Linguistics

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Give a short explanation of some characteristics that distinguish human language from that of animals.

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Simply put, human language can convey much more complex ideas than animals are capable of. All human societies have language. Humans use language, mostly verbal but also visual (gestures, expressions, writing), to communicate and express ideas to each other. Some animals also have ways to communicate among themselves. Some use...

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Simply put, human language can convey much more complex ideas than animals are capable of. All human societies have language. Humans use language, mostly verbal but also visual (gestures, expressions, writing), to communicate and express ideas to each other. Some animals also have ways to communicate among themselves. Some use vocalizations, such as the howling of wolves. Some animals use movements and body language, such as bees. Others use pheromones, such as ants. Many use a combination of these methods. Whether or not this communication is actual language is debatable.

One major difference is how language is acquired. Humans learn language through interacting with each other. As a result, every human culture has distinct ways that it uses language. Although it appears that some animals learn certain aspects of communication from each other, such as ravens, their methods of communication are often acquired biologically and instinctively. As a result, communication is much more universal within a given animal species.

When looking strictly at language, humans are capable of expressing complex meanings through stringing together an infinite combination of distinctive sounds known as phonemes. These are the basic building blocks of language as we know it. This allows humans to communicate both concrete and abstract ideas. Animals do not possess this ability. Their communication almost exclusively centers on responding to immediate stimuli. In other words, humans can talk about past and future events, while animals only communicate what is happening in the present moment.

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