Linguistics: Quiz 1 Study Notes
Linguistics: Interdisciplinary (science) whose field of study is human or more generally
natural language is called linguistics.
1) Structure and mechanisms - the way string of sounds/words is structured and not
2) Principles of use - we convey more than we physically say, deeper meanings,
metaphors, similes (implications)
3) The way language is acquired - adults pick up language slower than children
4) How language changes over time - Shakespeare to now, changes are not random
5) How language is instantiated in the brain - what areas of the brain are responsible for
6) Its interaction with other cognitive systems - influenced by psychological models like
attention, memory etc
7) Its biological bases - how and when did language arise in humans and not animals
The task of linguistic research is to understand what these principles (rules) are and
how they are instantiated in language or individual languages.
Linguistic = related to language.
Knowing a language = ability to speak and be understood
Produce sounds that can be understood by others
Understand what linguistics constructions are possible/not possible
Linguistic knowledge is unconscious knowledge - know construction but don’t know why
it’s like that
Arbitrary: Things are not named based on their properties.
The relationship between sound/word (form) and its meaning is arbitrary.
In spite of arbitrariness; there is creativity
Discreet Infinity - infinite amount of sentences from a finite amount of words.
Creativity is regulated by systematic constraints or rules. Ex: Nouns used as verbs.
Making words, creates a new word.
There are limits: Jail the robber NOT prison the robber.
1 Ex: A constraint is that nouns used as verbs can only be used when they are describing
extended periods of time.
Some words in a sentence can be repeated as many times as needed. Ex: Old, old.
Sentences can be expanded by adding other sentences. Ex: He said that she said...
Competence is a speaker’s unconscious knowledge of what can/can’t be said in their
Performance is how the speaker actually uses his/her linguistic competence to
produced and understand speech.
You can test this by putting a string of letters together and seeing if it sounds right.
Prescriptive grammarians tell you how to use a language (English). Ex: Rules, should
Descriptive grammarians analyze how people use language (linguistics).
Certain sounds can only occur in certain positions and we know which ones
Mental lexicon: The correspondence between a sequence of sounds and a meaning is
stored in a speaker’s mental lexicon.
This is arbitrary.
Rules for combining words to form sentences.
Rules are finite and unconscious - we can know them.
They allow for creativity of language.
Characteristics of Grammar
Generality: All languages have a grammar but the structure of the grammar is different.
Parity: All grammars are equal. One language is not worse than the other.
Mutability: Grammar changes over time.
Inaccessibility: Grammatical knowledge is unconscious.
Universality: All grammars are alike in basic ways.
Ex: No language puts question words at the end of a sentence.
2 Universal grammar: The laws/rules that pertain to all human languages.
Language faculty: Part of human biological and genetic makeup specifically designed
for language acquisition and use.
Areas of Linguistic Study
main areas of linguistics
Phonetics: Description of sound properties. Structure of the sounds of speech.
Phonology: Classification of sound systems.
Morphology: Principles of word structure.
Syntax: Analysis of sentence formation.
Articulatory phonetics: What organs produce speech sounds and how.
Acoustic phonetics: Measuring sound waves produced in speech.
IPA: Universal system for transcribing the sounds of speech.
Purpose is to represent each sound with a symbol.
Symbols of alphabets do not always correspond to the same sound.
Ex: GH - F, U, O
IPA does not represent the spelling system of any language.
Segments: Individual speech sounds (phones).
When we speak we combine segments (phones).
Slips of the tongue prove we have individual segments (phones). Ex: Melcome wat.
Humans have a sound producing system.
Air supply - Lungs
Sound source - Larynx
Set of filters - Pharynx, oral cavity, nasal cavity
Intercostals - muscles raise the ribcage to allow air to flow into lungs
Diaphragm - sheets of muscles separating chest cavity from abdomen and maintains
release of air
Larynx - contains vocal folds/chords, boxlike organ of cartilage and muscle
3 Trachea - windpipe
Airflow: Lungs -> Trachea -> Vocal folds of larynx -> tongue -> lips
a) Thyroid cartilage
b) Cricoid cartilage
c) Vocal folds
Voiceless - Vocal folds pulled apart, air passes right through
Voiced - Vocal folds brought close together, sound produced as they vibrate
Whisper - Similar to voiceless but anterior close together while posterior fall apart
Murmur/breathy voice - Voiced sounds produced, but while vocal folds are relaxed
allowing air to escape.
