The Impact of Language on Human Interaction

One of the distinguishing characteristics of animals and human beings is the latter’s ability to use language to communicate effectively. The language used by human beings for the purpose of this communication is by far the most complex codes that can be put to use by individuals for the purpose of correspondence. The interaction that occurs between two partners more often than not defines the communicative intention of an individual. In this seemingly simple process of transferring information while using language as a conduit, vital pieces of information are transferred. The social messages shared through language are responsible for informing the other party of who we are, where we hail from and the type of people we interact with. Over the years, language has been lauded for the important role it continues to play in the promoting human interaction (Müller et al., 2014, p. 3). On the flipside, it is important to also acknowledge that language can also have negative impacts on human interaction, a fact that can affect those involved adversely. The purpose of this essay is to provide an in-depth analysis of the impact of language on human interaction while also drawing from my personal experiences.

The use of language more often than not represents a symbolic fundamental dimension of human interaction and social behavior. The notion of using language seems simple from a superficial viewpoint, but the many ways in which language directly affects human interaction and behavior cannot be underestimated. Language affects human interaction and behavior in both subtle and complex ways. For many individuals, the intricate relationship that exists between society and language affects an assortment of encounters that can range from international relations to interpersonal relationships. The use of language can be viewed as an activity during human interaction. It can be used in a social context to promote positive interactions between individuals and also indicating the hierarchy of the individual being addressed. For instance, in an English speaking society, using language to address a lady as either “Ms.”, “Mrs” or by their first name does not simply indicate the choice of vocabulary but the relationship that those interacting share and the social position of the orator and the addressee. Similarly, the continued use of specific sentence alternatives in society such as would you please pass the sauce, pass the sauce or I think these potato chips need a little sauce is not merely a matter of sentence structure. The ultimate choice of words to use while using language to communicate indicates norms of politeness, cultural values, status, and deference.

In terms of human interaction, language has contributed greatly to the formation of the wide of array cultures. It is through language that a community develops greetings, vocabulary and humorous interactions between its members. In truth, language is the fabric upon which cultures and all the interactions that are found within it are built upon. Additionally, language fosters between members and cordial interaction between members of the community helps to improve interactions between different individuals(In Muller, 2014, p. 45). Through the use of language, both verbal and non-verbal, individuals are able to accurately express their feelings to make the other party aware of their feelings about a particular issue at any given moment. A personal experience that I recently had involved my neighbor I have had for two years now. He is an Electronic Dance Music (EDM) DJ with an annoying habit of playing loud music while preparing sets for his evening session at local discotheques. Being a student, loud music would often disrupt my study sessions making it difficult for me to study. Through the use of language, I was able to communicate my predicament to him and came to a negotiated agreement where he would reduce the volume of his stereo. If it were not for language, getting this message across would have presented a challenge to me, and we probably would have tried solving it in an archaic crude manner.

Language has also presented a challenge, especially if one is to shape their perspective using the lens of their language (In Matson & In Montagu, 2010, p. 55). Having learned French at a very young age, I particularly had a difficult interacting with other young children of the same age because the languages we were exposed to at a young age differed and also had different concepts. An example is that of two words stream and river as used in the English language fleuve and riviere in French. There is a significant difference in the use of these two concepts, especially if one encounters an individual who is not a native of the language. The concepts there exist in these two languages differ greatly. In the French language, the selection of the appropriate word depends on where the flow of the water body ends. Basically, it is the fleuve that is known to into large bodies of water while rivieres often flow into fleuves or another riviere. In comparison to the English language, a speaker distinguishes a river from a steam mainly by size; here, a stream is considered as naturally flowing water that is simply smaller than a river. Moreover, there has been continued debate on whether the United States should declare the English language as their national language, an issue that is capable of affecting millions(Bolinger, 2014,). Proponents of this paradigm shift are of the opinion that since it has been in use for an extended period of time, it should be finally instituted as the official language to simplify government process(Gonzalez & Melis, 2014, p. 12). It is, however, unconstitutional to do so as it would restrict state and federal employees from communicating with immigrants in any other language apart from the official language as it would directly contravene the 1st Amendment.

In conclusion, the development of language and its use has had far-reaching consequences for human beings, especially in terms of the interaction that often takes place between them. There are numerous that accrue from the use of language especially in regard to human interaction which often includes tension-regulation, a means of expressing oneself and a self-soothing. Like a double-edged sword, language also has negative impacts on human interaction, especially when bilingual individual struggles with the two perspectives that language offers them during communication. All in all, the benefits of language outweigh the negative impacts it has on human interaction and should be fostered continually by its custodians.

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