importance and uses of contrastive linguistics

Topics: Linguistics, Translation, Language Pages: 8 (1598 words) Published: April 22, 2014

Contrastive Linguistics, roughly defined as a subdiscipline of linguistics which is concerned with the comparison of two or more (subsystems of) languages, has long been associated primarily with language teaching. Apart from this applied aspect, however, it also has a strong theoretical purpose, contributing to our understanding of language typology and language universals.   The study of two languages in contrast, here called contrastive analysis, has been referred to by a variety of names, not all of which mean the same to all writers. One can find the following terms used: contrastive studies, contrastive language studies, contrastive linguistics, applied contrastive studies, contrastive description and others. contrastive analysis investigates the differences between pairs (or small sets) of languages against the background of similarities and with the purpose of providing input to applied disciplines such as foreign language teaching and translation studies. With its largely descriptive focus contrastive linguistics provides an interface between theory and application. It makes use of theoretical findings and models of language description but is driven by the objective of applicability. Contrastive studies mostly deal with the comparison of languages that are ‘socio-culturally linked’, i.e. languages whose speech communities overlap in some way, typically through (natural or instructed) bilingualism . Much progress has been made in classifying the languages of the earth into genetic families, each having descent from a single precursor, and in tracing such developments through time. The result is called "comparative linguistics." Of even greater importance for the future technology of thought is what might be called "contrastive linguistics." This plots the outstanding differences among tongues - in grammar, logic, and general analysis of experience.A major influence on the development of the contrastive analysis approach has been the interest shown in it by language teachers and learners, and much CA has been undertaken with language teaching rather than translation in mind. One can prevent development of errors through a prior contrastive analysis and error analysis, leading to the development of appropriate teaching materials to reinforce correct language learning.

Relevance and uses of contrastive linguistics:
The relevance of CL to translation:
The emphasis of much of the work on CL on teaching and language learning raises questions about its relevance to translators. At a practical level, it is probably most useful in pointing out areas where direct translation of a term or phrase will not convey accurately in the second language the intended meaning of the first. At a global level, it leads the translator to look at broader issues such as whether the structure of the discourse for a given text-type is the same in both languages. Furthermore, although Contrastive Analysis is widely practised, there are a number of theoretical and practical problems in its application, all of which must affect judgements as to its usefulness in preparing or evaluating translations. There is some overlap between these problems, but they can nevertheless be related to specific difficulties of identifying a common ground for comparison, comparing descriptions of different languages, taking account of psycholinguistic and sociocultural factors, and taking account of extratextual and intertextual factors. Identifying a common ground for comparison

 All comparisons require that there be a common ground against which variation may be noted, a constant that underlies and makes possible the variables that are identified. Fonnal similarity is unreliable for several reasons. In the first place, a particular grammatical structure in one language may be a requirement while in another it may be one choice amongst several; in the second place, the choice represented by a...
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