The most effective route to improving reading, academic and social competency is to strengthen the basic perceptual, cognitive and linguistic skills that build language communication proficiency.
— Paula Tallal, Scientific Learning, 2012

Language: a system for combining arbitrary "symbols" to produce an infinite number of meaningful statements. Symbols may be sounds, written words, or as in "American Sign Language," formalized gestures. (Hockenbury, 271) Much more than a means of communication, it is a cultural tool of incredible complexity and versatility. (Goldberg, 29)

Generally accepted as consisting of an agreed set of symbols that enable us to convey meaning and converse with other members of the same culture that share the same language. (Cardwell, 137) A means of conceptualization. The reason that all humans can generate language is that humans have special genes that distinguish us from (other) animals, that allow the brain to do things that (other) animal’s brains cannot do. (Rose, Episode 1 Cornelia Bargmann) As recently as twenty years ago it was taught that language specifically resided in “Broca’s” and “Wernicke’s” areas on the left side of the brain. We know today, language function is spread throughout the brain. Modern brain imaging has also revealed that the spread of language activation across the two hemispheres of the brain can differ substantially for each individual. (Kenneally, 178-179) The brain ‘machinery’ of language is highly distributed. Damage to areas of the brain involved in language results in disorders called “aphasia.” (Goldberg, 29) There is an overlap between the parts of the brain that are used for speech and the parts that are used for "syntax." In addition, the brain areas that are active when learning language are different from the ones that are active when using language once it has been learned. Different areas are activated depending on the specific language activity, like the comprehension of words, categorizing a word, translating between languages, or making a decision about grammar. (Kenneally, 178)

The rose is a rose, and was always a rose,
But the theory now goes that the apple’s a rose,
And the pear is, and so’s the plum, I suppose.
The dear only knows what will next prove a rose.
You, of course, are a rose —
But were always a rose.
— Robert Frost, The Rose Family

Allegory: narrative description of a subject under the guise of another having points of correspondence (similarity) with it; symbolic representation. (Oxford)

American Sign Language: meets all the formal requirements for language, including syntax, “displacement,” and (being) “generative.” The same brain regions are activate in hearing people when they speak as in deaf people when they use sign language. (Hockenbury, 271)

Annotation: a note by way of explanation or comment. (Oxford)

Ascribe: assign or impute to someone or something as an action, effect, product, etc., or as a quality, characteristic, or property. For example, ‘The invention of clocks is variously ascribed to the sixth and ninth centuries.’ (Oxford)

Braille: a system designed to facilitate the use of written language by blind people. (Crystal, 282)

Connotative Meaning: subjective meaning of a word or phrase based on personal experiences and beliefs. (Griffin, 444) Understanding of a word’s meaning based on the situation and the shared knowledge between communication partners (i.e., not the dictionary definition). For instance, calling someone slender suggests something more positive than the word skinny or scrawny does, though all three words mean “underweight.” (McCornack, 190)

Denotative Meaning: the literal, or dictionary, definition of a word. (McCornack, 190) Objective definition of a word or phrase you find in a dictionary. (Griffin, 444)

Dialects: pattern of speech that is shared among “ethnic” groups or people from specific geographical locations. (Griffin, 275) Language variations unique to particular regions or groups; they may include differences in vocabulary, grammar, and pronunciation. For example, in various regions of the United States, carbonated beverages are called 'soda,' 'pop,' or 'coke.' (McCornack, 184)

Displacement: (the ability to) communicate meaningfully about ideas, objects, and activities that are not physically present, to refer to activities that will take place in the future, that took place in the past, or that will take place only if certain conditions are met. Also to carry on a conversation about “abstract” ideas, or strictly imaginary topics. (Hockenbury, 272)

First-Person Perspective: the unique viewpoint of a conscious being, experiencing and perceiving events in the world. (Koch, 336) A grammatical form referring directly to the speaker. (Crystal, 454) Also referred to as a ‘first-person account.’

