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Defining Language

Defining Language

  • Language is the biological adaptation to communicate.
  • There have been anthropological studies of tribes that had no contact with the larger world until the 1920s. Among those tribes, language was acquired seamlessly, without specific instruction.
  • The human capacity for language is termed by the author as “Mentalese.”
  • Humans acquired language through their biology. This innate possession of language a “Universal Grammar.”
  • This proclamation ran counter to the social science theories of the time, which contended that language had to be deliberately taught by adults.


224 reads



Humans are so innately hardwired for language that they can no more suppress their ability to learn and use language than they can suppress the instinct to pull a hand back from a hot surface.



138 reads

Grammar Is Getting Worse, But It's Okay

Grammar Is Getting Worse, But It's Okay

Grammar is a crucial part of language, and it pays to know it well. However, while you’d be punished horribly in school in the 1920s for bad grammar, today it’s not such a big deal, mainly because grammar rules are only one type of rules that determine how well you use language.

Grammar rul...


123 reads


The audible signals people can produce are not a series of crisp beeps like on a touch-tone phone. Speech is a river of breath, bent into hisses and hums by the soft flesh of the mouth and throat.



126 reads

Our Brains Are Hard-Wired For Learning Language

Our Brains Are Hard-Wired For Learning Language

The theory that language is an instinct has opened up the possibility that humans have had access to language learning for about 2.5 million years.

There are specific genes and regions of the brain that develop to allow the individual to practice language.

While popular media account...


111 reads

The Two Core Principles

The Two Core Principles

All languages are based on the same two core principles.

How come we can talk so effortlessly to one another? What is it about language that makes it so easy to communicate with it? There are two forces at play here:

  • The arbitrariness of the sign.
  • Our infinite use of fini...


163 reads

The Right Grammar Is Subjective

The Right Grammar Is Subjective

You can be very much descriptively correct with your grammar, while being wrong in a prescriptive sense, just like a driver can follow the rules of physics in his car while breaking the laws of the country he’s driving in. Correct grammar is very much a relative thing, so don’t stress too much ab...


110 reads

Early Instinct

Early Instinct

Since children learn languages as early as 18 months old, but can only learn from observing adults that do it the right way, they have no way of actively telling what’s right from wrong – they’re not studying languages, they just absorb them.

Yet they still apply the right rules at the righ...


189 reads

Infinite Use Of Finite Media

Infinite Use Of Finite Media

This principle allows us to express anything and everything, because even though the number of words in any given language is limited, the number of combinations of words isn’t. Since we use the rules of grammar to create our own sentences, we’re not limited in how much we can express, which make...


130 reads

Signs Are Arbitrary

Signs Are Arbitrary

The form words take doesn’t have a direct relation to their meaning.

For example the word “cat” doesn’t sound like a cat. The sound cats make is “meow” and they’re silent when they walk, whereas “cat” is a pretty strong, snappy, short and loud word.

This is a good thing, because it ke...


144 reads

A Natural At Learning Languages

A Natural At Learning Languages

Humans have an innate language instinct, which allows them to tackle communication on a whole other level.

  • Since children learn grammar without studying it, they must have an innate capability to understand it.
  • There are two central principles behind all languages, which make t...


283 reads

The Window To Learn A Language

The Window To Learn A Language

Children have a “window” for maximum language learning, while adults tend to have trouble learning a second language.

This window must exist because children around four years old learn grammar and vocabulary so quickly; this exponential learning cannot be explained by adult intervention o...


163 reads




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