“Language is an arbitrary vocal symbol by means of which the members of society communicate each other”
If we see the above definition proposed by the majority of linguist, there is no matter it seems and it’s so perfect to represent the concept of language. There are at least two ideas proposed in the above definition: arbitrary vocal symbols and means of communication.
Term arbitrary refers to a concept in which the words in language are derived, the excerpt of this concept tells us how the language items have no direct connection with the concept they represent. Just say do you know about how a thing made of wood usually has square shape and four legs which function as the pair of chair is called table. Is there any direct connection between the word constructed from letters t, a, b, l, e with the above concept it represents? Note this; all letters in various languages in this surface of the earth are symbols. Or do you know how the crime of killing another person deliberately and not in self-defense or with any other extenuating circumstance recognized by law or in a simple words, an action causes the separation of soul from the body intentionally is called murder? And how the combination of qualities that makes something pleasing and impressive to look at, listen to, touch, smell, or taste is called beauty? There is no an adequate information how those words are originated, generally, we can only say that those words have been agreed by the language users. Those are the result of the convention among the language users in a society. The above concept is the simple description of what term arbitrary means. However, did you know that not all language or just say words are derived arbitrarily. Take a look these words below:
What kind of phenomena is that? It seems that there is a direct connection between terms and the concept they represent. Don’t get confuse, since the derivation of words is not totally using arbitrary pattern, although generally they are, but some aren’t, just like in those above words. Yes they are, they have a direct connection with the concepts they represent, just say, “bark”, since the sound produced by a dog is bark…bark…bark… so that that kind of action in English called barking or bark. Or what do you think? How is the sound produced by a cat? Or how is the sound produced by a lion? And how is the sound produced by a cow? From what comes to human ears, those sounds are made as the name of the action concepts. That concept is called onomatopoeia, the echo of nature, formation of words which sound like the meaning they represent.
Thus, which one is the correct one? What is the natural characteristic of language? Is it arbitrary or onomatopoeia? Or is that the above definition is incorrect?
Indeed, it is debatable, the definition of language itself can be so varies, and however, the majority of linguists agree that the above definition is adequate enough to give sufficient understanding on what language is. Always remember most dominant data is used to conclude the whole thing, it also happens in this case, since the dominant words derivation process of languages through the concept of arbitrariness so that we can say that language is arbitrary.