Characteristics & Functions Of Language Development

It is assumed that every living being has its language. But all of them cannot communicate like human beings. The language of human beings has certain characteristics which give a definite meaning to their communication. We can talk about the past, the present and the future with the help of language.

Language development and its usage both verbal and non-verbal is universal and central to human existence. Language functions as a means of communication, as a means of reflecting on and reorganizing experience, and as a way to receive and transform the accumulated knowledge and values of the community.

According to Chomsky (1968). "language development is the result of the progressive gain of maturity - the unfolding of the child's genetic capability for language."

Micheal Halliday
Nature and Characteristics of Language Development

The following are the characteristics of language development :
  • Semanticity : The quality of language in which words are used as symbols for objects, events or ideas.
  • Syntax : The rules in a language for placing words in proper order to form meaningful sentences.
  • Productivity : The capacity to combine words into original sentences.
  • Displacement : The quality of language that makes one communicate information about objects and events in another time and place. Language makes possible the efficient transmission of large amounts of complex knowledge from one person to another, and from one generation to another. Displacement permits parents to warn children of their own mistakes. Displacement allows children to tell their parents what the) did in school.
Must Read: What is Language?

Functions of Language

Language performs a number of functions based on the purpose of its use. Language with a functional purpose is illustrated by Michael Halliday as follows :

  1. Instrumental : Language performs'an instrumental function the way an individual satisfies the need by asking for something (May I drink some water?).
  2. Regulatory : It performs a regulatory function controlling another's behaviour (e.g. Teacher asks the student, "Stay quiet, please").
  3. Interactional : It performs an interactional function-used for maintaining interpersonal (eg. wishing a friend a happy birthday).
  4. Personal : Language performs a personal function - where one talks about oneself (e.g. I am feeling very elated today).
  5. Heuristic : It performs a heuristic function to find out about the world in general eg. Is there a drug to cure AIDS?)
  6. Imaginative : It performs an imaginative function where one talks about one's imagination (e.g. write an essay on the topic "you are on the clouds").
  7. Informational : It also performs an informational function - to seek and give varied types of information (e.g. What is the current rate of population growth in our country. ?)

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