Sound classes: Grouping of sounds based on shared phonetic characteristics.
Ex: All voiced sounds form a class as do voiceless sounds.
Vowels: Usually voiced, sonorous, basis of syllables, little obstruction of vocal tract.
Consonants: Voiced or voiceless, less sonorous, some are basis of syllables, closure or
narrowing of vocal tract.
Glides: Share properties of both vowels and consonants. Can never form nucleus.
Tongue: Primary articulatory organ.
Tip - narrow area at the front
Blade - behind the tip
Body - main mass of tongue *Body + Back = dorsum
Back - the hindmost part/back of the mouth
Root - lies in the pharynx
Places of articulation
Tongue and lips produce sound modification at specific places or points of articulation.
Tongue and lip sounds
Labial: Sound produced by lips
Bilabial: Sound produced by both lips
4 Labiodental: Sound produced by lips and teeth
Interdental: Sound produced by tongue between teeth
Alveolar: Sound produced when tongue moves to alveolar ridge
Alveopalatal: Sound produced when tongue moves to alveopalatal area
Palatal: Tongue in centre of the mouth
Velar: Using the part of the tongue which is further in the back (velum)
Within oral cavity
Uvular: Sounds produced at the back of the throat *not in English
In the pharynx
Pharyngeals: Sounds produced in pharynx *not in English
At the glottis
Glottals sounds produced with vocal fold as primary articulator
Manner of Articulation
Oral = Velum raised, cutting off airflow through nasal passages
Nasal = Velum is lowered and allows air to pass through nasal passages
Produced by stopping airflow
Airflow out of mouth is continuous not stopped
All language sounds can be classified as stops or continuants
Noisy, friction causing sounds voiced or voiceless
Stridents and sibilants
Noisier fricatives are called stridents (sibilants)
[s] [z] [g] [dƷ] [Ʒ] [ʃ]
Are continuants, air passing more freely
Lateral liquid L - air passes through sides of tongue
Retroflex liquid R - tongue is curled back towards alveolar
5 Flap R - tongue tip strikes alveolar ridge no real friction
Types of L are:
Velarized (Dark L)
Voiceless liquids come after voiceless consonant and are indicated with a circle
Glides are voiced continuants (except ʍ but that is not English)
Palatal glide (j)
Labiovelar glide (w)
6 Lecture 3, 4, and chapter 2 – Phonetics (parts II, III)
-sounds made with the vocal tract more open than consonant and glide productions (no blocking/little
blocking of airflow).
Rounded vowels: produced by protruding the lips
Nasal vowels: produced by lowering velum (passing airflow to the nasal cavity)
Vowels may be tense or lax, depending on the vocal tract constriction during their articulation.
Simple vowels: no noticeable change in quality during articulation
Complex vowels: (ex. diphthongs) change in quality within a single syllable
Diphthongs: changes in vowel quality due to tongue movement away from initial vowel articulation
towards a glide position
-made up of a vowel + glide
Ex. [baj] starts from one position, and ends up in a different one
Note: always count as 1 sound, even if written as 2
Major diphthongs: radical change from vowel to glide
Minor diphthongs: change is not as radical
Major Parameters in vowel Production:
-height (high/mid/low) (tongue)
-place of articulation in oral cavity (front/back)
how high the tongue is in the mouth, and whether it’s in the front or back of the mouth
Tense vowels are longer in duration, and higher in tongue position and pitch than lax vowels.
[ʌ] -> only appears as stressed vowel
[ə] -> (schwa/reduced vowel) only occurs as unstressed vowel In English
7 Besides inherent features, phones have specific suprasegmental or prosodic prope