from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun Communication of thoughts and feelings through a system of arbitrary signals, such as voice sounds, gestures, or written symbols.
  • noun Such a system including its rules for combining its components, such as words.
  • noun Such a system as used by a nation, people, or other distinct community; often contrasted with dialect.
  • noun A system of signs, symbols, gestures, or rules used in communicating.
  • noun Computers A system of symbols and rules used for communication with or between computers.
  • noun Body language; kinesics.
  • noun The special vocabulary and usages of a scientific, professional, or other group.
  • noun A characteristic style of speech or writing.
  • noun A particular manner of expression.
  • noun The manner or means of communication between living creatures other than humans.
  • noun Verbal communication as a subject of study.
  • noun The wording of a legal document or statute as distinct from the spirit.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun In organ-building, the horizontal shelf or partition of wood or metal opposite and below the mouth of a flue-pipe, by which the wind is obliged to pass through a narrow slit between it and the lower lip and to impinge upon the edge of the upper lip. The front edge of the language is usually serrated. See pipe. Also called languid.
  • noun The whole body of uttered signs employed and understood by a given community as expression of its thoughts; the aggregate of words, and of methods of their combination into sentences, used in a community for communication and record and for carrying on the processes of thought: as, the English language; the Greek language.
  • noun Power of expression by utterance; the capacities and impulses that lead to the production and use of languages; uttered expression; human speech considered as a whole: as, language is the peculiar possession of man.
  • noun The words or expressions appropriate to or especially employed in any branch of knowledge or particular condition of life: as, the language of chemistry; the language of common life.
  • noun The manner of expression, either by speech or writing; style.
  • noun Hence The inarticulate sounds by which irrational animals express their feelings and wants: as, the language of birds.
  • noun The expression of thought in any way, articulate or inarticulate, conventional or unconventional: as, the language of signs; the language of the eyes; the language of flowers.
  • noun A people or race, as distinguished by its speech; a tribe.
  • noun Now the Coptic is no more a living language, nor is it understood by any, except that some of the priests understand a little of their liturgy, tho' many of them cannot so much as read it, but get their long offices by rote.
  • noun Synonyms Language, Dialect, Idiom, Diction, Vocabulary; tongue. The first five words are arranged in a descending scale. In common use it is taken for granted that the dialects under one language are enough alike to be reasonably well understood by all who are of that language, while different languages are so unlike that special study is needed to enable one to understand a language that is not his own; but this is not an essential difference. Idiom, literally a personal peculiarity, is in this connection a form of a language somewhat less marked than a dialect: as, the New England idiom. Diction is often used for the set of words or vocabulary belonging to a person or class, making him or it differ in speech from others; but both this and idiom are often expressed by dialect. (See diction.) Vocabulary means the total of the words used by a person, class, etc., considered as a list or number of different words: as, he has a large vocabulary. In this respect it differs from another meaning of idiom—that is, any peculiar combination of words used by a person, community, nation, etc.
  • noun Same as languet .
  • To express in language.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • transitive verb To communicate by language; to express in language.
  • noun Any means of conveying or communicating ideas
  • noun The expression of ideas by writing, or any other instrumentality.
  • noun The forms of speech, or the methods of expressing ideas, peculiar to a particular nation.
  • noun The characteristic mode of arranging words, peculiar to an individual speaker or writer; manner of expression; style.
  • noun The inarticulate sounds by which animals inferior to man express their feelings or their wants.
  • noun The suggestion, by objects, actions, or conditions, of ideas associated therewith.
  • noun The vocabulary and phraseology belonging to an art or department of knowledge
  • noun rare A race, as distinguished by its speech.
  • noun Any system of symbols created for the purpose of communicating ideas, emotions, commands, etc., between sentient agents.
  • noun (computers) Any set of symbols and the rules for combining them which are used to specify to a computer the actions that it is to take; also referred to as a computer lanugage or programming language.
  • noun [Obs.] a teacher of languages.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun countable A form of communication using words either spoken or gestured with the hands and structured with grammar, often with a writing system.
  • noun uncountable The ability to communicate using words.
  • noun countable or uncountable Nonverbal communication.
  • noun computing, countable A computer language.
  • noun uncountable The vocabulary and usage used in a particular specialist field.
  • noun uncountable The particular words used in speech or a passage of text.
  • noun uncountable Profanity.
  • noun Words, written or spoken, in a specific sequence that a person uses to describe, to a another person, the type of thoughts in their mind.
  • verb To communicate by language; to express in language.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun a systematic means of communicating by the use of sounds or conventional symbols
  • noun the text of a popular song or musical-comedy number
  • noun the cognitive processes involved in producing and understanding linguistic communication


