What Are the Fundamentals of Linguistics?

Topics: Linguistics, International Phonetic Alphabet, Semantics Pages: 4 (1280 words) Published: May 20, 2012
Question: What are the fundamentals in Linguistics? Explain each of them and illustrate with relevant examples. by Samuel T.T. Wee Linguistics is the science of language. All areas of language can be examined scientifically such as grammar, sounds, meaning, just to name a few. For the purposes of this essay, I shall limit the fundamentals of linguistics to the following: phonetics and phonology, pragmatics, semantics, discourse morphology and syntax. Phonetics and Phonology Pronunciation can be studied from two perspectives: the phonetic and the phonological. Phonetics “is the study of the way humans make, transmit, and receive speech sounds” (Crystal 1995:236). There are three main branches of phonetics, namely articulatory (i.e. how the vocal organs are used to make sounds); acoustic (i.e. the physical properties of sounds) and auditory (i.e. the way people receive and decode sounds). Phonology “is the study of the way sounds are used in a language, their relationship with each other and the way they cause difference in meaning” (London Teacher Training College Notes Module 4: 12).   To overcome the inconsistency of spelling and sounds, the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) was developed to show the pronunciation of words or phonemes using phonetic transcriptions. A phoneme is the smallest “contrastive phonological segment whose phonetic realizations are predictable by rule” (Fromkin et al. 2006:654). Minimal pairs decide what is or is not a phoneme, e.g. [sip] – to drink a little at a time; [- a sailing vessel.

All English speech sounds are pulmonic egressive or come from the movement of lung air through the glottis, the pharynx and through either the oral or nasal cavity.

In English, there are 24 distinct consonant sounds and 20-25 vowel sounds. The consonants are as follows: p peep b book r roof t tent d dim m mom k kiss g girl n Gnostic t choke d George  sing f flip v van l left  through  the h hope s skips z zip w witch  shoe...

References: 1. Crystal, D (1995) The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 2. Fromkin V, Rodman R, Hyams N and Hummel KM (2006) An Introduction to Language (3rd Canadian Ed). Ontario: Thomson-Nelson. 3. London Teacher Training College TESOL Notes
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