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Why Study Linguistics

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  • 1. Why Study Linguistics? Produced by the Subject Centre for Languages, Linguistics and Area Studies
  • 2. Can you answer these questions?
    • What is the difference between a ‘knight’ and ‘knave’?
    • What do you eat with your ghoti ?
    • How many words are there in the sentence ‘ The cats talked and the dogs walked ’ 7, 6 or 2?
    • Do sentences grow on trees?
    • Can ‘Colourless green ideas sleep furiously’ ?
    • Who taught you to speak?
    • Linguistics can help us to find the answers…
  • 3. Can you answer this question? Q. What is the difference between a knight and a knave? A. Time Why? ‘ Knave’ and ‘knight’ both meant ‘boy’ once. They now mean opposing things. Meanings of words and pronunciation change over time.
  • 4. Historical Linguistics Etymology is the study of the historical development of words, which is part of Historical Linguistics.
  • 5. Can you answer this question? Q. What do you eat with ghoti? A. Chips Why? If we take the [gh] from ‘laugh’, the [o] from "women" and the [ti] from ‘nation’ the word ghoti can be pronounced fish . We spell some words in English in ways which bear no resemblance to the way they are pronounced. Ghoti was invented by the playwright George Bernard Shaw to show the illogicality of English spelling.
  • 6. Phonetics and Phonology These are the areas of Linguistics that deal with the study of the sound system of a language ( Phonology) and the scientific study of speech processes (Phonetics).
  • 7. Can you answer this question? Q. How many words are there in the sentence ‘ The cats talked and the dogs walked’ 7 or 6? A. Both Why 7? It all depends what you mean by word because the word ‘word’ is ambiguous. If the question means ‘How many word forms’ then the answer is 7 (sometimes this is referred to as 7 word tokens).
  • 8. Can you answer this question? Q. How many words are there in the sentence ‘ The cats talked and the dogs walked’ 7 or 6? A. Both Why 6? If we mean ‘how many different word forms’, then the answer is 6 since there are two ‘the’s (sometimes referred to as word types).
  • 9. Can you answer this question? Q. How many of the words in the sentence would you expect to find in the dictionary? A. 6 or 2 Why 6? The dictionary is not a list of actual word forms but of ‘dictionary words’. We will find ‘cat’ and ‘dog’ but not ‘cats’ and ‘dogs’; we will find ‘walk’ and ‘talk’ but not ‘walked’ and ‘talked’. ‘-s’ and ‘-ed’ are not in the dictionary at all, thus 6: CAT, DOG WALK, TALK, the, and
  • 10. Can you answer this question?
    • Q. How many of the words in the sentence would you expect to find in the dictionary?
    • 6 or 2
    Why 2? But if we mean how many actual word forms the answer will be 2 (the, and). Look it up and see!
  • 11. Can you answer this question? Q. Do sentences grow on trees? A. Yes Why? Sentences are structured strings of words. The string of words ‘ Sentences grow on trees ’ is recognisable as a well-formed sentence of English. By contrast ‘sentences grow trees on’ or ‘trees on grow sentences’ are simply word salad. One way to show that sentences have structure is to identify which words go together to form units. So ‘on trees’ is a unit (Where do sentences grow?); so is ‘grow on trees’ (What do sentences do?) and so is ‘sentences’ (what grow on trees?). However, the strings ‘sentences grow’ or ‘grow on’ do not relate to sensible questions and are not units in this sentence.
  • 12. Syntax Sentences grow on trees S NP VP N V PP NP P N Sentences also grow on trees like this…
  • 13. Syntax The relations of words in sentences is from a branch of Linguistics called ‘Syntax’ S NP N V VP PP P Sentence Noun Phrase Noun Verb Preposition Preposition Phrase Verb Phrase Key
  • 14. Can you answer this question? Q. Can colourless green ideas sleep furiously? A. Yes and no! Why yes? Yes… because this sentence is grammatically correct – that is the nouns, verbs, adjectives are in the right place for an English sentence. zzz
  • 15. Can you answer this question? Q. Can colourless green ideas sleep furiously? A. Yes and no! Why no? No… because you can’t make sense of it in the ‘real world’. This demonstrates that it is not grammar alone that makes a sentence sensible, but the context in which it is created. In the ‘real world’ a colour can’t be colourless and an idea can’t be green. The world of the imagination is another matter, however! zzz
  • 16. Semantics The branch of linguistics dealing with meaning is called Semantics . zzz
  • 17. Can you answer this question? Q. Who taught you to speak? A. You did Why? You might think that it is your parents who taught you how to speak, but you have really taught yourself. Certainly your parents offer you the ‘model’ of the language or languages you are going to learn but you came into the world equipped with a kind of ready-made language processor that helped you to sort out how the language you were hearing actually worked.
