language (n.)
Origin and meaning of language

late 13c., langage "words, what is said, conversation, talk," from Old French langage "speech, words, oratory; a tribe, people, nation" (12c.), from Vulgar Latin *linguaticum, from Latin lingua "tongue," also "speech, language," from PIE root *dnghu- "tongue."

The -u- is an Anglo-French insertion (see gu-); it was not originally pronounced. Meaning "manner of expression" (vulgar language, etc.) is from c. 1300. Meaning "a language," as English, French, Arabic, etc., is from c. 1300; Century Dictionary (1897) defines this as: "The whole body of uttered signs employed and understood by a given community as expressions of its thoughts; the aggregate of words, and of methods of their combination into sentences, used in a community for communication and record and for carrying on the processes of thought." Boutkan (2005) writes: "In general, language unity exists as long as the language is capable of carrying out common innovations, but this does not preclude profound differences among dialects."

In Middle English the word also was used of dialects:

Mercii, þat beeþ men of myddel Engelond[,] vnderstondeþ bettre þe side langages, norþerne and souþerne, þan norþerne and souþerne vnderstondeþ eiþer oþer. [Bartholomew Glanville, "De proprietatibus rerum," c. 1240, translated by John of Trevisa c. 1398]
In oþir inglis was it drawin, And turnid ic haue it til ur awin Language of the norþin lede, Þat can na noþir inglis rede. ["Cursor Mundi," early 14c.]

 Language barrier attested from 1885. 

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hand-written (adj.)

also handwritten, 1745, from hand (n.) + past participle of write (v.). As a verb, hand-write is recorded from 1878, probably a back-formation.

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proto-language (n.)

"a hypothetical extinct parent language from which existing languages have descended," 1948, from proto- + language.

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sign language (n.)

"system of communication using gestures," especially for communication with and among the deaf, by 1847; see sign (n.). Earlier hand-language (1670s).

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multilingual (adj.)

also multi-lingual, "speaking, written in, or characterized by many languages," 1832, from multi- "many" + Latin lingua "language," literally "tongue" (from PIE root *dnghu- "tongue"). Related: Multilingually; multilingualism.

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poem (n.)

1540s, "written composition in metrical form, a composition arranged in verses or measures"  (replacing poesy in this sense), from French poème (14c.), from Latin poema "composition in verse, poetry," from Greek poēma "fiction, poetical work," literally "thing made or created," early variant of poiēma, from poein, poiein, "to make or compose" (see poet).

From 1580s as "written composition, whether in verse or not, characterized by imaginative beauty ion thought or language." Spelling pome, representing an ignorant pronunciation, is attested from 1856.

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permit (n.)

"written statement of permission or licence, written authority to do something," 1714, from permit (v.).

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Anglo-French (n.)

the form of Old French written in England from the Norman Conquest (1066) through the Middle Ages; the administrative and legal language of England 12c.-17c.; the name is attested from 1887 and was popularized, if not coined, by Skeat.

And Frenssh she spak ful faire and fetisly,
After the scole of Stratford-atte-Bowe,
For Frenssh of Parys was to hir unknowe.
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romance (n.)

c. 1300, romaunce, "a story, written or recited, in verse, telling of the adventures of a knight, hero, etc.," often one designed principally for entertainment, from Old French romanz "verse narrative" (Modern French roman), also "the vulgar language," originally an adverb, "in the vernacular language," from Vulgar Latin *romanice scribere "to write in a Romance language" (one developed from Latin instead of Frankish), from Latin Romanicus "of or in the Roman style," from Romanus "Roman" (see Roman).

The sense evolution is because medieval vernacular tales (as opposed to Latin texts) usually told chivalric adventures full of marvelous incidents and heroic deeds. "The spelling with -aunce, -ance was very early adopted in English, probably on the analogy of abstract sbs." [OED].

In reference to literary works, in Middle English often meaning ones written in French but also applied to native compositions. The literary sense was extended by 1660s to "a love story, the class of literature consisting of love stories and romantic fiction." Meaning "imaginative, adventurous quality" first recorded 1801; that of "love affair" is from 1916. Romance novel is attested by 1820. Compare Romance (adj.).

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cryptograph (n.)

1849, "something written in secret characters;" see crypto- "secret, hidden" + -graph "writing, something written." From 1879 as "system of secret writing."

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