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What are the defining qualities of a 'language'?

asked 2018-03-29 02:14:52 -0400

A S Sundar gravatar image

How do we identify a language?What essential qualities of any language confirm that it's a language?

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answered 2018-03-30 02:55:13 -0400

A S Sundar gravatar image

updated 2018-03-30 02:56:27 -0400

We linguists talk about LANGUAGE all the time.What exactly is a LANGUAGE?What are the defining qualities of a LANGUAGE?Suppose something is claimed to be a language,how does one confirm it? Let us see. Any language ,by nature,MUST have the following ESSENTIAL QUALITIES.

1.LANGUAGE Should have a definite PEOPLE linked to it.E.g.English linked to English people;Chinese to Chinese people etc.That is THERE CANNOT BE A LANGUAGE EXISTING WITHOUT ANY PEOPLE LINKED TO IT. 2. LANGUAGE should be used for COMMUNICATION between people in a community. 3. LANGUAGE must be SPOKEN.If anything is NOT SPOKEN,IT IS NOT A LANGUAGE.However LANGUAGE need not have its own writing script. 4. LANGUAGE need not have words.E.g.Sign language,pictorial languages. 5. LANGUAGE is not RESTRICTED FOR A SPECIFIED PURPOSE generally.

Is Morse Code a LANGUAGE? Is JAVA a LANGUAGE? Is Sanskrit a LANGUAGE? We can just apply the fore going check-list and find out easily. If Morse Code is not a LANGUAGE,then what is it? It's a *Cryptic Code used for a specified purpose and not a LANGUAGE.Similarly JAVA,Sanskrit are Cryptic Codes as they do not fulfill the conditions listed.

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...huh? Point 3 is obviously wrong, because it rejects sign languages. Point 4 doesn't make sense, at least not as explained. It also contradicts point 3 (how would a "pictorial language" be "spoken"?). Re: point 5, are liturgical languages not languages? And since when is Sanskrit not a language?

jpstaten gravatar imagejpstaten ( 2018-04-06 09:16:46 -0400 )edit

Point 1 is also wrong, see e.g. Esperanto or Creole languages. It leads to the question: What is a 'definite people'?

ruma gravatar imageruma ( 2018-04-14 03:17:17 -0400 )edit
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Asked: 2018-03-29 02:14:52 -0400

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Last updated: Mar 30