The Characteristics of Human Language


The Characteristics of Human Language

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The Characteristics of Human Language

The Characteristics of Human Language

The Characteristics of Human Language

Language is a method of human communication- either spoken or written- consisting of the use of meaningful words in an agreed way. It is a unique gift bestowed upon human beings by nature. There are some thousand languages in the world. Language differs from region to region and community to community. The scholars have traced some characteristics of human language such as- (1) Vocal-Auditory Channel, (2) Arbitrariness, (3) Rapid Fadigness (4) Interchangeability (5) Displacement, (6) Creativity, (7) Duality, (8) Patterning and (9) Structure Dependence. Let us discuss them in brief as below:

Vocal-Auditory Channel

One of the most obvious characteristics of human language is that it is a vocal-auditory channel. Language is produced by vocal track and received by the ears.


The term ‘arbitrariness’ refers to the property of human language which relates to the fact that there is no logical relationship between the signal and the message. Except in some cases of some onomatopoeic words or expressions, the symbols (sound) used by a human being is arbitrary. For example, there is no logical relationship between the word ‘water ‘and the thing it symbolizes. Had there been a logical relationship between the two, then why the same thing is called ‘pani’ in Hindi?

Rapid Fadingness

Auditory signals are transitory. They disappear quickly because spoken words cannot be heard long.


It refers to the fact that a speaker or sender of a linguistic signal can be a listener or receiver.


The term ‘displacement’ refers to the ability of a human being to talk about things that are not present at that place or at that time. A human being can communicate about things that are absent as easily as about things that are present. Human beings can cope with any subject whatever and it does not matter how far away the topic of conversation is in time and space.


The term ‘creativity’ refers to the ability of human beings to produce and understand utterances which they have never uttered or heard before. Human beings can talk about anything they like. Hence it can be said that creativity is an important characteristic that distinguishes human communication from animal communication.


The term ‘duality’ refers to the fact that human language is organized at two levels, as- (i) the level of articulation of sounds and (ii) the level of words. Every language has a set of thirty or forty basic sounds which are called Phonemes. It is the smallest unit in the sound system of a language that can bring about a difference in meaning. These basic sounds or phonemes become meaningful only when they combine with each other in accordance with the rules of a language.


The term ‘patterning’ refers to the fact that human language combines sounds into words and words into a sentence according to certain rules or patterns.

Structure Dependence

The term refers to the fact that human beings instinctively understand the patterned nature of language. For example, we can consider the following sentences, as:

(i) The student who obeyed the teacher gave him a book. He gave the teacher a really valuable book.

This sentence can be rearranged according to the rules of language. For example, according to the rules of ‘passivation’, as under:

(ii)The teacher was given a really valuable book by the student who obeyed the teacher.

Thus human language has possessed these characteristics which are not generally seemed to be present in other animal systems of communication. 0 0 0

N. B. This article entitled ‘The Characteristics of Human Language’ originally belongs to the book ‘Essays on Linguistics‘ by Menonim Menonimus.

Books on Linguistics by M. Menonimus:

  1. A Brief History of the English Language
  2. Essays on Linguistics
  3. My Imageries
  4. Felicitous Expression: Some Examples
  5. Learners’ English Dictionary

Books of Composition by M. Menonimus:

  1. Advertisement Writing
  2. Amplification Writing
  3. Note Making
  4. Paragraph Writing
  5. Notice Writing
  6. Passage Comprehension
  7. The Art of Poster Writing
  8. The Art of Letter Writing
  9. Report Writing
  10. Story Writing
  11. Substance Writing
  12. School Essays Part-I
  13. School Essays Part-II
  14. School English Grammar Part-I
  15. School English Grammar Part-II..

Related Searches:

  1. 10 Characteristics of Human Language
  2. 10 Main Features of Human Language
  3. Characteristics of Language


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I am Menonim Menonimus, a Philosopher & Writer.


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