Charles F Hockett Human Language Analysis

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2.2.2 Human Language

According to linguistic anthropologist Charles F. Hockett (1960s), there are several characteristics regarding human language and they are named the design features of language. (Wkikpedia: Hockett’s design features, n.d., para. 1) (Is this direct quotation or indirection?)

• Displacement
This is the concern of time and place. Human can talk about things happened in the past, right now or even in the future, whereas animals can only communicate to events happening at that moment. In addition, human can talk about things that are not around. (Charles F. Hockett, 1959) For example, human can talk about opium smoking when opium smoking is banned and does not exist anymore. This explicit the fact that human can imagine their dreams and goals and human communication is not limited by time and place.
• Arbitrariness
Human language is arbitrary. There is no clear explanation of why this word is used to describe or mean different objects. The
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Hockett’s design feature of language and indeed, human language is a lot more complicated than animal communication.

2.2.3 Comparison

Although human language is a lot different from animal communication, there are some features of human language that can also be found in animal communication.

First of all, productivity is not unique to human language. It recurs to bee dancing. Frisch (1950) noted that different types of bees have their own way of dancing, and it varies among different bee species. In other words, bee themselves could also invent new types of dance for a different purpose.

Second, arbitrariness is not unique only to human language as well. The pitches and song birds used are not proved to be set and limited. The bird calls could be improvised by the birds themselves. It could be an arbitrary animal communication for birds and also the vocal system of some mammals and birds (Hockett,
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