Glossary (Version 8.4)

A human cognitive and communicative capability which makes it possible to communicate, to create and comprehend meaning, to build and sustain relationships, to represent and shape knowledge, and to imagine, analyse, express and evaluate.

Language is described and employed:

  • as code – comprising systems, rules, a fixed body of knowledge; for example, grammar and vocabulary, sound, sign, gesture and writing systems
  • as social practice – used to do things, create relationships, interact with others, represent the world and the self; to organise social systems and practices in dynamic, variable, and changing ways
  • as cultural and intercultural practice – means by which communities construct and express their experience, values, beliefs and aspiration
  • as cognitive process – means by which ideas are shaped, knowledge is constructed, and analysis and reflection are structured.

Activities and tasks that contribute to building archives from data of authentic language samples to help protect a language and culture and to expand understanding of usage.

A process of interpreting meaning from signed, spoken, written, tactile and multimodal representations of language.

Varied ways in which language is used to achieve particular purposes; for example, to persuade, to entertain, to apologise, to argue or to compliment.

The extent of the demand and the use of a language in the community and projections for its future usage. A language that is spoken or signed by a larger number of users and is available in several domains of use in society is likely to be more healthy and to have greater vitality and survival prospects.

The effort made to prevent languages from becoming endangered or unknown, for example, by increasing the number of users of the language, creating resources and documenting the language to preserve it.

Elements that organise and represent how a language works, including the phonological, syntactic, semantic and pragmatic systems of signs and rules that underpin language use. These systems have to be internalised for effective communication and comprehension.

The way a language is passed on, for example through speech, writing and signing, from one generation to the next (vertical transmission) or from peer to peer (horizontal transmission).

See Fully-lexical signs.

The process through which a non-lexical or partly-lexical sign becomes frequent enough to become a fully-lexical sign with a conventional meaning and form listed in a dictionary.

A sign where the fingers on the non-dominant hand are used to represent the items in a list while the dominant hand signs something about those items.

See Indicating verbs.

Words or phrases that tell a place or location.