Linguistic intelligence (LI) is one of eight types of intelligence in multiple intelligences theory. It refers to the ability to use words.
This type of intelligence involves expressing points of view or explaining different concepts to others, either verbally or through written text.
In his own words, Gardner states that:
“linguistic intelligence is the sensitivity to the meaning of words, their order, sounds, rhythms, inflections, different functions of language, phonology, syntax and pragmatics.”
Generally speaking, a person with linguistic intelligence are good storytellers, love to debate or give speeches, and are able to explain things well.
There are many professions that people with linguistic intelligence can excel at, such as being a poet, speech writer, or teacher. Because each of those occupations utilizes verbal skills to convey certain meanings, linguistic intelligence is a much-needed attribute.
Examples of Linguistic Intelligence
1. Public Speaking
If you ask 100 people what are their biggest fears in life, a huge majority of them are going to say public speaking. Standing in front of an audience of strangers and giving a speech for 10-minutes, or more, can be nerve-racking.
Most people would rather be hit by a bus than have to endure the scrutiny of an unfamiliar crowd. People can be brutally critical.
But for a person with linguistic intelligence, 10-minutes is a breeze. Heck, it might not be long enough for them to say everything they want. Words come easy to the linguistically talented and they enjoy talking. The words just flow straight from the brain to the vocal cords.
They feel confident when speaking as well and can easily capture an audience’s attention by using colorful language and vocal intonations that convey the emotional dynamics of a compelling message.
2. Doing Crossword Puzzles
If you don’t have a high level of linguistic intelligence, then don’t even try doing a crossword puzzle. Not only are the clues tricky, but the answer can be an archaic word that people simply don’t use in this century.
The people that design crossword puzzles are incredibly well-read. They also enjoy being tricky by using a play on words that most linguistic mortals will struggle to grasp.
If there ever was an example of linguistic intelligence, then being able to complete a challenging crossword puzzle would be at the top of the list.
3. Journal Keeping
If you enjoy keeping a daily journal then you might be someone with a high level of linguistic intelligence.
Writing one’s thoughts down on paper is a great way to rehash the day’s events, to resolve conflicts in a safe environment (where you are the winner), and put a nice summary on an eventful day.
It has therapeutic value all its own. But is also just a pleasant thing to do if you enjoy writing. Playing with sentence structure and the subtleties of grammar and meaning is like a hobby for one’s personality. For a person with linguistic intelligence, keeping a journal is a natural way for them to exercise their proclivity for words.
4. Debate Skills
People with a high level of linguistic intelligence are very good debaters. They can listen and process every syllable their opponent utters and easily spot every mistake in logic or overextension of facts. Nothing is going to get past them.
When it is their turn to speak, watch out. The words will flow effortlessly from their lips as they point-out every error in the other person’s argument. After completely demolishing their opponent’s perspective, they will present a series of counter-arguments that are convincing and conclusive.
Even if the foundation of their opinion is a little shaky, their tone and demeanor will exude confidence and self-assuredness that can be more persuasive than the logic itself. Bottom line: if you have to get into a debate with someone, ask them to take a multiple intelligences test first.
Examples of Good Jobs for People with Linguistic Intelligence
5. Sports Coach
Being a coach is a lot harder than it looks, and it requires much sharper intellectual skills than most people would ascribe to the job.
For example, a coach needs to have great communication skills and interpersonal skills. They must explain to different players what they need to do to get better at their position. A good coach will know exactly how to adjust their explanation to match the personality of each specific player.
In addition, coaches need to be able to inspire and motivate. They need to know what words to use, how to pace those words, and what kind of emotional tone to use that will touch the hearts of their team and put a fire in their soul.
How many times have you heard about a team that was down by a ton of points going into halftime, but then come out and completely change the game because their coach gave an amazing speech? It happens a lot. Being a great coach means having great linguistic intelligence.
Maybe the most obvious occupation for a person with incredible linguistic intelligence is novelist.
Imagining a great story is one thing, but being able to put words on paper in a way that brings it to life is quite another. Very few people can do it.
The complexity of sentences must vary, the choice of words to create impact has to be precise, and the flow of reading has to be smooth and easy to process.
Examples of great novelists include J.K Rowling, T.S. Elliot, and Shakespeare. Each of these great writers were so verbally gifted that they created a piece of fiction that struck a chord with people all over the world.
The job of an editor is to polish and refine a story or article written by someone else.
On a basic level, they can perform many functions, such as checking facts, spelling, grammar and punctuation. These responsibilities are fairly straightforward and do not require a great deal of special talent.
