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Introduction to Linguistics and Basic Terms

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1 Introduction to Linguistics and Basic Terms

2 Linguistics and Linguists:
Definition: The scientific study of language gives a better understanding of the nature of human language Contributes to our understanding of human mind Linguists: are scientists who study the general properties of grammars - the universal properties found in all languages - and the specific properties of the grammars of individual languages

3 Definitions: Speech: is the oral expression of language
Language: is a shared system of symbols and rules that allow us to represent concepts and experiences and to communicate with others. Language is arbitrary, creative and learned. Communication: is the process of sharing thoughts, ideas, attitudes, feelings and desires with others.

4 What is LANGUGE? Introduction:
Whatever people may do when they come together -they talk Talk to friends, family members, strangers.., to ourselves The possession of language, distinguishes humans from other animals. Philosophy (myth): it is the language which is the source of human life and power

5 (Cont’d) What is LANGUGE?
Introduction: To understand our humanity one must understand the language that makes us human When we study human language, we are approaching what some might call “human essence,” the distinctive qualities of mind that are, so far as we know, unique to man Noam Chomsky

6 What does it mean to know a language?
It means to be able to speak and to be understood by others who know that language Which means to be able to produce sounds which signify certain meanings and to understand or interpret the sounds produced by others Deaf persons produce and understand signs

7 How is it possible for you to do this?
Is there anything more that you know when you have acquired knowledge of a language?

8 If you know language, you know
which sounds are part of the language and which are not Knowledge The way speakers of one language pronounce words from another language E.g. French people speaking English pronounce words like (This, That) as Zis and Zat this is because the English sound which begins these words is not part of the French sound system mispronunciation reveals the knowledge

9 If you know language, you know
which sounds may start a word, end a word, and follow each other name Nkrumah; Ghanaian (Nng) English (N  en) that certain sounds or sound sequences signify or represent different concepts or “meanings” i.e. you know the system which relates sounds and meanings e.g. foreign language--> sounds spoken mean nothing

10 E.g.Sounds (House) signify the concept
French maison; Russian dom ◊ sounds of words are only given meaning by the language in which they occur ◊ particular sound sequences which seem to relate to particular concept Ex. gl (sight) in English, and not have to do with sight in another language glitter, glossy, glance, glimpse….

11 When you know language, you
would be able to combine words to form phrases, and phrases to form sentences. This is because, knowing a language means being able to produce new sentences never spoken before and to understand sentences never heard before E.g. different responses and say different things when someone steps on our toes This ability is referred to it as the “creative aspect” of language use Noam Chomsky

12 When you know language, you
Know what sentences are appropriate in various situations E.g. inappropriate to say “Hamburger costs 98 cents a pound” after someone has just stepped on your toe during a discussion on the weather in Britain can recognize and understand and produce new sentences E.g. writing an essay, exam, letter

13 When you know language, you
you must know some “rules” to form the sentences These rules must be (a) finite in length and (b) finite in number so they can be stored in our finite brains Permit us to form and understand an infinite set of new sentences Language consists of all the sounds, words, and possible sentences. Knowledge of a language is knowledge of the sounds, the words, and the rules for their combination.

14 What you know and what you do
Our linguistic ability permits us to form longer and longer sentences which is illustrated by piling up adjectives limit No. of adjectives to 3,5,18 in speaking Vs can not limit the No. of adjectives which one could add if one wanted to i.e. there is a difference between having the necessary knowledge to produce such sentences and the way we use this knowledge when we are performing linguistically what one knows linguistic competence how one uses this knowledge in actual behavior linguistic performance

15 Linguistic Competence and Performance
You have the competence to understand or produce an infinitely long sentence. But when you attempt to use that knowledge-when you perform linguistically- there are physiological and psychological reasons why you cut off the number of adjectives, adverbs, clauses, and so on. Run out of breath Audience may leave You may lose track of what has been said if the sentence is too long

16 Linguistic Competence and Performance (Cont’d)
In using our knowledge of language in speaking we also make mistakes –slips of the tongue, false starts, and so on. But this does not mean that we can’t recognize errors – we have the knowledge to do so.

17 What is Grammar? The elements and rules of a language constitute the grammar The grammar is what we know it represents our linguistic competence There may be differences between the knowledge that one speaker has and that of another. But there must be shared knowledge because it is this grammar which makes it possible for speakers to talk to and understand one another.

18 (Cont’d) What is Grammar?
Although the rules of your grammar may differ from the rules of someone else’s grammar, there can’t possibly be a mistake in your grammar  because no language or variety of a language (dialect) is superior to any other in a linguistic sense Every grammar is equally complex and logical and capable of producing an infinite set of sentences to express any thought one might wish to express ◊ If something can be expressed in one language or one dialect, it can be expressed in any other language or dialect

19 What is Grammar? (Cont’d)
The grammar includes everything speakers know about their language the sound system (PHONOLOGY) the system of meanings (SEMANTICS) the rules of sentence formulation (SYNTAX) Many think of the grammar of a language as referring solely to the syntactic rules

20 What is Grammar? (Cont’d)
Laws which pertain to all languages: Represent the universal properties of language Constitute what may be called a “universal grammar” Language Universals: Linguistic universals: is concerned with the sound systems of language. Every grammar, for ex., includes discrete sound segments, like p, n, or a, which can all be defined by a finite set of “sound properties”

21 Language Universals (Cont’d)
Phonological universals: reveal that every language has both “vowels” and “consonants” and rules which determine the pronunciation of sentences Semantic universals: pertain to common semantic properties such as “male,” “female,” “animate,” “human,” and “concrete,” which are found in all languages Syntax universals: reveal the ways in which sentences are formed.

22 Language components: Form (Phonology – Morphology – Syntax)
Content (Semantics) Use (pragmatics) Phonology: Aspect of language concerned with the rules governing the structure, distribution and sequencing of speech sound patterns Morphology: Aspect of language concerned with the rules governing change in meaning at the intraword level Syntax: Organizational rules specifying word order, sentence organization and word relationships Semantics: Aspect of language concerned with the rules governing the meaning or content of words Pragmatics: Aspect of language concerned with language use within a communication context

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