Difference Between Language and Literature

Language is a method to express one’s opinions, feelings, etc. It is a method of communication that encompasses all mediums, such as sound, grammar, and words.


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The study of language is called linguistics.

It enables humans to share valuable knowledge and develop societies. Different languages are used for other systems of communication.

It is species-specific to human beings. Other animals have not been able to come to par with the level of advanced communication of humans.

Literature, on the other hand, came into existence because of language. It is mainly written and refers to a collection of written works.

It is an art form that has intellectual value. In a broad sense, it is any written work.

Some significant forms of literature are poetry, prose, and drama. The scope of literature is extensive and is also said to be the universe of discourse.

Language and literature differ in meaning, existence, nature, concern, order, method, etc. The purpose of language is to express ideas, opinions, emotions, and knowledge.

Whereas the purpose of literature is to capture those expressions of language.

Key Takeaways

  1. Language is a communication system composed of sounds, symbols, or gestures humans use to convey thoughts, ideas, and emotions.
  2. Literature is a body of written works, such as novels, poems, and plays, that use language as a medium to express human experiences and ideas artistically.
  3. Studying language focuses on language structure, usage, and development, while studying literature emphasizes analyzing and interpreting written works.

Language vs Literature

Language and Literature differ because language includes both spoken and written aspects of communication, whereas literature is limited to the written aspect of communication.

Language vs Literature

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Comparison Table

Parameter of ComparisonLanguageLiterature
MeaningIt stands for any form of communication or expression.It refers to written or spoken material, regarded as an art form with intellectual value.
NatureIt is expressive.It is imaginative.
ConcernIt is concerned with discourse.It is concerned with life experiences.
OrderLanguage came into existence before literature.Literature would not exist without language.
MethodsLanguage is both written and spoken.Literature is mainly written.
ContentLanguage is a form of expression.Literature is a collection of expressions via language.


What is Language?

Language is a system of communication that enables the transfer of information. It takes into consideration both written and spoken mediums of communication.

It is more of an abstract form using symbols and meanings. It comprises words, sentences, and sounds.

The combination of these elements helps the information of a language. The oldest language is Sumerian.

It has been known to exist since 3500 BC. The proof for the same was found in Iraq.

There is around 5000 to 7000 language in the world.

Many studies exist in languages, such as phonology, morphology, syntax, and semantics. The study of sounds in speech is known as phonology.

The study of word composition is called morphology. The study of how words are put together is known as syntax.

The study of language is called semantics.  Every society, region, and place would have a different language. 

There are various languages like Hindi, French, Spanish, Punjabi, etc. in 2015, a 7,102 human languages catalogue was released. Different varieties of languages are known as dialects.

A language is bound to have grammatical rules that govern its working.


What is Literature?

Literature refers to the written aspect of communication. Any form of written communication is said to be literature.

It is a collection of expressions. These expressions are communicated via language.

Thus, the existence of literature depends on language. There can be as much literature as languages.

It is focused on the creative writing side of the expression.

There are three types of literature: Poetry, Prose, and Drama. Poetry is an aesthetic medium of written communication using rhythms and is always set in verse.

Prose refers to written expression in sentences like a novel, novella, and short story.

Dramas refer to plays that are intended for performance. There are other forms of literature as well that, include biographies, autobiographies, memoirs, etc.

These are a record of the experiences of people. It includes their creative expressions and what they have witnessed.


Main Differences Between Language and Literature

  1. Language refers to any form of communication used to express, whereas literature is a written art form sought to have intellectual value.
  2. Language is a written and verbal form of communication, whereas literature refers to only the written form.
  3. Language came into existence before literature. On the other hand, literature came into existence because of language.  
  4. Language is a medium of expression. Literature is a collection of presentations via language.
  5. Language is expressive as its purpose is to express ideas, knowledge, and opinions, whereas literature is more imaginative.
Difference Between Language and Literature
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