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4.4: Features of Language

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    Human language is distinct and unique because there are specific features that distinguish human language from any other form of communication. It is unique from such forms of animal communication because it has linguistic rules that are followed in order to speak, it uses meaningful symbols, and we are continuously creating new ideas.[7] There are some aspects of human language that are features of a true language, meaning humans are the only ones with this ability and is one of the key properties separating human language from the animal language. For example, displacement and productivity are part of "true language", but although they are abilities found only in humans, not all languages have them.[8] The most recognized features of the human language are as follows:

    1. Duality of patterning: associates sounds with meaning. For Example CAT/TACK/ACT the same phonemes are expressed but organized in a different order to convey different information.
    2. Productivity: Symbols and rules can be combined for infinite messages. Productivity is also the ability of the native speakers to use certain grammatical processes, mainly in the formation of words.
    3. Interchangeability: Speakers are able to send and receive messages.
    4. Arbitrariness: No association with words, and its meaning except for the sounds. For Example, The words "whale" and "microorganism" do not convey any relation to the size or physicality of the word and the physicality of the subject.
    5. Displacement in time, space, role: Being able to talk about the non-current. This allows people to communicate about the past, future, and distant places.
    6. Specialization: Language only serves the purpose of communication.
    7. Cultural transmission: Specifics must be learned by each person.


    This page titled 4.4: Features of Language is shared under a CC BY-SA 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Wikibooks - Cultural Anthropology (Wikibooks) .

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