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LIN204 Lec 1 Intro.pdf

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Safieh Moghaddam

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Lec 1: Intro Assignments are due at the beginning of tutorial July-03-13 7:00 PM Lecture 1 LIN204H1S - English Grammar Professor Safieh Moghaddam Course Textbook: "English Grammar - Language as Human Behavior" by Anita K. Barry Outline  What is Language?  What is Linguistics?  Prescriptive vs Descriptive grammar  Standard and Non-standard dialects  Register (formality & informality)  Grammaticality What is this course about? - An introduction to the structure of language - The purpose:  Provide basic linguistic research tools that could explain in a scientific way why some constructions are correct/ incorrect in a given language(s) - It is clear that when people use human language, they follow certain principles (rules)  e.g. a Sentence like: - The man has seen the dog. (correct in English) - *Seen man the has dog the. (incorrect) (* = sentence is not grammatically correct) What does it mean to know a language? - Knowing a language = being able to speak and be understood by others who know that language - The capacity to produce some sounds (or signs for deaf and mute) that have a certain meaning  And to understand and interpret the signs produced by others - The capacity to understand what linguistic constructions (sounds or signs, words, sentences) are possible in a specific language  And what constructions are not - Linguist knowledge = unconscious knowledge: - People speaking a specific language are able to explain what constructions are correct / incorrect in that language, but they are not able to explain why - To 'identify' the language  When someone speaks - you can easily tell what language that is Test of linguistic competence - Chomsky made a distinction between - Competence and performance  Unconscious knowledge = your competence  Production of actual utterances (e.g. speaking) = performance - Which of the following are possible words of English?  Trood (why? Because 'tr' = a possible cluster in English) - clusters = combinations of  Pfam (pf = not a possible cluster)  Larbfd (too many consonants clusters)  Fland (possible)  Blarg (possible)  Mtrass (no)  Strass (possible) - Which of the following are possible sentences of English?  Jason's mother left himself with nothing to eat. (no)  Who did you give the book to? (possible)  Is the dog sleeping the bone again? (no)  Max picked up the phone. (possible)  Max walked up the stairs. (possible)  Max picked the phone up.(possible)  Max walked the stairs up. (no) What is Language? - Knowledge of sounds (sounds = phonetics, phonology)  When you know a language you know which sounds are part of the language - English speakers know that b is a sound in their language but not q (a voiceless stop) - Japanese speakers know that is tart of their language but not th - When you know a language you know which combinations of sounds are possible:  English speakers know that words in English can start with (sound combos = clusters) Str-, spl-, sk-, but not *lps-, or *ks-  In contrast - Spanish, words cannot start with Lectures Page 1  In contrast - Spanish, words cannot start with *st- or *sp- - e.g. estrella "star" estado "state, especial, 'special' - Knowledge of how sounds can and cannot combine goes into deciding names for new products and inventions: e.g. blog, swiffer, etc - Knowledge of word structure (word structure = morphology )  When you know a language, you know which words are possible and which words are not: - e.g. un-system-atic ….. But not *atic-system-un - e.g. un-speak-ab-ly …… But not *speak-ly  Root = main component of the word - e.g. "unsystematic" -> root = system - We have rules for made-up words in our first language  e.g. one plirk -> two plirks  e.g. Tomorrow he'll fubble -> Yesterday he fubbled. - We use these rules of word structure to create new words:  e.g. google-able, podcast-ing, pluto-ed, truthiness, faux-tography, nicotini, etc  "app" was named Word of the Year in January by the American Dialect Society - e.g. commit - - commitment - - commitments - Knowledge of Sentence structure (Sentence structure = syntax )  Speakers of a language also know which combinations of words are possible and which combinations are not - Bill is difficult to love. -> It is difficult to love Bill. - Bill is anxious to go. -> *It is anxious to go Bill. - Jane wrote a book -> A book was written by Jane. - J became a doctor. -> *A doctor was become by J.  We use our knowledge of sentence structure every time we speak, creating sentences that have never been uttered or heard before - Knowledge of meaning and real-world usage (meaning = semantics, real-world usage= pragmatics )  Speakers can recognize ambiguities in meaning: - e.g. I saw the man with the telescope. □ MEANING 1 = using the telescope, I saw the man. □ MEANING 2 = I saw the man who had the telescope. - e.g. Everyone loves someone. □ MEANING 1 = There is a certain person who everyone loves. □ MEANING 2 = each person loves someone (although not necessarily the same someone)  Usage (pragmatics): Speakers are aware of diff levels of formality in their first language and know when to use them: - Got a pen? - - would you happen to have a pen? (Informal vs Formal) - Take this - could you (please) take this (for me)? (Informal vs. Formal) Linguistic Knowledge - Language is a complex cognitive system  What is linguistics?  What is grammar?  Prescriptive vs Descriptive Grammar  Major areas of Linguistic Theory (components of grammar) What is Linguistics? - Linguistics = scientific study of human languages and (generally) the human capacity for language  Linguistics describe language as it is actuallyspoken by people - If native speakers accept a form (e.g. a word, a sentence..etc) then that form is grammatical in their dialect. - Linguists are interested in all natural language (and all their dialects) not just "standard dialects'  Something may be grammatical in one dialect but can be ungrammatical in another  Linguists examine speech at varying levels of formality. Formal speech, casual speech, polite speech, and impolite speech are equally worthy of study  Both formal and informal speech are grammatical What is grammar?  "the art of speaking and writing any language with propriety" (p.8, 18thc) - The writer defines art as "a system of rules", with propriety = appropriately. - Reworded: "the system of rules for speaking and writing a language appropriately" - Canadian Oxford Dictionary: defines grammar include: "the means of showing the relationship between words" - Free Online Dictionary: "The study of how words and their component parts combine to form sentences" Approaches to Grammar - There are 2 approaches to grammar ( a system of rules ):  Prescriptive - "prescribes" It tells you what to do (shoulds and shouldn'ts)  Descriptive - Describes - As long as people can communicate and understand each o
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