Language and Linguistics

The designed features of language

The designed features of language by Charles F. Hockett

The designed features of language by Charles F. Hockett


Charles Francis Hockett (* 17 as January as 1916 – 3 as November as 2000 ) was a linguist American who developed many influential ideas in American structuralism.

He represented the post bloomfieldian phase of structuralism, often taking as a reference the distributionalism or taxonomic structuralism.

In his “Aim on Structure” he argues that linguistics can be seen as a game and as a science. A linguist like the player (actor) is free to experiment on all expressions of a language, but no criteria to compare his analysis with other linguists. Late in his career, he was known for his attack on Chomskian linguistics which he called “a theory spawned by a generation of vipers.”

The fifteen design features that characterize the language

  • Vocal-auditory canal

Reception is done through the ear canal. The broadcast is done through the oral channel.

  • Irradiated transmission and directional reception

The broadcast signal circulates in all possible directions and whoever receives the message is able to know where it comes from.

  • Transience

Talk about emissions, these are transitory. They disappear quickly.

  • Interchangeability

Participants of a language can exchange their roles. Thus we have that the sender can become a receiver and vice versa.

  • Feedback

It has to do with the awareness of being speakers, we are aware of our broadcasts and the effects they produce on the receiver.

  • Specialization

The only function of human language is to communicate and that leads each language to specialize in social, geographical issues …

  • Semanticity

In a language system its units have a fixed meaning, each expression has to be associated with a meaning. Any communication system that establishes a relationship between signal and real-world information is semantic.

  • Arbitrariness

It is synonymous with “conventionality.” Language systems are arbitrary. Conventionality is the result of an agreement between speakers. There does not have to be a relationship between the sign and the meaning.

  • Discreet character

There must be discrete units, that is, well differentiated.

  • Productivity

It indicates that through a limited set of elements we can understand an unlimited set of elements.

  • Duality or double articulation

Human languages ​​must always be doubly articulated, this characteristic has to do with the structural question of Saussure:

  • Traditional transmission

It indicates that human languages ​​are transmitted culturally from generation to generation.

  • Learning capacity

It is the criterion that indicates that all languages ​​are capable of being learned.

  • Prevarication

It is the possibility of transmitting false information, that is, messages issued with awareness, knowing that they are false.

  • Displacement

Possibility of offering the linguistic codes in a past, present or future time.

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