Definition of language in English:

language

noun

  • 1The method of human communication, either spoken or written, consisting of the use of words in a structured and conventional way.

    ‘a study of the way children learn language’
    [as modifier] ‘language development’
    • ‘In Darwin's apt phrase, the ability of humans to learn language is ‘an instinctive tendency to acquire an art’.’
    • ‘This play on the oral and written language mirrors the structure of the blues and the instrumental variations of jazz.’
    • ‘The structural nature of language removes the written word from a direct relationship with its physical referent.’
    • ‘After spoken language came the written word, and the boy dove into literature with grim determination.’
    • ‘Chomsky and the deep structure of language, yeah, that is what you are referring to.’
    • ‘It is estimated that it was about 100,000 years ago that humans developed spoken language.’
    • ‘Written language generally uses more complex grammatical constructions than spoken language does.’
    • ‘Somehow the idea was that you learn your language through speaking it, and knowing what a noun and a verb are is a distraction.’
    • ‘There is surely more nonsense written about language than about any other topic.’
    • ‘Linguistic intelligence involves sensitivity to the spoken and written language and the ability to learn languages.’
    • ‘When we are growing up and learning language, the words apply to ‘obviously different’ groups.’
    • ‘Generally speaking, language provides our primary method of communication.’
    • ‘Learning words is not learning language, but it is a necessary step, possibly a first step.’
    • ‘The grammars of these languages contain vital clues to the nature of the human language faculty, which is still very much an unsolved problem.’
    • ‘His research interests include biliteracy, language policy, and language development.’
    • ‘Written language is a also [sic] a human invention, like spoken language, but it is not a universal invention.’
    • ‘To me, this suggests that human language, or communication has a physical effect on the physiology of the natal child.’
    • ‘His theory of grammar, forged at this time, holds that grammar, the capability to form structured language, is innate to the human mind.’
    • ‘Her mum Sara and dad Billy, of Belthorn Road, Belthorn, said they were delighted Ellie could now begin to learn spoken language.’
    • ‘During early childhood, children with dyslexia have difficulties learning spoken language.’
    1. 1.1Any nonverbal method of expression or communication.
      ‘a language of gesture and facial expression’
      • ‘Body language and even positive speech can bring tremendous destruction.’
      • ‘Non-verbal language has been relegated to a chapter on human evolution in science books.’
      • ‘Body language, expressions, and environmental cues can deepen emotional bonds.’
      • ‘Chapter Five discusses the music and character gestures, eye language, focus and emotion.’
      • ‘If we don't invent a language, if we don't find our body's language, its gestures will be too few to accompany our story.’
      • ‘Is de Oliveira making a statement about the futility of verbal intercourse, or the expressive language of feet?’
      • ‘Neuroliguistic programing with nonverbal language might function… it works when I want to shoo away book sellers.’
      • ‘The interesting question is whether the non-verbal language is conscious or not.’
  • 2The system of communication used by a particular community or country.

    ‘the book was translated into twenty-five languages’
    • ‘Private schools are permitted to use any language as the language of instruction.’
    • ‘With an easy command of two languages and her local dialect, the world can open up for her.’
    • ‘Such verse was unknown in classical Greek but common in Latin and the Celtic and Germanic languages.’
    • ‘In only one romance is the original language a Celtic language, and that is rather late in the schema of this material.’
    • ‘It's easy to switch to a language you do know well if you get stuck and it isn't all that complicated.’
    • ‘There are a vast number of languages that are known as tone languages or tonal languages.’
    • ‘In many communities, the language of choice is neither of Canada's two official languages.’
    • ‘An analogous account can be given of many of the bound morphemes of English and other languages.’
    • ‘It is argued that these results have practical importance for teaching English as a second language.’
    • ‘One of the placements should involve communication in a language other than English, at least at a basic level.’
    • ‘Czech is a Slavic language with a declension system based on seven cases.’
    • ‘This disappoints me a little, as I was quite fond of the idea that the first languages were sign languages.’
    • ‘Investors have found this a great asset in the global economy, as the language of business communication is English.’
    • ‘Tigrinya is a language whose sound system is quite exotic from an English speaker's point of view.’
    • ‘The Basques are a distinct community with a unique language in what is today northern Spain and south west France.’
    • ‘I think there is a great deal of potential for new languages and modes of communication to be developed on the net.’
    • ‘Anyone who has worked on an undocumented language or dialect will be familiar with this kind of situation.’
    • ‘Because the language of study and communication was English, the Hindus forgot about Sanskrit.’
    • ‘In many communities switching between languages serves important functions.’
    • ‘It is argued here that the study of natural sign languages can enhance our understanding of what language is.’
    tongue, speech, mother tongue, native tongue, dialect, vernacular
    View synonyms
    1. 2.1Computing
      A system of symbols and rules for writing programs or algorithms.
      ‘a new programming language’
      • ‘It stands for Structured Query Language and is a language that all relational databases understand.’
      • ‘For many system administrators, myself included, Perl is the scripting language of choice.’
      • ‘Whether this is done by studying a programming language like C or PERL, or any of the many others, is immaterial.’
      • ‘Programmers must evolve to writing applications in higher programming languages.’
      • ‘A simple port scanner can be written in under 15 minutes by a good programmer in a language such as Java or Perl.’
  • 3The manner or style of a piece of writing or speech.

