What are characterstics of human language?  

Expert Answers
missy575 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

It sounds to me like you are asking for the major aspects of what makes up all human language. Obviously you understand many languages are used by humans, so we need to identify what makes them similar.

1. Human language has sound. A study of linguistics will teach you that these different sounds are phonetic pieces of words.

2. Human language has semantic meaning. Each language has either characters, letters, or images that represent meanings. Each small piece (in English these are roots and affixes) when combined with other small pieces contribute to a new meaning of a word.

3. Human language serves the purpose of communication among people. People who live near each other must articulate their ideas to one another to co-exist, otherwise they would struggle with relationships and the ability to cooperate with each other. Language is agreed upon sets of rules and meanings of word parts for the entire purpose of communication.

raksharana | Student
  • While all animals communicate in one form or another, human communication stands out because of its depth, variety and use of symbols. According to The Boston Globe, there are 6,900 known languages in the world today, with the top five most spoken being Mandarin, Spanish, English, Arabic and Bengali. While humans communicate in a wide variety of ways, there are common characteristics that unite our methods of communication as a whole.

The Self

  • According to Dr. Sue DeWine, a characteristic of human communication is that it ultimately begins with the self. Each person is capable of communicating with others, and without each person's initiative no communication can occur. Human communication is colored by personal feelings, the context in which the conversation is occurring, social status and culture. A content, Indian man from a high social caste would express himself differently than an angry Indian man from society's lowest social rungs. Yet for each of them, their ability to communicate begins internally.


  • Another characteristic of human communication is its irreversibility. While, like an artist's drawing, speech is a personal and creative outlet, it cannot be erased after the fact. This ongoing and reciprocal process creates bonds and emotional responses in other humans. A poor choice of words can cause hurt feelings, distrust and conflict.

Social Context

  • Human communication occurs in some sort of social context, whether it is interpersonal between just two people or group communication among many more. It involves creating and responding to messages, and is always in some way reciprocal. Modern society has also introduced the concept of mass communication through mediums such as television, radio, the Internet and literature. Human communication is a natural and vital part of societies. Without communication, societies could not function as we know them. According to Professor Chad Edwards of Western Michigan University, communication is our link to the world and how we express ourselves and influence others.

The Body Speaks a Thousand Words

  • There is no such thing as being completely non-communicative, apart perhaps from being in a comatose state. Words are not the only way in which humans communicate. Nonverbal cues are universal to all cultures and include things such as body motions, hand movements, gestures, purposeful silence, and eye contact and movement. We often use body language alongside verbal communication to express something

Read more: Characteristics of Human Communication | eHow.com http://www.ehow.com/list_5919122_characteristics-human-communication.html#ixzz1Yvk18ULf
sehreen | Student
  •  A human language has its own system of signs and symbols.  It is an articulated language.
  • A human language has a vocabulary items, base rules, projection rules, morphology, semantics and syntax.
  • Although the other living species can communicate with each other but they do not exhibit an articulated language that has a complete system of rules and regulations.
  • A human language is purely conventional or man-made.