January 17, 2010
What is Language?
This section of the text started out by laying out the design features that make up a language: channel, function, exchange, learning, arbitrariness, compositionality, imagination, and creativity. The channels of language are basically the senses you use to communicate and can vary depending on the type of message you want to get across. Exchange is simply stated, the exchange of information in either a one-way or two-way form. However, most human language is two-way considering in most cases there is a response to the message sent. Learning is a form of communication where a person learns to communicate by the people around them by sound or motion. Arbitrariness in language is the very subtle differences between words and languages that can be studied to figure out if the languages have a common origin point or borrowed words. Compositionality is the building of the actual language structure based on vowels, words and sentences. Imagination is a unique ability to human language that allows us to communicate about things that have yet to happen, happened in the past or don’t even exist. Referring to one of those is called a displaced reference. Creativity is also another trait unique to human language that allows us to put together new units of language to make new units and meanings.
It also spoke about the different units that go into a language, which can be broken down into phonemes, morphemes and phonasthemes. Language units at these levels can be referred to as syntax and are controlled by rules of grammar. Intonation and prosody, which consist of the pitch of voice and rhythm of the speaker’s voice, are tools used to convey emotion or attitude. Languages can have several different dialects which are slightly different ways of speaking the same language based or culture or region and the mutual intelligibility of those dialects is the percentage of how many words from...