effective ways = efficient ways?

YSATO201602

Member
Japanese
Hello,

If I say:
"speaking a language is one of the most effective ways humans communicate with each other."

is it also possible to say "one of the most efficient ways" instead of "effective"?

Thanks in Advance.
 
Last edited:
  • Florentia52

    Modwoman in the attic
    English - United States
    Many adjectives might make sense in your sentence, The best choice is the one that best reflects your meaning. What are you trying to say?
     

    YSATO201602

    Member
    Japanese
    The context I imagine is: "speaking a language is such a productive and successful way that humans can achieve a good conversation."

    The word "efficient" implies "reducing waste cost and energy to make something more organized, especially in business" and I felt that it doesn't fit human communication.
     

    analeeh

    Senior Member
    English - UK
    'Effective' and 'efficient' are quite close in meaning sometimes but both work here and I would say they are distinct as follows:

    'Effective': having the desired effect, successful.

    'Efficient': using the least amount of resources while still being effective, balancing effectiveness successfully with resource use.

    Language could be described as one of the most 'effective' ways we communicate information. This could mean a few things depending on context, but it might mean for example that it is one of the ways we can get across lots of detailed and specific information in a way that body language for example can't.

    It could also be described as one of the most 'efficient' ways we communicate information. In this case what we mean is that we're able to put across large amounts of information more quickly and with less effort than other forms of communication.

    'Efficient' is not a particularly business-y word for me.
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    Language can communicate effectively - the intended meaning being transferred clearly - and it can communicate efficiently - the intended meaning being transferred with the least use of resources. They are different concepts, although efficiency cannot exist without effectiveness.

    Listening to how people talk, I'd suggest that "speaking a language is one of the most effective ways humans communicate with each other" is a questionable statement and "speaking a language is one of the most efficient ways humans communicate with each other" is, simply, wrong. There is, for good reason, the saying "A picture is worth a thousand words".
     

    YSATO201602

    Member
    Japanese
    Thank you for your helpful answers. I've got the point of what you all meant in the above.

    Honestly speaking, I teach in English in my country and I found the sentence "Speaking a language is one of the effective ways humans communicate with each other" in a grammar textbook without any background context, and in an exam, some students wrote "efficient ways" instead of "effective".

    In my view, the difference between the two is deeply involved in somewhat philosophical questions; why humans have invented language as a means to communicate, or what if there were no languages in the world. Language can be efficient in some way, or is neither effective nor sufficient from other perspectives (e.g. as Wittgenstein once argued).

    Anyway, I'm really happy to have received such sophisticated answers and joined a rather academic discussion.
     
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