" Whatever else people do when they come together—whether they play, fight, make love, or make automobiles—they talk. We live in a world of language. We talk to our friends, our associates, our wives and husbands, our lovers, our teachers, our parents, our rivals, and even our enemies. We talk to bus drivers and total strangers. We talk face-to-face and over the telephone, and everyone responds with more talk. Television and radio further swell this torrent of words. Hardly a moment of our waking lives is free from words, and even in our dreams we talk and are talked to. We also talk when there is no one to answer. Some of us talk aloud in our sleep. We talk to our pets and sometimes to ourselves.The possession of language, perhaps more than any other attribute, distinguishes humans from other animals. To understand our humanity, one must understand the nature of language that makes us human. According to the philosophy expressed in the myths and religions of many peoples, language is the source of human life and power. To some people of Africa, a newborn child is a kintu, a “thing,” not yet a muntu, a “person.” Only by the act of learning language does the child become a human being. According to this tradition, we all become “human” because we all know at least one language. But what does it mean to “know” a language? " 

Victoria Fromkin, Robert Rodman & Nina Hyams (2011)

  • An Introduction to Language, Ninth Edition 2011 
    Victoria Fromkin, Robert Rodman & Nina Hyams

  • The Study of Language, Ninth Edition 2006 

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