The nature of language is the nature of human thought and human action, for language is neither more nor less than the tool of both of these aspects of human nature. A word is either the shadow of an act or of an idea. Verbal sounds have no meaning in themselves. They are the channels, the media for the expression or communication of that which lies outside of themselves.Plato has made clear to us how easy it is to deceive ourselves with words, to labor under an impression that just because we can utter a sound we also necessarily know what we are talking about.
Relationship between the brain and language.
Of course, language is a function of the peculiar structure of the human brain. Several areas of the brain have been identified with linguistic skills,such as producing and understanding speech. Furthermore, people with brain damage in specific areas have difficulties with very specific aspects of language, implying that it is a highly compartmentalized process. Furthermore, human brains are functionally asymmetrical, concentrating many areas essential for speech production in one hemisphere.
In many animals that use sound forcommunication, the brain is lateralized, placing the control of sound production in one hemisphere of the brain (usually the left); this takes place quite strongly in songbirds and somewhat in monkeys, dolphins, and mice. The phenomenon of lateralization is extremely strong in humans, and in the vast majority language areas are concentrated in the left hemisphere. The right hemisphere controls language inonly about 3% of right-handers and 19% of left-handers, and another 68% of left-handers have language circuitry in both hemispheres.
There are two major areas of the human brain that are responsible for language: Broca's area, which is thought to be partially responsible for language production (putting together sentences, using proper syntax, etc.) and Wernicke's area, which is thought to bepartially responsible for language processing (untangling others' sentences and analyzing them for syntax, inflection, etc.). Other areas involved in language are those surrounding the Sylvian fissure, a cleavage line separating the portions of the brain that are exclusively human from those we share with other animals. In general, the areas that control language would be adjacent to one anotherif the human brain was laid out as a flat sheet.
Left and right hemispheres characteristics.
Linear reasoning and language functions such as grammar and vocabulary often are lateralized to the left hemisphere of the brain. Dyscalculia is a neurological syndrome associated with damage to the left temporo-parietal junction. This syndrome is associated with poor numeric manipulation, poormental arithmetic skill, and the inability to either understand or apply mathematical concepts.
In contrast, prosodic language functions, such as intonation and accentuation, often are lateralized to the right hemisphere of the brain. The processing of visual and audiological stimuli, spatial manipulation, facial perception, and artistic ability seem to be functions of the right hemisphere.There is some evidence that the right hemisphere is more involved in processing novel situations, while the left hemisphere is most involved when routine or well rehearsed processing is called for.
Other integrative functions, including arithmetic, binaural sound localization, and emotions (lateralization of emotion), seem more bilaterally controlled.
|Left hemisphere functions...