Chapter 1 Invitations to Linguistics
Why study language?
Language is very essential to human beings.
In language there are many things we should know.
For further understanding, we need to study language scientifically. 1.2
What is language?
Language is a means of verbal communication. It is a system of arbitrary vocal symbols used for human communication. 1.3
Design features of language
The features that define our human languages can be called design features which can distinguish human language from any animal system of communication.
Arbitrariness refers to the fact that the forms of linguistic signs bear no natural relationship to their meanings.
Duality refers to the property of having two levels of structures, such that units of the primary level are composed of elements of the secondary level and each of the two levels has its own principles of organization.
Creativity means that language is resourceful because of its duality and its recursiveness. Recursiveness refers to the rule which can be applied repeatedly without any definite limit. The recursive nature of language provides a theoretical basis for the possibility of creating endless sentences.
Displacement means that human languages enable their users to symbolize objects, events and concepts which are not present (in time and space) at the moment of conversation. 1.4
Origin of language
The bow-wow theory
In primitive times people imitated the sounds of the animal calls in the wild environment they lived and speech developed from that.
The pooh-pooh theory
In the hard life of our primitive ancestors, they utter instinctive sounds of pains, anger and joy which gradually developed into language.
The “yo-he-ho” theory
As primitive people worked together, they produced some rhythmic grunts which gradually developed into chants and then into language. 1.5
Functions of language
As is proposed by Jacobson, language has six functions:
Referential: to convey message and information;
Poetic: to indulge in language for its own sake;
Emotive: to express attitudes, feelings and emotions;
Conative: to persuade and influence others through commands and entreaties;
Phatic: to establish communion with others;
Metalingual: to clear up intentions, words and meanings.
Halliday (1994) proposes a theory of metafunctions of language. It means that language has three metafunctions: 1.
Ideational function: to convey new information, to communicate a content that is unknown to the hearer; 2.
Interpersonal function: embodying all use of language to express social and personal relationships; 3.
Textual function: referring to the fact that language has mechanisms to make any stretch of spoken and written discourse into a coherent and unified text and make a living passage different from a random list of sentences. According to Hu Zhuanglin, language has at least seven functions: 1.5.1
The informative function means language is the instrument of thought and people often use it to communicate new information. 1.5.2
The interpersonal function means people can use language to establish and maintain their status in a society. 1.5.3
The performative function of language is primarily to change the social status of persons, as in marriage ceremonies, the sentencing of criminals, the blessing of children, the naming of a ship at a launching ceremony, and the cursing of enemies. 1.5.4
The emotive function is one of the most powerful uses of language because it is so crucial in changing the emotional status of an audience for or against someone or something. 1.5.5
The phatic communion means people...
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