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THE SIGNIFICANCE OF LANGUAGE AS A TOOL OF COMMUNICATION

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Abstract

Language is essentially a means of communication among the members of a society. The purpose of this paper is to show that a common language is one of the most important features of a community and the ceaseless use of the same language is the most certain proof of the historical continuity of a community of people. The need to communicate triggers both the occurrence and the development of a language and this need arises and becomes stronger and stronger when one has someone else to communicate with, i.e. where there is a society. In terms of linguistics, the study of language is a multidisciplinary endeavour. Communication takes place not only orally, but also in writing. It is this plurality of aspects in studying the same object that makes language a perpetual phenomenon.
“Mircea cel Batran” Naval Academy Scientific Bulletin, Volume XVIII 2015 Issue 2
Published by “Mircea cel Batran” Naval Academy Press, Constanta, Romania // The journal is indexed in:
PROQUEST SciTech Journals, PROQUEST Engineering Journals, PROQUEST Illustrata: Technology, PROQUEST Technology
Journals, PROQUEST Military Collection PROQUEST Advanced Technologies & Aerospace
THE SIGNIFICANCE OF LANGUAGE AS A TOOL OF COMMUNICATION
Anca SIRBU1
1Senior lecturer, PhD Department of Fundamental Sciences and Humanities, Constanta Maritime University
Abstract: Language is essentially a means of communication among the members of a society. The
purpose of this paper is to show that a common language is one of the most important features of a
community and the ceaseless use of the same language is the most certain proof of the historical continuity
of a community of people. The need to communicate triggers both the occurrence and the development of a
language and this need arises and becomes stronger and stronger when one has someone else to
communicate with, i.e. where there is a society. In terms of linguistics, the study of language is a
multidisciplinary endeavour. Communication takes place not only orally, but also in writing. It is this plurality
of aspects in studying the same object that makes language a perpetual phenomenon.
Keywords: language, communication, social community, common culture
Language is essentially a means of
communication among the members of a society.
In the expression of culture, language is a
fundamental aspect. It is the tool that conveys
traditions and values related to group identity. The
purpose of this paper is to show that a common
language is one of the most important features of
a community and the ceaseless use of the same
language is the most certain proof of the historical
continuity of a community of people. This function
is strongly related to the social nature of a
language, whereas there are interdependency
and mutual conditionality relations between
language occurrence and a society with its
inherent culture. We are going to take into
account several aspects of language such as
speaking and writing while also keeping in mind
that the study of language is a multidisciplinary
endeavour. Communication takes place not only
orally, but also in writing.
For instance, writing, a relatively recent invention,
has a great importance for a language whereby it
plays an important role in the preservation of
language realities.
The need to communicate triggers both the
occurrence and the development of a language
and this need arises and becomes stronger and
stronger when one has someone else to
communicate with, i.e. where there is a society.
Society acquires self-awareness through the
contact and communication between its members.
The significance of communication between
people equates the significance of language the
most important means of communication. In this
respect, language is of crucial importance in the
individual development of humans and this is best
mirrored by the development of blind people as
opposed to the deaf (we speak, of course, of
blindness and deafness at birth). Research has
revealed the fact that the blind develop their
intellectual propensities better than the deaf.
Although deprived of their sight, they can hear,
which enables them to acquire language, by
means of which they can “see” better than with
their own eyes. The deaf, on the other hand,
compelled to silence, hence unable to access
language freely, develop more difficultly on an
intellectual level and do not attain all the
instruments of a complex abstract thinking
process. Hence, as a means of communication in
a community, wherever communities of deaf
people exist, sign languages have been
developed. They share many similarities with
spoken languages (sometimes called "oral
languages", which depend primarily on sound),
which is why linguists consider both to be natural
languages, but there are also some significant
differences between signed and spoken
languages.[…] Signing is not only used by the
deaf, it is also used by people who can hear, but
cannot physically speak. While they use space for
grammar in a way that spoken languages do not,
sign languages show the same linguistic
properties and use the same language faculty as
do spoken languages.[1]
As a tool of communication among the members
of a society, language is influenced by the very
society where it functions. Moreover, being the
most significant tool of communication, a
particular language which is mastered only by
some people (e.g. Latin, Greek, French, English
etc.) has often been the determining factor in
turning these people into a separate group as a
people, a nation or a state. The distinction
between peoples and nations mainly traces the
geographical distribution in space of the
pertaining languages while the linguistic
community, i.e. the fact that they all use the same
language, is the essentially defining element for
economical and political communities.
