Basic Features of Language
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10 Features of Language

The basic features of the language are these: Arbitrariness and a System of communication. Other features: Displacement, production and Creativity, Cultural Transmission, and Sociability. Further are Duality, Prevarication, Learnability, Symbolic system. Language is human and Structurally-Complex, Unique, and Modifiable. It is Vocal, Verbal, and Sound-based. Language is means of communication, an arbitrary system of systems. It is primarily formal communication. It is even difficult to think of a society without language. Because language takes shape according to people’s thoughts. It guides and controls their activity. Only it is because of language that humans are the talking animals or ‘homo Lu-kens’.

Table of Contents

Arbitrariness of Language

There is no intrinsic or logically proven connection between a sound form and a thing. For example, why do we name a four-legged wooden-frame object as a chair, not by another name? Surely, we have no reason.  So, this relationship between form and meaning is of arbitrariness. Often there is no “natural” connection between language and its meaning. The connection between linguistic symbols and their meanings is irrational. This aspect of the relationship between the symbols of language and the things in the world is of arbitrariness. Language is arbitrary because there’s no inherent relationship between the words of a language. Then means the choice of a word, selected to mean a particular thing or idea is purely arbitrary. But once a word is selected for a particular referent it comes to stay. As such as does the relationship of word and its meaning is arbitrary.

Language System

Language is a system of systems, it is not disorganized or caught a combination of sounds or was a break. It is a mesh of several linguistics systems or levels of which phonological (sounds) and syntactical (sentences) is primary language. It is an orderly system of communication.

Language is Vocal and Verbal System

Languages are primarily vocal, language speeches are primary and writing is secondary. Languages build of vocal sounds only produced by physiological articulation mechanics. Many languages exist in spoken form only. They do not have any written scripture. Also, the total quantum of speech is much more than that of writing.

Reflexive Features of Language

Reflexiveness means that humans can explain the concepts of what language is. We can talk about the language structure, and share language with other humans using the ability of language called reflexiveness. People are capable of thinking about language and its use called reflexivity. The property of reflexivity tells us that we can use language to think and speak the language itself, making it one of the distinguishing features of human language. Indeed, without this common sense, we would not be able to demonstrate or identify any distinct features of human language. 

Displacement Feature of Language

We, humans, can talk about things that are not physically available or do not even exist. Similarly, we can also talk about the past, the present, the future, and can express hopes and dreams. This innate ability is of displacement. People can refer to the past and the future. This human language property is displacement. Users of human language are often able to produce messages like last night, in a park, and then go on to say. It also allows language users to talk about things and events that are not at hand. Indeed, displacement permits us to talk about the things and the places (e.g., angels, fairy tales, Santa Claus, Superman, heaven, hell). The things that we cannot even be sure of. However, animal communication often lacks this capability.

Productive and Creative Features of Language

We language-users can produce and understand new utterances. Because humans are capable to utter an unlimited number of words and sounds. This is called productivity. People continue to create new expressions and expressions by changing their language resources to describe new things and situations. This feature is of the production and means that the number of possible expressions in any human language is endless.

Cultural Transmission or Social Phenomenon of Language

 We learn the language in our social settings. It is transmittable by our cultural surroundings. Children inherit it from their society, not from genes by birth called cultural transmission. They may inherit some physical traits as brown eyes and black hair from their parents, except language. It benefits from the language and culture of others and not from our parents’ genes. A baby born to Korean parents in Korea, but adopted and raised from an English-speaking population in the United States, will have inherited traits from their natural parents but will speak English. This process by which language passes from one generation to the next. It is an example of cultural transmission. However, we are not born with the ability to produce speech in a language such as English. We learn our first language as children by a certain culture.

Duality of Language

The order of Human Language is at two levels—sound and meaning at the same time. This structure is of duality (or “double articulation”). In speech production, we have a body level at which we can produce individual sounds, such as m, i, and c. Like each sound, none of these different forms has an internal meaning. So, on one hand, we have different kinds of sounds, and, on the other hand, we have different kinds of meanings. These two levels are one of the most economical aspects of human language. Because, with a limited set of different sounds, we can produce a very large number of sound combinations (e.g., words) with different meanings.

Prevarication of Language

While using language, we humans may tell a lie or hoodwink someone. We may make false or meaningless statements too. It’s called prevarication. While animals cannot make false kinds of statements or predictions. They have limitations in the features of their language design.

Learnability Features of Language

It is one of the wonderful attributes of language that it is both teachable and learnable. As we learn our first language, we’re able to learn second or foreign languages. It is noteworthy that young children can acquire language with competence and ease. But language acquisition becomes difficult when children pass a certain age.


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