1

English is not my native tongue, so I might be overlooking an easy word.

The following is what I mention on my resumé in an 'about me'-section:

I'm a language enthusiast and (...).

But language enthusiast is ambiguous in the sence that this is a programmer's resumé and the reader may think that I like learning new programming languages. How do I make clear that I'm talking about 'normal' languages? I thought about spoken languages, but I feel as if that opposes written language more than it emphasizes the fact that I'm talking about 'normal' language such as English and French.

Is there an alternative?

5

Natural languages (though there is nothing natural about them).

  • Ah, that's it, thanks! Altough 'natural language enthusiast' sounds awfully dodgy. – Sherlock Jan 6 '15 at 21:21
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    Yes, because it can be parsed as natural (language enthusiast) instead of (natural language) enthusiast. Just say that you are interested in natural languages. And maybe mention some of the languages that you are interested in. – Drew Jan 6 '15 at 21:23
  • Ah, you mean like APL! – Hot Licks Jan 6 '15 at 21:26
  • @Sherlock - In writing, you can disambiguate the term with a hyphen: 'natural-language enthusiast'. In speech, you can do the same by not pausing between 'natural' and 'language'. – Erik Kowal Jan 6 '15 at 22:07
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Depending on the exact meaning of your question, I'd suggest "human language". @Drew's answer is good for sure, but "natural language" does specifically exclude some artificial languages that are used in the same manner. for example Esperanto is a human language but not a natural language. Whereas Java is neither a natural language nor a human language.

It is perhaps possible to argue that some types of non human animal languages are also "natural languages". So for example dolphin communication is perhaps a natural language but not a human language.

So it depends on the broadness of your category. Certainly English, Chinese and Russian are all both natural languages and human languages.

  • I think there is a flaw in this argument regarding programming languages exemplified by Java. The argument (that I agree with) is that languages naturally arising in humans or animals are natural languages. Naturally (ahem) this is supported by Wikipedia. The flaw relates to human language. Since you argue that Esperanto is a human language, presumably because it was invented rather than evolving, my (leading) question is why is Java not a human language? Programming languages can and are used for communication between programmers. – andy256 Jan 6 '15 at 22:57
  • High-level languages like Java are designed by humans primarily aimed at humans. – Jon Hanna Jan 7 '15 at 0:32
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    But essentially the same argument can be made against "natural language." For example, mathematical notation or musical notation are languages that naturally arose in humans and (to use wiktionary) "human language which has evolved naturally in a community". However, it is obviously not categorically similar to Chinese and Russian. Words don't have tight boundaries, however, in my view it is unlikely that a reasonable person would consider Java a human language, and (IMHO) it is unlikely that a reasonable person would consider either Math or Esperanto a natural language. (cont...) – Fraser Orr Jan 7 '15 at 5:00
  • Further, I don't agree that Java is a language primarily aimed at humans. The purpose of Java is to allow a human to communicate with a computer the programmers intent, and to do so in a manner most understandable to a human. The purpose, the intent, of a program (generally speaking) is to execute, not to be understood. Java is a better programming language than assembly language because it bridges the gap between the computer and the human. Don Knuth has made his carrier partly on the notion that humans need more than program text to be understood. – Fraser Orr Jan 7 '15 at 5:05

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