LCC Language


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Lecture slides introducing the unit and language - what it is, how and why we study it.

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  • Linguistics is the scientific inquiry into the human language with all its aspects. All its aspects: these are many. There is a specialized branch for each approach to the examination of language.This session will look at the bold claim that language can be understood as the centre of the universe.We will also introduce the specialized branches contained within its study.
  • LCC Language

    1. 1. Language What is it? How do we use it? How do we study it?
    2. 2. The Language System Words and Phrases (semantics) The combination of words and phrases into sentences/ Utterances (grammar) The combination of sentences/utterances into whole texts (discourse)
    3. 3. Phonetics • Phonetics investigates the physical nature of speech, how sounds are articulated and perceived. – Sounds of all languages are described according to their "features“, of which this is a small matrix. alveolar velar stop t k fricative s
    4. 4. Phonology • Phonology studies the use and patterning of sounds in language. • Phonology examines what occurs to speech sounds when they are combined to form a word and how these speech sounds interact with each other. – Can you hear the difference between the stop sounds in these pairs of words? • pit • bit
    5. 5. Writing • This is language in its more abstract form. Some of the questions investigated are: – How did writing originate? What are different writing systems like? • in what way is Chinese writing phonetic? How is writing different from speaking? – How is writing different from speech? • compare see and sea • note the two pronunciations of what is written record – How does the process of reading work? – How should it be taught? – How do "phonics" and "whole language" differ?
    6. 6. Syntax • Syntax looks at how words are organized into sentences. How can we explain, for example, that – you can omit "that" in This is the book (that) I bought. – but not in This is the book that was too expensive?
    7. 7. Morphology • Morphology is a branch of linguistics which investigates how new words are created from smaller pieces. Understanding the structure of words can help to establish meaning. – There are two meanings for the word unlockable depending on its structure. – un + lockable: there's no latch on the door, so you can't lock it – unlock + able: we've got the key now, so we can unlock it
    8. 8. Semantics • When we study the meanings of words and how they combine into sentence meanings we are in the area known as semantics. • Look at the meanings of the following sentences. Is there anything ambiguous? – "Twenty-year friendship ends at altar." – “The show ends tomorrow.” – “The road ends in a cul-de-sac.”
    9. 9. Pragmatics • Pragmatics looks at the effect of situation on language use. The following sentences all express the same request. Why do we use them? – Please shut the window. – It's cold in here. – I wonder if we should shut the window. – Do you feel a draft? • Situations create expectations. Your friend sends you a birthday card. What would you expect to read? – "On this day, which is the 24th anniversary of the day of your birth, these words shall mean to you that the undersigned wishes to transmit her best wishes, namely congratulations." – "Happy birthday and best wishes. Yours, Elvira."
    10. 10. Language and thought • But language is intimately related to life - its relation to thought and culture raise some very important issues. – Does the language you speak affect the way you think? – How many words does Eskimo (or English!) have for "snow"? What does it matter? – How does language reflect cultural differences?
    11. 11. Historical linguistics • Languages change over time and are related to one another. Historical linguistics studies these changes and explores the relations. Some of the questions it tries to answer are: – In what ways did Latin change to become the various modern Romance languages? – Is Latin "better" than French or Spanish? – How can comparison of known languages permit us to reconstruct the form of languages not spoken for 5000 years or longer? – What can we conclude if they had a word for "sun", or "snow", or "wheel"?
    12. 12. Sociolinguistics • Sociolinguistics is the study of interrelationships of language and social structure, linguistic variation, and attitudes toward language. Some of the questions it asks are: – How does language reflect the social identity of the speaker? – Why might you have a different accent than your parents, if they were the first people you heard language from? – How is variation in language use part of our knowledge of language?
    13. 13. Psycholinguistics • Psycholinguistics is the study of how language is represented in the mind, how it is acquired, understood and produced. Some of the questions it tries to answer are: • How do children learn the complexities of a language without formal instruction? • Why do people sometimes make errors like I have a stick neff? • What sorts of errors don't typically occur? (One example: stin keff)
    14. 14. Evolutionary linguistics • Evolutionary linguistics looks at human language in a cross-species context. It explores questions such as: – How does animal communication resemble human language? – Can apes learn sign language? – How (and why) might language have evolved?
    15. 15. Conclusion "When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said, in a rather scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean--neither more nor less." "The question is," said Alice, "whether you can make words mean so many different things." "The question is," said Humpty Dumpty, "which is to be master--that's all." Lewis Caroll, Through the Looking Glass • Talking, shouting, whispering, lying, swearing, telling jokes or stories, in short: communication of all sorts by means of articulate sound is something we are so familiar with that we hardly ever come to think about it as something unique. Yet it is.