Language Lan"guage, n. [OE. langage, F. langage, fr. L. lingua the tongue, hence speech, language; akin to E. tongue. See {Tongue}, cf. {Lingual}.] [1913 Webster] 1. Any means of conveying or communicating ideas; specifically, human speech; the expression of ideas by the voice; sounds, expressive of thought, articulated by the organs of the throat and mouth. [1913 Webster]

Note: Language consists in the oral utterance of sounds which usage has made the representatives of ideas. When two or more persons customarily annex the same sounds to the same ideas, the expression of these sounds by one person communicates his ideas to another. This is the primary sense of language, the use of which is to communicate the thoughts of one person to another through the organs of hearing. Articulate sounds are represented to the eye by letters, marks, or characters, which form words. [1913 Webster]

2. The expression of ideas by writing, or any other instrumentality. [1913 Webster]

3. The forms of speech, or the methods of expressing ideas, peculiar to a particular nation. [1913 Webster]

4. The characteristic mode of arranging words, peculiar to an individual speaker or writer; manner of expression; style. [1913 Webster]

Others for language all their care express. --Pope. [1913 Webster]

5. The inarticulate sounds by which animals inferior to man express their feelings or their wants. [1913 Webster]

6. The suggestion, by objects, actions, or conditions, of ideas associated therewith; as, the language of flowers. [1913 Webster]

There was . . . language in their very gesture. --Shak. [1913 Webster]

7. The vocabulary and phraseology belonging to an art or department of knowledge; as, medical language; the language of chemistry or theology. [1913 Webster]

8. A race, as distinguished by its speech. [R.] [1913 Webster]

All the people, the nations, and the languages, fell down and worshiped the golden image. --Dan. iii. 7. [1913 Webster]

9. Any system of symbols created for the purpose of communicating ideas, emotions, commands, etc., between sentient agents. [PJC]

10. Specifically: (computers) Any set of symbols and the rules for combining them which are used to specify to a computer the actions that it is to take; also referred to as a {computer lanugage} or {programming language}; as, JAVA is a new and flexible high-level language which has achieved popularity very rapidly. [PJC]

Note: Computer languages are classed a low-level if each instruction specifies only one operation of the computer, or high-level if each instruction may specify a complex combination of operations. {Machine language} and {assembly language} are low-level computer languages. {FORTRAN}, {COBOL} and {C} are high-level computer languages. Other computer languages, such as JAVA, allow even more complex combinations of low-level operations to be performed with a single command. Many programs, such as databases, are supplied with special languages adapted to manipulate the objects of concern for that specific program. These are also high-level languages. [PJC]

{Language master}, a teacher of languages. [Obs.]

Syn: Speech; tongue; idiom; dialect; phraseology; diction; discourse; conversation; talk.

Usage: {Language}, {Speech}, {Tongue}, {Idiom}, {Dialect}. Language is generic, denoting, in its most extended use, any mode of conveying ideas; speech is the language of articulate sounds; tongue is the Anglo-Saxon term for language, esp. for spoken language; as, the English tongue. Idiom denotes the forms of construction peculiar to a particular language; dialects are varieties of expression which spring up in different parts of a country among people speaking substantially the same language. [1913 Webster]

The Collaborative International Dictionary of English. 2000.


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