Why language is humanity's greatest invention | David Peterson | Summary and Q&A

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TED
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Why language is humanity's greatest invention | David Peterson

TL;DR

In this TED Talk, the speaker discusses the importance of language, the misconceptions surrounding it, and the value in studying and preserving endangered languages.

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Questions & Answers

Q: What inventions were created with the benefit of language?

Spoons, cardboard boxes, toddler-size electric trains, holiday ornaments, bounce houses, blankets, baskets, carpets, tray tables, smartphones, pianos, robes, and photographs were all inventions that were created with the benefit of language.

Q: What is the importance of language?

Language is the most important thing in the entire world and all of our civilization rests upon it. It is through language that we can create and communicate ideas, invent new things, and understand the world around us.

Q: What have linguists uncovered about human communication systems?

Linguists have uncovered that human communication systems differ crucially from animal communication systems. They have also found that all languages are equally expressive, even if they do it in different ways.

Q: Why do some people think they have an equal understanding of language as linguists?

Some people may think they have an equal understanding of language as linguists simply because they speak a language. However, linguists have dedicated their lives to studying language and have in-depth knowledge about its function, emergence, and differences between human languages and animal communication systems.

Q: How is language more than just a tool?

Language is more than just a tool because it is our way of conveying what it means to be human. It is the only way we can truly understand and represent the depth of human thought, emotion, and creativity. Language is our legacy and losing any language diminishes our understanding of what it means to be human.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • Language is a crucial tool that has allowed for the creation of numerous inventions and advancements in civilization.

  • All languages are equally expressive, even if they differ in their methods of communication.

  • The study and preservation of languages is important for maintaining linguistic diversity and promoting linguistic tolerance.

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