Language Awareness 1

What is Language?

“If you can speak three languages you’re trilingual. If you can speak two languages you are bilingual. I you can speak only one language you are American.” ~ Author Unknown
I chose this quote because it reminds me of many stories I have read online in which Americans always expect people to speak English, while most of the time that is the only language they (the Americans)  know. Most people I know are bilingual, trilingual and sometimes they speak even more languages. Many Americans tell people who come to their country to speak English even though they never bothered to learn the languages of the native people who already lived there. Considering the history of the European settlers I find it very selfish that a lot of Americans expect people to do something they themselves never bothered to do. 

“Conversation is the slowest form of human communication.” ~Author Unknown.

You can often figure out how a person is feeling or doing by their body language and facial expressions. Even when you look at text messages between people. In a verbal conversation you often have to explain things, while in text you can use emojis and slang which can shorten the time needed to get the message across. During some of our Ling3 classes we talked about how text messaging can change the way of communicating with others. Some people consider the change to be negative, but in my opinion it’s amazing. Especially talking to people who speak a different language. In regular verbal conversations you have to think about the right things to say. If you speak more than one language that can take even more time because you can’t always directly translate the message you’re trying to get across.


“A different language is a different vision of life.” ~Frederico Fellini.

It might have been during a Ling3 or Culture class where we were told about how different languages can cause different visions of life. One language has a dozen different words to describe the way it’s raining, but for another language it’s just raining. The first thing I thought of was how in Croatian you don’t differentiate between arm and hand, both are called ‘ruka’, foot and leg are both called ‘noga’. It has brought me lots of frustration when I was younger and would hurt myself.
It is truly fascinating when you think about how when some people see the color red, they will only think of blood. Other people will think of love, anger, passion etc. Language can change your vision of the world, because your perspective on some things will be the complete opposite of your friend who speaks another language.


Create your own definition of language and explain it

Languages are ways in which people from different cultures/regions communicate with each other. Whether it’s verbal communication or sign language. I don’t think that speaking a language means just having verbal conversations. Sign language is a wonderful example of a language in which words aren’t actually spoken. You’re giving people a voice in a different way.


Learning a language

Can you learn a language? (if yes, that implies there is a cognitive process

How do you do that?

Everyone can learn a language, but you can’t become fluent by just sitting in a classroom, listening to your teacher and talking to your classmates. To become a fluent speaker, you need to surround yourself by native speakers, immerse yourself in the culture of your target language. Learn the slang people use, learn the way they joke and use sarcasm. In some languages people are more direct than in others. You’d need to spend a certain amount of time talking to native speakers of your target language to learn their manners of speaking, you need to figure out how to express your thoughts and opinions, without accidentally being offensive.


What would be the difference between learning and acquiring a language? Discuss

I feel like me and other children from immigrants are a great example of these differences. Our parents will often speak their native tongue to us while we’re growing up, we acquire that language from them. That language, along with our culture, has been passed down from generation to generation. A Dutch person learning Dutch is acquiring a language, just like a French person who lives in France acquires the French language.
But when you’re learning a language, whether it’s your second language or your third one, you learn it because you want to. You don’t always need to speak that language, it probably doesn’t have a cultural significance to you. You learn a language because you might like it, because it might be useful to you in the future. To acquire a language, in my opinion, it’s passed down onto you and/or it has a cultural significance to you. It’s part of who you and your family are.


Language users can use language creatively: they can express combinations of words that are unique. Is it possible to learn to be creative? What do you think? Discuss.

I think that most people are taught how to lose their creativity, so by that logic you should also be able to obtain it, again. I also think that if you watch enough (fantasy or science-fiction) movies or read enough books from various genres, you will allow yourself to open up to different worlds, to look at things from different perspectives. Once you allow that to happen, you might learn to be creative, in your own way, and use that to express yourself.