usually intended to render communications incomprehensible to outsiders. A jargon comprises the specialized vocabulary of a particular trade or profession. A pidgin is a language used for communication by groups that have different native tongues. Pidgin develops when people speaking different languages are forced to develop a common means of communication without sufficient time to learn each other’s native languages properly. Pidgin typically mixes the vocabulary of mainly one language with a grammatical structure that is variable or that reflects the grammatical structure of each speaker’s language. A creole language arises in a similar situation, but it becomes the native language of its community.
Languages of the World
Estimates of the number of languages spoken in the world today vary depending on where the dividing line between language and dialect is drawn. If mutual intelligibility is the basic criterion, current estimates indicate that there are about 6000 languages spoken in the world today. The 12 most widely spoken are Mandarin Chinese, Hindi, Spanish, English, Bengali, Arabic, Russian, Portuguese, Japanese, German, French, and Malay. Linguists classify languages using two main classification systems: typological and genetic. A typological system organizes languages according to their structures. A genetic system divides languages into families on the basis of their historical development.
The Indo-European languages constitute the most widely spoken languages in Europe. The family contains a number of subfamilies, including the Germanic languages and the Romance languages. The Indo-Iranian language group is another major branch of the Indo-European family. It has two subbranches, Iranian and Indo-Aryan, which are spoken from southwest Asia through the Indian subcontinent. The Uralic languages, most of which belong to the Finno-Ugric languages branch, constitute the other main European language family.
In addition to the Indo-Aryan group, south Asia contains two other large language families: The Dravidian family is dominant in southern India, and the Munda languages represent the Austro-Asiatic language family. A number of linguists believe that many of the languages of central, northern, and eastern Asia form a single Altaic language family. The Sino-Tibetan language family covers most of China, much of the Himalayas and parts of Southeast Asia. The Tai languages constitute another important language family of Southeast Asia. The Austronesian languages cover the Malay Peninsula and most islands to the southeast of Asia. Most of the inhabitants of New Guinea’s main island speak Papuan languages, a term covering about 60 different language families.
The African languages may belong to as few as four families. Afro-Asiatic languages occupy most of North Africa and large parts of southwestern Asia. The Niger-Congo family covers most of sub-Saharan Africa. The Nilo-Saharan languages are spoken mainly in eastern Africa. The Khoisan languages are spoken in the southwestern corner of the continent.
Some linguists group Native American languages into just three families, while most separate them into a large number of families and isolates. Well-established North American families include Eskimo-Aleut, Na-Dené, Algonquian, Iroquoian, and Siouan. The Uto-Aztecan family extends from the southwestern United States into Central America, where the Mayan languages are spoken. Major language families of South America include Carib, Arawak, Macro-Gê, Tupian, Quechua, and Aymara.
Individual pidgin and creole languages pose a particular problem for genetic classification because the vocabulary and grammar of each comes from different sources. Pidgin and creole languages are found in many parts of the world, but there are particular concentrations in the Caribbean, West Africa, and the islands of the Indian Ocean and the South Pacific.
International languages include both existing languages that have become international means of communication and languages artificially constructed to serve this purpose. The most famous and widespread artificial international language is Esperanto. In medieval Europe, the Latin language was the principal international language. Today, English is used in more countries as an official language or as the main means of international communication than any other language.
How Languages Change
Languages continually undergo changes, although speakers of a language are usually unaware of the changes as they occur. Historical change can affect all components of language. Sound change is the area of language change that has received the most study. One of the major sound changes in the history of the English language was the so-called Great Vowel Shift, which occurred during the 15th and 16th centuries, affecting the pronunciation of some vowels. Change can also affect morphology, syntax, and the meaning of words. Contact with other languages can affect not only vocabulary but also grammar and syntax. The recovery of the stages of a language that existed prior to those found in written documents is known as linguistic reconstruction. Using genetically related languages, linguists try to reconstruct at least certain aspects of the languages’ common ancestor, called the protolanguage.