However, there are other roles that an editor plays that are much more significant. For example, some editors will get involved with the content of the piece, making suggestions about the storyline of a novel, character development, or cutting content that doesn’t fit. They might also make edits to the piece to help enhance impact or improve coherence.
These responsibilities are more advanced and require someone that has a very high level of linguistic intelligence.
Being good at debate is one of the primary skills of being a lawyer. A lawyer must be able to read a legal document, analyze the merits of the arguments, find flaws, and then write counter-arguments that are sound and persuasive.
Only a person with tremendous linguistic intelligence is going to be able to perform those tasks successfully.
Although most lawyers spend 90% of their time in their office and in meetings, they do occasionally get to handle a case in front of a jury. In those circumstances, they will need to utilize other aspects of their linguistic abilities that involve speaking in a confident and fluid manner. They must be able to hold the attention of a jury, question witnesses, and present evidence in a way that is persuasive; all attributes of linguistic intelligence.
At first glance, you might think that a translator’s job is pretty simple; they listen to a person speak in one language and then repeat it in a another language.
In reality however, a translator’s job can get incredibly complicated.
For example, when it comes to translating documents, they often have to consult with various specialist dictionaries, thesauruses, and reference books to ensure their understanding of the original content is correct.
Depending on the particular project, they might need to research legal documents or check technical and scientific phraseology to find the correct translation. Afterwards, there may be meetings with clients to discuss the translation and clear-up any ambiguities.
Although people with a high level of linguistic intelligence are naturally good at learning languages, the job of a translator can be incredibly difficult, and stressful. The correctness of the translated work may play a key role in an international business deal or political negotiations.
10. School Teacher
Being a teacher might be one of the most important jobs in the world. A country’s economic strength depends on having a solid education system, with teachers.
If the population is ignorant, then they may choose the wrong leaders or not provide the kind of technological innovation that modern economies need to prosper.
While every subject is different, most teachers share a set of necessary skills. For example, they have to be good at explaining things to a wide range of students. Some students will be naturally gifted in a particular subject domain, while others may struggle with the same material. For this reason, a teacher needs to make adjustments to how they teach, each and every minute of a class.
The more linguistic intelligence a teacher possesses, the better for the students, economy, and nation.
Pros of Linguistic Intelligence
1. You Have Great Communication Skills
The biggest asset of linguistic intelligence is having great communication skills. People with LI are exceptional at talking to others in a convincing and persuasive manner. They know the right words to use when trying to make a point or explain a rather difficult concept.
Furthermore, they can take into account the characteristics of the people they are speaking to and adjust the level of verbal complexity they use.
If they are speaking to children, then they will instinctively use simpler vocabulary and a sentence structure that is more direct and straightforward. If speaking with others that are well-educated, then they will choose an level of vocabulary and complex sentence structure that is suitable.
2. You’re Good at Learning Foreign Languages
Those with high levels of LI are able to pick-up foreign languages quite easily. They have a natural ability to hear the nuances of various sounds of a language and discern the use of proper syntax and grammar.
Matching unfamiliar words and phrases with objects and actions in the environment happens almost automatically. For example, when walking through an outdoor food market in a foreign country some people might feel overwhelmed and confused.
However, a person with strong linguistic skills will become tuned-in to what people are saying and be able to learn the names of various items for sale. They will quickly learn how to ask basic questions and commands in that language. After a few visits to the market, they will be able to use that knowledge to converse with the vendors with remarkable ease.
Cons of Linguistic Intelligence
1. You Might Not Be Good at Reading Charts
Linguistic intelligence is all about words, but numbers can be a challenge for people with a high level of verbal skills. For this reason, when looking at a chart or graph, it may take them a little bit longer to identify the key information on display.
Looking at a graph and understanding its meaning is a visual-spatial skill, and sometimes people with linguistic intelligence will have difficulty performing well in this domain of intelligence.
Now, if someone were to hand them a written paragraph that conveys the same information, then they would have no problem at all understanding the content; whereas someone with great visual-spatial skills might have to read that same paragraph several times before truly understanding it.
2. You Have Poor Statistical Analysis Skills
Learning how to conduct statistical analyses involves going through complex equations step-by-step. There’s a lot of numbers and symbols that represent various numerical operations. It’s a language all of its own, but it’s not a text-based language.
Unfortunately, this is not the way that people with high linguistic intelligence learn. They struggle when mathematical operations are presented in a strictly computational format. They learn how to do math much better when the operations are presented verbally, which is very difficult to do when dealing with statistical analyses.
For this reason, being linguistically talented is actually a disadvantage when studying statistics.
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