Top-Rated Free Essay


Better Essays
Linguistics, though one of the youngest behavioral sciences, has a background extending over several millennia. During this period scholars with various interests have concerned themselves with language. Some of the most readable treatises on language were produced by the Greeks and Romans, such as Plato’s Cratylus and Quintilian’s advice to an orator. Much of our terminology was devised in the course of this earlier concern. Any of introductions to linguistic cannot, therefore, limit itself to one school; rather it must present the general principles applied in the study of language. A knowledge of earlier studies of languages in particularly important at a time when the vigorous transformationalist school has affirmed its relationship with traditional grammar.
Any discipline is based on earlier work, though scientific schools are rarely capable of advancing their subject on all fronts. Thus, nineteenth-century linguistics made particular advances in phonetics and historical linguistics. In the first four decades of this century linguistics contribute especially to refinements in phonological theory, while collecting data on exotic languages. Subsequent linguistics have devoted themselves especially to syntactic study and to the interrelations between linguistics and other behavioral sciences. Since the tempo of scientific research is being speeded up, it is not surprising that the transformationalist school is already becoming fragmented, with some of this member focusing on semantic study.
This century therefore has seen a shift in emphasis from phonological to syntactic to semantic studies. At the same time, linguistics has become closely involved with the sciences specializing in human behavior. It is difficult to present in an elementary text all of the concerns of linguistics. Moreover, since linguistics is an empirical science, any elementary text must include a great deal of linguistic data, that is, examples of spoken language.
The data included must be taken from the native languages of students. For a pedagogical treatment one must select material carefully because of the richness of language; therefore data from other languages can only be given as supplements to that of English. But students should use every opportunity to collect and study data from other languages as they acquired adequate techniques for assembling and analyzing linguistic material.
In order to gain control of linguistics, the data of language must first