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English, from Old French langage, from langue, tongue, language, from Latin lingua; see dn̥ghū- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Middle English language, from Old French language, from Vulgar Latin *linguāticum, from Latin lingua ("tongue, speech, language"), from Old Latin *dingua (“tongue”), from Proto-Indo-European *dn̥ǵʰwéh₂s (“tongue, speech, language”). Displaced native Middle English rearde, ȝerearde ("language") (from Old English reord ("language, speech")), Middle English londspreche, londspeche ("language") (from Old English *landsprǣċ (“language, national tongue”), Old English þēod and þēodisc ("language").


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  • “Yet, the Esperanto movement believes that tourists can truly have cross-cultural experiences when they speak only a foreign, constructed language and give no attention to the local language” REPRESSIVE ESPERANTO. 2005

  • The Immigration Restriction Act (federal) provided that an immigrant, on demand, must demonstrate ability to pass a test in a European language (changed in 1905 to “a prescribed language” to spare Japanese susceptibilities).

    1891, March-April 2001

  • Of course it was not only in Latin that he wished to make pupils think of it as a "spoken language," for Mr. Darbishire tells us that "one of his special endeavours was to accustom his students to deal with Greek _as a spoken language_" [Footnote: It will be remembered that Francis Newman introduced the "new" pronunciation of Latin.] (as, for instance) "in reading Greek plays."

    Memoir and Letters of Francis W. Newman Giberne Sieveking

  • The fact that they had but one language furnishes reasonable proof that they were of one blood; and the historian has covered the whole question very carefully by recording the great truth that they were _one people_, and had but _one language_.

    History of the Negro Race in America From 1619 to 1880. Vol 1 Negroes as Slaves, as Soldiers, and as Citizens George W. Williams 1870

  • In truth, however, it was _not language that generated the intellect; it is the intellect that formerly invented language: and even now the new-born human being brings with him into the world far more intellect than talent for language_.

    The Mind of the Child, Part II The Development of the Intellect, International Education Series Edited By William T. Harris, Volume IX. William T. Preyer 1869

  • Cool, but the last sentence sorry this is just a language understanding error, what do you mean by it. * english isnt my first language* lol.

    [Help] Most Recent Posts larfing197 2010

  • Cool, but the last sentence sorry this is just a language understanding error, what do you mean by it. * english isnt my first language* lol.

    [Help] Most Recent Posts larfing197 2010

  • Cool, but the last sentence sorry this is just a language understanding error, what do you mean by it. * english isnt my first language* lol.

    [Help] Most Recent Posts larfing197 2010

  • Cool, but the last sentence sorry this is just a language understanding error, what do you mean by it. * english isnt my first language* lol.

    [Help] Most Recent Posts larfing197 2010

  • O.K. try to use "lrelease $$language; \" with NO option (neither - compress nor - nocompress) in the language Makefile and it will probably work. Content 2008


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  • "Language is a virus from outer space." --Laurie Anderson

    July 2, 2007

  • “The chief virtue that language can have is clarity.�?

    – Hippocrates (460-377 BC)

    August 28, 2007

  • Oroboros, you're getting all Quotie on us! ;-)

    August 28, 2007

  • ...and hearing your name is better than seeing your face.

    Actually, I think Laurie Anderson borrowed the part you quote from William S. Burroughs.

    August 28, 2007

  • Re: "quotie"...yah, a relative has a site (Pen4Rent) that has a section of quotations on writing and language. I figured I'd pass on my favorites, especially when I can maneuver 'em onto word pages where the comments are blank.

