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Animals laugh too, analysis of vocalization data suggests

Human laughter is common, but it's a somewhat mysterious part of our evolution. It's clear to evolutionary scholars that we laugh as a part of play, signaling our cooperation or friendliness. But how did laughter evolve? ...

Linguists predict unknown words using language comparison

For a long time, historical linguists have been using the comparative method to reconstruct earlier states of languages that are not attested in written sources. The method consists of the detailed comparison of words in ...

Where are the women on the Spanish-language Wikipedia site?

With its more than 40 million articles in 301 different languages, Wikipedia is one of the largest human collaboration efforts in history. One of the main pillars on which this wish to bring together the sum of all knowledge ...

Hand signals improve video meeting success

Using a simple set of hand signals can improve the experience of online meetings, make groups feel closer to each other and that they are learning and communicating better, finds a new study by UCL researchers.

Ancient genomes trace the origin and decline of the Scythians

Generally thought of as fierce horse warriors, the Scythians were a multitude of Iron Age cultures who ruled the Eurasian steppe, playing a major role in Eurasian history. A new study published in Science Advances analyzes ...

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Language

A language is a system for encoding information. In its most common use, the term refers to so-called "natural languages" — the forms of communication considered peculiar to humankind. In linguistics the term is extended to refer to the human cognitive facility of creating and using language. Essential to both meanings is the systematic creation and usage of systems of symbols—each referring to linguistic concepts with semantic or logical or otherwise expressive meanings.

The most obvious manifestations are spoken languages such as English or Spoken Chinese. However, there are also written languages and other systems of visual symbols such as sign languages.

Although some other animals make use of quite sophisticated communicative systems, and these are sometimes casually referred to as animal language, none of these are known to make use of all of the properties that linguists use to define language in the strict sense.

When discussed more technically as a general phenomenon then, "language" always implies a particular type of human thought which can be present even when communication is not the result, and this way of thinking is also sometimes treated as indistinguishable from language itself.

In Western Philosophy for example, language has long been closely associated with reason, which is also a uniquely human way of using symbols. In Ancient Greek philosophical terminology, the same word, logos, was used as a term for both language or speech and reason, and the philosopher Thomas Hobbes used the English word "speech" so that it similarly could refer to reason, as will be discussed below.

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