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Linguistic Intelligence: Definition & Explanation

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  • 0:01 Introduction to…
  • 0:21 Gardner's Theory of…
  • 2:17 What is Linguistic…
  • 3:31 Examples of Linguistic…
  • 4:20 Lesson Summary
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Instructor: Yolanda Williams

Yolanda has taught college Psychology and Ethics, and has a doctorate of philosophy in counselor education and supervision.

What do J.K. Rowling, Dr. Seuss, and Johnny Cochran all have in common? They all have linguistic intelligence. Learn more about linguistic intelligence from examples and test your knowledge with a quiz.

Introduction to Linguistic Intelligence

Have you ever been told that you have a way with words? Maybe you enjoy writing and giving public speeches. Are you good at persuading people to see your point of view through spoken or written language? If so, you have demonstrated linguistic intelligence.

Howard Gardner's Theory of Multiple Intelligences

Linguistic intelligence is one of eight intelligences that was introduced by Howard Gardner, a developmental psychologist, in 1983. Before this point, intelligence had been treated as one single trait. Gardner proposed that there are eight different types of intelligences and that each one is independent of the other. The eight intelligences are:

  1. Musical intelligence: includes the ability to distinguish between music and sound patterns, rhythms, etc.
  2. Visual/spatial intelligence: includes the ability to detect different patterns and designs in places and use or manipulate them
  3. Body/kinesthetic intelligence: includes athleticism and the ability to effectively use the human body
  4. Naturalistic intelligence: includes the ability to distinguish between different elements in the environment and knowledge about nature
  5. Interpersonal intelligence: includes the ability to relate to others and understand them
  6. Intrapersonal intelligence: includes a deep understanding of oneself and one's limitations and goals
  7. Logical/mathematical intelligence: includes deductive reasoning, critical thinking skills, and understanding of complex mathematical equations
  8. Linguistic intelligence: includes the ability to persuade others using words, creative writing skills, and the ability to pick up on other languages easily

It is important to note that just because you have high intelligence on one area, it does not mean that you have high intelligence in another area. Our levels of intelligence on the different types are independent of one another. For example, a choir director may be good at picking up on the different rhythms and sounds in the voices of the choir members (musical intelligence) but may be physically weak and not good at sports (body/kinesthetic intelligence).

What Is Linguistic Intelligence?

Maya Angelou, William Shakespeare, and Oprah Winfrey are famous people who have high linguistic intelligence. In other words, they have a deep understanding and appreciation of the rules and functions of language. People with linguistic intelligence are skilled writers and speakers. They can understand the languages and words of others more easily, and can learn foreign languages much faster than the average person.

They are able to use vocabulary to express themselves clearly and precisely. They can convey meaning and emotions in their words. They are good at imagery and inciting emotional reactions in others by using their words. They are also good at descriptive language and make excellent storytellers.

People with linguistic intelligence are known to:

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