1.1 Aims for descriptive linguistics
Descriptive linguistics aims to provide an understanding of language by analyzing in its various uses. Generally descriptive linguists deal with one language at a specific time, such as contemporary English. But to gain perspective, they also examine others, preferably those having different structures, such as Chinese, which lacks all inflections, or Japanese, which adds inflections in a regular manner, or Eskimo, which may combine the entities of a sentence into a word-like sequence. Linguists also draw on studies of human behavior; psychology for an understanding of the mental processes involved in the use of language; anthropology and sociology for an understanding of man’s behavior in the contexts in which man uses language and from pertinent fields of other sciences are formulated in grammars. This book is an introduction to the aims and procedures of descriptive linguistics, presenting at the same time some of the contributions of that study to the understanding of language.
Like other behavioral sciences-for example, anthropology-linguistics is confronted with two major task is to acquire an understanding of the various languages spoken today or at any time in the history of man. To achieve an understanding of any one language is a great task, as the inadequacy of our grammars many indicate. Providing descriptions of the 5,000 or so languages in use today, as well as future; we may illustrate the extent of the work that needs to be done by noting that the most widely translated book, the Bible, has been translated into only just over a thousand languages. Many of these languages are little known; others are almost completely obscure. But even without knowledge of many languages and with only a seriously inadequate understanding of many others, linguistics must set out to fulfill task number two; to comprehend language as a phenomenon. This second task of linguistics will be our main concern. We will illustrate the aims and procedures involved in carrying out this task by talking our examples primarily from one language, English.
As in most linguistic studies, the unit of language selected for linguistic analysis here is the sentence. Speakers of every language speak in sentences and interpret sentences as units. If they are literate, that is, if they display language by means of writing, they divide these units into segments; any English sentence is marked off first by punctuation marks, and is then broken up into words, which are further segmented into letters. Linguists also analyze sentences into smaller segments, as we will see, but with greater rigor than the general speaker. The aim of this linguistic analysis is to understand how speakers construct and interpret any selected sentence and eventually to account for language as a phenomenon of human behavior.
Speakers of a language have the remarkable capability of constructing and interpreting sentences they have never encountered before. The sentence A machine chose the chords may have been produced here for the first time; yet no speaker of English has any difficulty interpreting it. Linguistics seeks to determinate the basis of this capability.
In carrying out such study, a linguist is investigating human behavior. Linguistics is, accordingly, a behavioral science. Like other scientists, a linguistic limits his concern. A full understanding of any sentence would involve some knowledge of man’s mental processes-how language is stored in the brain, how it is perceived, how it is directed by the brain. Understanding any sentence would also involve knowledge of the society in which the sentence is produced-how for example; any speaker could assert that a nonanimate machine might select some arrangement of tones called a chord. These requirements for understanding language in detail call on so many sciences-biology, psychology, anthropology, sociology, among others-that specialties haven arisen within linguistics itself, notably phonetics, psycholinguistics, and sociolinguistics. Thorough linguistic descriptions are fundamental to all such specialties, and accordingly descriptive linguistics is the basic discipline of linguistics.
In descriptive linguistics various procedures have been devised to arrive at grammars, that is, to produce descriptions of a given language. For most purposes a linguist deals with the sounds of a sentence, using earlier example A machine chose the chords may indicate why the linguist uses transcriptions. Through various historical accidents the spelling sequence ch is used for three different sounds in this sentence: as in sheen; as in catch; [k] as in kiss. Unless a linguistic description identified these different sounds, an investigator of speech perception would be misled. As the transcription indicates, a linguist may also note a vocal patterning of the words that is different from a written patterning of the words. The indefinite article a may be as closely linked in speech to the syllable as is the second syllable of machine; the plural suffix in chords is [z] after [d], rather than [s] as after [t] in courts. In studying relationships of this kind, a linguist is not simply trying to sort out sounds, but he is also trying to determine segments that are grammatically significant. But like all scientists he must limit his goals and deal with one problem at time. As John R. Firth says:
The study of the living voice of a man in action is a very big job indeed. In order to be able to handle it at all, we must split up the whole integrated behavior patter we call speech, and apply specialized techniques to the description and classification of these so-called elements of speech we detach by analysis.
This book is an introduction to such techniques. In keeping with Firth’s statement, it presents these techniques in a sequence determined by pedagogical principles. Students acquiring these techniques must not assume that the sequence in which these principles are presented reflects directly the structure of language. In many ways Chapters 1 to 7 may be viewed as preliminary; a knowledge of their contents is essential for an understanding of the subsequent chapters, which deal with the procedures by which linguists attempt to understand language as a “whole integrated behavior pattern”.
1.2 The study of Language as a System of Symbols
To achieve an understanding of any language, we rely heavily on an examination of our own language. But to put our own language into perspective, we need to contrast it with one or more other languages; for this purpose in this book we will primarily use Japanese. To survey the procedures of a linguist, we may examine any simple utterance, such as “Could you please tell me where the station is?” This sentence could be pronounced slowly or rapidly, with some effect on the transcription; we may record one utterance of it as
1.2.1 Historical Linguistics
We could study the sentence “Could you please tell me where the station is?” in two ways, either by examining its construction or the history of its components. If we were interested in a historical approach, we would note the form of the component tell, for example, in order English, which would be Middle English tellen, Old English tellan. We could relate Old English tellan to Old High German zellan, which became New High German zählen ‘count‘, and even to other forms. Through such comparison we would note (1) differences in sound: English t versus German ts; (2) differences in form: English tell with no infinitive; (3) differences in meaning: Contemporary English tell is no longer used with the meaning ‘count’, as the German verb is, though (bank) teller preserves this meaning. The study of the development of language is referred to as historical linguistics. Historical linguistics presupposes a thorough description of the stages of development of the languages being studied. For example, a historical grammar of English is based on descriptive grammars of Old and Middle English as well as New English. Descriptive linguistics is therefore a prerequisite for historical linguistics.
1.2.2 Descriptive Linguistics
Dealing with the sentence “Could you please tell me where the station is?” we note again the inadequacy of the English spelling system for indicating the actual sounds of the language. On the one hand, the symbol e represents various sounds, as in please, tell, me, where. On the other hand, the same sound is spelled differently, as in please, me; the station. Moreover, there are important signals, such as the variations in stress, indicated by [‘´~], and in pitch, indicated by, which are not represented in the English spelling system. Accordingly a transcription is essential.
For Japanese as shorter comparable sentence is:
For the Japanese sentence a transcription is even more essential than for English. Since conventional transliteration systems are close to usable transcriptions, we may follow one of these, the Hepburn system, in citing Japanese. Transliterated according to the principles of the Hepburn system, the sentence reads “Teishajo wa doko desu ka”. Comparing these two sentences, we can equate segments in English with those in Japanese. Any such segments that are recorded as independent entities in dictionaries we can call words. Of the English and Japanese segments station corresponds to “teishajo”, where to “doko”, and so on. The words station and “teishajo” are clearly oral symbols that correspond to things in the world around us. In somewhat the same way, all language consists of symbols. Japanese “doko” ‘what place’ is a noun, virtually as concrete as is station. But where we feel is less concrete; we interpret it not as a symbol with reference to things in the world around us but rather with reference to a set of possibilities in the linguistic system. An even less concrete symbol is the English pattern of pitch, as marked by which corresponds to the following contour:

This intonation pattern contrasts with others, such as one with a final rise, which corresponds to the following contour:

