Defining Language

Download Edit this record How to cite View on PhilPapers
Language defines human existence. Yet defining language is a fraught project. I use the term "language" to refer to a specific mode of information transfer. First, it is a communicative mode. By communication I mean the information transfer serves a function, that is, an activity that occurs because it has increased the evolutionary fitness of ancestors. Secondly, while all communication is governed by norms, human communication, as opposed to biological communication, is governed by norms that have evolved within the learned traditions of individual cultures. The meaning of an assertion in a culture’s language is the set of commitments to which that culture holds its speakers when they utter that assertion. Syntax has appeared in recent evolution to facilitate and enrich the communicative function, but it is a secondary aspect of language. The defining characteristic of human communication, of "language," -- is its capacity to constitute meaning.
No keywords specified (fix it)
PhilPapers/Archive ID
Upload history
Archival date: 2021-09-15
View other versions
Added to PP index

Total views
26 ( #61,731 of 64,121 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
26 ( #26,920 of 64,121 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads since first upload
This graph includes both downloads from PhilArchive and clicks on external links on PhilPapers.