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Chapter 4

Chapter 4

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Marcel Danesi

Chapter 4Language Levels y The scientific study of sounds has ever since constituted the point of departure for the linguistic analysis of a language This now involves 1 the actual physical description of the sounds used by a language known as phonetic description 2 the analysis of how these relate to each other structurally known as phonemic analysis 3 the description of syllable structure 4 the description of intonation features stress patterns etc known as prosodic analysis and 5 an investigation of the relation between sounds and writing symbols known as orthographic analysis DESCRIBING LANGUAGE y Some words convey a single piece of meaning These are known more technically as minimal free forms y For instance logic is a minimal free form because it conveys a single piece of meaning y Forms that occur in tandem with others are known instead as bound forms y The word illogical for instance contains two bound forms in addition to the minimal free form logicy These are 1 the negative prefix il which conveys the meaning opposite of and 2 the suffix al which conveys the meaning act or process of being something y The description of how words are put together in a language and of what bits and pieces of sound can coalesce into the makeup and meaning of words comes under the rubric of morphology y Like the term word sentence refers to a notion that everyone intuitively knows but which defies precise definition y This is why linguists prefer to characterize a sentence structurally as a string of words organized around a subject and a predicate y The subject is what or who the sentence if about and the predicate indicates what the subject does thinks says etc THE PHONOLOGICAL LEVEL y The description of phonological systems starts with a phonetic inventory of sounds y To render this phonetic description efficient the three articulatory activities are designated as follows 1 is termed labiodental 2 fricative and 3 voiceless y Thus the phonetic symbol f known more technically as a phone stands for a voiceless labiodental fricative y The anatomical parts used in articulating sounds are classified first and foremost as either moveable or stationary y Movable parts are the lips jaws tongue and vocal cords y Stationary parts include the teeth the alveolar arch behind them the hard palate the softer palate known as the velum behind it the uvula back of the throat and the pharynx y In the larynx there are 2 vocal cords vibrating or taut
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