Chapter 8- What are the four key properties of language?
University of Toronto Mississauga
Chapter Eight Study Notes What are the four key properties of language? -Language is symbolic (people use spoken sounds, written words to represent an object, action, event or an idea). -Language is semantic or meaningful (random symbols used in a language that have no relationship that exists between the look or sound of the words and the objects they stand for). (Ex) pen in English, is stylo in French, and pluma in Spanish. These words are random, although they have shared meaning for people who speak English, French, and Spanish. -Language is generative (symbols combined to generate an endless array of novel messages). -Language is structured (allows people to be inventive with words and still understand each other). How is language structured? -Human languages have hierarchical structure. There are basic sounds combined into units with meaning, which are combined into words. Words combined into phrases, which are combined into sentences. -At the base of the language hierarchy are phonemes, the smallest speech units in a language that can be distinguished perceptually. (Example), strange = s t r e y n j, an