Language - Social Contexts of Use and Transmission

Social Contexts of Use and Transmission

While all humans have the ability to learn any language, they only do so if they grow up in an environment in which language exists and is used by others. Language is therefore dependent on communities of speakers in which children learn language from their elders and peers, and themselves transmit language to their own children. Languages are used by those who speak them to communicate, and to solve a plethora of social tasks. Many aspects of language use can be seen to be adapted specifically to these purposes. Due to the way in which language is transmitted between generations and within communities, language perpetually changes, diversifying into new languages or converging due to language contact. The process is similar to the process of evolution, where the process of descent with modification leads to the formation of a phylogenetic tree.

However, languages differ from a biological organisms in that they readily incorporate elements from other languages through the process of diffusion, as speakers of different languages come into contact. Humans also frequently speak more than one language, acquiring their first language or languages as children, or learning new languages as they grow up. Because of the increased language contact in the globalizing world many small languages are becoming endangered as their speakers shift to other languages that afford the possibility to participate in larger and more influential speech communities.

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Other articles related to "social contexts of use and transmission":

Social Contexts of Use and Transmission - Language Contact
... When speakers of different languages interact closely, it is typical for their languages to influence each other ... Through sustained language contact over long periods linguistic traits diffuse between languages, and languages belonging to different families may converge to become more similar ...

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