Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAPTER II.: USES OF LANGUAGE. - The Works of Jeremy Bentham, vol. 8 (Chrestomathia, Essays on Logic and Grammar, Tracts on Poor Laws, Tracts on Spanish Affairs)
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CHAPTER II.: USES OF LANGUAGE. - Jeremy Bentham, The Works of Jeremy Bentham, vol. 8 (Chrestomathia, Essays on Logic and Grammar, Tracts on Poor Laws, Tracts on Spanish Affairs) 
The Works of Jeremy Bentham, published under the Superintendence of his Executor, John Bowring (Edinburgh: William Tait, 1838-1843). In 11 vols. Volume 8.
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USES OF LANGUAGE.
When, in the state at which, in a civilized nation, as far back as history reaches, the subject of language is contemplated, two perfectly distinct, howsoever intimately connected, uses of it will be found observable; these may be termed the 1. purely self-regarding; 2. extra-regarding; the object of the latter, the communication of thought; the object of the other, the improvement of thought. The one whose object consists in communication, may be termed the social use: the other, for distinction’s sake, though not less than the former, capable of being ultimately subservient to social purposes, yet not being immediately so,—the solitary use.
The extra-regarding or social, and that alone, is the use to which language is indebted for its existence; it was, for a long time, not only the only use actually made, but the only one which was even so much as in contemplation. For the purpose of communicating ideas were the several portions of the matter of discourse first employed. Of the solitary use, even to this day, no instance is recollected, in which, in the character of a separate use, completely distinct in its nature from the former, any notice has in print been taken. The practice of applying the mind to look, as it were, into itself,—to look at its own ideas, by means of the words to which they stand associated, is the practice of man as he exists in a state of society comparatively mature. Meditation has not been among the purposes to which language, in the earliest state of society, has been applied.
As to the social use, it is, in its nature, already as familiar as it is in the power of words to make it.
By the self-regarding, or solitary, or say communication-not-regarding use of language, understand that use which the matter of discourse is of to the individual in question, relation had to his own ideas, independently of that use which supposes communication made, or about to be made, by one individual to another or others.
This use may be thus expressed—Serving, to the ideas associated with the several correspondent words or combinations, as so many anchors by which they are fastened in the mind.
In regard to these two uses, the first observation that occurs is, that of the two different instruments capable of being employed to the social purpose, viz. audible signs and visible signs, the visible signs are those which are in a pre-eminent degree better adapted and more subservient to the solitary purpose than the audible.
By means of these, the individual is able to record the ideas that arise in his mind, or that he gathers up in his communication with others, and is enabled, at any future time, to take them for the subjects of meditation or improvement.
In regard to language, two perfectly distinguishable functions may be observed—the intransitive and the transitive.*
In respect of its intransitive function, it, as it were, amalgamates itself with thought—it forms no more than a sort of clothing to thought.
In respect of its transitive function, it is the medium of communication between one mind and another, or others.
This communication may convey information purely, or information for the purpose of excitation, say—more simply, and, when as above explained, not less precisely—information or excitation: to one or other of these ends and purposes, or both, will language in every case be directed.
In so far as information is the end, the understanding is the faculty upon which, in the instance of the person by whom the import of the discourse is intended to be conceived, who is principally addressed, and intended to be operated upon,—in so far as excitation is the end, the will.
To the purpose of simple communication neither in act nor in wish need the philanthropist wish to apply any restriction to the powers of language. Of such communication, evil, it is true, may be the subject as well as good; but, in the mixed mass, good, upon the whole, predominates; and it cannot be rendered apt for the one purpose without being rendered proportionably apt for the other.
Considered as applied to the purpose of excitation, the case may at first sight present itself as being, in some respects, different. In regard to passion, and thence in regard to affection, which is but passion in an inferior degree, and always liable to be raised to higher degree, repression, not excitation, may appear to be the object to be wished for: passion being, in every part of the field, the everlasting enemy of reason, in other words, of sound judgment, alias correct and all-comprehensive judgment.
But even to the lover of mankind, an acquaintance with the powers of language, even when applied to this dangerous purpose, is not without its use: for by the same insight by which the mode of increasing its powers in this line is learned, the mode of repressing them when, and in so far as applied to pernicious purposes is learned along with it. In the case of moral, as in that of physical poison, an acquaintance with the nature and powers of the disease is commonly a necessary preliminary to an acquaintance with the proper nature and mode of applying the most efficient, and, upon the whole, the most benignant remedy.
[* ] This division appears to be equivalent to that above made into solitary and social. The two divisions were made at different times, as appears from the dates on the MSS., and they are thus probably a different nomenclature applied to the same operation; as, however, there is an important subdivision of the “transitive function,” which is not carried out in the case of the “social use,” it was thought right to keep the two operations of divisions distinct.—Ed.