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An Introduction to Linguistics

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1 An Introduction to Linguistics

2 Some Approaches to the Study of Language
Ancient Indian thinkers paid a good deal of attention to the nature of language; Panini’s Ashta:dhya:yi: is a significant work in the tradition. Saussure’s concept of language (Early 20th Century) Austin’s use-theory of language (1962) Chomsky’s biolinguistic assumptions (1957 onwards)

3 Saussure’s Concepts about Language
Diachrony vs. Synchrony Langue vs. Parole Signifier vs. Signified Associative vs. Syntagmatic Relation

4 Diachrony vs. Synchrony
Studying a language at two different points of time; relating two different stages of a language Synchrony Studying a language as a complete system at a particular point of time

5 Langue vs. Parole Langue Parole
The ‘system’ of a language exists in a speech community, in the collectivity; it is shared by all the speakers of that speech community Parole An individual’s use of the system of ‘langue’

6 Signifier vs. Signified

7 Signifier-Signified Relationship
The sound/utterance which is related to a ‘concept’ Signified The ‘concept’ which is related to the sound/utterance The signifier and the signified are not separable; together, they form a sign. The relation between the signifier and the signified is not natural, but arbitrary. Thus, languages are different from one another

8 Language as a Form Language is a form shaping both thought and utterance simultaneously.

9 Associative vs. Syntagmatic Relation
Associative Relation A sign is associated with other signs of a language by similarity and difference. The associated signs are in a set of choices. Syntagmatic Relation A sign occurs with other signs in a chain (e.g. in a phrase or in a sentence). Language is organised by selecting from a set of choices of signs to a chain of signs.

10 Some examples of the relations
1) The old man 2) The young man 3) The tall man In (1), the sign old is in syntagmatic relation with the and man As (2) and (3) show, the sign old in (1), is associated with young and tall, and is substitutable by them. The associative relations are not visible in a construction; they are related in absentia; the syntagmatic relations are in presentia. Concept of sign applies to every unit of a language, such as a phoneme, a morpheme, etc.

11 Austin’s Use-theory of Language (How to Do Things with Words)
Language does not merely refer to things; it is used in the society to perform certain communicative functions. The use theory of language attempts to arrive at a restricted set of conditions for the language use. Using language means doing things

12 Utterance types Constative vs. Performative Constative Performative
Constative utterances are statements; their function is to describe some event, process or state-of-affairs; and they (or the propositions expressed by them) have the property of being either true or false. Performative Performative utterances, by contrast, have no truth value; they are used to do something, rather than to say something is or is not the case. They refer to the fact of their own successful performance.

13 Speech Acts Locutionary act
Locutionary,Illocutionary and Perlocutionary Acts Locutionary act Uttering noise you know have meaning Illocutionary act Utterance invokes a conventional force. Doing something in saying something. Some examples : Asking a question Making a promise Making an appeal Perlocutionary act Utterance brings about an effect on the hearer. Doing something by saying something. Some examples: Warn someone Persuade someone

14 Generative Grammar and Chomsky’s Biolinguistic Assumptions
Language is a biological endowment It is innate It interacts with other cognitive systems

15 Innateness As a part of our brain, there is a Faculty of Language (FL). A human child is born with innate biological abilities to learn any human language. A child does not “learn” language but it matures by being exposed to the linguistic environment, in the same way as the vision matures. In both the cases the innate biological abilities mature.

16 Some Speculations about FL
FL is relatively a recent biological development. The basic nature of the FL is symbolic; it has no direct correspondence to physical objects. Its development may not be strictly for communication. (Chomsky, 2004)

17 FL: Its Initial State and Modifications
FL has an Initial State: L0 The L0 can be modified. But, the possible modifications are highly regulated. L0 is modified with the exposure to the target Language. L1, L2, L3…. are modifiable states; they correspond to different natural languages. A natural language is an instantiation of one such modifiable states of L0

18 Principles and Parameters
The set of initial properties available to the L0 is called the set of principles. The set of variations possible within the principles are called parameters, which allow the languages to be different from one another. This approach in generative grammar is called the ‘Principles and Parameters’ (PP) approach.

19 Adequacies To account for a particular language the grammar has to meet ‘Descriptive Adequacy’. To account for the L0, the Universal Grammar (UG), the grammar has to meet ‘Explanatory Adequacy’.

20 The Architecture FL PF LF
The Faculty of Language (FL) interfaces with two other systems; they are: Sensory Motor (Articulatory-Perceptual) system it is expressed by the Phonetic Form (PF) Systems of thought (Conceptual-Intentional system) It is expressed by the Logical Form (LF) FL PF LF

21 FL should be Legible to Other Systems
For FL to be usable by the PF and LF interface systems, it should be legible to them Language is an optimal solution to legibility conditions. (Chomsky, 2002)

22 What principles are available to the Faculty of Language?
A possible Principle: The Structure Dependency Language shows a hierarchical structural organisation. So an underlying structures has to be assumed behind the linear sequence of elements.

23 Thank you

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