In the contrasting set of English intonations indicates that the speaker is marking a serious statement; indicates that the speaker is making a serious statement; indicates that he is expressing doubt. If someone asks the question “Where is the station” using the intonation pattern, he is seriously concerned with obtaining the information. If he uses the pattern, he shows incredulity; the meaning is? ‘Or how could you ask me where the station is? (We’re standing right in front of it.).’
The intonation pattern is then a symbol, much like a word. Other symbols are even less concrete, such as word order. The arrangement “You could tell me” contrasts with “Could you tell me”, and the contrast in order symbolizes different meanings to speakers of English. In this way language consists of symbols, some of which may be readily related to things in the outside world, other merely to other potential patterns in the language. It is through such symbolization that we can use language to communicate. Through symbolization language has meaning.
1.3 Symbols Determined by Relationships
We have noted above that the functions of symbols are determinate by their relationships to other entities in the system. The meaning of station is circumscribed by other words possible in the same context: airport, school, supermarket, and so on. The meaning of “Could you tell me” is circumscribed by other possible arrangements, such as “You could tell me”, and so on. Throughout language the functions of symbols and the significance of linguistic entities are determined by their relationships to other entities in that language.
And example from the simplest segment of language, its sound system, may provide an illustration. In English we have a variety of t sounds. Initially before stressed words, as in top, t is followed by a puff air; the typical pronunciation could be transcribed. After s as in stop there is no such puff of air, and the typical pronunciation could be transcribed. In spite of this difference in sounds speakers of English consider the two entities the same; in Chinese or Hindi, on the other hand, and are considered different. Identification in each of these languages results from the interrelationships of the sounds with others in the same language. In English and never occur in the same environment. There is on the one hand no word. (A preceding asterisk is used in linguistic texts to indicate entities that are not attested.) There is also no English word. In contrast with some languages, such as Chinese and Hindi, the two sounds and never distinguish words in English. For this reason English speakers are not aware of any difference between the ts of top and stop. The two sounds are classed together in one set; they are varying members, or allophones, of the same phoneme, or sound class. The significance of two ts for the speakers results from their relationships in the English sound system rather than from the physical differences themselves.
Japanese provides a further illustration. It too has a [t] sound in its phonological system, as we may illustrate with the brusque imperative from mate ‘wait’. But if the t stands before u, as in the indicative matsu, it is followed by an [s], in much the same way that the t of top is followed by an [h]. To understand the Japanese change of [t] to, you can compare the English pronunciation with for nature. For the Japanese the two sounds belong in one class; a Japanese speaker is no more aware of the physical difference between the two sounds and than an English speaker is of the difference between and. Again, the important consideration is relationship. A Japanese speaker always uses before [u], never; on the other hand, he always uses before [e a o], never. What seems different in another language is classed as the same because of relationships.
In support of this statement about the patterning of languages we may note the behavior of speakers when they hear a different language. As with many terms referring to sports and recreation, Japanese borrowed touring from British English. Hearing the vowel as u, they interpreted the word as. From within their own phonological system the relationships between [t] and are such that they are exchanged automatically because of the following vowel.
These examples of the role of sounds in language may illustrate how a symbolic system has values determined by relationships rather than by physical entities. The relationships, to be sure, are linked to physical entities. But from the externals alone, or, as they are often called, the overt, or surface, phoneme, we do not determine the value or the significance of the entities. Since the value depends on interrelationships that are not obvious on the surface of language, we refer to the essence of language or of any symbolic system as its deep or underlying structure.
In examining languages as symbolic systems, comparisons are often made with simple communication systems, such as traffic signals. In these relationships are determined by color: Red means ´stop´, yellow ‘caution’, green ‘go’. Other characteristics of a given system of traffic signals are noncentral: Some systems have red above green; some have a larger lamp for red; the exact hue of red, yellow, or green may vary. Drivers take their signals from none of these nonessentials but rather from the relationships between the three colors; those of longest wavelength are interpreted to mean ´stop´, whether they are exactly 700 millmicrons in length, or whether the number of millimicrons varies slightly. In the same way a speaker of English identifies tin by its difference from pin, kin, thin, sin, and so on. The entities of language that convey meaning are called morphemes, units of from. The values of morphemes are determined by their relationships in any given language. English has a contrast between could and will, which yields a different meaning in “Could you please tell me?” as opposed to “Will you tell me?” The meanings may be determined from the patterns in which these morphemes occur. But again, relationships are central. We do not say *Must you please tell me? Although the sequence “Must you tell me?” is possible. The impossibility is determined by the relationships between please and must, which simply cannot co-occur in questions. It may be difficult to specify the meaning of must and please in order to demonstrate why they cannot co-occur in such sentence. But a native speaker of English simply does not form such a sentence. He knows the possible relationships of each word, and these relationships do not permit such a combined use of must and please in questions. In this way the word relationships determine their meanings.
In sum, the meaning of any entity in a symbolic system results from its relationships with other entities; the total of such entities and their values make up a symbolic system used for communication, or a language. As with traffic signals, the reference of the entities is determined by agreement in a social group using the same language.
In natural language the agreement results from convention. When we acquire our language, we learn the uses of its morphemes and words.
But a symbolic system using other entities and other conventions may also be devised. Examples can be found in the colors of heraldry, which retain their meanings for flags, or in a selection of flowers, which has meaning in literary works such as Shakespeare’s. A simple example is given in Longfellow’s poem on Paul Revere. Two meaningful symbols were prearranged: One lantern in the church tower meant that the enemy was coming by land; two lanterns meant that they were coming by sea. Using lanterns, a symbolic system consisting of two entities, would be cumbersome; after the system’s single use Revere’s system was maintained only in literary tradition. But for a computer two entities, a positive and a negative charge, permit a sophisticated communication system; for these entities can be manipulated somewhat more readily than lanterns. In this way, symbolic systems of various types may be devised to effectively convey meaning for specific purposes. Human systems, in spite of surface differences that provide obstacles to communication, are alike in using entities of sound in various arrangements to convey meaning. To understand the operation of language, we must apply procedures that permit the discovery and description of, first, the surface structures of language and, second deep structures or underlying principles of language. An introduction to descriptive linguistics must discuss these procedures, although it is chiefly directed at indicating the results obtained in using them and at discovering the principles underlying language as a whole.
1.4 Discovery Procedures of Linguistics
In setting out to describe any language, a linguistic collects a sample of data. His usable date make up a corpus, which he then analyzes for its entities of sound, form, and meaning. Since the phonological analysis is simplest to discuss, we deal with it first here to demonstrate linguistic method.
In our illustration we may start with the earlier example “Could you please tell me where the station is?” To determinate entities in a given language, a linguist selects such sentence patterns, or frames, and explores various possible substitutions, for in determining possible substitutions, he determines the significant relationships.
In order to be certain of avoiding error, the linguist should use entire sentences, for example, “Would you please tell me” versus “Could you please tell me?” or “Could they please tell me” versus “Would they please tell me?” and so on. But manipulating entire sentences is cumbersome; accordingly linguists generally use single words and look for contrasts among them. They are particularly concerned with pairs of words, such as pin versus bin. Any two words, or sequences, contrasting phonologically in only one item are called a minimal pair. In beginning an analysis of a new language, therefore, a linguist may point to objects, write down the phonological notation for them, and then proceed to describe the system of relationships he has found. Or if the informant, that is, the native speaker, is bilingual and the linguist knows one of the languages, he may use a list of everyday words to elicit the words of the unknown language. A simple substitution English frame may be taken from win. Segmenting from this frame the element ____________in, a linguist may attempt to find all possible sequences of initial consonant. For English he would eventually find the set in Figure 1:
Figure 1

