Date of Completion


Degree Type

Honors Thesis - Campus Access


Spanish (SPAN)

First Advisor

Rebecca Acevedo


(English translation from Spanish)

The identity of our human species is very much interrelated with language. Therefore, historically speaking, the understanding of language is something that has been explored in many different ways. The purpose of this thesis is to use an academic perspective to analyze the development of how our modern society has come to understand language. Two principle concepts that are frequently thought of synonymously are initially distinguished: that of language "capacity" and language "performance". Language capacity describes the innate human ability to utilize language, while language performance is the expression of this capacity through use of a language particular to a certain linguistic community. This distinction offers information that will be employed in considering the ways in which the theories of structuralism and transformative grammar conceptualize language ability differently. Several social myths about language will then be evaluated using the prominent characteristics of both discussed theories. First, the conception that certain languages are "better" than others will be discussed; the origin of this false conception or myths will be identified to better illustrate why there is insufficient evidence to sustain the myth. Second, the existence of different myths will be explained in terms of the natural evolution of language. This discussion will serve to expose inconsistencies in logic that are related to language evolution and current misconceptions. Finally, the specific conditions of the United States will be evaluated with respect to how they contribute to the renewal of social language myths. While the different sections each adopt a unique focus, each serves to develop the central theme of conceptualizing our unique human capacity for language.