Linguistic Units

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  • Topic: Word, Morpheme, Sentence
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  • Published : December 1, 2012
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LANGUAGE LEVELS AND THEIR BASIC UNITS
Language is a system of units which are usually divided into segmental and super-segmental units. Segmental units include phonemes syllables, morphemes, words, phrases and sentences. Super-segmental units don't exist by themselves. They are actualized together with segmental units. Super-segmental units include accent, intonation patterns, patterns of word order and pauses. Taking into consideration segmental units any language may be represented as a hierarchy of levels. This hierarchy is of such character that units of any higher level are analyzable into units of the immediate lower level. We can say that a unit of a higher level includes one or more units of the lower level. The matter is that the correlation between levels and their units is rather complicated. It means we can't say that a unit of a higher level is a mere sum of lower units. A unit of a higher level always has a quality which is not inherent in any of lower units. The naming power of the word „discover" is not inherent in the morphemes it contains. On the other hand a combination of units of a certain level doesn't make up a units of higher level unless this combination gets the features of the units of this higher level. The combination of phoneme like "e", "l", "r" doesn't make up a morpheme because it's meaningless but any morpheme should have a meaning. Or the combination of morphemes “-ing”, “-ly” doesn't make up a word because this combination lacks naming power. But a single unit of a given level may become a unit of higher level without combining with other units if gets the features of the unit of a higher level. [о:] - it may become a morpheme if it gets significative meaning or it may become even a word if it gets naming power. or [o:] - или, ore [o:] - руда, oar [о:] - весло So we can say we really differentiate a number of language levels and their basic units but there's no rigid border between them. The...
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