Tutor profile: Eric C.
How do I write the greatest essay ever?
I have a few tips for this, but I'll start you off with one: Think of a paper as a path that you want to lead someone down, so that they get to their destination as easily as possible. The goal is your conclusion: what you want to say about something. The path is easiest when it's clearly laid out, and everyone can be led down the path a little bit at a time. That's essentially a great essay: you want to start at point A, and lead your readers toward point B, and then point C, and eventually to your conclusion, so that they can understand your point and the evidence you use to build your point.
How does someone define what a language is, anyway?
For however many linguists there are, there are as many answers to this question! Generally speaking, a language is a system of speech where (at least) two people can understand each other, talk to each other, and transmit their thoughts to others, without the need for stopping to look up every word or think about whether or not what you're saying is grammatically correct. There are a lot of complications to this, though: can dialects be considered languages? What if there is only one speaker of a language? What if a speaker uses a word I'm not familiar with? These questions challenge what it means to speak a 'language'.
Subject: Gender Studies
What's the difference between gender in language, and gender in sociology?
The word gender can mean different things, depending on what you're studying. In linguistics, gender refers only to the ways in which a language categorizes nouns. Many languages use 'masculine' and 'feminine' distinctions, but some languages (like Swahili, spoken in southern Africa) can use 'gender' to categorize nouns based on whether they are alive or not, what shape the object is, etc. Sociologically, gender refers to what it means to be a 'man' or a 'woman' in a particular social setting (which is different than biological sex).
needs and Eric will reply soon.