Since the initial entities contrast with one another, also in other substitution frames, such as ____at, they may be interpreted to be significant. The frame ______at in Figure 2 would provide further significant entities.
Figure 2

As these words and the blank spaces suggest, eventually twenty-four contrasting consonants would be found for English. To describe these, their uses, and the sounds of any language, a linguist must deal with the study of speech sounds in general. This study is known as phonology. If the linguist deal with Arabic, for “Where is the station?” he might be given the sentence ‘the station where?’ In this sentence he notes sounds that are not significant in English: [?], the glottal stop;, a pharyngeal spirant; and the underlined sounds. To be prepared to deal with the sounds encountered in any language, a linguist must have a general understanding of speech sounds. The study of speech sounds is known as phonemics. Phonetics and phonemics make up the two subdivisions of phonology. In addition to sounds and phonemes a linguist looks for contrasts of form in language. An answer to the question “Could you please tell me where the station is?” might be Take the street over there. Another answer might be: This bus takes you directly to it. Examining such contrasts, a linguist finds sets like take, takes, took, taken, taking and compares them with similar sets, such as pass, passes, passed, passed, passing; sag, sags, sagged, sagged, sagging. Analyzing these, he finds central forms _____take; pass, sag ___and varying elements, for example, s, n, ing. There is a fundamental difference between phonemes and these elements, for the latter carry meaning. We cannot, for example, state meanings for the two elements of win ____w and in. But we can for take, pass, or sag, and for the following s, which has the meaning ‘third person singular subject’. Such entities that have meaning are called morphs; a class of morphs is a morpheme. For example, {Z} is the third singular present morpheme in English. Morphemes may have varying members, or allomorphs, like in passes, [S] in takes, and [Z] in sags. In studying the morphemes of language we must determine the entities and their arrangements. As for such study in phonology, we find suitable frames and determine entities that may occur in them, for example:

