03 - Sound and Language as a Symbol.docx

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“The limits of my language are the limits of my world.” – Wittgenstein
Human physiology predisposes humans to the capacity for language
In other words, the ability to have language is biological; however, language itself is culturally
derived.
Humans’ biological apparatus can develop a wide array of sounds that are translated into
meaning by systematical…
A Symbol is a word, action, or object that stands for or represents a unit of meaning. (Pg. 13 &
169)
Onomatopoeia: the approximation of a sound in words
o In English, dogs bark: woof woof, ruff ruff, bow wow
o In other languages, it may sound very different
Regardless of how cultures determine the symbol/object relationship, all languages use regular
constructs of sound to relay the meaningfulness of that symbol.
o Sound = symbol
Phonemes (sound) morphemes (units of meaning) words
Phoneme: the individual sounds that comprise words
o In English, loosely equivalent to letters, but not exactly the same thing
Phoneme: individual sounds that comprise words
o Hard c in cup
o Soft c in ice
Phonemes comprise the potentially meaningful sounds of a language.
The phonemes of /a/ /k/ /t/ can be combined to form the combinations of
o Act:
o Cat:
o Cta:
o Tca:
Morpheme: basic units of meaning word roots and the modifying units that differentiate
meanings upon those bases
A combination of one or more morphemes creates words
Morpheme: basic unit of meaning
o Comfort is a morpheme, but in this case com and fort cannot be separated
o Comfortable comprises two morphemes comfort and able
Examples:
o Dog is a particular unit of meaning: a candid animal
o Dogs (more than one dog) is a potential modification of that unit of meaning
o Dog’s (belonging to a dog)
o Doggy (like a dog)
o Doglike (similar to a dog)
o Undoglike (not similar to a dog)
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