The approximately 3000-6000 languages that are spoken by humans today are the most salient examples, but natural languages can also be based on visual rather than auditive stimuli, for example in sign languages and written language. Codes and other kinds of artificially constructed communication systems such as those used for computer programming can also be called languages. A language in this sense is a system of signs for encoding and decoding information. The English word derives from Latin lingua, "language, tongue", this metaphoric relation between language and the tongue exists in many languages and testify to the historical prominence of spoken languages . When used as a general concept "language" refers to the cognitive faculty that enables humans to learn and use systems of complex communication. The human language faculty is thought to be fundamentally different and of much higher complexity from those of other species. Human language is highly complex in that based in a set of rules relating symbols to their meanings it can form an infinite number of possible utterances from a finite number of elements. The word language can also be used to describe the set of rules that makes this possible, or the set of utterances that can be produced from those rules.
All languages rely on the process of semiosis to relate a sign with a particular meaning. Spoken languages contain a phonological system that governs how sounds are used to form sequences known as words or morphemes, and a syntactic system that governs how words and morphemes are used to form phrases and utterances. Written languages and sign languages use visual symbols to represent the sounds of the spoken languages, but they still... [continues]
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