Language and Communication Distinction

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12 Questions

What is one of the major characteristics that distinguish human beings from other living beings?


Why can language not be used interchangeably with communication in all contexts?

Language involves gestures and facial expressions

What is the first characteristic of language mentioned?


Which of the following is NOT an example of the systematic character of language mentioned in the text?

Using facial expressions

What does the term 'system' refer to in language according to the text?

Organized pattern of sounds or words functioning predictably

Why is language considered a symbolic system according to the text?

It involves signs and symbols

What type of sign shares a physical resemblance with the object it stands for?


In terms of language, what does the term 'arbitrary' refer to?

Conventional nature of words and expressions

Which term describes a sign known as a symbol that has to be learnt as a conventional or cultural trait?


What example is used to demonstrate the arbitrariness of language?

The word 'mother' in different languages

How is the creative potential of language demonstrated according to the text?

By creating imaginary stories

What is the primary reason why members of a speech community must learn the nuances of language according to the text?

To use language appropriately

Study Notes

Characteristics of Language

  • Human language distinguishes humans from other living beings, giving them an edge over other living things.

Language vs. Communication

  • Language and communication are related but not interchangeable terms.
  • Communication involves more than just language, including gestures, facial expressions, and grunts.

Language Skills

  • Language skills can be categorized into four main areas:
    • Receptive skills: Listening and Reading
    • Productive skills: Speaking and Writing

Characteristics of Language

1. Language is Systematic

  • Language is a system with organized patterns of sounds or words functioning together in a predictable manner.
  • Examples of language's systematic character include:
    • Use of personal pronouns (e.g., I, you, he, she, it)
    • Word formation, verb and noun usage, and sentence construction

2. Language is Symbolic

  • Language involves signs that represent or stand for other entities.
  • Examples of signs include:
    • Letters (a, b, c, d) that represent specific sounds.
    • Symbols like goat or monkey that have the same meaning across languages.
  • There are three types of signs:
    • Icons (share a physical resemblance with the object)
    • Indexes (physical proximity between sign and object)
    • Symbols (learnt conventionally or culturally)

3. Language is Arbitrary

  • Words and expressions in a language are conventional, with meanings attributed by generations of speech community members.
  • Examples include:
    • Different words for "mother" across languages (e.g., mama in Swahili, dada in Georgian)
    • No logical connection between a word and its referent (e.g., "wall" doesn't inherently mean a physical barrier)

4. Language is Productive (Creative)

  • Language can be used to exaggerate, mislead, create imaginary stories, or tell lies.
  • Language allows for immense creative potential, with no limit to the number of sentences, words, and utterances that can be made.
  • Examples include:
    • Poetry and fictional storytelling
    • Onomatopoeic words that resemble their referents (e.g., cock-a-doodle-doo for a rooster's sound)

Explore the differences between language and communication, and how they contribute to human uniqueness. Learn about the various ways humans communicate compared to plants and animals. Understand why language and communication are not always interchangeable terms.

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