In Being Human by Richard Gross, one of the most common claims for human exceptionalism is language. Human language has surpassed any kind of communicative behavior carried on by other species. The power of spoken language is what makes us humans and what differs us from other living organisms. The complexity of human language involves learning the components of symbolic elements certainly not learned in other species’ communication systems. Non-human brains are simply not structured to develop language like humans do. Their brains lack abstract thinking and understanding of symbols. The language in humans has unique characteristics that mature and develop distinctly from other species.
Per Gross, “Postnatal structural and functional brain development is influenced by the environment” (58). The prefrontal cortex which is unique to humans undergoes a long course of maturation that is sensitive to social and cultural environments. Humans are born with brains underdeveloped. This means that the human brain as a whole is shaped by experience and it develops additional human cognitive abilities like spoken language through social interactions. Any normal human will learn their native language based on interaction and experience in their local environment, while animals exposed to the same environment will not. The human brain possesses unique traits that no other known species on this planet has. When exposed to certain environments and experiences, the human brain functions in acquiring language.
Humans are considered the only species capable of acquiring language. According to Gross, language is part of the human nature, with speech the ‘default option’ meaning that children with normal brains and raised unde...
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...tural sounds and gestures produced by all nonhuman primates’ show their signals to be highly stereotyped and limited in the type and number of messages they convey.” On the other hand, human language is a system of arbitrary signs which allows us to convey unlimited interactions within the world around us.
Conclusively, the human brain unfolds in stages of development that allow for interactions with other people and the environment, which in turn allow for development of cognition through the use of language. This makes the human brain special because it develops differently from other species. It makes human language universal and different from all other living organisms. Surely, humans have innate language instinct. It has to be wired somewhere in our minds. It just has to be learned through personal interaction, which is why we differ from culture to culture.
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