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Lecture 2 Three Adequacies Important points review.

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2 Lecture 2 Three Adequacies

3 Important points review

4 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

5 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.

6 Discussion

7 A lady was regarded as of slightly poor mentality.

8 A doctor asked her to put some pictures into categories.


10 “Because they are all around the house,” she said.  Please make an analysis of the mental state of this poor lady.

11 Observational adequacy Descriptive adequacy Explanatory adequacy

12 The house is easy to blow up. The house is easy to catch fire.

13 The house is easy to blow up. * The house is easy to catch fire.

14 John is eager to please. John is easy to please. John is eager to smile. John is easy to smile.

15 John is eager to please. John is eager to smile. John is easy to please. *John is easy to smile.

16 The baby is eager to walk. *The baby is easy to walk.

17 Chinese equivalents 这座房子容易爆破。 这座房子容易着火。 约翰很想讨好。 约翰容易讨好。 约翰很想微笑。 ? 约翰容易微笑。 这小宝宝很想走路。 * 这小宝宝容易走路。

18 If you are a linguist, your job is to Explain why …

19 Observational adequacy

20 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.

21 Descriptive adequacy

22 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.

23 Explanatory adequacy

24 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.

25 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.

26 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.

27 3. Psychologically real: it tells how the mind produces and processes language.

28 Philosophy vs Science  logic  evidence  speculation  observation  description  explanation

29 A theory in science must not be pure speculation but testable at observational, descriptive, and explanatory levels.

30 The “tourist map” of linguistics

31 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.

32 The “tourist map” of linguistics

33 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.

34 The “tourist map” of linguistics

35 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.

36 The “tourist map” of linguistics

37 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.

38 The “tourist map” of linguistics

39 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.

40 The “tourist map” of linguistics

41 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.


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