Definition approach of language.
Language has been variously defined by different linguists and language scholars because whichever way one word the definition it may not have captured all the characteristics of language in such a single rendition. Sometimes, this definition may reveal experts varied views, opinions, intentions and perceptions about the multidimensional nature of language.
Below are some of the definitions of language.
Greenberg Language is a system of signals conforming to the rules which constitutes its grammar, or as a set of culturally transmitted behavioural patterns shared by a group of individuals. It means language is not inherited but learned.
Bolinga language is a system of vocal auditory communication using conventional signs comprising of arbitrary patterned sound units and assembled according to its set rules interacting with the experience of its uses.
Language is a system of human expression by means of words. Lastly, we may say that language is a set of rules which allows speaker or listener to associate meaning with a sequence of sounds.
Language is an important phenomenon in human society and therefore an important regulator of individual consciousness and social interaction. Language is so very vital in human existence, such that there is hardly no human society without effective functional language for effective communication of ideas and performance of other roles.
There is power in language, the power in speech. It is in recognition of this that a philosopher, Daniel Webster once remarked If all my talents and powers were to be taken away from me by some inscrutable providence and I had my choice of keeping but one, I would unhesitatingly ask to be allowed to keep the power of speaking: for through it I will quickly recover all the rest.
Characteristic of language
Having consideration on the various definition and relevancies of language, Linguists have found by experience that language has certain characteristics which provide the basis for accurate description.
Language is sound: language is basically vocal that is, it is spoken and through the spoken medium, transmitted to written form.
Language is systematic: this means that it has an order of arrangement of units and structure within it.
Innateness of language: every normal child has the innate tendency and ability to acquire at least a language depending on the environment in which the child lives
Language is conventional: in every speech community, there is a tacit to call an object or event a particular name.
Language is meaningful: every language is unique, language changes overtime .
Functions of language or communicative role of language
Language as a means of communication is essential in every speech community. Language performs many functions especially in the school environment where the language is used as some expressive roles; language is used to express feelings, thoughts and ideas. It is through effective use of language that the teachers communicates share information to the students in a particular subject.
Information role: the information contained in the students textbook are written in a good language. For instance, in Nigerian schools, such information both oral and written form are communicated to students and staff in English language.
Instrument of thought: language is used as a major drive for thoughts for the philosophers, the scientists, the psychologists, the teachers, students and so on. It is also said by the philosophers that reading, thinking or reasoning is done in a language and also that the more you think reason in a language the more knowledgeable you are into that language. The more a student or faster a student reason to answer question in English the deeper hisher knowledge of the language, and the more the student writes in English
language or any other language.
Instrument of socialization: every speech community people interact on a social ground through language. For instance, it is language
that is used for greeting, establishing contact and relationship within and outside our environment. In school for instance, the students greet teachers, make friend, play together share their views, songs among others in a language.
Cooperation: what really would life be without any language One suspects that life would have lost its meaningfulness and vitality
without language. For instance schools, hospitals, factories, are built through co-operation and understanding brought about by language. Domestic and foreign trade are achieved through a language which is used to facilitate such trading activity.
Source of entertainment: both entertainment industries and media industries achieve a huge success through language. Through language, songs are composed, music is played, as well as individuals who serves as comedians, uses language to perform jokes on stage to amuse or entertain people. Some people sing certain songs to contain their sorrows, encourage themselves and at the same time as their companion. In consideration of the above numerous benefits of languages, I am of a strong opinion that a good effective language use should be instilled into our students in all schools, in primary, secondary and tertiary institution in our country. Hence, language can solve a lot of human challenges.