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Yale University
ENGL 006
Kazimierz Wielki University

BASIC ELEMENTS OF ANALYSING LANGUAGE AND GRAMMARMA Adedimeji and TA Alabi 10 INTRODUCTIONLanguage is like an onion bulb with many layers The existence of the outer layers is dependent on the presence of the inner layers Similarly the inner layers depend on the outer layers for protection Language is conceived as the totality of utterances that can be made in a speech community Chomsky 198616 or a system of conventional signs all aspects of whose structure serve the sovereign function of meaning Cruse 1990140 For any language especially Englishour focus in this chapterto be meaningful it has to be grammatical Grammatical correctness is thus a prerequisite a sinequanon of sort to any functional discourseGrammar one of the most important aspects or levels of linguistic study is the bodyof descriptive statements about the morphological and syntactic structures of a particular language Osisanwo 19991 as it deals primarily with the rules that govern the combinations of words and groups of words to bring about meaningful sentences Eka 19941Just like language under which it is subsumed grammar is also hierarchical or systemic The elements of this hierarchy are morphemes words phrases clauses and sentences otherwise known as members of the grammatical rank scale Our aim in this chapter is to explore the foundation of grammar focusing on the elements of morphemes and words after a cursory look at the levels of linguistic analysis phonology morphology syntax semantics and pragmatics At the end of the chapter we hope to have brought to the fore the rudiments of morphology and morphological processes with which the understanding of the higher systems of grammatical rank scale become enhanced and of course provided a birds eyeview of the language phenomenon20 LEVELS OF LANGUAGE ANALYSISLike the onion bulb language exhibits different levels These levels of linguistic analysis are not mutually exclusive Phonemes combine to formmorphemes and words and words combine to form sentences on which meaningsare superimposed as constrained by the context Hence while phonology morphology and syntax are levels of linguistic abstractions the levels of semantics and pragmatics concretize them by making them meaningful and appropriate and thus satisfying the essence of language21 PHONOLOGYPhonology is a primary level of linguistic analysis which essentially deals with the study of speech sounds and how they are organized into a system of a given language Traugott and Pratt 198056 see phonology as a branch of linguistics which identifies the distinctive sound units in a language and how these units combine to form a sequence In other words phonology studies how speech sounds are structured to function meaningfully in a language as sound rudiments are instrumental to meaningfulness and meaning differentiationThere are two major branches of phonology These are segmental and suprasegmental phonology Segmental phonology preoccupies itself with identification description and analysis of basic sound units and their patterns At this level vowels and consonants are considered as major classes of segmental phonemes The vowel class has three subclasses namely monophthongs pure vowels diphthongs and triphthongs Monophthongs are articulated at one point in the oral passage There are twelve of them in English and they include iIeauuL3andThere are eight diphthongs in English and these are produced as the articulator glides from one point of the oral passage towards another They are eI aI I u auI e and u Triphthongs present themselves as the most complex type of vowels because they can be difficult to recognize and pronounce Roach 199123 describes a triphthong as a glide from one vowel to another and then towards the third one Some writers describe triphthongs in English as comprising five closing diphthongs ie eI aI I u and au and the schwa soundin succession hence the following triphthongs result eI aI I u and au A point worthy of note is that all vowel sounds are voiced ie articulated with vocal vibrationConsonants on the other hand are sounds which are produced with partial or total obstruction of the air passage Unlike vowels consonants can either be voiced or voiceless The voiced consonants in English include bgdmnhzvdrl and33the voiceless ones are ptksfqs ts hwjThe suprasegmental level of phonology concerns itself with features which accompany combination of phonemes into meaningful sound bits of a language Prominent under this classification are stress the prosodic feature of syllable rhythm the prosodic feature of foot and intonation the prosodic feature of tone group A diagrammatic representation of the phonological levels and classes is presented as follows
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