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Chapter 6

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LING 200
Maire Noonan

LING 200 Introduction to the Study of Language Chapter 6 Abstractness  It is important in linguistics to propose categories of analysis that are not directly observable  Essential to the understanding of/ exploration of syntax, phonology, and morphology.  A generalization of rule can be reached by utilizing different hypotheses, which are known to be true. e.g. "generalization of a specific rule does not refer to connectors and pauses, but we can use the presence of these items to identify the end of a sentence.”  Some rules reflect on a particular type of language, but it also refers to universal grammar—it shows what it means to have an ‘English-type of grammar for instance. It compares to what Language’s I-language you are using in your mind.  Just like how Skinner's rats knew to press the lever after a certain duration, even without a specific stimuli - DURATION is an abstract concept which the rats grasped Abstractness of Sentence Structure  Syntactic computation is structure—dependent i.e. Do you know if anyone is here yet? I know Mary is here. I know Mary's here. I know Mary is. *I know Mary's, — Why doesn't it work? Must be described in abstract terms o Must be expressed in terms of abstract morphemes like possessives, nouns, copulas o Rule will have to explain why possessive —s behaves differently from the so—called ”contraction” of is, and why sometimes the contraction ”is" is fine (copula o Note that most of us are unaware of such facts about our grammars  we just never produce these weird—sounding sentence We find out that the contracted copula can't be the last word before a pause, it also cannot be the last word before a connector  Connectors and copulas have the ability to occur after sentences  The contracted form of the copula must be followed by another word in the same sentence (inside the smallest S that contains the copula)  This is deceiving because the ’s’ is contracted to the word on its left, but in actuality, its existence (and if it works) depends on the word to its right  In this explanation, we assume that a ‘sentence’ is a category of grammatical computation, an equivalence class (because if we use an ‘and’ after it, it's a connector and not part of the first sentence) o They consist of parts and subparts that ultimately end up being words S1 **This is grammatical because the copula is not the last thing in the sentence. S2 S3 Mary’s here but Bill is not S1 **This is UNgrammatical because the copula is the last thing in the sentence. S2 S3 *Mary’s here but Bill is not Equivalence class patterns are pure mental constructs, examples of how the mind processes information Rules of syntax never rely merely on linear order (which word comes after the next), they are structure—dependent (only these words can be grouped together etc.)  trees diagrams Allophony Phonology: a speaker's knowledge of how words are pronounced / how sounds pattern in their language Phonemes: an abstract, constructed mental entity——the smallest contrastive unit in the sound system of a language 9 every language makes its own selection from the range of possible speech sounds. /t/: There are at least 4 different sounds for this morpheme [t]: stare, rats – Elsewhere h [t + (aspirated ‘t’) : (to), two, atop, atomic *ɾ+: atom, at (flap—similar to ‘butter’) *ʔ+: that cat: tha_ ca_*glotta1 stop—e.g. British accent) *ø+: ‘didn’t want to’ ‘dinn wanna’ (silence—e.g. American slang) But, speakers perceive them as *t+’s The letter 't’ can produce many different sounds i.e. ’I saw a cat’  glottal stop: the sound in the middle of uh—uh ”no” [ʔ] i.e. ’the cat is on the mat’  a flap, the sound in the middle of butter and ladder[ɾ] i.e. ’I saw three cats’  plain old ‘t’, without a puff of air [t] i.e. ’My tie is clean’  an aspirated ‘t’, followed by a puff of air [t ] i.e. ’My stay is clean’  plain old ’t’, although it actually sounds like a ’d’ if you cut off the ‘s’ *t+ Phonemes: abstract equivalence classes that help us decipher how and when to pronounce these ’t’s. I-language treats all the different ’t’s as phonemes i.e. Phonemes /t/  Each phoneme is an abstraction over allophone Allophones: abstract elements that uses our grammar’s set of rules to determine the realization of ’t’s in variouh contexts i.e. allophones [t], [t ], [ʔ]  Each allophone is an abstraction over tokens of speech We ended up with our grammar in this state because as we were learning language, we were unconsciously learning the patterns of alternation and distribution based on these patterns, our minds constructed equivalence classes Our perception of ’t’ show construction of experience and is often a product of computations in our mindthings that are different physically perceived the same (all the different ’t’s); things that are physically the same perceived differently i.e. wetting/wedding It is possible to not differentiate two allophones in English (like two types of ’t’) but to differentiate the same thing in another language because it makes a difference  depends on which I-language is used What’s going on? Constructivism: the mind of English speakers constructs different sounds as belonging to the equivalence class [t]. Again, Sapir’s quote: “No entity in human experience can be adequately defined as the mechanical sum or product of its physical properties.”  We speak of this abstract constructed mental entity as the phoneme /t/ (note different notation!)  The various actual sounds are the allophones associated with the phoneme /t/. Each language makes its own selection from the range of possible speech sounds: phonemes  In other words, each language has its own phonemic inventory.  Each language has an inventory of phonological rules and processes (computations) that determine how the sounds are realized in context: allophones. Allophones: the equivalence class: how ‘t’ is differently produced—one set of multiple possible spoken sounds used to pronounce a single phoneme. We can also say that (an) allophone is an inventory of phonological rules and processes (computations) that determine how sounds are realized in context. (Phoneme) how do we decide which sounds are grouped together? (and which are not)  In pure phonetic terms: [t] and [d] = similar; [t] and [t ] = similar however we intuitively think that the latter is much more similar than the former. Thhs reflects on how we treat /t/ and /d/ as separate phonemes while *t+ and *t ] are allophones of the same phoneme. —However this issue is language specific and concept is basically arbitrary. Phoneme vs. Allophones Phoneme  Basic speech sounds of a language  “Contrastive sound”  Abstracts away from precise phonetic realization  Notation: / ... / Allophone  Variant of phoneme  Precise phonetic realization of phoneme  Usually predictable from phonetic environment  Notation: [ ... ] Distribution statement  The phoneme /p/ has two allophones: [p] and [p#] Complementary distribution (CD): the environment of one variant excludes the other, and vice versa. Distribution statement: Generalize! More equivalence classes  The voiceless alveolar and velar stops, /t/ and /k/ Also aspirated in word initial position (first approximation!) Natural classes  Observed systematic variation affects the class of voiceless stops, i.e. / p t k /  Stated differently, phonology treats /p t k/ as an equivalence class: voiceless stops. Rule of aspiration (1st hypothesis): Voiceless stops are aspirated, when occurring at the beginning of a word “Word initial voiceless stops are aspirated” *in English) [/pht]  phonemic form [/p at]  phonetic
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