Communication versus Language Humans have the ability to encode and develop abstract ideas and engage in problem solving. It is this ability that allows man to use language in its simplest and complex forms. Animal communication lacks the complexity we associate with human language based on the nature and functions of language. While animals may possess some of these features, humans by far possess all. Communication is not synonymous with language. It is true that all language facilitates communication, however, not all communication is considered language.
Animals communicate using instinct most times. However, to say animals use language must be proven based on the functions of language as well as the nature of language. The Nature of Language •It is a uniquely human activity- According to linguist, David Crystal (1989), it refers to human vocal noise or the graphic representation of this noise in writing. It occurs naturally for human beings who do not have to consciously convert their thoughts into speech. •It is systematic, consisting of rules and conventions that govern sentence order, pronunciation and grammar.
This system allows humans to create new speech scenarios for different situations. •It is non- instinctive. Humans are not born possessing a language, it is taught through socialization. Humans are born with an inclination towards acquiring language but the language spoken is culturally determined. •It is symbolic. Words and objects used in language all represent something; however these representations are culture bound. There is hardly a fixed and intrinsic association between words in a language and the object or ideas that the words signify.
One word or idea may symbolize something else in another culture or society. The use of symbols within language is arbitrarily assigned. For e. g. the word ‘book’ in English is called ‘cahier’ in French and ‘libro’ in Spanish. •It is dynamic. Language is always changing. New words are added daily and old words are dropped. The meaning of words also changes. For e. g the word ‘gay’. •Language acquisition is maturational. This means that as normal human beings develop and grow older, he will be able to use more complex words than he was formally taught.
The Elements of Language Language is made up of different elements namely: •Phonetics: the study of speech sounds •Phonology: the study of the sound system of a language •Morphology: the study of the grammatical structure of words •Syntax: the study of the grammatical structure of sentences •Semantics: the study of different aspects of meaning •Ethno linguistics: the science of the relationship between language and culture Sociolinguistics: the study of speech variation within