The term “language” comes from the Old French word “language,” which in turn derives from the Latin word “lingua,” meaning “tongue” or “speech.” The Latin “lingua” comes from the Proto-Indo-European (PIE) root “*dn̥ghwā,” meaning “tongue.”

Proto-Indo-European (PIE):

  • The PIE root “dn̥ghwā” or “dn̥gʷʰéh₂” means “tongue” or “speech.”


  • From the PIE root, the Latin word “lingua” developed, meaning “tongue” or “language.”

Old French (c. 9th to 14th century CE):

  • The Latin “lingua” evolved into Old French “language,” carrying the same meanings of “tongue” and “speech.”

Middle English (c. 11th to 15th century CE):

  • The Old French “language” was adopted into Middle English, retaining the meaning of “speech” or “a system of communication.”

Modern English (from 15th century CE to present):

  • The term “language” continued to evolve, now referring to the system of communication used by a particular community or country, encompassing spoken, written, and signed forms.

The word “language” reflects the human capacity for structured communication, integral to social interaction, cultural transmission, and knowledge dissemination.