What does lan­guage allow us to achieve?

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Humans can com­mu­ni­cate with each oth­er in ways that no oth­er crea­ture can.

Lan­guage allows us to com­mu­ni­cate pre­cise mes­sages about an infi­nite amount of things. Many ani­mals can pro­duce sounds to com­mu­ni­cate, for exam­ple, when they are threatened.

But only humans can artic­u­late sounds that trans­mit a spe­cif­ic mes­sage that can range from a sim­ple call for help to a dis­cus­sion about our feel­ings or plans for the future.

Per­haps lan­guage devel­oped in order to help plan hominid activ­i­ties such as for­ag­ing or hunt­ing expeditions.

The abil­i­ty to com­mu­ni­cate with each oth­er would have allowed hunters to co-ordi­nate a hunt strate­gi­cal­ly, sur­round an ani­mal effec­tive­ly and strike at the right time.

Com­mu­ni­cate across time and space

Mes­sages can be car­ried from one indi­vid­ual to anoth­er or many oth­ers through words. Recent tech­nolo­gies such as satel­lites, tele­vi­sion, the inter­net and mobile phones, have allowed us to com­mu­ni­cate across the globe to mil­lions of peo­ple simultaneously.

Com­plex social interaction

Lan­guage helps us artic­u­late our expe­ri­ence, our human­ness, and to under­stand our­selves and one anoth­er better.

The abil­i­ty to com­mu­ni­cate abstract con­cepts has ben­e­fits for our life with­in social groups.

We learn a lot from our fam­i­lies and friends, not only about the phys­i­cal world, but also about oth­er people’s feel­ings and beliefs.

Lan­guage enabled hominids to have a bet­ter under­stand­ing of each oth­er and themselves.

Return to the Exhi­bi­tion Guide.