Language An Artistic Way Of Human Expression

896 words - 4 pages

INTRODUCTIONThe assertion that humans differ from animals in their use of language has been the subject of much discussion as scientists have investigated language use bynon-human species. Researchers have taught apes, dolphins, and parrot various systems of human-like communication, and recently, the study of animal language and behavior in its natural environment rather than in the laboratory has increased. It is my aim to discuss human language within an evolutionary perspective, to step across disciplinary boundaries of different fields of science, and to show how we may consider language only as one of the many forms that animal communication has taken and that it may not be out of reach of other species.What is language???What is language? A universally accepted definition of language or the criteria for its use does not exist. This is one of the reasons for the disagreement among scientists about whether on-human species can use language. IN nature we find numerous kinds of communication systems, many of which appear to be unique to their possessors, and one of them is the language of the human species. Basically, the purpose of communication is the preservation, growth, and development of the species (Smith and Miller 1968:265). The ability to exchange information is shared by all communication systems, and a number of non-human systems share some features of human language. The fundamental difference between human and non-human communication is that animals are believed to react instinctively, in a stereotyped and predictable way. Mostly, human behavior is under the voluntary control, and human language is creative and unpredictable. It is generally assumed that only humans have language. Parts of the problem of differentiating man from the other animals is the problem of describing how human language differs from any kind of communicative behavior carried on by non-human or pre-human species. Until we have done this, we cannot know how much it means to assert that only man has the power of speech. (Hockett 1967:570). In order to contrast human language with animal communication, the linguist Charles Hockett (1967:574-580) introduces a generally accepted check list for language, a set of design features that all human languages possess. His seven key properties are: duality of pattern (the combination of a phonological system and a grammatical system), productivity (the ability to create and understand new utterances), arbitrariness (when signs/words do not resemble the things they represent), interchangeability (the ability to transmit and to receive messages by exchanging roles), specialization (when the only function of speech is communication and the speaker does not act out his message), displacement (the ability to refer to the past and to things not present), and cultural transmission (the ability to teach/learn from...

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