Generative: an infinite number of new and different phrases and sentences. (Hockenbury, 272) Pertaining to generation or reproduction. Involving the application of a finite set of rules to linguistic inputs in order to produce all of the well-formed items of a language. (Oxford) Said of a grammar that uses a set of formal rules to define the membership of the set of … sentences in a language. (Crystal, 97)

I Language: language in which one takes personal responsibility for feelings with words that own the feelings and do not project responsibility for the feelings onto others. (Wood, 333) Communication that uses the pronoun I in sentence construction to emphasize ownership of your feelings, opinions, and beliefs—for example, “I’m frustrated because I think I’m doing more than you are on this project” instead of “You’re really underperforming on this project.” (McCornack, 201)  

Linguistic Determinism: the view that the language we use determines and limits the way we think. (McCornack, 192) The theory that language determines what we can perceive and think. This theory has been largely discredited, although the less strong claim that language shapes thought is widely accepted. (Wood, 334)

Linguistic Relativity Hypothesis: the theory that languages create variations in the ways cultures perceive and think about the world. (McCornack, 192) The hypothesis that differences among languages cause differences in the thoughts of their speakers. (Hockenbury, 272)

Metaphor: a figure of speech in which a descriptive word or phrase is transferred to an object or action different from, but analogous to, that to which it is literally applicable. (Oxford) Makes a comparison between two things by describing one thing as being something else. (Griffin, 256)

Mixed Metaphor: metaphor that makes illogical comparisons between two or more things. When speakers mix their metaphors, they begin with one metaphor and then switch to another midstream. (Griffin, 256)

Naming: assigning words to represent people, objects, places, and ideas. (McCornack, 192)

Paralanguage: vocal communication, such as accents and inflection, that does not use words. (Wood, 333)

Prose: the ordinary form of written or spoken language, especially as a literary form as distinct from poetry or verse. (Oxford) Becomes ‘poetry’ when it takes on rhyme and rhythm. (Writers Inc., 134)

Protolanguage: presumed early stages of language evolution that may have been present in our ancestors. It can convey meaning by stringing together words in the right order (for example, “Tarzan kill ape”) but has no “syntax.” The word was introduced by Derek Bickerton of the University of Hawaii. (RamachandranTTB, 302) A hypothetical ancestor language or form. (Crystal, 294)

Second Language: languages learned after the “critical period” of language development (starting infancy, ending 8 yrs. to puberty.) Not processed in the same part of the brain as is the native tongue. (Doidge, 52) The non-native language, especially one that has an official role in a country. (Crystal, 372)

Sign Language: a system of manual communication, especially one used by the deaf. To sign is to use the hands in a conscious, ‘verbal’ manner, to express the same range of meaning as would be achieved by speech. By contrast, “gesturing” is far less systematic and comprehensive, there are in fact very few hand gestures. Everyone can gesture but few have learned to sign. (Crystal, 222) A useful and highly effective tool to facilitate ease of communication for those with hearing difficulties. In most of its forms, sign language has many similarities with its spoken counterpart. (Brown, 4) Contrary to common misconception, there is no universal sign language. Deaf people in different countries use very different sign languages. In fact, a deaf signer who acquires a second sign language as an adult will actually sign with a foreign accent. (Best of the Brain, 103)

Finger Spelling: the most important tool used in a manual sign system. Each vowel and consonant is represented by a different shape on one hand. Sign languages have been developed to avoid the necessity of spelling every word, but in any emergency a finger spelled word can be of the greatest use. (Brown, 5)

Speech Acts: the actions we perform with words, such as the question “Is the antique clock in your window for sale?” and the reply “Yes, let me get it out to show you.” (McCornack, 195)

Third-Person Perspective: the point of view of an external observer, having access to the behavior and brain states (e.g., by observing individual neurons) of a conscious subject, but not to his or her experiences. Throughout most of history, biology and psychology adopted a purely third-person perspective. (Koch, 346) A grammatical form referring directly to others involved in an interaction. (Crystal, 454) Also referred to as a ‘third-person account.”

We Language: communication that uses the pronoun 'we' in sentence construction to express your connection to others—for example, “We need to decide what color to paint the living room” instead of “I need you to tell me what color paint you want for the living room.” (McCornack, 202)

Written Language: a system for combining arbitrary symbols to produce an infinite number of meaningful statements. Symbols may be sounds, written words, or as in American Sign Language, formalized gestures. (Hockenbury, 271)

You Language: communication that states or implies the pronoun ‘you’ as the focus of attention in blaming others—such as “You haven’t done your share of the work on this project.” (McCornack, 201) Language that projects responsibility for one’s own feelings or actions onto other people. Not recommended for interpersonal communication. (Wood, 336)