Languages, Geography of

Language (in contrast to speech) may be understood in several ways: (a) as a means of organizing thought; (b) as a way of communicating, that is, producing and sharing meaning; and (c) as a vehicle for bringing the world into consciousness, that is, of converting sensations into perceptions. Language is a system of symbols through which cognition is structured, and it is intimately wrapped up in individual and collective identity. It is impossible to understand the world without it. Language is thus simultaneously a psychological, social, and cultural phenomenon. In many countries (e.g., Belgium, Canada), languages have deep political significance as well and may be the source of ethnic strife. Because languages are unevenly distributed across space, they are also inherently geographical.

Because languages are semantically ...

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