A machine chose the chords.
An accompanist chose the chords.
A director chose the chords
A machine chooses the chords.
I choose the chords.
Clearly, a language contains many more morphemes than phonemes. The study of morphemes is therefore highly complex. Various labels have also been given to the study of morphemes and their arrangements. The study of the forms themselves is often called morphology but also morphemics. The study of the arrangements of morphemes, words, and phrases in sentences is called syntax. A name used by some linguists for referring to both is grammar. But there are problems with these labels. The terms “grammar” is widely used to include phonology as well as morphology and “syntax”. For some linguists the two labels seem to have separated forms and their arrangements unnecessarily. Some linguists then use the name “syntax” as a label for both the study of forms and their arrangements. Because of these differences in usages, students will have to determine the use of these terms among individual linguists. In this book “grammar” will be used as a general term to embrace the study of sounds, or phonology, and forms, or morphology, and their arrangements, or syntax. Morphology, as is traditional, will refer to two types of study of forms: inflection, which deals with the changes in large closely structured sets of words, such as the parts of speech; and derivation, which deals with smaller, less readily definable sets, for example, retake, takeoff, and so on.
The elements detached and described in phonology are merely markers of meaning; those detached and described in morphology are carriers of meaning. Additional procedures are necessary to deal with meaning. These procedures are traditionally applied to words, which are defined for their meaning and listed in dictionaries or lexicons. Yet dictionaries primarily list synonyms, defining one word in terms of another, for example, horse as ‘Equus-caballus’, or where appropriate, though illustrations. Webster’s Third New International Dictionary includes illustrations to help define horse and other selected items, such as soup plate. But the illustrations are limited; there is none, for instance, for antelope. And for some words, for example, abstraction, dictionaries would fins illustrations difficult. Moreover, dictionaries do not deal with meanings conveyed through differences in intonation, for example, Horse? Horse! To deal with meaning in a general way, as is done with sounds, some universal criteria must be devised, such as features of meaning found in many languages. Some features of meaning are animateness or nonanimateness, human or nonhuman, male or female, and so on. If semantic features like these were used in definitions, users of a dictionary would not need to know the language for which it is written to determine meanings. The dictionary would accordingly be more general but also more abstract than are contemporary dictionaries. Semantic analysis for features parallels widely used phonological study of this kind, but it is just in its beginnings. We do not yet know whether there is a set of semantic features that universal in all languages.
When such analyses, whether for sounds, forms, or meanings, are carried out, they must be done separately for each language. We have noted that corresponds to a phoneme in Chinese and Hindi, but in English it is only a variant of /t/ before stressed vowels. As another example we may note Italian .This is found in Italian before [g] as in lungo ‘long’ _____compare the in longer _____before [k] as in banca ___compare the in bank _____but not in other environments. Elsewhere, [n] is found. Accordingly in Italian is a variant of /n/. Its position in the Italian phonological system may be illustrated from the behavior of Italian speakers learning English. English words ending in, such as long and bang seem impossible for them, so they pronounce them with final [g], that is. To maintain the they moodily its phonological environment so that it is the same as in Italian. An example from syntax to illustrate the necessity of analyzing each language for its structure may be supplied by German. In German the sentence I see your car is “Ich sehe Ihren Wagen”. Comparing the two, one may assume that in both languages the verb (see and sehe) follows the subject when the latter is initial in sentences. But from modified forms of the sentence, such as I often see his car and If I see his car, the different syntactic principle of German becomes clear, for these sentences must read “Oft sehe ich seinen Wagen” and “Wenn ich seinen Wagen sehe”. These sentences demonstrate that the principles of word order in German are quite different from those in English; the position of the verb is not related to that of the subject but rather to other possible entities in clauses. In German independent declarative clauses the verb stands in second place, but in German subordinative clauses, it stands at the end. Accordingly the arrangement if the forms, and their significance, must be determined separately for English and German, as for every other language. Each language must be investigated independently for its patters of syntax as well as its phonological characteristics.
Similarly, meaning relationships must be determined separately for each language. English know corresponds to German “kennen” when it has an animate object, to “wissen” when it has an inanimate object, and to “können” when the object is a skill, like a language. We cannot equate English know with these, just as we cannot equate English with Italian. Because of this property of language, we must analyze each language in terms of its own structure.
1.5 Formulation of Results: Display of Description
In the course of the study of language the formulation of descriptions has become increasingly compact and precise. Before the development of linguistics sounds of language were often presented in alphabetical order in grammars in the Western tradition. But contemporary descriptions of language follow a linguistic format. Vowels are not listed in the sequence a, e, I, o, u but rather in accordance with a chart reflecting their linguistic significance. The consonants also are presented in accordance with their articulation: the labials p and b, dentals t and d, velars k and g, and so on, as illustrated in Figures 1 and 2 for _____in and ______at.
Similarly, the syntax of a language is presented systematically and compactly. Rather than discursive statements like “A sentence is made up of a subject and a predicate”, a compact formula may be given, for example:. These formulas are called rules. For the initiated they make a description very precise; the symbolization, however, must be mastered, particularly the abbreviations and the use of signs to indicate relationships. Such grammatical formats may resemble mathematical essays. Yet the information in the rules, however compact, simply corresponds to descriptions presented in more discursive grammars.
Far more fundamental than such externals is the underlying design of a grammar. Grammars of the past often presented the sound system of the language quite independently of the form system; entities of the form system in turn have been presented separately from the lexicon. Because of increasing understanding of language, however, grammars are being designed that relate the systems of sound and form very precisely, deriving any utterance from abstract formulas or sequences of rules. Grammars designed in this way seek to specify the entities and relationships in a language so precisely that only the possible sentences would be produced, and all of these. Using the term “generate” for ‘produce’ or ‘bring about’, such grammars are called generative. A generative grammar, for example, would not permit one to produce a sentence such as *Must you please tell me? Some of the precision in devising and arranging rules is achieved by means of relating structures through transformations. Thus the rule is related to formulas producing actual sentences by means of transformations. A grammar using devices of this sort is called transformational.
Transformational grammars may resemble computer programs and in this way seem to reflect an attempt to describe languages in a format devised to permit computer manipulation of language. While the resemblance cannot be denied, the reasons for greater formalization were not brought about by work with computers but rather to handle precisely formulated rules can actually be studied as mathematical formulas, and in this way various insights into language can be achieved.
Moreover, linguists are extending the study of language, attempting to describe the role of language for an individual and the position of language in society. These further aims have given rise to the rapidly developing fields of psycholinguistics and sociolinguistics.
1.6 Psycholinguistics
As the name suggests, psycholinguistics combines techniques of psychology with techniques of linguistics in the study of language. The primary aim is study of the relation of language and behavior. This study may be directed at the way man perceives one language or the problems he has in perceiving more than one. In listening to another speaker, we may capture his meaning through grammatical means, through phonological means, or through both simultaneously. It is fairly easy to determine that we use both; when any sentence begins Could you……, we scarcely need to hear more to predict much of what is coming. The syntactic patter permits us to forecast a question of some kind, and we scarcely need to listen for all of its phonological characteristics. But when we are introduced to a person, for example, “Yasztremski”, we grasp the name through phonological characteristics alone. To what extent we observe the syntactic and the phonological characteristics in interpreting speech is a problem of great interest, and answers to the problem have many implications. One implication concerns language learning by children. Another involves the activity of learning a second or a third language. Others, less happily, concern the loss of language; with brain damage or increasing age, one’s capability of understanding and speaking may diminish or be almost entirely lost.
A further problem is the relation between perception and cognition: Do the perceived patterns in our language determine our method of thinking and our view of the universe? All of these problems have to do with the acquisition and use of speech by an individual.
1.7 Sociolinguistics
