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Chapter 9

Chapter 9

13 Pages

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Gabriela Ilie

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Language It is important to define language precisely and, in particular, to distinguish between language and communication. Although language is often used as a communication system, there are other communication systems that do not from true languages. A natural language has two necessary characteristics: It is regular (governed by a system of rules, called a grammar), and it is productive, meaning that infinite combinations of things can be expressed in it. Other characteristics of human languages include arbitrariness (the lack of a necessary resemblance between a word or sentence and what it refers to) and discreteness (the system can be subdivided into recognizable parts sentence into words, words into sounds. THE STRUCTURE OF LANGUAGE Different languages have different sounds (called phonemes). The study of ways in which phonemes can be combined in any given language constitutes the study of phonology. Next, you have to put the sounds together in some coherent way, identifying the meaningful unites of language, an aspect known as morphology. Word endings, prefixes, tense markers, and the like are critical parts of each sentence Some of the morphemes (smallest meaningful units of language) are words, and you also need to identify these and to determine the role each word plays in a sentence. To do so, you need to determine the syntax, or structure, of each sentence. Semantics is the branch of linguistics and psycholinguistics devoted to the study of meaning. Finally, for a conversation to work there must be some flow or given-and-take. Listeners must pay attention and make certain assumptions, and speakers must craft their contributions in ways that will make the listeners job feasible. This aspect of language, pragmatics. Linguistic rules make up the grammar of the language and, taken together, define the way a language works. It is important that linguists and psychologists use the term grammar in a very restricted sense here, meaning the set of rules for a language. In particular, grammatical in this context has nothing to do with the rules of good English. To a linguist or a psycholinguist, the sentence I aint going to happily do it is perfectly meaningful and legal that is, it follows the rules of English that native speakers observe and is therefore grammatical. Here grammar refers not to polite ways of speaking but to ways of speaking that form intelligible phrases or utterances recognizable as examples of language that a native speaker of the language might produce. Linguists and psychologists distinguish between peoples explicit and implicit knowledge of linguistic rules. It is doubtful, that most of us could state with precision or accuracy just what the rules for English syntax are. Still, most of us can easily and almost immediately detect violations of rules. Not only would we recognize the example as ungrammatical, but we would never produce such violations Our knowledge of the rules is therefore not explicit (we cannot articulate what all the rules are, nor are we consciously aware of all of them) but implicit (whatever the rules are, we somehow follow them). We can often articulate the so-called prescriptive rules (Dont say aint), which tells us how we should talk or write, even though we may violate them. In contrast, we find it hard to articulate the descriptive rules of English, which characterize which sentences are legal and which are not. Linguists and psychologists also distinguish linguistic competence from linguistic performance. The term competence refers to the underlying linguistic knowledge that lets people www.notesolution.com produce and comprehend their language. Competence is not always fully evident in actual use or performance of language. Linguistic performance would reflect linguistic competence only under completely ideal conditions. In real life, such ideal conditions are never achieved. When overhear an ungrammatical utterance, it is probably not that the speakers linguistic knowledge (competence) is faulty (especially speaking in hisher native language) but rather that various other factors and pressures in hisher life at the time he spoke (performance) caused the error to errors. Phonology Phonetics, the study of speech sounds and how they are produced, and phonology, the study of the systematic ways in which speech sounds are combined and altered in language. The English language has about 40 phonetic segments (sometimes called phones). Although a language may have a large number of phones, only certain ones are meaningful to it. Linguists use the term phoneme to refer to the smallest unit of sound that makes a meaningful difference in a given language. If one phoneme in a word is exchanged for another, the word itself is changed. Linguists and phoneticians distinguish between consonants and vowels, Vowels work without obstructing the airflow, simply depending on the shape and position of the tongue and lips. Consonants are more complicated. In general, they are phonemes made by closing part of the mouth. They differ first in what linguists call place of articulation, meaning where the obstruction of the airflow occurs. Consonants differ also in manner of articulation, the mechanics of how the airflow is obstructed. A third distinction between groups of consonants is known as voicing. Features of phonemes are involved in certain phonological rules that govern the ways in which phonemes can be combined. It also explains how to pronounce new words and how to pronounce prefixes and suffixes to words, such as plural or past-tense endings. Different languages have different phonological rules; hence there are two answers to the question, why do different languages sound different? One answer is that they contain different sounds (phonemes). A second answer is that they have different rules for combining those sounds (phonology). Syntax The term syntax refers to the arrangement of words within sentences or, more broadly, to the structure of sentences their parts and the way the parts are put together Syntactic rules, similar to phonological rules, govern the ways in which different words or larger phrases can be combined to form legal sentences in the language. Syntactic rules should meet two requirements: They should be able to describe every legal sentence, and they should never be able to describe an illegal sentence. EX. The poodle will chase the red ball. o Ty to divide the words of this sentence into groups (linguists call these constituents). Certainly the word poodle goes with the word the. Similarly, red appears to modify ball, and the forms another constituent with red ball. Chase could also form a constituent with the red ball, and will seems to modify this larger grouping. www.notesolution.com
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