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1 Linguistics week 2 What do linguists do? What is language?

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1 1 Linguistics week 2 What do linguists do? What is language?

2 2 In your free time u Look at the diagram again, and try to understand it. Phonetics Phonology Sounds of language Linguistics Grammar MorphologySyntax Meaning Semantics Pragmatics

3 3 And take a look at 分支學科 u On this website – AF%AD%E8%A8%80%E5%AD%A6%E9% A6%96%E9%A1%B5 AF%AD%E8%A8%80%E5%AD%A6%E9% A6%96%E9%A1%B5 u And read about Animal “Languages” in Chapter 1 of your book.

4 4 Introducing Linguistics u What do linguists do? u Grammar, and other aspects of language u Relationships between languages u How is linguistics used in the real world?

5 5 What do linguists do? u They don’t necessarily “learn languages” – Linguist and 語言學 are confusing terms u They are often interested in the structure of languages. They might – specialize in one language, or a group of languages – compare different languages – study features shared by all languages u Many linguists study speech sounds, and grammar – What fields, please? u A brief outline of some semester 2 topics:

6 6 Historical linguistics u How languages are related – Language families »Indo-European, Sino-Tibetan… – Areal linguistics »Greek, Bulgarian – Mostly borrowed words; also shared grammatical features (any examples?) »Chinese, Korean, Japanese u How language changes over time – sounds: poor vs paw, suit. – vocab: 咖啡, 颱風. Calque: 摩天大樓, skyscraper, gratte-ciel – grammar: Did you eat yet? Adversative passive 被

7 7 Sociolinguistics u Diglossia: “high” and “low” prestige languages – The role of Mandarin and Taiwanese in a bilingual society – The changing role of English in Taiwan society: borrowing, or showing off? – case and size: code- switching, or lexicalized Chinese words? Ta-hsüeh-shih-ching

8 8 Applications for linguistics u Speech disorders u Forensic linguistics – Accent detection – Style verification (eg police style) u Language teaching u Computational applications – Machine translation – Speech recognition and synthesis – Language identification

9 9 So, what is language? u It’s a non-count noun, here – the phenomenon of language u Do you think the utterances of parrots and mynah birds count as language? u What about the “animal languages” you read about? u What about deaf signing? u What about the “sign language” you use? u What about “body language”?

10 10 A selection of Hockett’s design features for language 1966), "The Problem of Universals in Language" (write them) 1. Rapid Fading – message does not linger in time or space after production 2. Interchangeability – individuals who use a language can both send and receive any permissible message within that communication system 3. Feedback – users of a language can perceive what they are transmitting and can make corrections if they make errors 4. Arbitrariness – there is no logical connection between the form of the signal and its meaning

11 11 More design features (he actually described 15 altogether) 5. Displacement – linguistic messages may refer to things remote in time and space, or both, from the site of the communication 6. Productivity – users can create and understand completely novel messages 7. Duality (of Patterning) – a large number of meaningful elements are made up of a conveniently small number of meaningless but message- differentiating elements. 8. Prevarication – linguistic messages can be false, deceptive, or meaningless

12 12 Bee dancing u nce nce u Honey bees perform a sort of dance when they return to the hive, after finding food, which shows – the direction relative to the sun – the distance – perhaps, the quality of the food source u Is it a kind of language? – Does it satisfy any of Hockett’s design features?

13 13 Duality of patterning u A small number of phones can be concatenated to form a very large number of words (the lexicon) u AND, although the lexicon is finite, they can be combined to form an infinite number of possible utterances – The creative aspect of language (Chomsky) – Also known as the infinity of expressions

14 14 The infinity of expressions u There is no upper limit on sentence length – Some interesting examples on page 10 – “One is a number…” u We can be almost as creative as we wish in forming new sentences u Probably, no-one has ever said before: – “Ming Chuan linguistics students usually ride motorbikes through Manchester, wearing moccasins and carrying a mop-bucket” – The utterance is “pragmatically odd”: it makes sense, but…

15 15 So, is anything possible? Can we create any utterance we want? u Maybe, a good utterance must “make sense”? – WRONG!: Chomsky gave the famous example “Colorless green ideas sleep furiously” – This is syntactically well-formed (although semantically it is ill-formed) u But some utterances are impossible – “Sleep ideas colorless green furiously” is syntactically ill-formed u page 11 here, practise prag, sem, synt i/f utts in chin

16 16 So, what utterances are OK? u We have – a finite lexicon – an infinite number of possible utterances – no room in our brains to store all those utterances – no requirement to make sense… u So how is it decided?

17 17 Our linguistic knowledge u (=our knowledge of our own language) u This consists of – A lexicon (a finite number of words) – A grammar (count noun!): that is, a finite set of rules stating what is possible »Note that we are not consciously aware of what these rules are; like the rules for muscle control! »Now, we have 3 meanings of the word grammar!

18 18 Back to what linguists do! u Finite lexicon + finite set of rules (grammar)  infinity of expressions  Lexicon: easy. - Buy a dictionary.  Grammar: difficult. - This is what linguists do


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