/lang"gwij/ , n.
1. a body of words and the systems for their use common to a people who are of the same community or nation, the same geographical area, or the same cultural tradition: the two languages of Belgium; a Bantu language; the French language; the Yiddish language.
2. communication by voice in the distinctively human manner, using arbitrary sounds in conventional ways with conventional meanings; speech.
3. the system of linguistic signs or symbols considered in the abstract (opposed to speech ).
4. any set or system of such symbols as used in a more or less uniform fashion by a number of people, who are thus enabled to communicate intelligibly with one another.
5. any system of formalized symbols, signs, sounds, gestures, or the like used or conceived as a means of communicating thought, emotion, etc.: the language of mathematics; sign language.
6. the means of communication used by animals: the language of birds.
7. communication of meaning in any way; medium that is expressive, significant, etc.: the language of flowers; the language of art.
8. linguistics; the study of language.
9. the speech or phraseology peculiar to a class, profession, etc.; lexis; jargon.
10. a particular manner of verbal expression: flowery language.
11. choice of words or style of writing; diction: the language of poetry.
12. Computers. a set of characters and symbols and syntactic rules for their combination and use, by means of which a computer can be given directions: The language of many commercial application programs is COBOL.
13. a nation or people considered in terms of their speech.
14. Archaic. faculty or power of speech.
[ 1250-1300; ME langage, deriv. of langue tongue. See LINGUA, -AGE ]
Syn. 2. See speech. 4, 9. tongue; terminology; lingo, lingua franca. LANGUAGE, DIALECT, JARGON, VERNACULAR refer to patterns of vocabulary, syntax, and usage characteristic of communities of various sizes and types. LANGUAGE is applied to the general pattern of a people or race: the English language. DIALECT is applied to certain forms or varieties of a language, often those that provincial communities or special groups retain (or develop) even after a standard has been established: Scottish dialect.
A JARGON is either an artificial pattern used by a particular (usually occupational) group within a community or a special pattern created for communication in business or trade between members of the groups speaking different languages: the jargon of the theater; the Chinook jargon. A VERNACULAR is the authentic natural pattern of speech, now usually on the informal level, used by persons indigenous to a certain community, large or small.