In terms of linguistics, which is a fundamentally
theoretical science, it is important to discriminate
between the act of “speaking” and “language”.
Speaking is specific and concrete, it is the
405
“Mircea cel Batran” Naval Academy Scientific Bulletin, Volume XVIII 2015 Issue 2
Published by “Mircea cel Batran” Naval Academy Press, Constanta, Romania // The journal is indexed in:
PROQUEST SciTech Journals, PROQUEST Engineering Journals, PROQUEST Illustrata: Technology, PROQUEST Technology
Journals, PROQUEST Military Collection PROQUEST Advanced Technologies & Aerospace
linguistic process as such in the act of
communication; it is an individual aspect of
language. Language, on the contrary, is a
general, abstract aspect and a sum of
organisation skills and principles; it is the system
that governs any concrete act of communication.
Linguistics generally pays more attention to
language, an utterly social aspect, the one that
can act as a means of communication.
As far as interdisciplinarity is concerned, it is
worth mentioning the fact that logics, psychology
or anthropology have their share in the study of
language. While diversifying in terms of space
(languages, dialects, idioms), or time, language is
also dependent on the social characters of
speakers (jargon, slang, specialised terminology)
and their anthropological affiliation (child or
teenager language, men and women language).
Sociolinguistics studies social and cultural
influences on language behaviour. Among the
most significant aspects are the ones pertaining to
dialects and language standards. Sociolinguistic
research has documented the existence of
dialects in every language. Dialects are usually
associated with educational, economic, social and
historical circumstances. Linguistically, the word
"dialect" is referred to as “a regional or social
variety of a language distinguished by
pronunciation, grammar, or vocabulary, especially
a variety of speech differing from the standard
literary language or speech pattern of the culture
in which it exists[2] and not to an incorrect way
of speaking a language. Although all dialects of a
language are linguistically legitimate, only some
acquire social authority. In literate, economically
developed societies, the dialect spoken by the
members with the most formal education and the
highest socioeconomic status tends to achieve
the greatest social status. Usually, it becomes the
standard for that particular culture, used in writing
and in education. Standard dialects also offer a
tool through which speakers with different
linguistic and social backgrounds can
communicate with one another. Regional
variations may co-exist within the same dialect as
long as they abide by specified linguistic rules,
mainly grammatical.
All people subconsciously mirror their cultural
backgrounds in day-to-day communication.
Language is both a great advocate for
communication and an important reflection of
one's cultural background. Intracultural
miscommunication often stems from different and
conflicting styles of speech and messages. A
perfectly normal intonation pattern for a native
German speaker may seem angry and aggressive
to a foreign listener. Connotations of words, as
well as meanings of slang phrases, vary greatly
across cultural lines, and a lack of tolerance and
understanding of this fact often results in
misinterpretations.”[3]
There is a close relationship between the
language and the culture of a community - they
are inextricably related, so that one cannot
understand or appreciate the one without a good
knowledge of the other. Culture may reflect in
body language, customs, superstitions, and even
expressions of friendliness. Although all these
definitely observe the cultural norms of a
particular society, the impact of culture on
language use is both deep and thorough. In this
context, culture refers to the lifestyle of a
community: the way its members behave, their
beliefs, their values and, most importantly, the
way they communicate. “Every act of language,
be it written or spoken, is a statement about the
position of its author within the social structure in
a given culture” [4]. Language mediates between
the individual and the community.
In conclusion, language can be analysed and
described under several criteria, coming to the
most different results. It is this plurality of aspects
in studying the same object that makes language
a perpetual phenomenon. Language is an actor
that both shapes, and is shaped by the social
community in which it plays a significant role.
BIBLIOGRAPHY:
[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sign_language
[2] http://www.thefreedictionary.com/dialect
[3] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cultural_communication
[4] Le Page R.B., Tabouret-Keller A., Acts of Identity, Cambridge University Press, 1985
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