    ‘he explained the procedure in simple, everyday language’
    • ‘His work, with its different theatrical styles and unique language, has invented an entirely new kind of theatre experience.’
    • ‘Not a single piece of ambiguous language obscured the food on offer.’
    • ‘Another way to say this is that Ungaretti now felt a need to substantialize further his poetic language.’
    • ‘Chief among her gifts is the ability to consider everyday language as if entirely from outside of it.’
    • ‘And later, these men and women had to do a minute analysis of one another's diction, style, language, and so on.’
    • ‘Despite her poetic language Fréchette does not avoid making rather obvious lessons of Helen's journey.’
    • ‘More specifically there are discussions of his language and poetic style as well as of the topics and ideas in his work.’
    • ‘The language and style were militant, authoritative, and riddled with the easy obscenities typical of male talk.’
    • ‘It is written in a smooth and engaging style using accessible language without simplifying the arguments.’
    • ‘It may well be an immaculately written novel, correctly spelt, beautifully punctuated, and full of poetic language and noble ideas.’
    • ‘The finance minister echoes this theme in more deliberate language in his speech to Northland business people.’
    • ‘But I'm saying things which are so naked, and often in a very poetic language that is somehow so personal.’
    • ‘Most appealing about the show was the romantic theme and the gorgeous poetic yet contemporary language, says MacLeod.’
    • ‘Behind the humour, however, one finds a novel of great merit and depth, constructed in the most poetic language, and not at all about fish.’
    • ‘The tone of Boyfriend! is of someone older writing for a younger audience in simple language.’
    • ‘Instead of conversing in regular, everyday language, they first have to turn what they want to say over in their heads.’
    • ‘The aims of the scheme are to demystify science in the eyes of students and to get scientists to explain what they do in normal, everyday language.’
    • ‘The book marries witty, Jane Austen-ish language and style against an imagined tapestry of fairy magic.’
    • ‘This symbolism, Wilson's poetic language and his vivid characters are the play's strengths.’
    • ‘Its language and style remain miles away from the day-to-day concerns of ordinary black South Africans.’
    1. 3.1The phraseology and vocabulary of a certain profession, domain, or group of people.
      ‘legal language’
      • ‘The ghost of slavery is built into our legal language and holds our prison system in its grip.’
      • ‘As originally outlined, these research areas were phrased totally in scientific and technological language.’
      • ‘Disguised in the legal language is a set of rules to facilitate the corporate takeover of global services.’
      • ‘This power of legal language is that to which we refer when we call upon the state to effect the regulation of offensive speech.’
      • ‘The cardinal's claim, filed in court by his attorneys, is boilerplate legal defense language.’
      • ‘In cold legal language it all sounded, and was, less generous and expansive than it had seemed in the emotional candlelight of a summer night.’
      • ‘The revolutionary character of this edict was partially masked by the formal legal language in which it was couched.’
      • ‘Some things could only be expressed in the compact language of mathematics.’
      • ‘Nothing bothers me more than to hear lawyers using legal language to intimidate and get their way.’
      • ‘Legal theorists are generally interested in legal language and the legal subject.’
      • ‘New Zealand First often finds it difficult to distinguish why and how legal language and terminology can go down that path.’
      • ‘He had tried to express in scholarly language the excitement we all felt.’
      • ‘Legal language, however, cannot remain silent in the face of unspeakable injuries.’
      • ‘If the member knows anything about legal language, that is not the same thing exactly as saying that we own it.’
      • ‘Also, they will tend to be drawn up in less precise legal language.’
      • ‘However, there is a severe shortage of people able to draft bills in the correct legal language.’
      • ‘The serpentine syntax of legal language is often used to obfuscate meaning and confuse those outside the law.’
      • ‘Although phrased in diplomatic language, this was a clear warning to China not to seek to retake Taiwan by force.’
      • ‘It is very challenging for us to investigate and try to find the right theatrical language to express this play as far as we can.’
      • ‘Despite its boiler-plate legal language, this was anything but a routine land transfer.’
    2. 3.2Coarse, crude, or offensive language.
      ‘strong language’
      • ‘I can appreciate that a child can be too young too see such sexual content, bad language and violence but if a parent feels otherwise they should decide.’
      • ‘I recently remonstrated with two of them throwing crisps at each other and then the bag thrown on the ground and received a torrent of abusive foul language.’
      • ‘It does contain blood-spattered violence, foul language and graphic sex scenes, but they are all performed by puppets.’
      • ‘They are up to speed in this enlightened world in praising the dramatisation of the sub culture with the abundance of obscenity and foul language.’
      • ‘‘In daily life bad language and blasphemy is constant and this just encourages it,’ he said.’
      • ‘After all, not only is the movie about a biblical character, it is also void of sex, violence, and bad language.’
      • ‘It's a world that I know nothing about, a world of sex, violence and bad language, so Mercy's behaviour really must reflect this world.’
      • ‘He told the packed court that none of the incidents had been accompanied by aggressive behaviour, bad language or threats of violence.’
      • ‘Caution: this article contains strong language and may be offensive to some readers.’
      • ‘Perhaps it is just offended by violence and bad language.’
      • ‘Profanity, vulgarity, bad language and all such other improprieties of speech were things that just might cause him to all but faint.’
      • ‘It's also an utterly facile argument that successful competition is somehow linked to the freedom to use foul language, as you suggest.’
      • ‘This is a notice to the consumer that the identified recording may contain strong language or depictions of violence, sex or substance abuse.’
      • ‘A strict control of blasphemy and bad language and other offensive things was maintained.’
      • ‘I was curious after someone suggested that foul language would keep away readers.’
      • ‘Residents complained the young people were using foul language, being abusive and playing ball games in the street into the early hours of the morning.’
      • ‘This week money doesn't just talk, it swears - in bad language and a very loud voice.’
      • ‘I have my hell-in-a-handbasket moments, but they're not about sex or bad language or violence.’
      • ‘You can validate selected results, save your search history, and filter out pornography or foul language.’
      • ‘Each is an epic journey of passion, honour and dishonour, rooted in the pages of Greek mythology, with strong language and violence.’

