Presentation on theme: "Linguistics and Language"— Presentation transcript:
1 Linguistics and Language Lecture OneLinguistics and Language
2 Definition of linguistics DefinitionsLinguistics is generally defined as the scientific study of language. (Dai & He, p. 1)Linguistics, as the name suggests, is the science of language and thus is usually defined as the systematic study of language or, a discipline that describes all aspects of language and formulate theories as to how language works. (Yang, 2005, p. 27)Longman Dictionary of Language Teaching & Applied Linguistics defines linguistics as the study of language as a system of human communication.
3 General linguistics vs General linguistics vs. descriptive linguistics (termed by John Lyon, in Wen, p. 1)General linguistics provides descriptive linguistics with a general framework in which a particular language can be analyzed and described. General linguistics and descriptive linguistics are complementary to each other. English linguistics is a kind of descriptive linguistics.
4 Scope of linguisticsMicro linguisticsPhonetics: the study of sounds used in linguistics communicationPhonology: how sounds are put together and used to convey meaning in communicationMorphology: the study of the way in which the linguistics symbols are arranged and combined to form wordsSyntax: the study of the rules governing how words are combined to form grammatically permissible sentencesSemantics: the study of meaningPragmatics: the study of language use
5 Macro linguisticsSociolinguistics: the study of different social aspects of language and its relation with societyPsycholinguistics: relates the study of language to psychologyApplied linguistics: application of linguistic theories and principles to language teaching, especially the teaching of foreign and second languagesNeurolinguistics: the study of the relationship between brain and language
6 Some distinctions in linguistics Prescriptive and descriptivePrescriptive: lay down rules for correct and standard behavior in using languageDescriptive: aims to describe and analyze the language people actually use
7 Synchronic and diachronic (共时与历时) Synchronic: description of a language at some point of time in historyDiachronic: the description of a language as it changes through time. Modern linguistics enjoys employing synchronic approach
8 Speech and writingSpeech is prior to writingThe writing system is invented when neededToday there are languages which can only be spoken but not writtenSpeech plays a greater role than writing in daily communicationEach human being first acquires speech and then learns writingModern linguistics tends to pay more attention to authentic speech
9 Langue and parole (by Swiss linguist F de Saussure) Langue: Refers to the abstract linguistic system shared by all the members of a speech community. Langue is the set of conventions and rules which language users all have to abide by. Langue is abstract; it is not the language people actually use. What linguists should do is to abstract langue from parole which is too varied and confusing for systematic investigation.Parole: Refers to the realization of langue in actual use. It is the concrete use of the conventions and the application of the rules. Parole is concrete; it refers to the naturally occurring language events.
10 Competence and performance (by American linguist N. Chomsky) Competence: the ideal user’s knowledge of the rules of his language, a speaker has internalized a set of rules about his language which enables him to use the languagePerformance: the actual realization of the knowledge in linguistic communication, a speaker’s performance in using his language can be imperfectThese two distinctions are quite similar to each other. Langue lays more emphasis on social conventions while competence is more concerned in psychology or the property of mind of each individual.
11 Traditional grammar and modern linguistics Modern linguistics is descriptive while traditional grammar is prescriptive.Modern linguistics regards the spoken language as primary, not the written while traditional grammar over-emphasize the importance of the written form of language.Modern linguistics differs from traditional grammar also in that it does not force languages into a Latin-based framework.
12 Definitions of language “Language is a purely human and non-instinctive method of communicating ideas, emotions and desires by means of voluntarily produced symbols.” (Sapir, 1921)Language is “the institution whereby humans communicate and interact with each other by means of habitually used oral auditory arbitrary symbols.” (Hall, 1968)“From now on I will consider language to be a set (finite or infinite) of sentences, each finite in length and constructed out of a finite set of elements.” (Chomsky, 1957)Generally accepted definition:Language is a system of arbitrary vocal symbols used for human communication.
13 The nature of languageArbitrariness: Generally there is no logical connection between meanings and sounds. Exceptions are onomatopoeic words compound words. This nature makes language have an unlimited source of expressions.Productivity or creativity: Much of what we say and hear we are saying or hearing for the first time. This makes human language totally different from any animal language.
14 Duality: Or double-structured Duality: Or double-structured. Language consists of two sets of structures, or two levels. Lower level: sounds which are meaningless. Higher level: units of meaning by grouping or regrouping sounds. Units of meaning can be arranged into infinite number of sentences.Displacement: Language can be used to refer to contexts removed from the immediate situations of the speaker.Cultural transmission: Language is culturally transmitted. A language is taught and learned within a particular cultural background.
15 ReferencesChomsky, N. (1957). Syntactic structures. The Hague: Mouton.Dai, W. D & He, Z. X. (2002). A new concise course on linguistics for students of English. Shanghai: Shanghai Foreign Language Education Press.Sapir, E. (1921). Language. New York: Harcourt Brace.Wen, Q. F. (?). An introduction to English linguistics. Nanjing: ?Yang, X. Z. (2005). An introduction to linguistics. Beijing: Higher Education Press.
16 TaskWork in groups and discuss the following questions:What are the major branches of linguistics? What does each of them study?In what basic ways does modern linguistics differ from traditional grammar?Is modern linguistics mainly synchronic or diachronic? Why?For what reasons does modern linguistics give priority to speech rather than to writing?How is Saussure’s distinction between language and parole similar to Chomsky’s distinction between competence and performance?What are the main features of human language that have been specified by C. Hockett to show that it is essentially different from animal communication system?