  • 18. Working out the rules Have you ever heard a child say ‘I dided it’ or ‘I bringed it’ ? What do you think is going on here? They won’t have heard their parents saying these words, so where did they come from?
  • 19. Language Acquisition This is the branch of Linguistics that studies the ways in which children learn language. When Linguistics looks at how we learn a second or foreign language this is called Second Language Acquisition.
  • 20. Want to find out more? These examples are based on the "The collected works of the phantom linguist" which can be visited at: http:// www.yourdictionary.com/library/index.html - linguist
  • 21. So what precisely is Linguistics? "Linguistics is the science of language. It is the subject whose practitioners devote their energy to understanding why human language is the way it is. They study the history, acquisition, structure, and use of as many languages as possible - It would be nice to study them all, but life's too short." (Crystal: http:// www.bangor.ac.uk/ling/whatis.htm )
  • 22. So what precisely is Linguistics? Since language enters into almost every area of human activity, the application of linguistic analysis can be extremely broad, encompassing almost any area where language is a practical concern. For example: language learning and teaching • language in new technologies • writing systems • dictionaries • translation • language issues • multilingual societies • linguistic difficulties • communication between different social, cultural, ethnic groups • endangered languages • linguistic input to computer systems • … and many more!
  • 23. Sounds interesting but what career will it lead to? • information technology • translation and interpreting • education • speech and language therapy • publishing • research • dictionary writing Careers that would relate directly to Linguistics include the following:
  • 24. Sorry not interested in those! • numeracy • logical thinking • data analysis • communication and presentation • critical thinking • working with others • use of IT Don’t worry Linguistics will provide you with many skills desirable in a variety of jobs and careers:
  • 25. Give me some examples • advertising • journalism • TV presenting • voice coach • speech therapist • accountancy • forensics • counselling/social work Here are some of the jobs that Linguistics graduates have gone onto:
  • 26. But will Linguistics make me ‘special’? • respect for accuracy • confidence in learning new systems • attention to form • understanding of human behaviour • good grasp of the language needed to describe language There are some particular skills that are associated with Linguistics that makes it ‘special’:
  • 27. But will Linguistics make me ‘special’? • recognition and use of evidence • speculation • critical and logical thinking • building complex systems Linguistics also requires a certain amount of hard thinking which might involve:
  • 28. But will Linguistics make me ‘special’? • How do I understand language? • How does language operate in my and other societies? • How might the language I use shape me as a person? Finally Linguistics might help you to become a more self-aware person by posing a number of questions such as:
  • 29. What might a Linguistics Course look like? • Morphology and Syntax (Structure) • Phonetics and Phonology (Sound) • Semantics and Pragmatics (Meaning) • Language Acquisition • Sociolinguistics (Language and society) • Psycholinguistics (Language and the mind) • Historical Linguistics • Discourse (Language in use) A typical BA in Linguistics might include:
  • 30. What might a Linguistics Course look like? • Modern Languages and Linguistics • English Literature and Linguistics • Computing and Linguistics • Linguistics and Education • Linguistics and Philosophy   However, Linguistics is typically combined with a wide variety of other subjects. Some examples are: For more examples see UCAS www.ucas.ac.uk
  • 31. What might a Linguistics Course look like? • Acoustics and Audiology • Anatomy, Biology and Physiology • Vocal tract disorders • Managing people with communication difficulties • Health Psychology • Practical Phonetics • Child language development • Research methods and statistics A typical BSc in Speech Science might include:
  • 32. So what to students think of Linguistics? I learnt a great amount ranging from the way we learn and develop our speech to the phonetic alphabet Some examples from first year students: The course was completely new, therefore everything was new and interesting Thanks to syntax I understand how a sentence is made Fascinating – helps understanding of different languages
  • 33. So what to students think of Linguistics? greater analytical skills Some other things students say they have gained: greatly aided my understanding of English, Spanish and French, also helped my library research skills I learnt the phonetic alphabet which is quite useful in pronunciation I thought it was really interesting and helped loads with grammar
  • 34. Any famous Linguists? J.R.R. Tolkein - professor of Philology Historical Linguistics & author of...? Lord of the Rings Noam Chomsky - revolutionised Linguistics but is also noted for his radical ...? Politics Jacob Grimm - philologist and co-author of ... ? Grimm's Fairy Tales Alexander Graham Bell - Linguist and inventor of …? the telephone Yes, there are a few. Have you heard of them?:
  • 35. Tell me more,more, more…! More ‘Why Study Linguistics’ links: http://www.lang.ltsn.ac.uk/whylinguistics.aspx   ‘ The collected works of the phantom linguist’: http://www.yourdictionary.com/library/index.html#linguist Linguistics courses: http://www.ucas.ac.uk Produced by the Subject Centre for Languages, Linguistics and Area Studies

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