Presentation on theme: "1 LIN 1310B Introduction to Linguistics Prof: Nikolay Slavkov TA: Qinghua Tang Acknowledgements: Many of the slides for this course are based on Eta Schneiderman’s."— Presentation transcript:
1 LIN 1310B Introduction to Linguistics Prof: Nikolay Slavkov TA: Qinghua Tang Acknowledgements: Many of the slides for this course are based on Eta Schneiderman’s slides. CLASS 2
2 Today Announcements and Reminders: -get textbook, Agora Bookstore 145 Besserer street (typo in syllabus) -read chapter 1, -Friday DGDs cancelled, need to register in one of the other two sections. If you have a conflict, see me ASAP. -get a copy of syllabus -course website can be accessed via Virtual Campus or at: www.courseweb.uottawa.ca/LIN1310BH2007/Index.htm Basic Linguistic Concepts (may be on the test)
3 Origins of Language Religious accounts - language as a gift of a God; which is the first language? Anecdotal accounts -language as a result of an accident, social interaction, labour, etc. Genetic / physiological accounts -language as a result of a genetic mutation / evolution see Table 1.1 of text (language specialization). Arbitrary relationship between sound and meaning Onomatopoeia
5 Creativity: defining characteristic of language Knowing a language is different from knowing (all) words in a dictionary. Even if you know all words in a dictionary, you may not be able to speak the language. You cannot buy a dictionary with all possible sentences of a language. No matter how thorough a dictionary is, it is always incomplete because new words enter the language, meanings change etc. We use language creatively and that is how we differ from a dictionary. The creative aspect of language use accounts for the fact that we are not just limited to stimulus-response behaviour.
6 Recursivity as creativity For every sentence in a language, a longer one can be found (recursivity): 1)This is an old man; 2)This is a very old man; 3)This is a very very old man; 4)This is a very very old man, who fought in World War II; 5)This is a very very old man, who fought in World War II and received an award of bravery.
7 Innovation as creativity New sounds, words, structures may enter the language (innovation, language change). -Sounds: Canadian raising (see p. 57 in text): house [haws] ~ [h ws] about [ bawt] ~ [ b wt] -Words: ‘to google something,’ ‘to beach the boat,’ -Structures (p. 234 in text): Speak they the truth? (Old and Middle English) Do they speak the truth? (Modern English)
8 Animal Communication Traditionally, animal communication has been considered to be different from linguistic behaviour. Animals arguably lack the creative aspect of human language However, humans are inferior to animals in certain communicative respects (i.e. smell, colour coding etc.)
9 Creativity vs. Constraints Infiniteness vs. Finiteness Our freedom in using language creatively is not unlimited! There are a number of rules or constraints that operate in any given language to restrict our creativity: e.g. a jail (noun)to jail (verb) a prison (noun)*to prison (verb) to imprison*to imjail We rarely know these rules and mechanisms. They are usually subconscious. Just as we don’t consciously know the rules and mechanisms of walking.
10 Linguistic Competence Our subconscious knowledge of how to form and interpret sounds, words and sentences in our native language. a.Native speakers know what constitutes a contrastive speech sound in their language, and can produce / perceive it easily. They also which sound combinations are allowed and which ones are not allowed in their language. b. Native speakers can reliably tell the difference between a word and a non-word. c. Native speakers know what constitutes a sentence and a non-sentence, i.e. grammatical vs. ungrammatical sentence
11 Linguistic Competence: Examples a.Sounds:prasp, flib, traf vs. *psapr, *bfli, *ftra; [ ] as in think and [ ] as in the; http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=1365353836237246497 b.Words: ungrammatical *ingrammatical *uncompetent incompetent c. Sentences: What he wanted was a new laptop. *What he thought was a new laptop. I expect them to do well in this course *I expect to do well in this course them. => As native speakers of at least one language, we have strong intuitions about the sounds, words and sentences of that language.
12 Competence vs. Performance Although our subconscious knowledge of our language can be considered perfect, we do occasionally make performance errors. These include slips of tongue, hesitations, false starts, stutters, Freudian slips etc.: 1)I would like to have boney and hutter for breakfast. 2)I want to buy… am… sell my car. 3)I want to k…(ill)… am…pet your dog
14 Performance errors versus other ungrammatical utterances 1) I would like to have boney and hutter for breakfast. 2) I would like to see this book interesting. => (1) is a performance error and can be produced by a native speaker; (2) is very unlikely to be produced by a native speaker. It could be uttered by an L2 (second language) speaker whose L1 (first language) allows this word order. While (1) is a performance error in English, (2) is an ungrammatical utterance showing that the person who produced it does not have the linguistic competence of an English native speaker.
15 Linguistic Competence = Grammar of a language Linguists use the term grammar in a different way from what people typically think of a grammar. Linguists use the term grammar to refer to the mental system that allows humans to form and interpret the sounds, words and sentences of their native language. The grammar of a language is the linguistic competence that its speakers possess subconsciously. Linguists are interested in describing and explaining this system. They focus on uncovering the rules and constraints that guide our production and interpretation of sounds, words and sentences.
16 Components of Grammar: Typically, linguists break down the grammar into the following components: –Phonetics (speech sounds) –Phonology (patterning of speech sounds) –Morphology (word formation) –Syntax(sentence formation) –Semantics (interpretation)
17 Descriptive vs. Prescriptive Grammar Descriptive grammar aims to describe the way language works. Prescriptive grammar ‘prescribes’ or ‘legislates’ language, i.e. it says how language should work, and uses labels such as ‘good’ or ‘correct’ vs. ‘bad’ or ‘incorrect’
18 Examples Prescriptive grammar claims that double negation (1), ‘ain’t’ (2), ending a sentence with a preposition (3), splitting an infinitive (4), etc. is bad English: 1)I don’t have nothing. 2)This ain’t gonna happen. 3)This is the girl that I went to the movies with. 4)I can easily eat five chocolate bars. -However, this is a matter of taste, arbitrary judgement, linguistic prejudice, politics, social stratification. -Some of these forms may have special meaning / function. -Sometimes following prescriptive rules may force us to produce ridiculous utterances: e.g. This is something up with which I will not put.
19 Prescriptivism Many of these prescriptive rules in English were created by 18 th century grammarians, who tried to determine which forms are preferable often based on Latin grammar. Prescriptivism is elitist in nature because it stigmatizes certain utterances declaring them as bad, and labels the people who use them ‘uneducated’ Prescriptivism labels certain varieties / dialects of a language incorrect or inferior Arbitrary / prescriptivist attitudes lead people to call certain languages primitive, ugly-sounding, certain grammars underdeveloped etc.
20 Prescriptivism Many countries have language academies which are often the source of prescriptivist rules. Prescriptivism often fails because it goes against language innovation and language change, which are natural language phenomena.
21 Descriptivism Linguists are interested in how language is and not in how language should be. They are equally interested in all varieties of a language and in all languages They consider all languages to be equally developed and sophisticated They welcome language innovation and change as an interesting phenomenon whose mechanisms need to be investigated
22 Is prescriptivism all bad? Prescriptivism can be useful in small doses It is also unavoidable in certain situations Example: language standardisation; education; foreign language instruction; national language planning, literacy, etc.