Language
A Preview
Linguistics
What is linguistics and why is it important?
- Linguistics is the study of how language
works.
- Language is central to virtually every aspect of
human life.
Specialization for Language
Lungs
Lungs
Survival Function
Speech Function
to exchange CO2
and oxygen
to supply air for
speech
Specialization for Language
Vocal Cords
Vocal Cords
Survival Function
Speech Function
to create seal over
passage to lungs
to produce vibrations
for speech sounds
Specialization for Language
Tongue
Tongue
Survival Function
Speech Function
to move food to teeth
and back into throat
to articulate vowels
and consonants
Specialization for Language
Teeth
Teeth
Speech Function
Survival Function
to break up food
to provide place of
articulation for
consonants
Specialization for Language
Lips
Lips
Survival Function
to seal oral cavity
Speech Function
to articulate vowels
and consonants
Specialization for Language
Nose
Nose
Speech Function
Survival Function
to assist in breathing
to provide nasal
resonance
during speech
A Creative System
Language must be creative, allowing novelty
and innovation in response to new thoughts,
experiences, and situations.
Nouns Used as Verbs
Noun Use
Pull the boat onto the beach
Keep the airplane on the ground
Tie a knot in the string
Put the water in bottles
Catch the fish with a spear
Clean the floor with a mop
Verb Use
beach the boat
ground the airplane
knot the string
bottle the water
spear the fish
mop the floor
Linguistic Competence
Speakers of a language are able to produce
and understand an unlimited number of
utterances, including many that are novel and
unfamiliar.
a. prasp
b. flib
c. traf
Grammar
It is the mental system that allows human beings to
form and interpret the sounds, words, and sentences of
their language.
Component
Domain
Phonetics
The articulation and perception of speech sounds
Phonology
The patterning of speech sounds
Morphology
Word formation
Syntax
Sentence formation
Semantics
The interpretation of words and sentences
Generality: All Languages Have a
Grammar
a.
b.
c.
d.
e.
Walbiri (an indigenous language of Australia)
The two dogs now see several kangaroos.
Dogs two now see kangaroos several.
See now dogs two kangaroos several.
See now kangaroos several dogs two.
Kangaroos several now dogs two see.
Kangaroos several now see dogs two.
The word lu must be placed on the word for ‘dogs’
to indicate that it names the animals that do the
seeing rather than the animals that are seen.
Parity: All Grammars are Equal
a. I seen that.
b. They was there.
c. He didn’t do nothing.
d. He ain’t here.
The analysis of language must reflect the way
it is actually used, not someone’s idealized
vision of how it should be used.
Two ways to look at grammar
Descriptive grammar – a grammar that seeks to
describe human linguistic ability and
knowledge.
Prescriptive grammar – a grammar that aims to
state the linguistic facts in terms of how they
should be.
joan ellis on October 8th, 2007 4:24 pm
Dailywritingtips.com
I love your examples but am floored by our
culture’s now constant use of “impact” as a
verb. Can you clear this up.
The growth of the economy will have an
impact on millions of people that sounds right
to me whereas The growth of the economy
will impact millions of people sounds just
plain wrong. Help! Joan Ellis
Maeve on October 8th, 2007 5:22 pm
Dailywritingtips.com
Joan,
Alas, it’s not the culture, it’s the language. I don’t
know about other languages, but in English, it seems
that ANY word can be used as a verb.
Shakespeare’s Duke of York uses “uncle” as a
verb in Richard II: Tut, tut! Grace me no grace, nor
uncle me no uncle.
That’s not to say that’s a good thing.
I share your annoyance regarding the practice of
using the noun”impact” as a verb, but the only
“explanation” I can come up with is that it’s possible,
so people do it.
I dislike other verb-related messing abouts, for example,
using the intransitive verb “disappear” transitively as in
Uzbek police disappear torture victim.
And it still sets my teeth on edge when people talk about
“growing the economy,” or “growing a business.” As far as
I’m concerned, people grow corn and other crops. They
develop or expand businesses.
