A language is a system of symbols, generally known as words, and the grammatical and other rules by which they are manipulated. The word language is also used to refer to the whole phenomenon of language, and in this sense language is one of several forms of human communication. The scientific study of language and languages, including their historical development, characteristics, and use in society, is the field of linguistics.
Human language is a natural phenomenon, and language learning is instinctive in childhood. In using language, people use patterns of sound or gesture to convey the words and rules of language, or they represent these patterns in codes such as writing. There are thousands of languages, historically related to each other in many language families, and they share a number of common properties. Besides using naturally acquired language, people have consciously crafted languages such as Esperanto and Klingon.
Geographical distribution of the preferential use of the terms castellano (Castilian), in red, vs. español (Spanish), in blue, to refer to the Spanish language
Clicks are speech sounds that occur as consonants in many languages of southern Africa, and in three languages of East Africa. Examples of these sounds familiar to English speakers are the tsk! tsk! (American spelling) or tut-tut (British spelling) used to express disapproval or pity, the tchick! used to spur on a horse, and the clip-clop! sound children make with their tongue to imitate a horse trotting.
Technically, clicks are obstruents articulated with two closures (points of contact) in the mouth, one forward and one at the back. The enclosed pocket of air is rarefied by a sucking action of the tongue (in technical terminology, clicks have a lingual ingressive airstream mechanism). The forward closure is then released, producing what may be the loudest consonants in the language, although in some languages such as Hadza and Sandawe, clicks can be more subtle and may even be mistaken for ejectives.
- ...that most of the 8,000 speakers of the Niuean language live outside the borders of Niue?
- ...that hundreds of words still in use today, including accident, cinnamon, desk, scissors, vacation, and Valentine, first appear in manuscripts written by Geoffrey Chaucer in the 1300s?
- ...that the Jru' language, an indigenous language of Laos, was once written in a secret script?
- ...that during the filming of The Linguists in the Andes, the cast coped with altitude sickness by drinking coca leaf tea?
Languages of the world
Languages of Africa: Arabic, Komering, Chadic, Cushitic, Kanuri, Maasai, Setswana, Swahili, Turkana, Xhosa, Yoruba, Zulu, more...
Languages of the Americas: Aleut, Carib, Cherokee, Inuktitut, Iroquois, Kootenai, Mayan, Nahuatl, Navajo, Quechuan, Salish, American Sign Language, more...
Languages of Asia: Arabic, Bengali, Chinese, Japanese, Hebrew, Hindustani, Kannada, Marathi, Korean, Kurdish, Malayalam, Mongolian, Persian,Rajasthani, Sindhi, Sanskrit, Tamil, Tanchangya, Telugu, Tibetan, Thai, Turkish, Vietnamese, Khowar, more...
Languages of Austronesia: Austric, Fijian, Hawaiian, Javanese, Malagasy, Malay, Maori, Marshallese, Samoan, Tahitian, Tagalog, Tongan, Auslan, more...
Languages of Europe: Basque, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English (book), French, German, Greek, Italian, Latin, Leonese, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Slovak, Spanish, more...
Constructed languages: Esperanto, Ido, Volapük, more...
Agglutinative language, Analytic language, Constructed language, Creole, Context-free language, Extinct language, Dialect, Fusional language, Inflectional language, International language, Isolating language, Language isolate, National language, Natural language, Pidgin, Pluricentric language, Polysynthetic language, Proto-language, Sign language, Spoken language, Synthetic language, Variety (linguistics)
Linguistics (Outline, Portal, Book)
Applied linguistics, Cognitive linguistics, Accent (dialect), Computational linguistics, Descriptive linguistics, Eurolinguistics, Generative linguistics, Historical linguistics, Lexicology, Lexical semantics, Morphology, Onomasiology, Phonetics, Phonology, Pragmatics, Prescription, Prototype semantics, Psycholinguistics, Semantics, Stylistics, Sociolinguistics, Syntax
See also: List of linguists
Alphabets: Arabic alphabet, Cyrillic alphabet, Hebrew alphabet, Latin alphabet, more...
Other writing systems: Abjad, Abugida, Braille, Hieroglyphics, Logogram, Syllabary, SignWriting, more..
See also: History of the alphabet, Script Template:/box-footer
Template:/box-header Linguistics: Computational linguistics • Grammar • Historical linguistics • Morphology • Phonetics • Phonology • Pragmatics • Reading • Semantics • Sociolinguistics • Syntax • Writing
Languages: Language families • Pidgins and creoles • Sign languages
Linguists: By nationality • Grammarians • Historical linguists • Morphologists • Phoneticians • Phonologists • Sociolinguists • Syntacticians • Translators
Wikipedia books: English
Stubs: Constructed languages • Languages • Linguists • Pidgins and creoles • Typography • Vocabulary and usage • Writing systems Template:/box-footer
|Find a language
|Enter an ISO 639 code to find the corresponding language article
Purge server cache