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Linguistic and Verbal Intelligence

Someone with high linguistic intelligence might be fascinated with books.

Someone with high linguistic intelligence might be fascinated with books.

Howard Gardner's Theory of Multiple Intelligences

Linguistic and verbal intelligence is one of the numerous types of intelligence contained within Dr. Howard Gardner's theory of multiple types of intelligence. Gardner first proposed this model in 1983, with the argument that there are multiple specific cognitive abilities.

Under this theory, a person who is talented in mathematics is not necessarily smarter than a person who is talented in language. The two could possibly be equally smart, just in different areas of intelligence.

Gardner also theorizes that there are eight different types of intelligence:

  • Bodily-kinesthetic
  • Interpersonal
  • Intrapersonal
  • Linguistic
  • Logical-mathematical
  • Musical
  • Naturalistic
  • Spatial

What is Linguistic Intelligence?

Verbal/linguistic intelligence is often marked by a strong ability to use and understand language, both orally and in writing.

People with linguistic and verbal intelligence words may be good at spelling, use descriptive language, understand proper grammar, prefer word games, and tell vivid and interesting stories. In fact, they often are fascinated with reading, writing, and exploring spoken and written language.

A person with linguistic and verbal intelligence might:

  • Enjoy writing
  • Have an extensive collection of books
  • Have a strong desire to learn foreign languages
  • Perform well in English classes
  • Like playing word games
  • Enjoy learning and using new words
  • Easily notice grammatical mistakes
  • Tell stories clearly
  • Enjoy debating and public speaking

Developing & Nurturing Linguistic Intelligence

If you have a natural linguistic ability, you might want to further your knowledge in this area.

There are several fun activities that can strengthen linguistic intelligence. Doing some of these things would be beneficial for personal enrichment and may even lead to a career in linguistics. Here are some activities you can do that will nurture your linguistic ability:

  • Join a book club - Reading books will strengthen your skills in comprehension and the club discussion will hone your conversation skills.
  • Keep a journal - Writing about your daily activities will allow you to practice your writing skills in any format you like. You might even find yourself with several short stories to turn into a book!
  • Teach a child to read - Since you've probably got awesome reading skills, you probably know a few tips and tricks that could go a long way in teaching a child to read. You might even instill a passion for words!
  • Learn to speed read - Learning to speed read is a blast! Keeping comprehension levels up while increasing reading speed can be challenging. How fast can you go?
  • Use a thesaurus - Ever find yourself using a rather boring, monotonous, dull, pedestrian, colorless word? Break out the thesaurus and find something better!
  • Get involved in arguments over style - Do you use the Harvard comma or is the Oxford comma your thing? Which is better? Read a few style manuals to find which one is closest to your personal style.
  • Play word games - Boggle, Scrabble, and crossword puzzles can really sharpen your skills.
  • Learn colloquialisms - What words and phrases are used in your area that would confuse a person from elsewhere? What makes your accent special?
  • Public speaking - Become a better orator by speaking on an issue you care about. You'll be improving your skills while doing something for the greater good.


Faye Constantino from Florida on September 03, 2012:

I love this, it perfectly explains my relationship problems! I know that's crazy but I remember telling him that the reason he had a better relationship with "Tuck" than "Jeff" was because he and "Tuck" were both readers and roofers, so they could relate on the same level; he and "Jeff" were both musicians and both guitarists which makes them rival each other. He was a great reader, my hubby, but not a great speaker; while I was both a speaker and a reader. I tried to meet on the musical level, but then he felt that I was an intruder (and a rival). It makes so much sense to me now, all these years later. There would never be a happy medium unless I shut up, and as you can see that just doesn't happen, LOL.

Teresa Coppens from Ontario, Canada on August 20, 2012:

Awesome article Mel. I definitely fit into this category of intelligence as does my middle son. My husband and oldest boy are definitely bodily-kinesthetic learners. Middle son falls somewhere in between. Interestingly, I bought a book years ago and taught myself to speed read. It was and still is a definite asset!

Christiano Odhiambo from Nairobi on August 16, 2012:

This is a good exploration. I have a better grasp of mathematics than language. I will follow up this reading with additional research on Dr. Howard.

carol stanley from Arizona on August 15, 2012:

Something new to learn. Thanks for delineating intelligence. I have no mathematic ability but fairly good language skills..Nice to know I have some intelligence. Great hub and voted up.

HeatherDRoberts on August 15, 2012:

I love playing Boggle and Scrabble games. Reading and writing are also my pastimes. Awesome Hub!

Kelly Umphenour from St. Louis, MO on August 14, 2012:

I have always been fascinated with linguistics and communication! I'm particularly interested in codes and things like that. I love foreign language also and hope to be learning Spanish very soon!

Very cool hub! Up and everything.

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Melanie Palen (author) from Midwest, USA on August 14, 2012:

nanderson500, public speaking is nerve wracking for me, but it's also an adrenaline boost. It's a love/hate thing.

nanderson500 from Seattle, WA on August 14, 2012:

I seem to fit the attributes, except for the public speaking part. I hate public speaking. Interesting hub, voted up.

Mel Flagg COA OSC from Rural Central Florida on August 14, 2012:

This is a perfect description of me, lol. I always say "playing semantics" is the only way to truly understand our language in order to be able to effectively communicate. I also LOVE the tactile sensation of writing in a journal. Fantastic hub!

Faith Reaper from southern USA on August 14, 2012:

Very interesting hub here. Great suggestions on developing and nurturing this intelligence. In His Love, Faith Reaper

Tammy from North Carolina on August 14, 2012:

This makes me feel so much better about myself. I am not a math person but I am glad to know I can still be intelligent. Great, informative hub!

Melanie Palen (author) from Midwest, USA on August 14, 2012:

It definitely DOES take a lot of concentration. It's actually how I learned to read. I went to this strange school when I was really little and they had this thing that looked like a typewriter... it was a speed reading machine. After doing the reading, you had to answer questions regarding what you've read. Pretty fun stuff.

I assume that now there are a bunch of online tests. I wonder how I'd score. :)

KDuBarry03 on August 14, 2012:

LOL! I think you gave away my trick to reading 25-50 hubs a day (speed reading) You are so right, speed reading is so much fun (and takes a lot of concentration).

Great post!

Melanie Palen (author) from Midwest, USA on August 14, 2012:

@Julie DeNeen, this is definitely my area. I'm also strong in the Logical area. Kind of funny when you think about it... my concentration is computational linguistics which makes very heavy using of linguistic and logical intelligence.

I'm terrible in both musical and kinesthetic intelligence.


I've only recently delved into Gardner's theory of multiple intelligences, but I'm finding it incredibly enthralling.

Thank you for your comments. :)

summerberrie on August 14, 2012:

I read Gardner's Theory on multiple intelligences while working on my masters, but I never really reflected on the ramifications of having linguistic intelligence. Pretty neat.

Blurter of Indiscretions from Clinton CT on August 14, 2012:

I think this is my strength. I am terrible with spatial and bodily intelligence for sure!! LOL Great job :)

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