DALIA MASAITIENĖ. Introduction into Linguistics: A Teaching Guide - PDF

DALIA MASAITIENĖ Introduction into Linguistics: A Teaching Guide Vytauto Didžiojo universitetas Kaunas, 2009 Recenzent : doc. dr. Violeta Kal dait Svarstyta Vytauto Didžiojo universiteto Angl filologijos

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DALIA MASAITIENĖ Introduction into Linguistics: A Teaching Guide Vytauto Didžiojo universitetas Kaunas, 2009 Recenzent : doc. dr. Violeta Kal dait Svarstyta Vytauto Didžiojo universiteto Angl filologijos katedros pos dyje (protokolo Nr. 6); Humanitarini moksl fakulteto tarybos pos dyje (protokolo Nr. 6) ir rekomenduota isleisti elektronin versij. ISBN D. Masaitien Vytauto Didžiojo universitetas 2 CONTENTS Preface...4 Introduction...5 Principles of Modern Linguistics...8 Phonetics...12 Phonology...16 Morphology...18 Syntax...23 Semantics...27 Sociolinguistics...32 Glossary...41 References PREFACE This teaching aid has grown out from the course Introduction into English Linguistics which I have been teaching at Vytautas Magnus University for a number of years. Its aim is to present students with a concise and up-to-date discussion of some of the main topics that modern linguistics addresses. The teaching guide is provided with exercises for each topic (graded from less difficult to advanced), and questions for discussion. All the exercises have been tested in class. The teaching guide also includes a glossary of the most important terms which students have to know and be able to use not only in this course but also in the other linguistic courses that they take in the programme of English Philology. Dalia Masaitien 4 INTRODUCTION Linguistics is the scientific study of language. Human language, understood as a systematic use of speech sounds, signs, and written symbols for communication among people, is a very complicated system, which can be analysed on different levels and from various points of view. Modern linguists often adopt different perspectives on language depending on the goals of their research. It is common to distinguish between language as an individual act of speaking or writing in a particular context at a given moment or in a certain social context, and language as the abstract linguistic system underlying the linguistic behaviour of a whole community of speakers. In addition, a number of separate, though often closely interrelated, branches of linguistics can be distinguished. General or theoretical linguistics tries to determine universal principles for studying languages and to describe the general features of language. Contrastive linguistics concentrates upon the differences between languages. Its findings are often applied in the context of language teaching. Comparative linguistics studies different languages looking for similar characteristics. These languages may have common historical origin though the main emphasis of the analysis is usually placed on the structural correspondences between languages under investigation. Historical linguistics analyses the development of language in time, registering the changes that have taken place in it. Applied linguistics is concerned with the application of linguistic theories and their findings in solving various language problem, mostly in the teaching of foreign languages, studying language disorders, in translation, lexicography, and stylistics. Sociolinguistics studies the relationship between language and society, taking into consideration standard and non-standard forms of language, regional and social varieties with reference to such concepts as ethnicity, social status, sex, age, etc. Psycholinguistics is a branch of linguistics which studies the relationship between linguistic behaviour and the mental processes. It is interested in how mental processes influence the production and perception of speech. 5 Computational linguistics uses computer techniques and applies them in automatic translation and speech analysis using corpora for large-scale statistical investigation and computational processing of spoken and written texts. Developmental linguistics is concerned with the study of the acquisition of language by children, describing the stages and patterns of development and explaining the typical features and variations. Anthropological linguistics studies language variation and usage in relation to culture. Emphasis is often placed on the analysis of the socalled non-western languages. The above-mentioned branches do not exhaust all the approaches to language that can be distinguished in modern linguistics, which is a vigorously developing science. Features Common to All Languages There are a lot of questions that can be asked about language, some scientific, some not. One such question is: Which is the oldest language in the world? Several centuries ago, researchers were much concerned with this question, however, it does not have a reliable answer, simply because we cannot go so far into the history of humanity. Another often asked question is about the features that all natural human languages share. The American linguist Charles Hockett has pointed out a number of such properties. Here are some of them: a) all languages have vowels and consonants; b) all languages have words; c) all languages can create new words when required and modify their meanings; d) all languages are open-ended in the sense that they can produce totally new utterances which are understood by the users of the language; e) all languages can form questions; f) in all languages it is possible to talk about things and situations that are removed from the immediate situation of the speaker (this is called displacement); g) in all languages we can use hypothetical, unreal, and fictional utterances. 