Languages and linguistic science - статья на английском языке

... Among all the creatures of the earth there is no other that uses articulate speech for communication. It is true that some animals use sounds to communicate, but their cries can hardly be called articulate.
And while certain birds can produce an uncanny imitation of human speech, they communicate nothing by their parrotings. If man is to talk — and he seems unable to refrain from doing so — he is obliged to talk to his fellow man. Furthermore, he always will be. Astronomers assure us with virtual unanimity that none of the other planets of our system can be inhabited by any creatures higher in the scale of evolution than vegetation. And though the laws of probability make it virtually certain that somewhere in the unimaginably vast reaches of the universe there are other highly developed forms of life, the distances between the stars are so great that, notwithstanding the imaginative flights of the science-fiction writers, we shall never meet inhabitants of other systems face to face. The human race is destined to spend the rest of its allotted span talking to itself.
In order to carry on this characteristically and uniquely human activity, man has developed an intricate apparatus made up of bits and pieces of anatomy whose primary functions are quite different from those they perform in speech.
...Speech, the universal human activity, the very mark and defining criterion of humanity and its unique possession, is not an innate part of man's nature at all. Each individual member of the race must experience in himself the task of learning it from other humans, with or without their conscious assistance. It is a tremendous task, and a magnificent accomplishment — nonetheless magnificent though all attain it. It occupies the center of our attention for several years in early childhood, and though it continues in greater or less degree through life, most of the work has been done by the age of six.
(From "The Structure of American English" by W. Nelson Francis)