Linguistic Diversity and the Human Brain: Language Acquisition
Language is one of the features that distinguish human beings from other living organisms. Most languages on earth have common features within their structure, phonetics, and grammar. It means that most languages share common characteristics which distinguish them from the languages of other representatives of the live world. Language is an integral part of human life and activities; it can be acquired and learned. The first language is naturally acquired, while the second language is the result of efforts.
One should differentiate between language learning when the language is learned (usually it refers to the second language), and language acquisition, when a definite language is acquired (usually refers to the native language, the first language). The second language is an additional characteristic that is acquired in the course of learning the second language; it happens when the first one has been already acquired. So, when a person (usually a little child) knows or has started to acquire his/her first language and the family moved into a different environment or the caregiver has started to talk to a child in a different language, the child would be able to acquire the second language as easy as the first.
Children and Language
Children are the youngest members of human society, though they have to acquire language to be full-pledged representatives of human civilization. A language can be divided into two phases which are interconnected and mutually influenced; these are a spoken language and a signed one. When a child has acquired a spoken language or at least its basic stages, he/she can successfully start acquiring the signed phase of the same language.
A spoken language is acquired faster than the signed one because the spoken language is heard by children from their birth, they hear sounds and phrases, collect information, and then start pronouncing separate words. This phase is the very beginning of the language acquisition process; nonetheless, it is very important for children and their parents who come to know that the process had begun. After this, the further events and progress of children are dependent on the parents. The signed language is developed much later than the spoken one. However, the knowledge of the spoken language can be helpful in the process of acquiring knowledge in signed language and developing writing skills.
Children acquire the spoken language from the first days of their life; they listen to their parents, collect information on the language and a definite vocabulary, and, when the time comes, start to talk. The first sounds produced by children can be interpreted only by their caregivers’ as a rule, these are instincts (a child is hungry, sleepy, or something hurts). There are myths in society concerning language acquisition; they claim that children learn languages easier than adults. Some people believe it, others do not; actually, the thing is that children can more easily repeat what they hear because they absorb information and then naturally reproduce it.
The process of absorbing information can be harmful as well useful, as children are bearers of the language and they can change it in the process of absorbing and misinterpreting. Children should try to avoid the wrong use of the words when the words are used with appropriate meaning. Slang is another harmful thing that should be avoided by children as by adults because it makes our speech polluted; the language is a phenomenon that should change but for the better.
Some people use abbreviations for combinations of words that can be practically used in a full form. For example, ASAP is used for as soon as possible. On the contrary, these text-messaging abbreviations (also called digipak) can decrease the time used by people who talk via chats. It would reduce time to type some phrases that do not mean much, though they are of great importance because of attitude, for example, LOL which means ‘laughing out loud’ can be used to let your interlocutor know that the phrase or something previous to this abbreviation made him or her laugh or at least lightened his/her mood.
Source of Linguistic Diversity
People from different countries and continents do not talk the same languages because languages differ. Linguistic diversity makes people puzzled when they are traveling because they hear a strange language and cannot understand the meaning. Languages differ, it is a fact. Linguistic diversity can be faced in various spheres of human life and activity. The process of teaching becomes more difficult both for teachers and students.
Other spheres of human activities face linguistic diversity as well as education interns of teaching and learning languages. There exist 16 international languages in the world; people use the term “international language” taking into consideration the differences between languages that are used by people of different nations, origins, and backgrounds to communicate with each other. Usually, people do not hesitate while using this or that language because they use their native (also referred to as the first language) naturally and the second language requires conscious understanding.
It is necessary to consider the source of linguistic diversity to understand the reasons for languages of the same planet and even continent (sometimes country) being different. Languages of people from different continents and countries may differ because of historic roots and some peculiarities of pronunciation. As you can see, linguistic diversity was the result of a lasting process of thousands of years. Invasions and colonization contributed to linguistic diversity as well.
The languages differ and this diversity can be attributed to the Biblical legend about the Tower of Babel: people had a common language and used it to build a tower that would approach God. According to the legend, God ruined the Tower and made all people possess different languages so that they could not understand each other and agree.
As languages play an important role in human communication and cooperation as well as in the process of establishing relations, it is necessary to learn foreign languages to be of some interest to employers.
A language is a systematic unit that has a complex structure where all the elements are interrelated and the maintenance of this system can be operated only through chronological and cooperative actions of all elements.
The language can be considered a native one if it was acquired by a person from the early years of his life. Language acquisition presupposes that an individual has to be able to perform a range of actions in a definite language. This range includes processes, suchlike speaking, writing, and thinking. When all these features can be attributed to the level of language acquisition, it can be considered that a person is a native speaker. A native speaker is usually a person who acquires a definite language through communicating with a caregiver, the usage of a language is natural.
One could be a native speaker of any human language only in case if this person was acquiring language from numerous caregivers. The first language acquisition presupposes that a person is acquiring a definite language first from a caregiver and then from the environment (people that communicate with this definite individual). Second language acquisition presupposes that the family has moved to the territory with a different language or that the environment has changed. It means that only young children are capable of acquiring the second language, while most adults can only learn it.
Linguistic diversity is one of the integral parts of modern society within the globe; the fact of a single language is impossible in terms of cultural diversity, each culture having its unique language. The concept of language diversity is closely connected with the process of language acquisition. Language acquisition is divided into two aspects: acquisition of the first language and the second one.
Children are acquiring languages, while adults are only capable of learning different foreign languages; the acquired language is naturally used, while the language which was learned requires conscious efforts. Native speakers can be considered those individuals who had acquired the language through collecting knowledge from the caregiver. It is considered that children learn foreign languages easier than adults due to their memory and mode of thinking.