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Properties of language

Languages are not just sets of symbols. They also contain a grammar, or system of rules, used to manipulate the symbols. Language has grammar, which can manipulate the symbols to express clear and regular relationship.

Another important property of language is the arbitrariness of the symbols. Any symbol can be mapped onto any concept (or even onto one of the rules of the grammar). For instance, there is nothing about the Spanish word nada itself that forces Spanish speakers to use it to mean nothing. That is the meaning all Spanish speakers have memorized for that sound pattern. But for Croatian speakers nada means hope.

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