Sunday, 15 June 2014
What Is Language?
To me, the entire idea of language is fascinating. Everything from the words we use, to the accent we have, to which of the 7000 different languages of the world we speak, makes each and every one of us unique. You will never meet two people who use language in exactly the same way; it is something entirely personal. Just as we all think and feel differently, the way we speak is unique to us too. It is part of our identity.
Not only does it distinguish us from each other, language is what separates us from all other species on earth; it is what makes us human.
We share 98% of our genetic information with apes, yet neither they nor any other species have ever developed the ability to speak. They are able to communicate - dogs can bark and birds sing - yet they do not possess language.
So what is this difference? What is it that allows humans to talk, to use words to express opinions and ideas, while chimps, our closest relative, are left to grunt and screech?
Two amino acids. That's it. Simply a mutation of two amino acids in our DNA, a change completely invisible to the human eye, has set us apart from every other species on earth.