Linguistic Diversity: Definition & Overview

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  • 0:01 Why Are Language,…
  • 1:54 Linguistic Diversity
  • 2:30 Language Families
  • 3:57 Shared Linguistic Traits
  • 5:20 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Ryan Hultzman
Language can be considered a particularly human invention. People need language to communicate with one another in order to survive. This lesson explores why there are so many languages and how these languages may be compared.

Why are Language, Groups Important?

What makes people different from all the other animals that surround us on this planet? Different people will give you different answers, but one answer that often appears is the ability of people to use language. Other animals do possess forms of communication, through body language, vocalization, eye contact, and other means. However, humans are often considered unique in their creation and use of language to communicate with one another.

Language is a systematic form of communication that can take a variety of forms. Systematic refers to the fact that language is composed of rules. Language is an important part of culture, elements of knowledge, ideas, beliefs, etc., that are passed along from one generation to the next. Language is a great vehicle for knowledge because people use it to tell their children stories and other lessons that will guide them through life. As an element of culture, language helps people with the proper knowledge to communicate with others. This communication can be performed for a variety of reasons, but the important thing about language is that it helps people to work in groups.

So, why are groups important? A single person can only do so much. Compared to other creatures on our planet, humans have very little in the way of physical adaptations. There are many animals that are stronger, faster, and tougher. Through group effort, facilitated by culture and communication, humans have become the dominant species on our planet.

An important element is knowledge. With knowledge comes the ability to modify one's environment to suit one's needs as well as a variety of ways to resist the forces of nature. Most people's knowledge is based upon what they have learned from other people. Experience is a great teacher, but language allows people to communicate their experiences so many other people can learn from them.

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