The Intelligent Use Of Language

And, so, someone posts the following on Facebook… I have interspersed some of the assertions with my own thoughts.


There seems to be a new trend permeating the airwaves, where people with consummate command of English are denigrated.

Now and then, you hear someone say something similar to this:

Speaking great untainted English will never be a measure of intelligence. Neither is inability to speak English well a sign of lack of intelligence.

This sounds great to the uninformed.

Mastery of any language and communicating clearly in it is what separates intelligent humans from animals. If you don’t master a language how will you think?


I think this guy has it wrong. Do humans necessary think in languages? Even if they do, who says an uneducated person can’t think properly just because of a poor grasp of language?

For example, someone born deaf and dumb would not be able to think properly because of linguistic deficiency?

Lots of people probably conflate intelligence and wisdom. That a person communicates intelligently in a language does not make them wise. They may sound smart despite being unwise.

The ability to think and communicate properly in any language requires intelligence, the same way many other refined forms of activity require intelligence.


This is still assuming that you need a fantastic grasp of language to be able to think. Ot that you have a good command of language demonstrates intelligence.

Many students fail exams because they are unable to understand the questions asked.



But, if I don’t understand a question, does that really mean I don’t have a good grasp of language? What if the question is nebulous or poorly framed, or not clearly enunciated?

What has understanding a question necessarily got to do with language proficiency?

I am unintelligent in Hausa, French and German, among others. Rather than denigrate the ability to speak those languages, I admire it. I marvel at people who have a solid grasp of multiple languages, because they have an edge over me.


There is this close person who can speak four languages, three of those -Nigerian languages extremely fluently. That is clear intelligence, right?.

Ironically, I would say her grasp of English can do with a major makeover. Does that particular weakness make him unintelligent?

Clearly, language skills is not really a demonstration of intelligence. If we generally associate speaking multiple languages with intelligence, not being totally proficient in one would have to be chalked down to some other factors apart from “unintelligence”.

What I would caution against is, making the mistake of confusing good grasp of language with intelligence.

People really need to stop trying to denigrate those who have a good command of English. It is an unintelligent thing to do, especially in a world in which most international communication is done in that language.


I don’t think anybody would denigrate an outstanding grasp of language. They are merely de-emphasizing unnecessary fixation on quintessential grasp of English .

They are not reasoning properly.

I generally don’t agree with the tone of that post. Perhaps, I lack comprehension, and can’t reason properly! 😉

There are “humans” with flawless command of language who are worse than animals. And humans are supposed to be more intelligent than animals!

Noticed suicide bombers / terrorists who speak immaculate and punctilious Queen’s English ?

There are different kinds of intelligence.. Some people do better at spatial issues, abstract concepts, the arts, arithmetical / geometric problems. I don’t think a poor grasp of language indicates lack of intelligence, or that a great grasp of language is something to specifically equate to intelligence… broadly speaking.

Women are generally better than men in linguistic skills .. languages.. The psychologists tell us so. Can we then conclude that (all) women are more intelligent than (all) men.?

Or, that (all) women are intelligent because of their wonderfully felicitous grasp of languages ?

Have you listened to some non_native
English speaking world leaders “speak” English? Measurement of IQ is not just based on language grasp ALONE. There are so many other metrics.

Personally, I think erudition, whether oratorical or written, is overrated. It is good to have, language proficiency, but there are fat more vitality important skills that are likely to resort in life success.

Na who English epp?

And that’s nothing to chalk down to anti-intellectualism, or being unintelligent!

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