Epistemology Ontology The division of philosophy that investigates the nature and origin of knowledge. A theory of the nature of knowledge. The division of philosophy that deals with being
What is grammar? Pedagogical approach to grammar: designed to show you the “correct” way to write and speak a language. Generative approach to grammar: Grammar is the knowledge that every speaker has of the language that he/she speaks. A speaker might not be aware of this knowledge, or able to describe it to someone else, but he/she has an intuitive grasp of the structures and forms of the language that he/she speaks.
Successful research is expected to be adequate in observation, that is, exhausting all the phenomena observable and being duplicable. A grammar of language is observationally adequate if it correctly specifies which sentences are (and are not) syntactically, semantically, morphologically, and phonologically well- formed in the language.
Proper description is based on adequate observation, and a piece of scientific work in language study is descriptively adequate if it provides a principled account of the native speaker’s intuitions about the structure of the linguistic phenomenon observed.
A linguistic theory attains explanatory adequacy just in case it provides a descriptively adequate grammar for every natural language, and does so in terms of a maximally constrained set of universal principles which represent psychologically plausible natural principles of mental computation.
Conditions imposed on any adequate linguistic theory : 1. Universally valid: it must be able to provide us with a descriptively adequate grammar for every natural language.
2. Maximally constrained: it may enable us to characterize the very essence of human language; it must not be appropriate for the description of other communication systems.
3. Psychologically real: it tells how the mind produces and processes language.
The apexes of the triangle are language signs, objects the signs refer to and users of language. The areas above the apex sign are phonetics, phonology, morphology and syntax, which are only related to signs. Phonetics deals with the physical foundation of human language – articulation, which is a relatively independent area. In fact, some western universities even have “the department of phonetics and linguistics”, indicating that they take phonetics as a parallel domain of linguistics.
The other three branches belong to a general domain – formal linguistics, or core linguistics, whose interest is concentrated on the formal structure of linguistic signs. Phonology studies the distribution of sounds in a language and the interactions between those different sounds. Morphology is the study of word- making and word-marking. Syntax studies the organization of words into phrases, and phrases into sentences.
The area concerning the relationship between sign and object is semantics, so it is located on the left side of the triangle. According to de Saussure, the relationship here is mainly of arbitrariness. Semantics focuses its study on meaning, including meaning of words, phrases, and sentences, without considering contextual influence.
On the right side there is the recently- opened-up area – pragmatics, which is concerned with how people use language within a context and why they use language in particular ways. The soul of pragmatics is Austin’s theory of speech acts – using language to do things. Between the apexes object and user we see an area adjacent to linguistics – language philosophy, which explores the relationship between language and reality. Though it is not within linguistics, many influential theories of different branches of contemporary linguistics have their roots in it.
What’s more, the current “map” is two- dimensional. If we view the relationships multi-dimensionally, we will see an interface between semantics and pragmatics from the perspective of discourse. This is an area particularly explored by a school in linguistics – functional grammar.
All these branches of linguistics, from phonetics to pragmatics, are introduced between Chapter 3 and Chapter 9, with each branch either occupying one chapter or extending across two or three chapters, sometimes interwoven with an aspect of another branch.