In The Plague, language is often inaccurate and always inadequate. The inability of a given person to express his meaning is a fundamental concern of the novel. Because terms (such as "saintliness" or "criminal") must necessarily be defined subjectively, words are deprived of discernible meaning or at least disconnected from any meaning that is tangible or permanent. Communication and language, although in general supposedly connected, seem particularly separate acts here.
The inability communicate forces characters in The Plague to define themselves by actions rather than words.
The breakdown of language’s communicability as the story progresses mirrors the breakdown of society as the plague ravages the town of Oran.