Some hard facts about language
We wanted to share some little-known language facts most linguists know and you haven’t thought about.
Most of us take language and everyday speech for granted. Until we come to realize the patterns and intricate system behind language. You don’t have to be a super enthusiastic language-nerd to learn to love some of these facts. Because language isn’t just the way we connect with each other, it also delivers a basic understanding of our human nature.
As follows you’ll find some little-known facts which linguists know to be true and other people might seem phased about. So here goes.
Fact 1: There is no such thing as bad grammar
Yes, language nazi’s we are looking at you. Seriously, we aren’t trying to sound controversial with this one. But something a linguist knows and learns to love is that there is no such thing as bad grammar in language. When starting to study languages you learn that all dialects are rule-bound and fully formed. People using a dialect or Vernacular English are following a different set of rules, than the one originally taught in school. African American English is a perfect example of different grammar rules not being automatically bad. AAE speakers can switch effortlessly between their dialect and normie English.
Fact 2: A language changing and evolving is natural
People often fear the change of language. They decry the death due to Emoji’s or texting, slang, dialects, foreign words etc. entering a language. But language not only constantly adapts, it’s also a good thing that it does. Adopting or losing genders, loan words, articles, losing inflection and such are a natural way of evolution. French would have never been spoken if it wasn’t for the Latin Language evolving over time. Most associate this natural process with the inevitable demise of culture and the death of civilization. Which is awfully dramatic if you ask us. Even grammar nazi’s and those overly concerned with the “correct” way of speaking, have to admit that they fail to speak it “properly”. A language will inevitably be tied to the people speaking it, thus becoming a living thing.
Fact 3: We all kinda speak one language
Hippies rejoice and conspiracy theorists unpack your tinfoil hats! One of the biggest discoveries of modern linguistics was that we speak languages in a similar manner. We use the same patterns, follow basic rules and grasp languages similarly. The mastermind behind this theory was none other than Father of modern Linguistics Mr. Noam Chomsky. In his book Language and Mind, Chomsky makes the argument, that if Martians would study our worlds grammar, they would conclude that human language follows a “universal grammar”, which is naturally encoded into us as human beings. All 7000+ languages evolved from one single language, the first one spoken by our ancestors the homo sapiens.
Fact 4: There are monolingual linguists
Being a linguist doesn’t mean you need to know foreign languages. There are a number of monolingual linguists studying how language works. As a matter of fact, Steven Pinker —one of our linguistic super stars is a monoglot as well.
Wait! There is more. Everyone can learn a second language. It is simply a matter of choice. This is a well-known fact among linguists. And to take this even further, we say it takes a huge amount of intelligence to become a monoglot. Why? Because parsing a language and knowing all the intricacies is incredibly complex. And surprisingly, the amount of complexity that goes into speaking a second language is almost negligible by comparison.
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