Language is a system of arbitrary vocal science that can be used to obtain and interaction among the members of social group (Miller).
Sheriff & Sheriff define human language as consisting of an arbitrary system of symbolic that are meaningful to its users.
Communication holds society together. Language is the form of communication that best supports the intricate workings of our social institution. Although humans rely primarily on language to communicate it is not only the sole means of communication. Proxemics, Kinesics, Paralanguage etc. are other important means of communication. There are at least four important differences that can be claimed between human language system and naturally occurring communication of animals –
- Human Beings can talk about objects or events which are remote from the speaker in time or place or both. This feature of human languages is called as Displacement.
- In human language a limited range of distinguishable sounds can be combined and recombined into enormous vocabulary. This has been called Duality of Patterning.
- Human Beings are capable of producing and understanding utterances which have never been heard or produced before. This feature of human language is known as Productivity. Human language is thus an open system capable of infinite expansion. Vocalization of animals on the other hand tends to form closed systems.
- Human language is transmitted across generations and consequently it also provides vehicle for transmission of knowledge through the process of teaching and learning.
Structure of Language
Every language has a structure. The structure of language consists of both the units of language and the rules that govern how they can be combined.
Rules of Combination
These are also sometimes called as rules of phonology and morphology. These rules enabled us to know the sounds or the written elements of language and how to combine these basic elements in units such as words that have meaning. It must be mentioned that PHONOLOGY – is the study of sound pattern of language to discover the abstract rules which tell us which combinations of sound are permissible of which are not. MORPHOLOGY – is the study of various sound combinations that seem to have meaning.
The Human Language uses the principle of combination on several levels. At the lowest level is the set of basic sounds called PHONEMES; that are combined to form meaningful units called MORPHEMES. Morphemes are combined to form words of words are combined to form sentences. These multiple levels of combinations give human language an enormous expressive power.