11 Characteristics of Language

Language is the major means of community utilized by human beings. Languages consist of spoken sounds in spoken languages and written symbols that are utilized for written languages. Language is the customary speaking system through which we interact with others and convey our ideas, feelings, and facts. Language is the most significant component of our existence as it helps us build cultural bonds, friendships, and relationships by disseminating our views and ideas. Human civilization has been made possible exclusively through language. Language is a tool of communication; it is arbitrary; it is a system of systems.Language can have dozens of qualities, but the these are the most essential ones: language is arbitrary, productive, creative, systematic, vocalic, social, non-instinctive, and conventional.

The properties and characteristics of language are discussed below.

1. Displacement :

This property allows us to discuss events that are not currently occurring in the environment . For example, I finished the work yesterday; what are your plans for this vacation; or I will get the job in the next month. It enables us to make up stories and consider both the past and the future.

2. Productivity or creativity :

It resembles an infinite number of distinct words, sentences and word combinations. It has to do with the reality that human languages have an endless number of possible utterances.

3. Cultural Transmission :

Language is learnt through culture with other speakers and not through parental DNA. Language is a culturally transmitted phenomenon.

4. Discreteness :

This appropriately ensures that the sounds employed in languages are meaningfully separate and those sounds are considered our own with our distinct meaning. Every sound or word has a distinctive quality.

5. Duality :

At one stage of language we find two kinds of simultaneity of language, one is discrete sounds and another is discrete meanings.

We may combine the letters l, a, k and e in two different ways : lake and leak. These two terms signify two different meanings even though they are formed of the same four consonants.At letter level they are same,but different meanings at word level. Different patterns of combination will produce different meanings.

6. Language is arbitrary  :

It basically states that there is no natural link between a language form and its meaning. That is, the words or symbols employed to form the correct impression of the objects are not intrinsically linked to the objects they represent.There is no logical connection between the signifier and the signified, it is totally whimsical. There is no rationality behind the naming . There is no reason why the four-legged  animal should be called Dog in English, Kutta in Hindi, Kukur in Bangla, Hund in German, Kalb in arabic. 

  1. Language is social: 

A language is a collection of traditional communicative signs used by people to communicate with one another. Language, in this sense, is a social group’s possession, consisting of an essential set of rules that allow its members to relate to, interact with, and cooperate with one another; it is a social institution. Language occurs in society; it is a means of nurturing and growing culture, as well as building human relationships.

  1. Language is Symbolic: 

Language is composed of various sound symbols and their graphological counterparts, which are used to represent various objects, events, or meanings. These symbols are chosen at random, but they are widely accepted and used. Words in a language are more than just signs or figures; they are symbols of meaning. The right interpretation of these symbols determines a language’s intelligibility.

  1. Language is Systematic:

 Despite the fact that language is symbolic, its symbols are organized into a certain system. Every language is a system within a system. Every language has phonological and grammatical systems, and each system has multiple sub-systems. For example, inside the grammatical system, there are morphological and syntactic systems, and within these two subsystems, there are systems such as plural, mood, aspect, tense, and so on.

10.Language is Vocal:

Language is essentially made up of vocal sounds that can only be produced through a physiological articulatory system in the human body. Initially, it just emerged as vocal noises. Writing appeared considerably later, as a thoughtful attempt to express voice sounds. Writing is simply the pictorial representation of a language’s sounds. Thus, linguists assert that speech is primary.

  1. Language is non-instinctive and conventional:

 No language was formed in a single day by a group of humans using a mutually agreed upon formula. Language develops as a result of evolution and convention. This norm is passed down from generation to generation. Languages, like all human institutions, change and perish, flourish and expand. Every language, then, is a community convention. It is not instinctive because it has been learned by humans. Nobody is born with a language; he learns it since it is an innate talent

Language is, today, an integral aspect of human society and aforementioned characteristics are the major characteristics of language.