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Language as a Powerful Social Tool
Language is mostly commonly conceptualized as the most effective form of
communication. While most people understand language as a mean of communicating intentions
and understanding the intentions of other, it seems unlikely that most people wonder about
specific roles that language plays in our life. The purpose of the present paper is to show with
examples that language is, among many others, a factor that influences self-identity, the
perception of the world, and sometimes even the degree of social power that one has.
Understanding the role of language in different social situations may help people make a better
use of it in different contexts.
While communicating of some sort is not an ability that only human poses, language is
considered to be a uniquely human characteristic. Scientists may not understand the exact
mechanisms that have lead to the emergence of language but many believe that language
emerged as a social tool that was necessary for the development of large groups of humans
(society) (Ochs, Elinor, and Bambi 14). Language has many functions, including transmission of
knowledge, development of culture, co-operation, and evolution of the self (Kirkham, Sam and
Mackey 114). For example, transmitting knowledge (e.g., discoveries, beliefs, practices) and
engaging in complex communications with other humans would not have been possible without
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language. For this reason, it can be assumed that language is a fundamental social tool (Adolphs,
Svenja, Kight, and Carter 50).
Because humans are social beings that are partly defined by the society within which they
develop, it is not surprising to assume that language plays an important role in the development
of the self across the lifespan, as it has often been hypothesized by many psychologists and
sociologists, among others. Language can contribute to both the development of the individual
self and the collective self. For instance, people initially learn language through the interaction
with their caregivers and that language plays an im...