Use of language

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Linguistic usage denotes two different things:

  1. the usual expression and meaning in a language; For example, legal usage for expressions and meanings (of expressions ) in legal terminology , or general usage for expressions and meanings in common language ;
  2. as a counter-term to the language system : the use of the units and rules of the language system in the formation of utterances for the purpose of communication (use of language ); These statements can be made orally or in writing, but z. B. also in the form of Morse code, deaf and dumb characters.

Use of language as a counter-term to "language system"

For linguistics, it is a matter of differentiating between two fundamental aspects of the consideration of language. The term “linguistic use” does not appear directly as a keyword in one of the widely used specialist dictionaries (Bußmann); instead, the very specific term performance is referred to under “use of language” . For Ferdinand de Saussure, the dichotomy “language system” and “language use / usage” corresponds to the pair of terms langue - parole and for Noam Chomsky the contrast between competence (= the knowledge of an ideal speaker or listener of his language) and performance (that which the Speaker / listener when using the language actually does).

The respective use of language is influenced by situational, social, psychological, individual and possibly other factors (see also T. Lewandowski 1985). It includes speaking behavior ( speech files ), writing , dealing with written records ( reading , translation , standardization, among others).

  • The descriptive (descriptive) linguistics describes how a language is actually used and what rules and units there.
  • The prescriptive (normative, prescriptive) Linguistics specifies how language is used.

In many cases, however, word or sentence forms are dictated by the use of language (custom), so that these new rules have to be adopted in the grammars and possibly also new words in the lexica (Haß-Zumkehr 2001). The use of language always changes faster than its codification.

Change of language

The use of language leads on the one hand to the preservation and on the other hand to the change of a language ( language change ). Words can acquire new or shifted meanings within a few years ( language drift ) or they can disappear from language or be forgotten. This is not only the case in colloquial language , but also in the so-called technical languages . The changing needs of the people who speak the language show up in language usage. The more people of different languages ​​are in contact with each other, the more the language use influences the corresponding languages.

See also


  • Hadumod Bußmann with the collaboration of Hartmut Lauffer (Ed.): Lexikon der Sprachwissenschaft . 4th, revised and bibliographically supplemented edition. Kröner, Stuttgart 2008, ISBN 978-3-520-45204-7 .
  • Ulrike Haß-Zumkehr: German dictionaries - focus of language and cultural history . de Gruyter, Berlin / New York 2001, ISBN 3-11-014885-4 (For the meaning of language use for the design of dictionaries, see above all the chapters "Language use" and "Linguistic rules - pro or contra language use?", p. 149-152).
  • Theodor Lewandowski: Linguistic Dictionary . 4th, revised edition. Quelle & Meyer, Heidelberg / Wiesbaden 1985, ISBN 3-494-02050-7 .
  • Ludwig Tobler : Aesthetic and Ethical in Language Use. In: Journal for Völkerpsychologie und Sprachwissenschaft. Volume 6, 1869, pp. 385-428.

Web links

Wiktionary: language usage  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Wiktionary: Usus  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Use of language. ( Memento from August 1, 2011 on WebCite ) In: Duden Online. Archived from the original , accessed August 1, 2011.