design features of language
Definition - The 16 features of human language that distinguish human from animal communication. Some example features are:

(1) displacement — the ability to talk about what's not there;

(2) productivity — the ability to create new messages by combining already-existing signs;

(3) prevarication — the ability to lie;

(4) reflexiveness — the ability of human language to refer to itself;

(5) interchangeability — the ability of speakers to receive and also send the same message;

(7) duality of patterning — the quality of human language such that meaningful signs (e.g. words) are almost always made of, and distinguished from one another by, meaningless parts (sounds, letters)), and

(8) semanticity — the feature of language that allows speech sounds to be linked to specific meanings.

Notes:
1. Click here to read an essay by Daniel Everett that argues that a few of what Hockett claims are essential features of all languages do not occur in Piraha language, thus these missing features must in fact be culturally dependent.

Etymology -
The theory was conceived of — and the term coined — in the 1960s by the American linguist Charles Hockett.



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