Sociolinguistics deals with the use of language and the different forms of speech found in different social groups. Social groups are set up on various patterns according to sex, age, trade or profession, geographical area, and so on. To the extent that these groupings are prominent in any society, different patterns of language may be used. In our society a men’s poker club differs in speech from a women’s bridge group; teenagers do not speak like octogenarians, and the like.
Determining such linguistic groupings gives insights into the varieties of speech forms, or dialects, and also into the complexity of a given society. These insights may lead to attempts at modifying patterns of communication. In contemporary society the most important avenues for such modifications are schools. Schools teach a central language, possibly selecting one of the various languages used in a country, as English was selected in the United States during the last century; schools may also select one dialect of a language as norm, such as Parisian French, Tokyo Japanese, and so on. The problems faced in establishing a norm are of great interest, especially in countries like India and many African countries whose speakers use various languages.
Techniques to determine one variant of a language and to teach it have been largely informal, as is other study of mass communication, for example, advertising languages and international languages. Efforts to introduce international languages have been made since Latin went out of use; but the languages devised have been based primarily on modern forms of Latin, and accordingly they are not attractive to native speakers of a different language background, such as the inhabitants of Africa, Asia, the Soviet Union, and other areas. The international languages proposed are therefore poorly designed for precisely those areas with which Europeans find the greatest difficulty in communicating.
1.8 Applied Linguistics: The Study of Literature and Other Areas
The findings of linguistics are increasingly applied in such fields as the teaching of language, the production of dictionaries, and the study of literature. Anyone teaching a foreign language must know its grammar thoroughly ____particularly the contrasts between that grammar and the grammar of the learners’ native language. Similarly, teachers of reading or writers producing texts to teach reading must know a great deal about the phonological system and the syntactic system of that language. Frequent lack of such application in the past has permitted the production of poorly designed books. For example, a child learning to read would profit from consistent, well-selected patterns; if instead he is given words such as Jane, in which the symbol and cat, in which his understanding of the relationship between written and spoken symbols is not assisted.
Although linguistics must be applied in this way and other ways, it should be observed that linguistics is only one of the disciplines involved in practical goals such as teaching students to read, writing textbooks, and compiling dictionaries. On the other hand, such activities are hampered if the findings of Linguistics are ignored. The understanding of types of communication based on aesthetic criteria is also inadequate unless specialists in these areas understand language.
Selected criteria regulate the patterns of language referred to as literature. These patters have been intensively studied for Western tradition. They also enjoy such high esteem that they are separately treated from other social dialects. Yet often these language patterns are poorly understood, particularly by their most ardent admirers. Poetry, for example, in Western tradition is constructed around patterns of rhythm and sound similarities, but many literary critics confuse letters and sounds, and do not understand the bases of speech rhythm. Interpreting the critics’ intuitive appraisals of literature may be a problem accessible to psycholinguistics, and in this way two vigorous interdisciplinary offshoots of linguistics may find a common topic for investigation.
Although such common problems may bring specialists together, the number of specialties involving the study of language will continue to increase rather than diminish. Anthropologists have interests different from those of sociologists, and accordingly there is an impetus to develop anthropological linguistics. Similarly, some biologists investigate animal sounds. Moreover, there is interest in the relationships between language and other patterns of behavior, such as gestures. Gestures are widely used and well known to perceptive speakers of the present and past, such as Shakespeare; but until recently they have been poorly documented. Yet through ignorance of the use of gestures in a given society, communication has often been hampered; occasionally noninitiates, such as missionaries, have even lost their lives because they used gestures that had different meanings in another social group. Whatever the value of gestures, the study of such accompaniments to speech is peripheral to the study of language and is therefore referred to as paralinguistic.
1.9 Summary
For the study of language a knowledge of the sounds and forms and their arrangements is fundamental. Accordingly these are treated first in this book, under the fields of phonology and syntax. The study of phonology is in turn discussed in separate chapters devoted to articulatory phonetics, autonomous phonemics. The study of syntax is discussed before chapters on inflection and derivation. Any student who has mastered this knowledge seeks a framework for understanding the design of language. The bases for such a framework are complex; many of them are beyond the scope of an introduction to linguistics. Accordingly they can only be outlined in this text. Finally a linguist cannot evade the problems arising in the use of language, whether by the individual or in society; these problems too are highly complex and can only be presented in outline in the chapters on psycholinguistics and sociolinguistics.
An understanding of language based on the control of several languages, preferably of different structure, plus observations on the use of languages by speakers, in essential for understanding man and culture. Achievement of such understanding is one of the principal aims of linguistics.
To succeed in this aim, linguists seek to determine particularly those traits that are universal in language. For example, as we have noted, all languages have sentences as their fundamental units. These sentences vary in arrangement. In Arabic and Irish declarative sentences have the order, verb, and subject, object (VSO). In Spanish, French, and the Bantu languages they have the order subject, verb, object (SVO). In Japanese and Turkish they have the order subject, object, verb (SOV). We may speak of three types of languages, VSO, SVO, and SOV, each with distinctive traits. For example, adjectives modifying nouns follow the noun in the SOV languages. Other modifiers of nouns, such as genitives and relative constructions, are similarly placed. A thorough understanding of language would permit us to account for such relationships. Apparently we can propose as a universal trait some kind of interrelationship between relative clauses, adjectives, and genitives that modify nouns.
In accounting for universal traits and principles, linguists seek to formulate a general theory of language. The extent to which such as theory can be formulated indicates in turn the understanding of language that has been achieved. Accordingly much of our concern will be directed at arriving at and evaluating a theory of language, such as those theories discussed in Chapter 12.
1.10 Some Symbols Used in Linguistic Works
Brackets, [ ], are used to enclose phonetic transcriptions, for example
Slant lines, / /, are used to enclose autonomous phonemic transcriptions, for example, /tap/, /stap/.
Vertical lines | |, are used to enclose systematic phonemic transcriptions, for example, for .
Braces, { }, are used to enclose morphemic transcriptions; for example, {Z} has the allomorphs in passes, /s/ in takes, /Z/ in sags.
Angles, < >, are used to enclose semantic feature representations; for example, <+human> means that the lexical entity concerned ____ such as man, girl, husband ___refers to human beings.
Illustrative examples are generally citied in italics, for example, top, stop.
When definitions (or translations) are given to indentify citations, they are generally enclosed in single quotes, for example, Japanese “doko” ‘where’.
The asterisk, * , indicates a form, or a sequence, which is not attested in a language; for example, *sgok is not an English word; *machine the chose chords is not an English sentence.
Of the various introductory texts only a few may be listed here. Providing clarity, wit, and examples from languages widely different in structure from English as well as an admirable humanistic tradition is Language and Symbolic Systems by Yuen Ren Chao (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1968).
Aspects of Language by Dwight Bolinger (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1968) presents fresh insights into many facets of language.
A thorough introduction is given in An Introduction to Descriptive Linguistics, rev. ed., by Henry A. Gleason, Jr. (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1961). The accompanying Workbook in Descriptive Linguistics is an important adjunct to the text.
Individual and penetrating is A course in Modern Linguistics by Charles F. Hockett (New York: Macmillan, 1958).
A text notable for its discussion of the place of linguistics and the study of language in relation to other social sciences is language and its structure by Ronaid W Langacker. (New York: Harcount Brace Jovanovich, 1968).
Because of its influence in linguistics, every student should familiarize himself with Language by Leonard Blconfield (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1933).
Modern Linguistics has been strongly influence by Cours de Linguistique Générale by Ferdinand de Saussure (Paris: Payot, 1916; 5th ed; 1955). The English translation by Wade Bakin, Course in General linguistics (New York: Philosophical Library, 1959), is now available in paperback.
Jhon Lyons, introduction to theoretical Linguistics (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1968) present a lucid treatment of many facets of linguistics theory.
A discussion of universals may be found in Joseph H Greenberg (ed). Universals of language, 2d ed. (Cambridge: Massachusetts Institute of technology Press, 1966).
A survey of the contributions of various linguistic groups is given in Francis P Dinneen, An Introduction to General Linguistics (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1967). A brief outline of the history of linguistic study may be found in Robert H. Robins a short history of linguistics (Blcomington: Indiana University Press, 1967).

