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Definition and Characteristics of Language; Brief-answer Questions

Definition and Characteristics of Language

1. What is a language?

Ans: Language is a mode of communication. It is a means of expressing thoughts, ideas and opinions using speech sound.

2. What are the characteristics of language?

Ans: The characteristics of language include its duality of patterning, its role as a means of communication, use of vocal sound, its social phenomenon, arbitrariness, symbolic and systematic representation etc.

3. What is Aristotle's view of language?

Ans: According to Aristotle, language is speech produced by human beings for exchanging their experience, ideas and emotions.

4. What was the name of the school founded by Aristotle?

Ans: The name of the school founded by Aristotle was "The Lyceum".

5. Who is Chomsky?

Ans: Noam Chomsky is an American linguist, philosopher, cognitive scientist, historian, social critic, and political activist.

6. Why is Noam Chomsky famous?

Ans: Noam Chomsky is famous for his political activism, and for his criticism of the foreign policy of the United States and other governments. He is also famous for his contribution to linguistics.

7. Give Chomsky’s (1965) definition of language. 

Ans: Chomsky (1965) defines language as '…a set (finite or infinite) of sentences, each finite in length, and constructed out of a finite set of elements'.

8. What is Linguistic Universal?

Ans: A linguistic universal is a pattern that occurs systematically across natural languages, potentially true for all of them. For example, all languages have nouns and verbs, or if a language is spoken, it has consonants and vowels.

9. What is sign?

Ans: A sign is something that can be interpreted as having a meaning and is capable to communicate information to the one interpreting or decoding the sign.

10. Mention three properties/qualities of human language. 

Ans: Productivity, recursivity, and displacement are three properties of human language.

11. What is vocal communication?

Ans: Vocal communication means correspondence via auditory signals generally created by a vibrating organ, like the larynx within the throats of mammals. It means the communication by using tone, volume, pitch, expression, pronunciation, pauses, accents, emphasis; and of course, periods of silence.

12. Who is Bloomfield?

Ans: Bloomfield is an American linguist who led the development of structural linguistics in the United States during the 1930s and the 1940s.

13. What is Bloomfield’s (1930) view of language?

Ans: According to Bloomfield, language is “the totality of utterances that can be made in a speech community”.