A philosophy of language is a concentrated study of how language is used to describe the world at large and to infuse it with meaning. It attempts to trace the initial formation of words, phrases, and prose along with their connections to people's thoughts and feelings. This study of language also draws connections between linguistics and the agreed-upon meanings of words that are the same to different people regardless of their backgrounds. The universal human tendency to develop words is another part of the philosophy of language, as scholars attempt to answer the question of whether language is a natural component of the human mind or if it is a learned trait over time.
Scholars who study the philosophy of language are usually concerned with at least one of its four components. Language cognition, use, meaning, and connections make up this area of philosophy. These parts generally attempt to define the exact nature of meaning.
Words that are different in structure but similar in meaning are particularly interesting in the study of meaning as the human mind recognizes it. Various uses of words are often considered one of the most challenging areas of the philosophy of language because word use is generally fluid. It changes frequently according to culture, context, and circumstances.
A frequent goal of the philosophy of language is an attempt to list and define the specific criteria that makes a language an actual established language as opposed to a group of loosely connected sounds and symbols. Some of these criteria can often be found within the study of semiotics, which is a discipline that traces exactly how different symbols develop certain meanings as well as connotations. Semiotics tries to explain why a word creates a certain mental picture. The study of linguistics takes this discipline a step further by examining the common patterns of syntax and grammar among the symbols of a given language.
Understanding the structure of cognition is often considered a helpful prerequisite to understanding its connection to language. Cognition refers to the processes of the mind that make formations of ideas and concepts possible. Psychologists and scholars who study cognition in depth as it relates to language generally conclude that the mind constructs language early in life through the use of phonemes, and later, morphemes. Phonemes are single-letter sounds that are the simplest units of language possible, and they form the basis for morphemes, which are the first language units with distinct meanings.