A complete grammar should permit only those sentences to be produced in a language that are accepted by its speakers. To illustrate this requirement we may propose a restricted English grammar and a small lexicon.
Assuming that this grammar and lexicon generate only acceptable sentences, we would produce all possible sentences.
Grammar: 1. every sentence consists of a noun phrase followed by a verb phrase, that is, 2. The verb phrase may consist of a verb followed by a noun, that is,
LEXICON: Nouns: book, dogs, flowers, goals, men Verbs: eat, like, understand, value
All sentences have the structure , for example, Men like goals, as the following tree in figure 3 illustrates:
Figure 3

a. One hundred sentences can be produced from these rules and this lexicon. Some of these are acceptable, for example, goals eat flowers. Produce ten such sentences. b. Other possible sentences are acceptable in some cultural situations, for example men eat men. This sentence is appropriate when used of cannibalistic societies. Give examples of five such sentences. c. Other sentences are unacceptable, for example, Books understand dogs. Give examples of five such sentences, using the grammar and lexicon given previously. d. To achieve a, grammar that would generate only acceptable sentences, one must add further restrictions. For example, to rule out the sentence *Goals value books but to permit the sentence men value books, one could add the feature <+human> to the grammar and specify that <-human> nouns could not be used as subjects with value. Suggest features that would keep this grammar from producing sentences like the following:
Flowers understand men.
Men eat books.
Books like goals.

The following are Japanese sentences with translations (English the has no formal equivalent in Japanese; otoko wa, for example. Could also be translated ¨man´)

1. Otoko wa inu o mimasu The man sees the dog 2. Otoko wa inu o mimasito The man saw the dog 3. Neko w ainu o masu The cat sees the dog 4. Ane wa neko o mimasu the older sister sees the cat

a. Indentify the lexical items in these sentences that is the Japanese words for ¨¨man,¨ ¨dog,¨ ¨cat¨, ¨older sister¨, ¨see¨ b. Indicate briefly the functions of wa and o. c. How is the past of the verb ‘see’ formed? The present? d. Draw a tree indicating Japanese sentence structure (using only the categories S, NP, VP, Vb) e. What is the word order of Japanese in terms of Subject, Verb, and Object? Compare this order with the English word order in simple declarative sentences.
The following are additional sentences:

5. Otoko wa ane no neko o mimasita. The man saw the cat of his older sister. 6. Otoko wa inu ga kanda neko o mimasita The man saw the cat that the dog bit. 7. Otoko wa ookii inu o mimasita. The man saw the big dog. 8. Inu ga kanda otoko wa neko o mimasita The man whom the dog bit saw the cat. f. What is the position of the relative clause, the genitive construction, and the adjective with regard to the word modified? Compare this position with the other of the comparable entities in English.