6 Thus, as we can see, human linguistic knowledge involves numerous different aspects. People are able to produce sounds and to understand the sounds produced by others, and those sequences of sounds signify meanings. The relation between the linguistic form (written or spoken word or expression) and meaning is arbitrary, i.e. there is no direct physical correspondence between a linguistic expression and the entity in the world to which that expression refers. For example, there is no explicit relationship between the English word window and the object itself. In other languages the same concept is represented differently (e.g. langas in Lithuanian, okno in Russian, das Fenster in German, etc.). There are certain words in most languages whose pronunciation to some extent suggests their meaning. These are onomatopoeic words that imitate the sounds associated with the things, creatures or actions that they refer to. For instance, meow imitates the sound made by a cat, splash imitates the sound of liquid hitting something or being moved around quickly, whoosh means to move very fast with a soft rushing sound. However, even onomatopoeic words are not exact phonetic imitations of natural sounds. Therefore, their forms often differ from language to language (compare the English bow-wow and the Lithuanian au-au as imitations of dog barking). All natural languages are creative, because they allow innovation in response to new experiences, situations, and scientific discoveries. Creativity is a very important feature of all natural human languages. The human creative ability in language use is not just what we choose to say at a particular moment in a particular situation but also includes our understanding of a new sentence that we have never heard before. According to Fromkin et al., the sentence Daniel Boone decided to become a pioneer because he dreamed of pigeon-toed giraffes and cross-eyed elephants dancing in pink skirts and green berets on the wind-swept plains of the Midwest will be understood by the native speakers of English. (2007: 9). Most likely, no one will believe the sentence; its logic will surely be questioned; but everyone speaking English can understand it, though it was probably never produced before. Noam Chomsky was one of the first to speak about this human ability to understand new sentences as part of the creative aspect of language use. Another example of language creativity can be given on the lexical level. Imagine that a new substance has been created that helps to preserve food ecologically and for a long time. Imagine that this substance has been called sperte; then the food preserved in such a way would be 7 spertical, and the process of preservation would be called spertcalization. This example illustrates the possibility to create completely new words but, on the other hand, the limitations of creativity, since the derived words of the new coinage follow the already established rules of affixation in English. Natural languages are also often redundant, that is, the same meaning may be signalled more than once. First of all, redundancy may be external, i.e. indicated through gestures and facial expressions. If I say: He is my cousin and at the same time point at the only man in the room, I am using external redundancy of gestures. If I say: I don t like the taste of this salad and at the same time frown, I am indicating my dislike through both my facial expression and the use of the words don t like. Redundancy may be internal, i.e. expressed just through language. For example, in the sentence John likes to check his twice a day, the information about the masculine gender of the agent is given in the use of the personal name and in the pronoun his; singularity is signalled through the subject and the verb form (likes) and the singular form of the pronoun his. All languages are systematic. In other words, they consist of patterns, which recur in various combinations, and rules, which are applied to produce these patterns. Without rules, it would be impossible to learn and use languages. Every native speaker of English knows when to use the alternative forms of the indefinite article a or an and uses them without conscious effort. Similarly, a native speaker would use the form could have been asked but would not say *been have could asked because this is also a native speaker s intuitive knowledge of the rules in the language. All languages change. Of course, they may change I different ways depending on social, political and other circumstances. Thus their histories are individual and different. English, for example, has borrowed words, especially from French and Latin, to such an extent that purely native Anglo-Saxon words hardly constitute the majority of present-day English. Principles of Modern Linguistics: Structuralism Structuralism is a term used in linguistics referring to a theoretical approach to the analysis of language that describes linguistic items in 8 terms of structures. The basic claim of structuralism is that language is a structured system. Ferdinand de Saussure is known as the father of structuralism. In 1916, his Cours de linguistique générale (Course in General Linguistics) was published, where the main ideas of structuralism were formulated. He argued that each element in a language is defined by how it is related to other elements. He also formulated several principles of linguistic analysis which have become the tenets of modern linguistics. These principles are presented with short explanations below. Linguistics is descriptive, not prescriptive It means that linguists describe the rules and facts of language exactly as they find them without making judgements. They do not try to impose norms of correctness and do not try to change the actual usage of the language of the native speakers. This contrasts with the previous view of traditional grammar which was very strongly prescriptive. The principle of descriptiveness also reflects the present-day view about language change. Before de Saussure, it was held that linguistic change involves corruption and should be stopped. Modern linguistics states that change is a natural process. The task of a linguist is to describe the way people speak and write, not to tell them how they ought to use language. Priority of the spoken language It is one of the main principles of modern linguistics that spoken language is more basic than written language. For a long time only written language was studied, and judgements about language on the whole were based on the results of these studies. However, spoken language is very different from written texts. There are great variations both in grammar and vocabulary choices which the written language does not reflect. Therefore, for a full understanding of language use, both spoken and written language should be studied. Synchronic and diachronic description of language Two basic principles can be applied to the study of language: synchronic and diachronic. Diachronic linguistics is the study of languages from the viewpoint of their historical development. Synchronic linguistics studies languages at a single point of time. It may be the present-day situation or any given period in the history of language development. Both ways of describing languages are important. 