Language has a number of inherent properties or characteristics . These properties distinguish human language from any non-human communicative system.


Each language has a fixed number of sound units called phonemes. These constitute the system of sounds. When these phonemes are combined in a particular manner meaningful units called morphemes are formed . These constitute the system of meanings . Thus language has two levels of structure or patterning .The organization of sounds into two layers ,one of phonemes and another of morphemes is called duality or double articulation .In other words ,there are two sub-systems in any language, one of sounds and the other of meanings .Units of sounds are grouped into units of meaning. These units of meaning are grouped and regrouped into an infinite number of larger utterance. Animal communication lacks this sort of systematic pattern-making at the level of sounds and meanings .


One of the most important distinctive features of human language is creativity . Human beings use their linguistic resources to produce new expressions and new sentences. They arrange and rearrange phonemes ,morphemes ,words and create new modes of expression . In other words ,a relatively small group of sounds is used to form hundreds of thousands of words ,which in turn can be combined to produce a virtually endless number of sentences. This property of the language is called creativity or productivity. Some linguists describe this property in terms of open -endedness because new items can be added to the already-existing ones in a language. Non-human communicative system is inflexible and invariable .It is a closed system .Animals cannot produce new vocal signals to communicate novel events or experience or concepts.


Language is characterized by displacement .Human beings can talk about real or imagined situations ,places and objects far removed from their present surroundings and time .That is ,human language is context-free .They can refer to past and future time and to other locations .This property of human language is called displacement .


Language is arbitrary .We can hardly find any natural or iconic connection between the linguistic form and its meaning .That is there is no direct relationship between the sound of a word and the thing or idea it represents .an element of arbitrariness can be observed even in the case of onomatopoeic words.


Any speaker of a language is a listener too. He is theoretically capable of saying anything he is able to understand when someone else says it.


We acquire a language in a culture with other speakers and not from parental genes. The process of passing on language from one generation to the next is called cultural transmission.


Human beings alone are endowed with the gift of language .The physical aspects of human teeth ,larynx and so on are not shared by other creatures and may explain why only human beings have the capacity for speech .


Language is really a group of symbols .Words that constitute any language stand for objects or concepts. The word pen for example stands for a tool with which we write .Freedom is word that projects the idea of liberty. Language uses words essentially as symbols and not as signs for the concepts represented by them.


Language emerges through combinations of sounds .Sounds are combined in a systematic order to make meaningful units called words .Words are put together in a certain manner to from meaningful utterances called sentences .


The sound waves of speech have no function other than to signal meaning unlike , for example ,the audible panting of dogs ,which has a biological purpose

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