You May Also Find These Documents Helpful

  • Powerful Essays

    Along these lines, the philosophical investigation of the nature of language—the relations between language, language users, and the world—and the concepts with which language is described and analyzed, both in everyday speech and in scientific linguistic studies become pertinent and absolutely imperative. On the whole, philosophy of language as an academic and philosophical discipline is distinct from linguistics. This is for the reason that its investigations are conceptual rather than empirical. But this, however, does not mean that philosophy of language will not call to mind the message in which linguistic and other related disciplines reveal. Of course, it must pay attention to the facts which linguistics and related disciplines reveal.…

    • 4995 Words
    • 15 Pages
    Powerful Essays
  • Powerful Essays


    • 6489 Words
    • 22 Pages

    The term applied linguistics dates back at least to the 1940s in the USA when linguists applied analytical methods to the practical problems of producing…

    • 6489 Words
    • 22 Pages
    Powerful Essays
  • Powerful Essays

    Applied Linguistics

    • 5455 Words
    • 22 Pages

    Applied linguistics is an umbrella term that covers a wide set of numerous areas of study connected by the focus on the language that is actually used. The emphasis in applied linguistics is on language users and the ways in which they use languages, contrary to theoretical linguistics which studies the language in the abstract not referring it to any particular context, or language, like Chomskyan generative grammar for example.…

    • 5455 Words
    • 22 Pages
    Powerful Essays
  • Powerful Essays

    Language is an integral part of social human being and indispensable condition of existing of modern society. The history of its development maybe began with the foundation of linguistics; after all, linguistics itself has only been established in its present form for a few decades. But people have been studying language since the invention of writing, and no doubt long before that too. As in many other subjects, the use and then the study of language for practical purposes preceded the reflective process of scholarly study. In ancient India, for example, the need to keep alive the correct pronunciation of ancient religious texts led to the investigation of articulator phonetics, while in ancient Greece the need for a technical and conceptual vocabulary to use in the logical analysis of propositions resulted in a system of parts of speech which was ultimately elaborated far beyond the immediate requirements of the philosophers who had first felt the need for such categories [12].…

    • 3229 Words
    • 13 Pages
    Powerful Essays
  • Powerful Essays

    The linguistic theory has changed the long, traditional way of studying language. The nature of knowledge, which is closely tied to human knowledge in general, makes it a logical step to generalise the theory to the study…

    • 5973 Words
    • 18 Pages
    Powerful Essays
  • Powerful Essays

    cognitive linguistics

    • 3437 Words
    • 14 Pages

    The cognitive linguistics enterprise is characterized by two fundamental commitments (Lakoff 1990). These underlie both the orientation and approach adopted by practicing cognitive linguists, and the assumptions and methodologies employed in the two main branches of the cognitive linguistics enterprise: cognitive semantics, and cognitive approaches to grammar, discussed in further detail in later sections.…

    • 3437 Words
    • 14 Pages
    Powerful Essays
  • Good Essays


    • 852 Words
    • 3 Pages

    1 Modern linguistics began from the Swiss linguist Ferdinand de Saussure (1857-1913), who is often described as “father of modern linguistics”. His lectures are collected in the book “Course in General Linguistics”. 2 Saussure believed that language is a System of Signs. This sign is the union of a form and an idea, which he called the signifier and the signified. 3 Saussure’s ideas on the arbitrary nature of sign, on the relational nature of linguistic units, on the distinction of Langue and Parole and of Synchronic and Diachronic linguistics pushed linguistics into a brand new stage.…

    • 852 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    To discuss this issue, one must discuss Ferdinand de Saussure’s linguistic revolution. However, this cannot be achieved without mentioning pre-Saussurean linguistics. Throughout nineteenth and early twentieth century, the science of language was philology, and not linguistics. Philologists’ scope of activity was fairly limited to the analysis of the alterations that happened to a particular phenomenon in language, for example word or sound, throughout long expanses of time. Their main approach to the study of language was diachronic, i.e. their main emphasis as the historical development of language. The practitioners of philology considered language to mirror the structure of the world and deprived it from having any structure ion itself.…

    • 975 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Best Essays

    “Applied linguistics is not a discipline which exists on its own. It is influenced by other disciplines and influences them as well. It is a two-way process. For this reason, applied linguistics examines theories from all sorts of different areas (semantics, syntax, pragmatics, sociolinguistics,…) and from all sorts of perspectives so that it help find out effective solutions for language -related issues such as teaching methodology (including foreign language and mother tongue teaching), translation, aphasia,…”…

    • 4338 Words
    • 18 Pages
    Best Essays
  • Good Essays

    * saw the development of modern conceptions, theoretical and methodological of comparative and historical linguistics, and the greatest concentration of scholarly effort and scholarly ability in linguistics was devoted to this aspect of the subject;…

    • 1367 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Powerful Essays

    Applied Linguistics - 1

    • 1120 Words
    • 5 Pages

    Language in literature is used to create alternatives to the real world. In doing so, the precise choice and ordering of words is very important. It not only creates a substitute world for us but also determines our attitude to its inhabitants and the events that take place there. This dependence upon precise wording is why a literary text loses so much in paraphrase or translation. However, despite this importance of precise wording, the meanings of literary works are often disturbingly imprecise.…

    • 1120 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Powerful Essays
  • Good Essays

    DTTLS Assignments

    • 5208 Words
    • 149 Pages

    Carter, R. & McCarthy, M. (1995). Grammar and spoken language. "Applied Linguistics, 16" (2), 141-158…

    • 5208 Words
    • 149 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Powerful Essays

    Sapir, Edward. Language: An Introduction to the Study of Speech. New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1939.…

    • 3301 Words
    • 14 Pages
    Powerful Essays
  • Powerful Essays

    The Garifuna Language

    • 1072 Words
    • 5 Pages

    Hill, Jane H., P. J. Mistry, and Lyle Campbell. The Life of Language: Papers in Linguistics in Honor of William Bright. Berlin [etc.: Mouton De Gruyter, 1998. Print.…

    • 1072 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Powerful Essays

Related Topics