language, tongue

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There have been many linguists trying to interpret the meaning of the complicated term: ‘language’. In her book “Dictionary of Language and Linguistics” (1996), Hadumod Bussmann defines language as “a specific system of signs and combinatory rules which are arbitrary but passed on as conventions.” Language, she says, is a “vehicle for the expression or exchanging of thoughts, concepts, knowledge and information, as well as the fixing and transmission of experience and knowledge”. Additionally, it is “subject to societal factors and to historical change and development” (Bussmann, p. 627).

Deriving from the statement that language is a ‘system’, an ‘arbitrary’ one, which is accepted as ‘convention’, it must follow specific guidelines with a recurring vocabulary, based on copying and pasting within a format. It requires consistency, acceptance and obedience by its users. Due to these characteristics, parallelism between language and the institutionalization of the arts is impossible to avoid.

Language and institutionalization both mirror the society from which they are created and maintained, concurrently shaping the way through which one understands, experiences and interprets the world. Considering that every system is better suited to its creator(s) one can understand that it is then directly connected to the social circumstances in which it is formulated.

The power of an institution lays on the fact that it offers a stability and security of ‘the same’ by creating an ‘umbrella’ under which everything is structured and presented within specific rules. This stability is based on the creation and preservation of history and the organization of knowledge related to cultural heritage. That is also why the stability of a language is important for the successful continuation of a nation. Under this umbrella illusions of choice and therefore freedom are offered.

Bussmann, H. (1996). Dictionary of Language and Linguistics. London, New York: Routledge

Author and translator: Stella Dimitrakopoulou