Language, although primarily oral, can also be represented in other media, such as writing. Written and spoken languages tend to diverge from one another, partly because of the difference in medium. In spoken language, the structure of a message must remain simple, because the listener might misunderstand the message. However, the speaker can receive immediate feedback from the listener and clarify points of confusion. Sentence structures in written communication can be more complex, but must be constructed with greater clarity, since the writer cannot receive feedback from the reader. Sign languages, which differ from signed versions of spoken languages, are the native languages of most members of deaf communities. Linguists have only recently begun to appreciate the levels of complexity and expressiveness found in sign languages. Sign languages use complex syntax and can discuss the same wide range of topics possible in spoken languages. Body language refers to the conveying of messages through body movements other than those movements that form a part of sign or spoken languages. Although there are cross-cultural similarities in body language, substantial differences also exist. In certain circumstances, other media, such as Morse code or drum rhythms, can be used to convey linguistic messages.
Pro·to-In·do-Eur·o·pe·an (prō´tō-ĭn´dō-yr´ə-pēʹən) noun
The reconstructed language that was the ancestor of the Indo-European languages.
Of, relating to, or being Proto-Indo-European or one of its reconstructed linguistic features.
Indo-European Languages, most widely spoken family of languages in the world, containing the following subfamilies: Albanian, Armenian, Baltic, Celtic, Germanic, Greek, Indo-Iranian, Italic, Slavic, and two extinct subfamilies, Anatolian and Tocharian. About 1.6 billion people speak Indo-European languages.
Proof that these highly diverse languages are members of a single family was largely accumulated during a 50-year period around the turn of the 19th century. Studies led to specific conclusions about the assumed parent language (called Proto-Indo-European), its reconstruction, and estimates about when it began to diverge. The decipherment of Hittite texts and the discovery of Tocharian in the 1890s added new insights. The original meanings of only a limited number of Proto-Indo-European words can be stated with much certainty. This small vocabulary suggests a New Stone Age or perhaps an early metal-using culture with farmers and domestic animals. The identity and location of this culture have been the object of much speculation. Archaeological discoveries in the 1960s suggest the prehistoric Kurgan culture, which was located in the plains west of the Ural Mountains between 5000 and 3000 BC.
In general, the evolution of the Indo-European languages displays a progressive decay of inflection. In large part this resulted from the gradual loss of many words’ final syllables, so that modern Indo-European words are often much shorter than the Proto-Indo-European words.
Logic (from the Greek λογική logikē) is the philosophical study of valid reasoning. Logic is used in most intellectual activities, but is studied primarily in the disciplines of philosophy, mathematics, semantics, and computer science. It examines general forms that arguments may take, which forms are valid, and which are fallacies. In philosophy, the study of logic is applied in most major areas: metaphysics, ontology, epistemology, and ethics. In mathematics, it is the study of valid inferences within some formal language. Logic is also studied in argumentation theory.
Logic was studied in several ancient civilizations, including India, China, and Greece. In the West, logic was established as a formal discipline by Aristotle, who gave it a fundamental place in philosophy. The study of logic was part of the classical trivium, which also included grammar and rhetoric.
The study of logic
|“||Upon this first, and in one sense this sole, rule of reason, that in order to learn you must desire to learn, and in so desiring not be satisfied with what you already incline to think, there follows one corollary which itself deserves to be inscribed upon every wall of the city of philosophy: Do not block the way of inquiry.||”|
|—Charles Sanders Peirce, “First Rule of Logic”)|
The concept of logical form is central to logic, it being held that the validity of an argument is determined by its logical form, not by its content. Traditional Aristotelian syllogistic logic and modern symbolic logic are examples of formal logics.
- Informal logic is the study of natural languagearguments. The study of fallacies is an especially important branch of informal logic. The dialogues of Plato are good examples of informal logic.
- Formal logic is the study of inference with purely formal content. An inference possesses a purely formal content if it can be expressed as a particular application of a wholly abstract rule, that is, a rule that is not about any particular thing or property. The works of Aristotle contain the earliest known formal study of logic. Modern formal logic follows and expands on Aristotle. In many definitions of logic, logical inference and inference with purely formal content are the same. This does not render the notion of informal logic vacuous, because no formal logic captures all of the nuance of natural language.
- Symbolic logic is the study of symbolic abstractions that capture the formal features of logical inference. Symbolic logic is often divided into two branches: propositional logic and predicate logic.
- Mathematical logic is an extension of symbolic logic into other areas, in particular to the study of model theory, proof theory, set theory, and recursion theory.