    August 29, 2007

  • I'm enjoying the Quoties. Nice-looking site, too. That Red Smith quote has always been one of my favorites, only I stretch it out a little: "There's nothing to writing. All you do...." :-)

    August 29, 2007

  • "Language has often been called a weapon, and people should be mindful about where to aim it and when to fire." (Steven Pinker)

    October 12, 2007

  • Another good one: "It is one of the paradoxes of our time that ideas capable of transforming our societies, full of insights about how the human animal actually behaves and thinks, are often presented in unreadable language." --Doris Lessing, here, in a 1992 article about political correctness.

    October 13, 2007

  • LANGUAGE: (1) In part, language is used to assign blame; if the city had a working motto it could be: "Somebody's To Blame" – someone has to be responsible for this (whatever this at the moment happens to be).

    (2) Language is arranged to accommodate consciousness, and Life's needs are the grammatical structure for all that humans say. Sentence structure is man's nervous system taking on form in the apparent out-there; among ordinary people, words are unanalytically taken to be things that somehow exist apart from the men who mouthed them (at least in many significant instances).

    (3) In this rhetorical system, consciousness must consider itself a noun (the subject) or man could not perceive a distinction between his mental in-here and the out-there; the Equation (I + Not-I = Everything) would implode and consciousness could no longer function as a practical weapon in the struggle to survive; man would be unable to mentally discern between his self and others in an intangible sense and could thus not properly lay-the-blame where it belongs -- on others. Subjects exist in language to express something about action – not vice versa as routine consciousness would have it – but if there is no actual subject (which from the neural-rebel's view there is not) then there is no one TO blame, for action itself cannot be responsible for its acts; the act of your car hitting mine is not what is at fault, but rather you were the fault – you the driver.

    (4) When you are ready to assign blame there are two choices: either them or you, (your consciousness, that is) and it has no nature for selecting itself for the distinction: Life did not get where it is today (that is: still here) by blaming itself, and any time a man has the twin choices available, he too has no inclination to accept any blame that insists on finding a home.

    (5) When you amputate the noun as the source of blame, as the author of your mistreatment – you cease to be mistreated ("I can accept the hurricanes, but not the realtor who sold me this place and never mentioned their likelihood!")

    (6) In its language, Life uses man's speech as a modifier; his consciousness is a qualifier: it does not actually create intangible goods, but modifies them; the mind didn't actually invent religion, fear, in the physical body was its mother, the mind just hung the words on it.

    (7) To be a normal person you must perceive no simple nouns nor people; only he who understands what is going on might visually qualify as a simple noun, and internally, in private, as a super-complex verb. --

    January 24, 2008

  • Sweet Lord Mother of God. Please make it stop. I'm bleeding from my eyes here and it's messing up the keyboard.

    January 24, 2008

  • "The Red Planet was stripping away the thin veneer of civilisation which papered over the hideous violence which lurked within the reptilian brain of every human bipedal organism. True, the neocortex had been inserted at a much later date, but this desperate engineering "fix" must be considered a failure.

    Language, held by the naive and foolish as the crowning achievement of human development, despite its complete lack of universality, was the original culprit for the brutal intraspecies genocide, which is the history of our kind. The dying earth-planet is split into several thousand language groups. Each language acts as a powerful cohesive force within the group and a powerful divisive force between groups. In one small country alone, 750 languages are spoken in 750 different villages which are at permanent war with one another. Accents and enunciation within one language differentiate between one social group and another.

    The destruction of the Tower of Babel and the subsequent dissolution of the extant lingua-franca was the original punishment meted out to humankind for its sins. The physical Tower was long ago destroyed, yet within its lingering shadow humans assiduously apply their endless ingenuity to the destruction of their fellow brothers and sisters. Even unto our nearest and dearest we remain strangers. Locked within our subjective world view we communicate as if from the bottom of a fathomless deep. Misunderstanding is hard-wired into our ceaseless, inane, chatter."


    January 25, 2008

  • Usage here.

    March 18, 2009

  • Fascinating article on language in The Economist.

    December 20, 2009

  • See testimony

    March 25, 2012