How come we have so many words/phrases that share the same meaning?
I suppose the most obvious answer to this would be that through communication between people with accent/language A and B, new words/phrases were added from A to B and vice versa.
I find however that when we are writing longer texts, we are ensuring that we are not using the same word/expression too often and—if we do—replace them with something else that has the same meaning. In other words: It seems to me like we have an internal drive to use different expressions.
I was wondering if there was any (maybe evolutionary) explanation for this, as it kind of adds a lot of overhead to communication:
- Time: unnecessary learning of new words whose meaning we're already capable of expressing with other words
- Resources: necessity of a slightly bigger neuronal structure to accommodate those words/expressions
- Complexity: more words need to be distinguished, which makes the understanding of the spoken word harder
How does this compare to animals? Do we know whether they also have several ways of expressing the same thing?