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DR. AZAD H. FATAH Definitions of word. Definitions A word is a sound or combination of sounds that has a meaning and is spoken or written. A word is a.

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Presentation on theme: "DR. AZAD H. FATAH Definitions of word. Definitions A word is a sound or combination of sounds that has a meaning and is spoken or written. A word is a."— Presentation transcript:

1 DR. AZAD H. FATAH Definitions of word

2 Definitions A word is a sound or combination of sounds that has a meaning and is spoken or written. A word is a speech sound or series of speech sounds that symbolizes and communicates a meaning usually without being divisible into smaller units capable of independent use.

3 Definitions A sound or a combination of sounds, or its representation in writing or printing, that symbolizes and communicates a meaning and may consist of a single morpheme or of a combination of morphemes. Hockett (1958) defines a word as “A word is any segment of a sentence bounded by successive points at which pausing is possible.”

4 In the written language, words are clearly identified by having spaces between them. So one can count the number of the words within a sentence or a line. This does not mean that there is no problem in the written version. For example, words such as power-of-attorney, father in law, red coat, and all idioms such as look up, well chosen, take off, show off, come across, etc. are regarded as one word, though they are written as three separate entities and having two or more spaces between them. The notion of words and their written forms are conventionalized in our mind.

5 Linguists always stress on the spoken language (version). However, in the spoken language, it is not easy and much difficult to identify words, especially in connected speech. This is so because in speech there are no spaces between words. In fact, there are no pauses or breaks between words, but there are pauses between phrases and sentences. It has been proved by experimental phonetics that speech is a continuum without any breaks at the points where the written words would be divided. Thus, recognizing the word in speech is not the matter of detecting breaks in the stream of speech.

6 Defining word according to different approaches There are three approaches to define ‘word’. The first is to see a word as a semantic unit. The second sees it as a phonetic or phonological unit. Whereas, the final one assumes that the word is in some ways an isolable and indivisible unit. 1. Semantic approach: According to semantic approach, the word is said to be a linguistic unit that has a single meaning. The difficulty lies in deciding what is meant by a single meaning. Some words, however, are single words and

7 1. Semantic Approach they cover more than a single meaning. For instance, the word singer is a single word but it is composed of two semantic units i.e. a person who sings. Consider the following words lamb, ewe, and ram. (Baby, female and male sheep), whereas, elephant calf, elephant cow, and elephant bull. Moreover, idioms are composed of more than one word but they mostly designate one meaning or concept. Not in all cases the principle of compositionality is applicable to idioms and compound words. Consider the expression strong tea it doesn’t mean strong and tea, or heavy smoker does not mean heavy and smoker, the same for criminal lawyer. As an objection to this approach, one can say that the word is not a single unit, nor is it even a close-knit group of related units of meaning.

8 1. Semantic Approach Criticisms on semantic approach: 1. A single word does not appear to have a single meaning. (lam, waitress, desirability, booklet). 2. More than two words or more, as in idioms, have or express only one unit of meaning (look after, look for, take on, put on etc.).

9 2. Phonetic or phonological approach Phonetic and phonological definition of words: In some languages the recognition of words is easy. This can be done by knowing certain phonological feature of that language. There are some languages which have known as fixed stress. The placement of stress in English is hard to expect. Whereas, in languages such as Czech, French, and Polish by knowing the pattern of stressed syllable one can simply count forwardly and backwardly to decide where the new word begins. In some languages, such as Turkish, one can determine the beginning and the end of a word by changing the vowel harmony.

10 2. Phonetic or Phonological Approach In such languages all the vowels of any one word have a particular quality and it is quite clear that if we recognize a change in the quality of the vowel we know that there is word division. See the following Turkish examples : Ev houseevim my house (front, unrounded) GözeyeGözümmy eye (front, rounded) Kizdaughterkizim my daughter

11 2. Phonetic or Phonological Approach That stuffthat’s tough A nice cakean ice cake Keep stickingkeeps ticking Grey daygrade A Attacka tack At alla tall

12 3.Linguistic procedures: A word as indivisible unit A word as indivisible unit: Boolmfield (1933)defines word as “a minimum free form”. That is the smallest unit that can occur by itself. This claim faced some criticism. For example, words do not normally occur by themselves in spoken speech. Functional words, such as did, the, a, are, never occur alone. This definition applies to the written language, however it may be accidental that sea shore is written as two words, while seaside as a one word.


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