THE STUDY OF LANGUAGE
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What is “Linguistics”?
study of language
not just particular
languages, but the
system of human
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Each human language is a complex of knowledge and
abilities enabling speakers of the language to communicate
with each other, to express ideas, hypotheses, emotions,
desires, and all the other things that need expressing.
Linguistics is the study of these knowledge systems in all their
aspects: how is such a knowledge system structured, how is it
acquired, how is it used in the production and comprehension
of messages, how does it change over time? Linguists
consequently are concerned with a number of particular
questions about the nature of language. What properties do
all human languages have in common? How do languages
differ, and to what extent are the differences systematic, i.e.
can we find patterns in the differences? How do children
acquire such complete knowledge of a language in such a
short time? What are the ways in which languages can
change over time, and are there limitations to how languages
change? What is the nature of the cognitive processes that
come into play when we produce and understand
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someone who just
knows lots of
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someone who just
knows lots of big
So then which of these
does a linguist do?
Studies lots of different languages
Studies how children learn language
Studies speech sounds
Studies language structure
YES, all of the above, and much more!
The field of Linguistics
has many subfields
Philosophy of Language
Linguistics and Literature
XenolinguisticsThe study of languages
originating from alien species!
Why study Linguistics?
Because language is fascinating!
Direct or Indirect?
Gender Differences in Language
do men say,
"Open the window,"
but women say,
"Boy, it sure would
be nice if we could
get a breeze in
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Jobs Available to Linguists
Teaching English as a second
Research jobs with companies such
as Microsoft, Apple or IBM
Government jobs with the FBI or
Teaching at a community college or
Field work documenting language in
a foreign country
Or use your linguistic skills in the
fields of anthropology, law, library
science, psychology, or sociology.
Language Fun Fact
you know that "nice" used to mean
"ignorant" thousands of years ago?
assigned to words in any
language are completely arbitrary. We've
all simply agreed upon the meanings we
give to words.
Future of Linguistics
What will texting do to our ability to write? “OMG! I'm
omw, will u b there 2? TTFN!”
Email, texting and instant messaging are replacing older
forms of communication.
What will the
Future of Linguistics
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How can we help
bridge the cultural gap
working together from
different parts of the
Phonetics studies speech sounds, including
Production of speech, that is how speech
sounds are actually made Articulatory
Transmission and receipt of speech Acoustic
Perception of the transmitted sound by human
brain Auditory Phonetics.
Studies the sound system of languages.
Distinctive sounds within a language,
Nature of sound systems across the
Phoneme (from the Greek: φώνημα,
phōnēma, "a sound uttered") is the smallest
segmental unit of sound employed to form
meaningful contrasts between utterances.
the formation of words from smaller
units called morphemes.
Morpheme: minimal meaningful language
smallest linguistically distinctive
units of sound) in spoken language.
Grapheme(s): written symbol to represent
Rules that govern the formation of sentences from
Syntactic phrases include:
Noun Phrase : a tall man, the bus
Verb Phrase : roam around, hit the ball
Prepositional Phrase : in the class, at the club
Adjective Phrase : Very good, nice girl
The Grammatical Rules:
SOV: eg. Hindi
SVO: eg . English
syntax of a language deals with
the grammatical structure of a
Grammar is the structural foundation
of our ability to express ourselves.
Descriptive grammar : structure
actually used by speakers and writers.
Prescriptive grammar : structure that
should be used
Study of language meaning.
with not only the meaning
of words, but also that of morphemes
and of sentences.
semantics study how and what
the words of a language denote
is the study of meaning in
How language is used to communicate
rather than how it is internally structured.
a number of conversational
interactions, such as sequential
organization, repair of errors, role and