Language and Literacy - Essay Example

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Language and Literacy

There seems to be no agreement as to when language was first used by humans. Some estimates date as far back as two million years ago, during the time of Homo habilis, while others date as recent as forty thousand (40,000) years ago, during the time of Cro-Magnon man. What is unarguably clear, however, is that language development is a continuous process affected by several social factors and that most contemporary human languages are a blend of several primitive ones. One main feature of human language is arbitrariness of symbols and sounds. A symbol or sound only needs to be attached to a particular concept or meaning, or even applied to the rules of grammar and becomes a part of the language. For instance, while the word 'nada' is conceptualised to mean nothing in the Spanish language, for Croatian speakers, it means 'hope' (Hudson, 2000).
Through the course of this essay, I shall attempt a discourse of the various social factors that come into play in language, within the context of literacy development. In this regard, three students currently undertaking a basic skills "Brush Up Your English" course at Halton College will be used as case studies. ...Show more


In the most basic definition, language is described as a method of communication. Human written and spoken language can therefore be described as the system of symbols and sounds, and the grammar or set of rules that are employed in manipulating these symbols and sounds for the purpose of communicating (Trask, 1995, p.3)…
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