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What is Language

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What is Language and its Characteristics?

Published in: Education, Technology

What is Language

  1. 1. What isLanguage?University of the Punjab , Departmentof English Language & Literature.Lahore, Pakistan
  2. 2. LANGUAGEA Skill• Something we do– He speaks well butwrites badly.KNOWLEDGE• Something we know– I don’t know muchItalian.
  3. 3. LANGUAGEA Possession• Something wehave/possess– I haven’t much French.A Tool• Something we use– What words can I use todescribe her?
  4. 4. LANGUAGEAn Event• Something whichhappens– I was in the office whenthe conversation tookplace.A Group Identity• Something whichtransmits culture– It is only through ourlanguage that we cantruly express our identity.
  5. 5. LANGUAGEAn Object• Something which wecan describe– This language has acomplex structure.A Living Organism• Something which isborn, lives and dies– Gradually a newlanguage was born.– The 18th century saw aflowering of thelanguage.– That’s a dead language
  6. 6. LANGUAGE• The most valuablepossession of man• Difficult to think of asociety withoutLanguage
  7. 7. Robins• Language is A SYMBOL SYSTEM– Based on Arbitrary conventions• Infinitely EXTENDABLE & MODIFIABLE– To changing needs and conditions of the speaker
  8. 8. Sapir• Language isA purely human & non-instinctive– Method of communication• Humans ---- species-specific, species-uniform• Non-instinctive --- A child has to learnLanguage of his society
  9. 9. Chomsky• A Language is a– SET OF SENTENCES– Finite or infinite• Each finite in length– Constructed out of a finite set of elements.
  10. 10. 1. A Means of Communication
  11. 11. Common CodeIdeasEmotionsDesireFeelingsBeliefsShared by:common code
  12. 12. Others Means of Communication• Gesture• Nods• Winks• Flags• Smiles• Horns• Short-hand• Dancing
  13. 13. Others Means of Communication• Braille Alphabet• Mathematical Symbols• Morse Code• Sirens• Sketches• Maps• Acting• Miming
  14. 14. Other System Vs. Language• Extremely Limited• Not Flexible• Not Comprehensive• Not Perfect• Not Extensive
  15. 15. Language A Carrier• It conveys/carries»Human thoughts»Philosophy»Culture»Civilization• Shapes»people’s thought• Guides/control»activities
  16. 16. Language is Ubiquitous• Presenteverywhere– in allactivities• As important asthe air webreathe
  17. 17. Species-specific• Only Humans areblessed withlanguage• Specific property ofhumans• Humans are calledtalking animals
  18. 18. Language is Arbitrary• No inherent/basicrelation betweenthe words of languageand their meanings
  19. 19. No reason why a female called:• WomanEnglish• IstreeHindi• AuratUrdu• ZenPersian• FemineFrench• Selection of these words inthe language is purelyarbitrary, an accident ofhistory
  20. 20. Advantages of Language Arbitrariness• Variety of Languages• There would havebeen only onelanguage• Permits change• Its conventionalitygives it stability
  21. 21. Onomatopoeia• Words that imitate thesounds they stand for:– Bang– Buzz– Splash etc• Such words do have somerelation with the meanings/ideas they stand for• Not completely intrinsicrelationship– Kokla doo dle do
  22. 22. • Made up of vocal sounds• Produced by Physiological articulatory mechanism
  23. 23. Speech Primary, Writing Secondary• A child learns to speak first– Writing comes much later• A man speaks much more– than he writes• Writing– Graphic representation of vocal sounds– Letters K , Q /k/• Total quantum of speech is > T.Q. writtenmaterial
  24. 24. Advantage of writing• Pen is mightierthan the sword• It could bepreserved inbooks or record
  25. 25. Primacy of Speech over Writing• Spoken words arepowerful• Can be preserved:– audio cassettes– Tape recorders
  26. 26. Language
  27. 27. An organized combination of elements• Small number ofmeaningless elements(sounds/words) incombination produce alarge number ofmeaningful elements• These systems operate attwo levels:– Phonological– Syntactical
  28. 28. Phonological Level• To form meaningful units/ words• Sounds are arranged in certain establishedsystematic orderCat /k t/Act / k t/Pat /p t/Tap /t p/Pack / p k/
  29. 29. Syntactical Level• To frame acceptable meaningful sentences– Words are arranged in particular system– (grammatical/ structural rules)‘(The hunter) (shot) (the tiger) (with a gun)’.‘The tiger shot a gun with hunter the’.
  30. 30. A Form of social Behaviour• A child picks up thelanguage of the socialset-up• And learns to speakcommunity language• A Chinese infant ifplaced in an Indianfamily– Will easily learn to speakan Indian language
  31. 31. A Symbol• A concrete event,object or mark• Stands for somethingrelatively abstract
  32. 32. • Word are symbols– stand for object• Table– wooden/glass board supported by4/3 legs
  33. 33. Messages in form of symbols• SPEAKER RECEIVER
  34. 34. 7. The Uniqueness of HumanLanguageHuman Language Vs.Animal Communication
  35. 35. 1. Displacement• To talk about things, places• To create fiction• To yoke future, past, present( far away in space and time )
  36. 36. 2. Infinite Communication System• Humans can– Store knowledge– Transfer it to nextgeneration– Yoke the present,past and future• Animals have smallnumber of messages:»Hunger»Fear»Anger
  37. 37. 3. Open-endedness• Use language to say anything– Produce new utterances• A bee by its dance can convey– Distance/ the direction ofnectar• It cannot convey how good orbad honey is
  38. 38. 4. Language is Flexible/OPEN-ENDED– It is modifiable, Extendable• It changes , grow– New words’ addition• Downloading, software, laser etc• Animal communication system is closedsystem– A bee’s dance– cock’s crow– AS the same as that were 200 years ago
  39. 39. 5. Discreteness• Clear• Distinguishable• Separate• Identifiable symbols
  40. 40. 6. Structural Complexity• English (RP variety) has 44 sounds– Form thousands of words (475000)• Millions of sentences• Internal structure of sentence• No complexity in monkey’s cry etc
  41. 41. 7. Non-instinctive Language• Every human has to learnlanguage– From parents/ society• Human acquire language

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