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A language is a collection of symbols (called vocabulary or lexicon) and rules for connecting these symbols (called grammar) that facilitates communication.


The origin of language has been debated for long time among linguists, biologists, cognitive scientists, theologians, anthropologists, along with many other disciplines. Currently, the most wide held belief is that language has evolutionary origins (Pinker, 1997). However, this has not been proven definitively.

Language differs from call signs used by primates and other animals in that language can be used without prompting or a stimulus and is necessary for higher thinking. Call signs are regarded merely as forms of communication rather than abstract symbol use.

Although linguists have been able to allocate most languages to a small number of language "families", they have been unable to find a common origin of these language families. A few of the largest and oldest families include: Indo-European, Afro-Asiatic and Nigar Congo families (Campbell, 98).

Examples of Languages

See also