The Power of Words in Literature

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When speaking, listening, writing, or reading, one is taking part in what seems like an ordinary human function. However, if one takes the time to analyze the complexity behind the words the mind is processing, one will realize the intricacy that human language involves. Even after having examined the process of how the brain understands and makes use of language, one can delve even deeper. Comprehending the grammars and details of the language that one is using can be difficult and elaborate. While each individual language may have its own differences, every human language is designed for communication.

In comparison to the rest of the natural world, humans have evolved with a distinct advantageous adaptation: language, the power of words. Enhanced communication through language is one part of human culture that has set society apart from other animals. Humans are able to produce language due to the anatomy of the body, and the process of understanding and learning a language is due to the power of the brain. Similar to how language was an evolutionary adaption for the human being, languages have also evolved over time. From spoken tongue to written word, it is clear that language has been constantly changing since the first utterances spoken by ancestors of the human race. Even today, language is continuously evolving and is a current topic of great study. Language is what connects society together, and has been doing so since the existence of the human species.

Humans, having evolved from primates, were given the remarkable gift of language as an evolutionary advantage (Pinker). Other inheritable traits – such as opposable thumbs or eyes facing forward – would prove favorable, but nothing quite like language has been reproduced in any other species by evolution as it has in humans (Pollick and De Waal). Due to this evolutionary adaptation, humans have been able to communicate with each other using language. Language is defined as “the words, their pronunciation, and the methods of combining them used and understood by a community” (Language). Whether the language is being used by high academic scholars or tribes in remote forests, languages are equally complex in their own right. “There are Stone Age societies, but there is no such thing as a Stone Age language” (Pinker). This quote represents the equal intricacy of every language in existence, and how the complicated structures of language remain relatively simple for the human mind to understand.

“When we are comprehending sentences, the stream of words is transparent; we see through to the meaning so automatically that we can forget that a movie is in a foreign language and subtitled” (Pinker). No matter the language, humans were given the primal instinct to associate with one another, no doubt a product of the evolutionary advantage that language presents. The influence of language on the human race is unequivocally an evolutionary advantage, which has allowed society to communicate ideas. Language as an evolutionary adaptation was an original concept of Charles Darwin, the father of natural selection and evolution (Pinker).

To truly comprehend the universality of human language, one can look to remote regions of the world that were not influenced by modern society. For example, there was one tribe in New Guinea that had been isolated until their discovery in 1930 by an Australian prospector, Michael Leahy. He discovered the tribe in an isolated section of dense forest. The men and women were eager to begin talking with Leahy, and seemed very curious regarding the coloration of his skin and the language he spoke (Pinker). According to historical evidence presented by Pinker, “no mute tribe has ever been discovered” and “all of them… have had language” (Pinker). Throughout human society, language is a cultural constant, being something that stands out in every ethnicity.

Communication is not an evolutionary adaptation associated to be unique with humans, but the creation of language is inimitable. It is true that all social animals communicate, such as bees, ants, whales, and apes, but humans are the sole creature that have “developed a language which is more than a set of prearranged signals” (History of Language). Albeit evolution gave the gift of communication to many other species of the world, the human adaptation of language was one that had proved to be more successful than other various forms of communication. Human speech differs physically from forms of communication of other animals because it comes from a cortical speech center that does not respond based on instinct. Rather, this region of the human brain is unique, and serves to organize sound and meaning on a rational basis (History of Language). The human brain is adequately equipped to understand and process language, but creation of sounds involves more than just the neurological control center.

Cite this paper

The Power of Words in Literature. (2023, May 19). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/the-power-of-words-in-literature/

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