DESIGN FEATURES OF HUMAN LANGUAGE
|Vocal-auditory channel||Communicator speaks; receiving individual hears.|
| Message goes out in all directions;|
receiver can tell what direction message comes from.
(Sign language uses line-of-sight transmission instead.)
|Rapid fading||Message is transitory and does not persist.|
|Interchangeability|| Transmitters can become receivers, and vice versa;
we can each repeat any message.
|Total feedback||We hear all that we say.|
|Specialization|| We communicate just for the purpose of communicating
(not incidentally to some other primary function).
Direct energy consequences are unimportant.
|Semanticity||Symbols used (phonemes, morphemes) have particular meanings.|
|Arbitrariness|| Symbols are arbitrary: the work "loud" can be spoken softly;|
"whale" is a smaller word than "microorganism";
"dog", "perro", "chien", "hund", "canis" all mean the same.
|Discreteness|| Symbols are made by combining smaller symbols
that differ discontinuously (e.g., "bin", "pin").
|Duality of patterning|| The smaller symbols ("p", "t") have no meaning of their own,
and can be combined in various ways ("pit", "tip").
|Hockett originally thought that the remaining features were exclusively human.|
|Displacement|| You can talk about something not immediately present
(at a distance, or in the past).
|Prevarication||We can say things that are false or hypothetical.|
|Productivity||Novel utterances can be made and understood.|
| Traditional transmission
| Languages are socially learned (not genetic),
and are passed down through generations.
|Learnability||We can learn new languages (easier in childhood).|
|Reflexiveness|| We can use language to talk about language
(e.g., "noun", "adjective", "sentence")