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LINGUISTICS 200_ Introduction to Linguistic Thought

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LINGUISTICS 200_ Introduction to Linguistic Thought Powered By Docstoc
					Key Attributes of Human
Language
This PP presentation uses several graphics and
examples from similar material created by Dr. Alicia
Wassink, University of Washington, for her introductory
linguistics course. I have edited and adapted it for
English 301. (August 2007)
              Points of Focus
   Seeing language as a set of rules
   Distinguishing linguistic competence vs.
    linguistic performance
   Naming attributes of
    language
   Separating animal
    communication from
    human language
   Identifying fields of linguistic
    study
        Linguistic competence
   What we know when we “know” a
    language.
   This knowledge is largely unconscious.
How do we study linguistic
     competence?


                By observing a
              speaker’s linguistic
                 performance.
          How Grammar Works
   Prescriptive grammar
       Prescribes rules governing what people
        should/shouldn’t say
   Descriptive grammar
       Describes the rules that govern what people
        do or can say (their “mental grammar”)
Prescriptive Rules
       “Don’t end a sentence with a
          preposition!”
       “Don’t split infinitives!”
       “Don’t use double negatives!”
       Descriptive Rules

In English sentences, words follow
         a predictable order.
      The boat sailed away.
      *Sailed boat away the.
         Summing up this point
   Descriptive rules are linguists’ attempt to
    represent your mental grammar. They
    are
        natural
        followed intuitively
        need not be taught
   Prescriptive rules are
        not natural
        must be learned by rote (in school)
    Naming Language Features
   Goal: Characterize language, distinguish
    it from other communication systems
   Caveat: If a system lacks even one
    feature, it is communication, not language
Language Attributes
     Discreteness
     Arbitrariness
     Cultural transmission
     Displacement
     Productivity (AKA Creativity)
                  Discreteness
   Larger, complex messages can be broken
    down into smaller, discrete parts

                                    [tap]
                            p
    e.g., [pat]
                        a       t
                                    [apt]
               Arbitrariness
   There is no (necessary) connection
    between the form of signal and its
    meaning
    e.g., whale is a small word for big animal,
        microorganism is just the reverse
          Cultural transmission
   At least some aspect of communication
    system is learned from other users

    e.g., child of Italian-speaking parents will
        first speak Italian
               Displacement
   Ability to talk about things not present in
    space or time

    e.g., “The Dutch bought
    Manhattan from the
    Native Americans
    for $24.”
                 Productivity
   Speakers can create an infinite number of
    novel utterances that others can
    understand                           Elvis
                                          lives!!

    e.g., “Little purple gnomes
                                         /
    living in my sock drawer
    said, ‘Elvis lives’.”
        Animal Communication




   Does not include displacement, arbitrariness or
    most of the other features of HUMAN language.
         Aspects of Language
   Human language consists of several
    levels or dimensions of knowledge
   These dimensions are used by linguists to
    separate language into separate areas of
    study
            Core Subfields
   Phonetics
   Phonology
   Morphology
   Syntax
   Semantics
   Pragmatics
      Phonetics and Phonology
   Phonetics: the study of individual units of
    sound
      e.g., “ee” is a single sound in “seek”
   Phonology: the study of how speech
    sounds pattern and how they are
    organized (i.e., the sound system)
      e.g., art, *rta (where ‘*’ = ungrammatical)
               Morphology
   Morphology: The study of the origin and
    structure of words.

    e.g., algebra is “borrowed” from Arabic
    e.g., unrealistic  un-real-ist-ic
                   Syntax
   Syntax: the study of the structure of
    sentences

    e.g., Fido brought in
          the paper.
            BUT NOT
         *Fido in paper
          brought the.
     Semantics and Pragmatics
   Semantics: the study of meaning in
    language.

   Pragmatics: the study of how linguistic
    meaning depends on context.

				
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