Mental grammar


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  • This kind of grammar enables the students to identify what is correct or incorrect and also motivate them to discover things they actually don’t know by confirming the knowledge they know and do not know. This will somewhat help them to be independent in learning the language.
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  • Mental Grammar is somewhat similar to Cognitive grammar since its proponent is Langacker's students that's why they have similar point of views however it is more on an innate knowledge which will lead to a better acquisition of the language
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  • According to Chomsky (1965), 'All humans are born with the capacity for constructing a Mental Grammar, given linguistic experience; this capacity for language is called the Language Faculty.'

    With that, all people are gifted with the ability to learn and speak a language. Mental grammar then is innate to each and everyone. From the time we were born up to now, our language development is in progress. Everyday, we learn new words which add up to what we already know and eventually we use these words to our daily conversation with other people. Through our conversation, we don't give much attention to the grammar rules. We just use the language that we know.
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  • Grammar is the structural foundation of our ability to express ourselves. The more we are aware of how it works, the more we can monitor the meaning and effectiveness of the way we and others use language. (David Crystal, 'In Word and Deed,' TES Teacher, April 30, 2004)
    With this definition of grammar, it is our mental grammar that makes us effectively express ourselves and understand others. It is because according to Chomsky 1965, all humans are born with the capacity for constructing a Mental Grammar, given linguistic experience which is a capacity for language called the Language Faculty. Hence, the richer our mental grammar is the better we can express ourselves. Because it is our mental grammar that allows us understands and creates new sentences. Therefore, we need to enrich our stored knowledge of languages, of grammar itself. As such, a child without attending formal schooling on grammar is able to construct sentences of his own, hence a grammar of his own which can be better as his mental grammar enriches.
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Mental grammar

  1. 1. Discussant:RONA C. ANDRES
  2. 2. The generative grammar stored in the brainthat allows a speaker to produce language thatother speakers can understand. The rules and principles that govern a language are almost all acquired in childhood; they are all “in the heads of native speakers” This grammar cannot be observed, what can be observed is the output of this mental process.
  4. 4. • DefinitionGrammatical competence is the ability to recognizeand produce the distinctive grammatical structures ofa language and to use them effectively incommunication.• DiscussionGrammatical competence as defined by NoamChomsky would include phonological competence.• ExamplesLearners of French need to learn to understand thedifferent time references of sets of words such as jepartais, je parte, je parterai, and to be able to makeappropriate time reference when speaking or writing.
  5. 5. Linguistic CompetenceThe unconscious knowledge of grammar thatallows a speaker to use and understand alanguage.  As used by Noam Chomsky and other linguists, linguistic competence is not an evaluative term. Rather, it refers to the innate linguistic knowledge that allows a person to match sounds and meanings
  6. 6. Examples and Observations:"Linguistic competence constitutesknowledge of language, but that knowledge istacit, implicit. This means that people do nothave conscious access to the principles andrules that govern the combination of sounds,words, and sentences; however, they dorecognize when those rules and principles havebeen violated. .
  7. 7. DESCRIPTIVE GRAMMARA descriptive grammar is a set of rules about languagebased on how it is actually used. In a descriptivegrammar there is no right or wrong language.  A descriptive grammar looks at the way a language is actually used by its speakers and then attempts to analyze it and formulate rules about the structure. Descriptive grammar does not deal with what is good or bad language use; forms and structures that might not be used by speakers of Standard English would be regarded as valid and included.
  8. 8. What linguists mean:Descriptive grammarWhat people actually say (Linguistic performance)Mental grammarWhat people know when they knowa language (Linguistic competence)
  9. 9. Performance vs. Competence•Descriptive grammar: what people actually say–“Linguistic performance”•Mental grammar: what we guess people are capable ofsaying given unlimited memory, time, and energy–“Linguistic competence”•Examples:–Jane said that Tom told her that Susan said that….–great great great great great... grandmother
  10. 10. Also, people make mistakes! Just becausesomething comes out of someone’s mouth(descriptive grammar) doesn’t mean that that ispart of their mental grammar•What linguists are actually interested in is mentalgrammar, but descriptive grammar is a necessarystepping stone in getting there .
  11. 11. Words are indispensable units. They come in a variety ofsorts (word classes, word categories, parts of speech) suchas nouns (table), verbs (walk), adjectives (beautiful),prepositions (in), articles (the), pronouns (he), conjunctions(and), and so on. Apart from having a word category label(noun, verb, etc.), they also have a form (made of speechsounds) and a meaning (made of concepts): Meaning word Form Word Category Label
  12. 12. Simplex and Complex WordsAll languages have affixes that can be attached to freemorphemes (i.e., simplex words) to form new wordsthat will thus be complex. Affixes Prefixes Suffixes un- -less non- -ly over- -hood re- -ateAnother way to form new words is to simply combine two freemorphemes: arm chair, kitchen table, iPod charger, etc. Suchcomplex words have a special name; they are called compounds.In fact, we also have a word for word formation that uses affixes:derivation.
  13. 13. The study of the constraints on word formation is calledmorphology, which is also the name for the sub moduleof the mental grammar that contains these constraints.The constraints on complex words that regard thecombinability of the category labels are either calledmorphology constraints or categorical constraints.
  14. 14. Open and closed word classes The morphology points to an interesting and presumably deep difference between two kinds of word classes. The morphological means allow us to make new nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs, but not articles, prepositions, pronouns, conjunctions, and so on. Accordingly, we call the verbs group open classes, and the latter group closed classes. Closed classes are also called functional categories because whereas nouns, verbs, etc., have clear meanings, these closed class words are more functional.SentencesCombination of words (rather than morphemes, althoughsimplex words are, by definition also single morphemes)and we form phrases which, in turn, make up sentences. What is Recursion? Inflection?
  15. 15. A Model of the Mental Grammar Lexicon Primitives Primitives Primitives & Constraints & Constraints &Constraints & Adjustments &AdjustmentsSemantic structure Syntactic structure Phonological structure linguistic expression Thought stuff Sound stuff
  16. 16. THANK YOU!!!