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Defining "Language"

From:John Crowe <johnxcrowe@...>
Date:Wednesday, July 18, 2007, 13:00
What is your favorite definition? It's hard to find even a mediocre one (but
I can't come up with a satisfactory answer myself). "means of communication"
is just too lacking. Here are a few from online dictionaries:

1 a : the words, their pronunciation, and the methods of combining them used
and understood by a community b  (1) : audible, articulate, meaningful sound
as produced by the action of the vocal organs  (2) : a systematic means of
communicating ideas or feelings by the use of conventionalized signs,
sounds, gestures, or marks having understood meanings  (3) : the suggestion
by objects, actions, or conditions of associated ideas or feelings <language
in their very gesture -- Shakespeare>  (4) : the means by which animals
communicate  (5) : a formal system of signs and symbols (as FORTRAN or a
calculus in logic) including rules for the formation and transformation of
admissible expressions  (6) :

a system of communication with its own set of conventions or special words

a systematic means of communicating by the use of sounds or conventional symbols


David Peterson <dedalvs@...>
Lars Finsen <lars.finsen@...>
Herman Miller <hmiller@...>
R A Brown <ray@...>