In a modern era of complex worldwide relationships, communication skills are more important than ever; however, the weaknesses of our communications skills are often revealed by those connections. One such shortcoming resides in our usage of language. Outside of dialect and across different languages, our usage of words and phrases can reveal an inability to effectively communicate across social boundaries. This is a consequence of language depending on the social context in which it is used versus our understanding of terms.
Opening up the dictionary reveals the standard definition of almost every word in a language. On the other hand, it does not accurately describe how individuals will be impacted by the words and phrases we use. Despite the fact literate people can all read and understand the standard definition of words, our experiences, including our social history, determine how we use and interpret the usage of all words. As such, language means something slightly different to each person. The same is true when it comes to entire communities.
Furthermore, personal definitions of words come from our experiences and these include our interactions with other individuals. As we speak with others, the meanings of words change over time. Consequently, language is directly derived from our membership in various communities and society. If we belong to a community, which is well connected to other communities, the differences in language may not even exist. In essence, this is how language is created then adapted to suit the needs of a particular society or group of individuals.
In a more isolated community, words and phrases tend to take on their own special meanings while old references may linger. Consider, as a small example, the various dialogs of English, Spanish, and Chinese spoken around the world, social context clearly impacts language in a very direct manner on a substantive level. Of course, the same is true when we consider families, which like to use favorite words and phrases, as children learn to act like their parents. Meanwhile, dialog changes for these children if they begin to explore the world and are introduced to new cultures.
Language is not simply a stagnate product of society; society also shapes language on a continual basis. Given this connection, individual dialects are directly impacted by the surrounding communities. Differences across communities can be so diverse that simply words like pudding or chips take on entirely differently meanings. In fact, the introduction of new terms or uses of words can shape how people think and understand the world. Moreover, language is directly connected to social context.