The Complexity of Human Language Essay

The Complexity of Human Language Essay

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The ease at which we are able to express ourselves and share ideas is often taken for granted. Sometimes people know what another person is thinking just with a shrug of the shoulders or a glare in the eye. However, communication has reached a profound level of complexity where we can express and share almost everything we can conceptualize. Anthropologists have studied language on multiple levels. There’s the physiological aspect of language. This means how the mouth moves in order to produce sounds. There’s also the psychological aspect which studies why certain words and sounds are used and why sentences take a certain structure. But in my opinion, the most important thing about language that anthropologists study, is its social and cultural effects.

Humans have evolved physically to produce a wide range of sounds. This has happened relatively recently and is because people who were able to have more diverse communication abilities were able to breed more successfully (Stanford, 143). An interesting thing to note is that to many Asian people, r’s and l’s are phonetically indistinguishable. At an early age they don't use r and l because physically, it is a sound that is produced similarly with the mouth, they cannot tell the difference. Sounds are made in a variety of ways with the mouth (Vanderweide,48). The sound an f makes is by breathing out while placing your teeth on your lip, which is different compared to a b which sound is made using two lips. However, a b, and a p sounds are both produced bilabially, but with a different length and force of breath producing a very distinguishable sound in almost all cultures. If you sat there and mouthed out the sounds of an f, a b, and a p, you noticed how they felt and how the ...


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...ate and share ideas leading to the progress and evolution of our society as a whole. Language was essential to becoming what we are, and it is essential to become what we have yet to become. It’s interesting to look at it through an anthropological perspective, because we see the way it influenced us physically and culturally. Language is possibly the most important tool we have.






















Works Cited

Kottak, Conrad. Window on Humanity: A Concise Introduction to Anthropology. McGraw Hill. 2012. Print

Pinker, Steven. The Language Instinct. New York: Harper Perennial Classics. 2007. Print

Stanford, Craig. Allen, John. Susan, Anton. Exploring Biological Anthropology. New Jersey: Pearson Prentice Hall. 2008. Print

Vanderweide, Theresa. Contemporary Linguistics: An Introduction: Bedford/ St. Martins Publishing. 1999. Print

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