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Lecture 3

ATH 104 Lecture Notes - Lecture 3: Historical Linguistics, Phonetics, Nonverbal Communication

Course Code
ATH 104
Mary Courtis

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Linguistic Research and the Nature of Language
All languages are organized in the same way
Linguistics- the systematic study of all aspects of language
Linguistics first began with the work of ancient language specialists in India over 2000
years ago
These specialists were needed in matters of trade and legal negotiations, as
there were multiple languages spoken in the region at the time
European interest in language grew as a result of exploration
At the time, there were estimated to be more than 10000 languages
By the 19th century, anthropologists were making contributions by comparing languages
with one another, which led to the discovery of commonalities among languages, as well
as the depth of linguistic variation
20th century anthropologists continued this linguistic comparison and started to
investigate the reasoning process behind language construction
There are three main branches of linguistic study- descriptive linguistics, historical
linguistics, cultural linguistics
Descriptive Linguistics
Focuses on discovering and describing aspects of language, such as grammar and
Descriptive linguists record the speech of elders or others who are experts in the
language being studied
These recordings are transcribed and analyzed within the cultural context that
they were gotten from
Anthropologists may have to rely on interpreters, which have their limitations
Summarize statements, as opposed to giving word for word translations
Also ignore rude or controversial comments
Explanations of social events might be kept to a brief summary
Learning the language for themselves allows researchers to be more immersed in the
Nonverbal communication is also key, as cultures have different ways of expressing
Unlocking the rules of a spoken language require a practiced ear, and many linguists
complete special training in phonetics
Phonetics- the systematic identification and description of distinctive sounds in a
The study of language sounds
Some sounds that are common in one language are not used in others
As a result, certain sounds can be difficult to replicate if they are not a part of
your native language
Utterances- speech sounds
Phoneme- the smallest unit of sound that make a difference in a language
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