The debate on the relationship between language and humanity has been going on since time immemorial. Whereas there are people who believe that language sets man apart from animals, there are those who reject this premise. One argument that has been given to reject the premise is that the only difference between man and animal is culture. It implies that if the culture is taken away and no form of socialization is available for human beings, then people will act like animals, regardless of whether they use language or not.
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On the other hand, an argument that has been presented to support the premise is that man has a more complex thought process that makes him very different from animals. Thus, the vocabulary and the language system used by men are more complex than those used by animals, making humanity superior. This essay explains the relationship between humanity and language using the relationship between man and animal.
Humanity has been linked to language because human beings have a more complex way of communicating with one another. The complex relationship between words cannot be found in any other species. Language in human beings is not only used for communication, but also for bonding. Words and phrases have been used to both wage and denounce the war. It can be argued that people did not have a comprehensive form of language during the early forms of civilization; thus, they were barbaric in nature. They did not know any other ways of expressing themselves. However, today more people learn different languages in order to understand each other. Some languages like English are recognized as international languages such that wherever a person goes, they are sure to find someone who speaks the specific international language.
Biopolitics is defined as the relationship between biology and politics. In this sense, it has been used to explain postmortem, and the power politics has over life. At the same time, it is also used to describe the impact of politics on biology. Biopolitics is crucial in the discussion of the relationship between humans and animals because it highlights the power of nature. Both men and animals are part of nature. Man cannot do without animal, and vice versa. Man relies on animals for food, clothing, and environmental stability. In the same breath, animals rely on human beings for food, protection, and environmental conversation and stability.
Politics comes into play because countries set up policies that affect nature and biology, in general. For example, countries have policies, laws, and punishments that touch on the pollution of the environment. Many governments do not allow the cutting down of trees aimlessly and without permission. In the same vein, many governments encourage their citizens to plant trees and avoid all other types of environmental pollution. It suffices to mention that biopolitics has been used to shape perceptions of the relationship between human beings and animals. Currently, biopolitics has allowed people to perceive themselves as defenders of animals.
Scholars have argued that language is important for humanity, as it is the core of all other things that human beings value. For example, language is used in religion. In fact, the very first form of language in human beings was a form of religion.
In the same vein, man and animals have been differentiated by language, one of the things that affect humanity. Language is mostly used for communication. However, it is also used to describe how human beings are superior to animals, thereby proving that humanity is superior to animals. Language should not be perceived to be the fundamental difference between man and other creatures, given that animals also have their own way of communication. However, language can be used to show the change in behaviour in humankind from the earliest civilizations to today. Today, human beings are kinder and can express themselves freely without fear of being beaten up. Therefore, they avoid barbaric measures that are not associated with humanism. Similarly, language is linked to humanity because it brings people together. Several communities have their own languages. Even though these languages are different, they still unite people because of a common culture.
Apart from biopolitics, there are other factors that have to be mentioned in a discussion about the relationship between man and animal. Human beings are animalistic in nature. For example, the author cites the example of Marie Angelique Memmie LeBlanc, who was found in France. LeBlanc was approximately ten years old and appeared to be very strong and violent.1 There have been more cases of such children all over the world. These children usually have one thing in common; they do not get initial socialization. Children learn human language during the crucial stage of initial socialization. Drawing from LeBlanc, it is possible that she had learned another form of language in order to survive. For example, she would growl and grunt when in fear.
Another story that can be cited is that of Victor of Aveyron. Victor was very different compared to LeBlanc.2 Whereas LeBlanc was fierce and violent, Victor was very timid. Just like LeBlanc, however, Victor did not also know any form of language. It is interesting to note that these children are referred to as ‘wild children’ to show that they are not normal.3 In fact, calling them wild children denotes that they are more comparable to animals than they are to human beings despite being humans biologically.
Language and humanity can also be linked using interpersonal relationships that humans create. Seshadri gives the story of the mute prince.4 The price appears to have refused to learn any language in order to avoid being a bad king, like the others before him. The only time the mute price spoke, no one understood the language because it was that of “speechlessness and silence”5 This story shows how greatness is not associated with language or speech. In fact, for many years, the Romans believed that the type of communication used by the gods was very different from the language used by humans. Thus, language denotes humanity in every sense of the word.
On the other hand, Victor’s behavior was quiet and timid. He appeared afraid of human contact, proving that he, just like LeBlanc, had had no previous contact with human beings. Just like LeBlanc, Victor had no way of expressing words. He would grunt and growl at times to communicate.
In conclusion, language and humanity indeed go hand in hand. Language has empowered human beings, and they have used this empowerment to shape the world. In addition, language is core in other aspects of human life, for example, religion.
Seshadri, Kalpana Rahita. HumAnimal: Race, Law, Language. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 2012.
1 Rahita, Seshadri Kalpana, HumAnimal: Race, Law, Language (Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 2012), p. 190.
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2 Ibid, p. 191.
3 Rahita, Seshadri Kalpana, HumAnimal: Race, Law, Language (Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 2012), p. 190.
4 Ibid, p. 3-4.
5 Ibid, p. 4.