Language is the system of symbols, sounds, meanings and rules established by society and is the primary mode of communication for humans. This chapter will begin by considering the ways language and thought shape each other. Then we will examine the elements of language, how people use it in everyday life, and how children acquire the capacity to think and communicate with words. In so doing, we enter into one of the most intriguing debates in all of psychology: the extent to which the capacity to acquire language is innate. The chapter will conclude by considering whether we are alone among species in the capacity to use symbols to think.
By the end of this chapter of Psychology 101, you should be able to:
- Describe language and outline its basic elements
- Explain how language develops.