I suppose that all one can do is observe one’s own
standards, and try to shed a little light on the usage of one’s
nearest and dearest.
Jensita on January 3rd, 2008 3:53 pm
Dailywritingtips.com
Regarding “growing a business”, I think it’s used
more as a metaphor than a literal phrase. In its early
stages, a young plant, child or other living thing is
usually very fragile and requires special needs. In
that sense, a business must be treated in the same
fashion in order to expand or “grow”.
Thinking of it in those terms makes me less
inclined to cringe at the phrase “growing a
business”.
Additionally, one of Merriam-Webster’s
definitions for grow is “to promote the development
of ”
Universality: Grammars Are Alike in
Basic Ways
1.
2.
3.
4.
All languages use a small set of contrastive
sounds that help distinguish words from each
other (i.e. /t/ and /d/ sounds)
All languages have more consonant sounds
than vowel sounds.
Any language that has an /f/ also has an /s/.
All languages have a vowel that sounds like
‘ah’ in father.
Mutability: Grammars Change over
Time
1. Prior to 1200, ne before the verb and not after it.
We ne seeth nawt the knyghtes.
(We didn’t see the knights)
2. By 1400, not (or nawt) typically occurred by itself
after the verb.
We saw nawt the knyghtes.
3. Several centuries later, English adopted current
practice of allowing not to occur after only certain
types of verbs (do, have, will, and so on)
Inaccessibility: Grammatical
Knowledge is Subconscious
a.
b.
c.
d.
Hunted
Slipped
Buzzed
Flib
Inaccessibility: Grammatical
Knowledge is Subconscious
I went to school.
I went to movie.
•
•
•
•
Mary ate a cookie, and then Johnnie ate a cookie
too.
Mary ate a cookie, and then she ate some cake too.
Mary ate a cookie, and then Johnnie ate some cake
too.
Mary ate a cookie, and then Johnnie had a snack
too.
Describe the meaning of each of these
new verbs.
a.
b.
c.
d.
e.
f.
g.
h.
i.
j.
We punk-rocked the night away.
She dog-teamed her way across the Arctic.
We MG’d to Oregon.
You should Band-Aid that cut.
He Gretzky’d his way to the net.
We Greyhounded to Columbus.
We’ll have to Ajax the sink.
We Windexed the windows.
You should Clairol your hair.
Let’s carton the eggs.
Practice
Create three new verbs from nouns. Build a
sentence around each of these new verbs.
He Van Goghed him.
-Bob Costas
Which of the following forms are
possible words of English?
a.
b.
c.
d.
e.
f.
g.
h.
Mbood
Frall
Coofp
Ktleem
Sproke
Flube
Wordms
bsarn
It is your job to invent
new names for new
products. Create four
new forms that are
possible words of
English and four that
are not.
Part of linguistic competence involves the ability to recognize
whether novel utterances are acceptable. Consider the following
sentences and determine which are possible sentence in English.
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
Jason’s mother left himself with nothing to eat.
Miriam is eager to talk to.
This is the man who I took a picture of.
Colin made Jane a sandwich.
Is the dog sleeping the bone away?
Wayne prepared Zena a cake.
Max cleaned the garden up.
Max cleaned up the garden.
Max cleaned up it.
I desire you to leave.
That you likes liver surprises me.
Consider the following sentences, each of which is acceptable to
some speakers of English. Try to identify the prescriptive rules
that are violated in each case.
a.
b.
c.
d.
e.
f.
g.
h.
i.
j.
k.
l.
He don’t know about the race.
You was out when I called.
There’s twenty horses registered in the show.
That window’s broke, so be careful.
Jim and me are gonna go campin’ this weekend.
Who did you come with?
I seen the parade last week.
He been lost in the woods for ten days.
My car needs cleaned ‘cause of all the rain.
Julie ain’t got none.
Somebody left their book on the train.
Murray hurt hisself in the game.
What is the reaction of linguists to the claim
that sentences of this sort are wrong?
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Language - Bakersfield College