According to modern linguistic researchers, human language has five unique traits that distinguished contract between the human system of communication and the systems of communication among animals and other creatures. Although some of the linguists tell about six properties; most often it is mentioned as five. For example, productivity, displacement, arbitrariness, duality, and discreetness. The other one is the cultural transmission.
Properties Of Language:
Let’s check out the properties of language. If you check the infographic-type feature image, you will get the list as well.
1. Productivity (Creativity Or Open-Endedness)
Language is continually being created. Language is used by its users purposefully to run communication and convey messages.
Human beings are able to refer to past and future times. They can also speak about distant places. This property of human language is called displacement. It is referring to things that are not visually present. It allows users to talk about things and events no present in the immediate moment. Because of this property human beings can refer to mythical creatures, demons, fairies, angels or science fiction characters. Animal communication is not considered to have this property.
There is no “natural” or logical connection between a linguistic sign/symbol and its meaning. For example, the word “cup” is used to refer to a pot having a handle and specially made to hold liquids. But the word “cup” does not have any direct connection with its meanings. It could be any other word. The name of an object is chosen arbitrarily. This dis relationship between a sign or symbol and its meaning is called arbitrariness.
The onomatopoeic words like Cucku, Crash, Hush, Whirr, etc. imitate the sound of associated objects or action. For example, the word “buzzing” sounds similar to the noise of bees. But these are exceptions. In general linguistic signs are arbitrarily chosen.
Language is organized at two levels:
- Primary Level (The Units like—words)
- Secondary Level (The elements like—vowels and consonants)
The elements of the secondary level form the units of the primary level. That is, at secondary level language consists of distinct meaningful units. This is the duality property of human language. For example, the sounds /b/, /i/ and /n/ are only distinct meaningless elements of the English language but they form meaningful units like “bin” (/bin/) and “nib” (/nib/). Language can be broken into parts that may or may not have their own meaning but they as a combination express specific meaning. Hence not every part of a word has a sense of the meaning of its own and that is the duality of it.
Discreetness refers to the fact that words are a combination of sounds and symbols and the symbols are letters and syllables. Again, the syllables may have no meaning of their own, but they are indeed identifiable as imperative in the process of word-formation. Even though they do not seem important, they are recognized as being so.
Cultural transmission is also an important property of Language. When other creatures get by born language habits, the human being needs to acquire it by enculturation.