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Lecture Notes on Language

Course Code
John Bassili

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Chapter 10 Language
The Building Blocks of Language
What are the elements that make up spoken language?
Language can be broken down into elements at several levels
Ex. the players talked to the fans
The building blocks of the language are made of letters and this is partly true
because when we speaking the letters as building blocks we are speaking
about the written language
Not everyone can read and write but everyone can speak, we are focusing on
speaking language, the verbal language
Sentence:The players talked to the fans
this hierarchy consists of phrases (the player), words (the, player), morphemes
(play/er/s) and phonemes (pley/ar/z)
Phonemes: the building block of spoken language, the smallest unit of sound in
language and they are not words, rather they are codes of how you pronounce the
Morphemes: when phonemes combined to a bigger unit; they are the smallest unit of
meaning in language; ex. Player has 3 morphemes and each has a meaning;
Words: when morphemes comes together produce words
Phrases: when words are arranged in an order such as the player produce phrases
Sentence: when the phrases puts in an order with combining of other phrases
produce the sentence, ex. the player talked to the fans
Are the smallest significant units of sound in language
Linguistics called phonemes bilabial plosives

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Bilabial means that there are both lips involved in producing the phonemes; plosives
refers to the fact of explosion when producing the sound, ex. P and b (s dont involve
P and b is different in one small characteristic, in the case of p, the voicing start o.4,
o.5 seconds earlier then b
Alveolar fricatives: alveolar means when pronouncing s or z as we put our tongue
up to the lips and fricatives means the friction sound, such as s and z when a friction
is producing that sound.
The difference between s and z is that we when can feel the vocal cord of z when we
pronouncing z, it is voiced and s is not voiced
It takes energy, it starts with producing air pressure that send air out of my mouth
which comes from ours lungs
This column of air contains sound waves, it is not the sound waves itself, and the
sound waves can travel farther and faster than the column of air can.
As you speak, you will use vocal cords and vocal cords produce voicing
Interesting Facts about Phonemes
There are 40 phonemes in English, yet only 26 letters to capture these sounds. Some
letters can stand for different phonemes. For example, o in HOT and COLD
The normal rate of speech is about 180 words per minute which is equivalent to 14
phonemes per second.
There are phonemes that exist in other language than in English language, there are
sounds that the English language dont pronounce, roughly 40 in languages
Morphemes are the smallest units of sound that denote meaning in a language
As an example, the word talked has two morphemes, talk and the suffix ed
players are been made up of 3 morphemes, 1-play; er-tell you that it is a person and
s-means that there are several of the players
It captures little bits fundamental elements of meaning
Lexicon or Vocabulary

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A lexical items is a root word in the vocabulary, words that we are familiar with
Most English speaking high school students have a vocabulary of over 60,000 words
Most English speaking university students have a vocabulary of well over 120, 000
The full size of the dictionary in a English dictionary is around 170,000words
Vocabulary increase as age increase but memory decrease as we aging; the
vocabulary becomes our general knowledge which we dont have to remember, it is
part of our brain, as well as wisdom will increase as we aging and this well
incorporate in our general knowledge
Lexicon consists of content word and fraction word, the distinguishing of the
vocabulary is content word and function words
Content word have meaning, they are none, verb, adjectives, adverbs, you can look
up in the dictionary
Function words are the examples of the, to , kids learn content words first and then
function words
Syntax or Grammar
The highest level of the language is syntax or grammar
Syntax refers to the way users of a particular language put words together in
Each language has rules of grammar: the players to the fans talked is wrong
The rules differ across languages. John drives the car orange sounds wrong in
English but that order of words is correct in French
Syntax can be complex but where does it come from?
Each language has rules of putting words together into sentence
Properties of Language
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