9 All languages are equal For a linguist, all languages serve as the data for objective study. Though it was common earlier to call certain languages primitive (in relation to the cultural and economic development of certain societies), it was determined that every existing natural language is a highly developed system and its structure does not directly correlate with the stage of social development of that speech community. Paradigmatic and syntagmatic relations of linguistic units A linguistic unit enters into relations of two different kinds which identify it in the language system. It enters into paradigmatic relations with all the other elements of the same level which can also be used in the same context. For example, in the phrase a of milk; the missing element could be glass, jar, mug, bottle (all these concrete countable nouns stand in paradigmatic relationship). A linguistic unit enters into syntagmatic relations with the other elements of the same level with which it occurs and which make its context. Syntagmatic relations for the phrase a glass of milk would be between glass and a, of, and milk. Functionalism: The Prague School Functionalism is represented mostly by the works of the Prague School (established in 1926; the main representatives: V. Mathesius, R. Jakobson, N.Trubbetzkoj). In linguistics, functionalism is best seen as a movement continuing the tradition of Saussurean structuralism. The main claim of this approach is that language is a system of functionally related units. The phonological, grammatical, and semantic structures of a language are determined by the functions that they have to perform. The main function of language is the communicative one, i.e. language is used by people to communicate. Language also has the expressive function to convey the speaker s feelings and attitudes. B. Maliowski introduced the term the phatic function, claiming that language is often used for maintaining social relations (e.g. greetings, leave-taking, comments about the weather, etc.). The Prague School also emphasized the distinction between the phonetic and the phonological analysis of sounds, introducing the notions of phoneme and distinctive feature. Of particular importance is also their formulation of the theory of functional 10 sentence perspective (FSP) a theory that analyses utterances in terms of the information they express. Generativism (Generative grammar) The term is used to refer to the theory of language developed by Noam Chomsky. His language theory revolutionized linguistics in 1957, when his book Syntactic Structures was published. He draws a distinction between linguistic competence and performance. A speaker s linguistic competence is that part of his knowledge of the native language system which enables him to make an infinite number of sentences. Performance is linguistic behavior which is determined both by the speaker s linguistic competence and various non-linguistic factors, such as social conventions, emotional attitudes, etc. Chomsky claims that human language is innate: a child is born with a biological predisposition to learn language. This feature is species-specific, that is, it discriminates humans and other living creatures. Chomsky was amazed at how rapidly a little child acquires language. On the whole, he emphasized the role of language as a basic means to investigate the human mind. Questions and tasks: 1) Some features common to all natural languages have be mentioned above. Can you think of some additional properties that unite all languages? 2) If a researcher decided to analyze the English language of the period when Shakespeare wrote his most famous tragedies, would it be a synchronic or diachronic linguistic analysis? 3) Explain how you understand prescriptiveness in linguistics. In your opinion, is it a positive or a negative approach? 4) Give expressions, both in English and Lithuanian, which would be examples of the phatic function of language. 5) Can your think of examples of utterances where the expressive function would be much more prominent than the communicative one? 6) How do you understand innateness of language? 7) Does synonymy illustrate paradigmatic or syntagmatic relations in language? 11 8) Think about your usual working day. Do you speak more or do you write more? In this connection, would you give priority to spoken or written language? 9) (Advanced) If someone you know says to you over a glass of wine on a Saturday evening I love you, how would you interpret the utterance? In other words, can the utterance have other interpretations apart from its direct meaning and how some interpretations may depend on the context of the situation? PHONETICS Phonetics is the branch of linguistics which studies the characteristics of speech sounds. Since in English and some other languages there is a considerable discrepancy between spelling and sound, phonetic alphabets have been created in which one letter corresponds to one sound. The best-known and most widely used one is the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA). The phonetic transcription is given in square brackets, for example fee [fi:] or daytime [deitaim]. Phonetics is traditionally divided into articulatory phonetics, which studies how speech sounds are produced, auditory phonetics, which studies how they are perceived by the ear; it investigates the perception of pitch and loudness of sounds, and acoustic phonetics, which looks at the physical characteristics of speech sounds. Individual speech sounds are called segments. All the speech sounds are classified into consonants and vowels. Vowels are pronounced without or with very little obstruction in the vocal tract and they make the nucleus of a syllable. Consonants are produced with some constriction in the airflow through the vocal tract. According to their place of articulation, the English consonants are further classified into bilabial, labiodental, dental, alveolar, palatal, velar, and glottal. According to the manner of articulation, they are grouped into stops, fricatives, and affricates. In addition, consonants are called oral, if the air escapes through the mouth; the majority of consonants are oral. However, if the velum is lowered and the air escapes through the nose, a nasal consonant is produced (e.g. the first sound in new or mouse). The English vowels are classified into simple vowels (or monophtongs) and diphthongs. Diphthongs show a noticeable change in 12 quality during their pronunciation (e.g. the vowels in play and count). The manner of the articulation of vowels depends on the position of the tongue and lips. They are grouped into high, mid, and low; front, central, and back, and rounded and unrounded. The distinction between lax and tense vowels shows that the first are produced with relatively less tension and are shorter than their tense counterparts, which show a greater vocal tract constriction. The vowel in fit is lax and the vowel in feel is tense. Two speech sounds [w] and [j] are articulated with the tongue like a vowel, yet they function like voiced consonants and are called glides (sometimes the term semi-vowel is used). Length, pitch, and stress are prosodic (or suprase
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