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More than any other thing the use of language sets humankind apart from the remainder of the animal kingdom There is some debate as to where the actual boundary between language and communication should be drawn however there seems to be no debate as to the nature of Language which is to communicate using abstract symbols the workings of one mind to one or more others with a relatively high degree of accuracy It could perhaps be said that we are all capable of expressing or representing our thoughts in a manner that is only meaningful to ourselves Wittgenstein says that a wheel that can be turned though nothing else moves with it is not part of the mechanism1 The idea of a uniquely personal language is not relevant here and so will not be discussed further Language is a system of symbols which represent thoughts perceptions and a multitude of other mental events Although the meaning of a given word or expression is by no means fixed there is a sufficiently high degree of consensus in most cases to ensure that our thoughts are to a great extent communicable This essay will concentrate on two aspects of language Firstly that it gives our own thoughts and those of others a certain degree of portability and secondly that because it has a firm though not rigid set of rules governing the relationships between symbols it allows what would otherwise be internal concepts that could not be generalised to be made explicit examined in detail and compared If we did not have language we would be able to surmise very little about other humans around us Non-verbal communication has evolved to instantaneously communicate ones emotional state and generally succeeds in this however although it can reveal what a person may be feeling at a particular time it says nothing about why those feelings are present and in any case is most reliable with strong
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