Language is generally where we begin when we try to explain a concept. But it’s hard to know the exact boundaries of the term ‘language’. Is it written, oral, or all forms of communication? Love, for example, is sometimes described as the universal language; music has been described similarly. So what are we actually talking about? The OED says…




noun 1 the method of human communication, either spoken or written, consisting of the use of words in a structured and conventional way. 2 the system of communication used by a particular community or country. 3 the phraseology and vocabulary of a particular group: legal language. 4 the manner or style of a piece of writing or speech. 5 Computing a system of symbols and rules for writing programs or algorithms.
— PHRASES speak the same language understand one another as a result of shared opinions or values.
— ORIGIN Old French langage, from Latin lingua ‘tongue’.

This fits in pretty well with what we take language to be in theory of knowledge: human communication, either spoken or written. Having said that, we will not only try to consider what part these aspects play in how we acquire knowledge, we will also try to think about other forms of communication that are not written or spoken, since there are so many of them.
Questions we need to think about, amongst other things, are how human beings first acquired language, how language shapes the way we think, and whether language assists or limits us as we search for knowledge.

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