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Research Assistant @ Purdue University
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Dimensions of human language:

  • Discrete infinity: A discrete set, a set with finite number of elements which can be used to make infinitely many combinations is called a discrete infinity. For example, the alphabets in english are 26 and form a discrete set but can be combined to form infinitely many sentences and hence is a discrete infinity.
  • Displacement: It is the ability to communicate about time, space or any other abstract notion. For example, conversation about future or about good vs bad.
  • Joint Attention: Human languages can express shared goals. For example, conversation about voting for a leader.

Sign language is also a human language as it serves the same purposes as a spoken language.


Aphasia is an inability to comprehend and formulate language because of damage to specific brain regions. This damage is typically caused by a cerebral vascular accident (stroke), or head trauma, however these are not the only possible causes. To be diagnosed with aphasia, a person’s speech or language must be significantly impaired in one (or several) of the four communication modalities following acquired brain injury or have significant decline over a short time period (progressive aphasia). The four communication modalities are auditory comprehension, verbal expression, reading and writing, and functional communication.

Evolution of Language

There are two different types of theories prevailing among linguistic communities, namely

  • Continuity Based Theories: Based on the premise that human language is a complicated form of animal languages i.e. language exhibits so much complexity that one cannot imagine it simply appearing from nothing in its final form; therefore it must have evolved from earlier pre-linguistic systems among our primate ancestors.

  • Discontinuity Based Theories: Based on theory that there is no connection among two but some drastic development occured that led to human langugages i.e. language, as a unique trait which cannot be compared to anything found among non-humans, must have appeared fairly suddenly during the course of human evolution.


Ethnologue: Languages of the World is a web-based publication that contains information about the 7,099 living languages in its 20th edition, which was released in 2017. Ethnologue provides information on the number of speakers, location, dialects, linguistic affiliations, autonym of the language, availability of the Bible in each language and dialect described, a cursory description of revitalization efforts where reported, and an estimate of language viability using the Expanded Graded Intergenerational Disruption Scale (EGIDS).

Phonetics vs Phonology

Phonetics is about the physical aspect of sounds, it studies the production and the perception of sounds, called phones. Phonetics has some subcategories, but if not specified, we usually mean articulatory phonetics: that is, the study of the production of speech sounds by the articulatory and vocal tract by the speaker.

Phonology is about the abstract aspect of sounds and it studies the phonemes. Phonology is about establishing what are the phonemes in a given language, i.e. those sounds that can bring a difference in meaning between two words. A phoneme is a phonic segment with a meaning value.

International Phonetic Alphabet

The International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) is an alphabetic system of phonetic notation based primarily on the Latin alphabet. It was devised by the International Phonetic Association in the late 19th century as a standardized representation of the sounds of spoken language.

Vowels vs Consonants

A vowel is a speech sound made with your mouth fairly open, the nucleus of a spoken syllable.

A consonant is a sound made with your mouth fairly closed.

Dimensions of Consonants

Major Dimensions of the consonants are:

  • Place of articulation - Where in the vocal tract the obstruction of the consonant occurs, and which speech organs are involved. Places include bilabial (both lips), alveolar (tongue against the gum ridge), and velar (tongue against soft palate).
  • Manner of articulation - How air escapes from the vocal tract when the consonant or approximant (vowel-like) sound is made. Manners include stops, fricatives, and nasals
  • Voicing or Phonation - How the vocal cords vibrate during the articulation. When the vocal cords vibrate fully, the consonant is called voiced; when they do not vibrate at all, it is voiceless.


Miracles of Human Language
Aphasia - Wikipedia
Origin of Language
What’s the difference between phonetics and phonology?
International Phonetic Alphabet
The difference between consonants and vowels

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