What is a language? A language can be described in a variety of ways, from alphabets to symbols. Language is a method of communication, not necessarily words. Symbols are a form of language. Some of the first forms of language were often symbols. They were used by ancient civilizations to record history, write and communicate. Hieroglyphs is a perfect example. They were a set of characters used in ancient Egypt. Language shapes design in many ways. Some of popular examples of language in design are the men and women characters for bathroom signs. Cook and Shanosky made them with help from the American Institute of Graphic Arts in 1974.