What is Linguistic Intelligence?

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  • Written By: Barbara R. Cochran
  • Edited By: C. Wilborn
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  • Last Modified Date: 01 December 2018
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Linguistic intelligence refers to an enhanced ability of an individual to use one or several languages to convey spoken or written communications to others. People who have a high degree of this type of intelligence usually impart information in a refined manner, sometimes as esoteric as is found with the literary medium of poetry. It presupposes that a writer or speaker has an expansive vocabulary that he or she uses to impart knowledge, and/or to touch and move others.

Besides writers, people who use oration to get ideas across and impart knowledge demonstrate linguistic intelligence. In the latter case, people who are active in such professions as law or politics should be linguistically intelligent so they will be able to persuade others. They should be able to employ syntax and grammar effectively, and know how to make appropriate inflections and voice intonations beyond the strength of carefully chosen words. Although they were coming from extremely different ideological points of view, Adolf Hitler and Martin Luther King, Jr. both took advantage of this quality in their speeches. What they said, and the way they expressed it, had a profound, unforgettable impact on those who came to listen to them, and the world, in general.


Literary translators have to employ this type of intelligence to render the language of a source text into highly accurate target text rendering. For example, the French term solitaire can be translated, when referring to a person or a place, as "solitary," "isolated," or "lonely." When carrying out a literary translation, the translator has to have the ability to differentiate between fine shades of meaning between to impart the most accurate meaning to readers.

While the meaning of certain poems is often beyond the grasp of many individual’s interpretative comprehension, because it is such a highly personal expression, the preponderance of orators tend to impart knowledge that is easily digestible by the masses. Perhaps on a level somewhere between a politician and a poet, one would find a university lecturer. While some people might assume that linguistically talented individuals have high IQs, the fact is that some do not. Their intelligence might not be so highly developed in other areas, like music and math, for instance.

In daily life, many people demonstrate linguistic intelligence through both introverted and extroverted activities. Some people may like to sit on the farmhouse porch, as the sun is setting, and narrate tales that originated out of the surrounding countryside. Others may like to read the newspaper on a daily basis. Some people like to do the crossword and/or word puzzles everyday. What all these people share in common is a love for words and an enjoyment of certain activities that allow them to use them, or learn even more of them.


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Post 3

Those who do not know German are forced to focus on Hitler's non-linguistic oratory methods, which make him appear stark raving mad. Combined with his eloquent and touching language and deep rolling voice, however, his rhetoric was, and remains, a powerful poison.

Post 2

The ability to find the "right word" was a skill of William F. Buckley, who for all his irritability, knew exactly what he wanted to say and said it. His enormous vocabulary allowed for a large amount of variation on a variety of words, making him a top-notch journalist and debater in his time.

Post 1

The study of words is called Philology, and translates literally to Philo- "love" -logos "word." Friedrich Nietzsche was an excellent philologist and made extensive use of pithy aphorisms and maxims which had a deep meaning and were often catchy. Forming phrases that stick to a person's mind is a very helpful skill.

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