Phrases

  • speak the same language

    • Understand one another as a result of shared opinions or values.

      • ‘In addition, she thinks that genuine fashion experts need a website that can speak the same language and recognise the value of, say, an original 1950s Chanel pastel-tweed suit.’
      • ‘The JNIR speaks the same language as the media buyers, and it makes people understand the medium.’
      • ‘Both Berlin and Paris spoke the same language - that of encouraging private enterprise and reforming social welfare systems, of changing the balance between private and public sectors.’
      • ‘We recruited people who spoke the same language as our customers in the retail trade and the business blossomed.’
      • ‘Maybe they are, but don't believe for a second that it follows that you'll understand them, or that you're actually speaking the same language.’
      • ‘Those guys were all schooled jazz musicians; we all spoke the same language.’
      • ‘The challenge, therefore, is to get both sides speaking the same language, so that communication and partnership will flow more easily.’
      • ‘And they are pitching to network executives who come from largely the same world and they're all kind of speaking the same language.’
      • ‘Even if everyone speaks the same language on a project, the departments involved assume and understand things differently from their own unique perspective.’
      • ‘We spoke the same language, and he didn't stare blankly when I asked him a question about a topic like libel.’

Origin

Middle English: from Old French langage, based on Latin lingua tongue.

Pronunciation:

language

/ˈlaNGɡwij/