1. language & linguistics


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1. language & linguistics

  1. 1. Language & Linguistics1
  2. 2. What is a “language”?  Language is commonly defined (simply) as “a means of communication”; but if it is defined so, there will be no difference between human communication and animal communication. The reason is because, both animal and human do have means to communicate.2
  3. 3.  To be more scientific, a language can be defined as: “An arbitrary system of creative vocal symbols used as a means of communication among human beings”.3
  4. 4.  Let us see what is meant by arbitrary system, vocal symbol, creative, and means of communication as the characteristics or properties of human language.4
  5. 5. A. Language is Arbitrary  A language is arbitrary because the relationship between a vocal symbol (in form, in the sense of linguistics) and the entity, state, event, or action (meaning) of the vocal symbol cannot be proved logically.5
  6. 6. For example, the question of: “why the following entity is called “birds” in English” and not “monkey “ or “money” for instance, cannot be answered.6
  7. 7. B. Language is Vocal Symbols  Considering a language as a construction of vocal symbols, we actually want to distinguish oral from written language. A language is originally oral / spoken (vocal symbols). In other words, we can say that spoken language is the origin of a language.  See this fact!!! Children grow up learning and speaking a language (orally) before learning to write. Even in this modern age, some people still cannot write but they can communicate with a language.7
  8. 8.  On the other hand, writing or written language is the best thought of as a written representation of a language. One of the differences (in characteristics) between oral and written language is that written language tends to be prescriptive (what one thinks it/ the language ought to be) but oral/ spoken language is not prescriptive.8
  9. 9. C. Language is Creative  No matter how well a dictionary of a language is designed and written, it will never contain all possible sentences that a human being (the speaker of a language) can make and use for communication. Once we speak a language (say, our mother tongue/ native language), the components and rules of the language enables us to create infinite number/ unlimited numbers of sentences. It enables us to put words together to make phrases, put phrases together to make sentences, and so forth.  As illustration, the same word can be employed in so many different infinite numbers of sentences, as exemplified with the following phrases:9
  10. 10. 1. I eat rice. You eat bread. 2. The goats eat bread and cheese. (Have you ever created or heard this possible sentence before?). 3. They eat grass. 4. I eat rice, you eat bread, the goats eat cheese, they eat grass, …… eat ……, ….. eat ……. and so on. (How many times can you repeat the word “eat” in the last sentence? How long can you make the sentence? The answer is, It is infinite).10
  11. 11.  Indeed, we create and heard new sentences in our language all the time in our everyday communication. Even we may have created and heard a sentence that had never been spoken or heard before, but we did not realize it. This is because a language is creative.11
  12. 12. D. Language is a Means of Communication  Language is only one among another means of communication, but it is the most perfect means of communication possessed by human beings. The use of a language as a means of communication is what distinguishes animal communication from the communication among human beings.12
  13. 13.  In most societies (or cultures) there are fables, legends, etc., where we are told that animals do play speaking role, not only among themselves but also with human beings. But can the fables, or legends provide evidence that animals do speak and have language?  While human beings communicate with language; it is believed that animals simply communicate with their instinct; but this belief has not been proved empirically.13
  14. 14. What is “Linguistics”? Linguistics is the study of languages.  The subject matter of linguistics is language.14
  15. 15.  Traditionally, linguistics studies a language as a formal system consisting of four main branches, known as “micro linguistics”;  Besides, the linguistic studies which are supposed as the interdisciplinary field of studies that identify, investigate and offer solutions to language-related real life problems, called “macro linguistics or applied linguistics”; and  There are also some other linguistic branches.15
  16. 16. Linguistics Language Micro Macro Linguistics Other Linguistics (Applied Linguistics) Branches Phonology Sociolinguistics Lexicology Morpho phonemic /Morphophonology Morphology Psycholinguistics Comparative Historical LinguisticsMorphosyntax Syntax Neurolinguistics Anthropological Semantics Linguistics Language Acquisition16
  17. 17. Furthermore, we will merely discuss about micro linguistics, which are related to pure language studies, such as:  Phonology (the study of speech sound and their patterns);  Morphology (the study of words and word formation);  Syntax (the study of sentence structure); and  Semantics (the study of meanings).17
  18. 18. LANGUAGE & MEDIUM  A language is described as an abstraction based on the linguistic behavior of its users.  All normal children of all races learn to speak the language of their community, so speech has often been seen as the primary medium of language.18
  19. 19.  The abstract system which is language can also be realized as writing. However, although speech and writing have much in common, they are not to be equated or hierarchically ordered.19
  20. 20. Diagram of the correlation between language and its mediums: LANGUAGE (ABSTRACTION) MEDIUMS (CONCRETE) SPEECH WRITING20
  21. 21.  The diagram indicates that, although speech and writing are in theory distinct, they can and do influence each other.  A simple example of this is that pronunciation is often affected by spelling. A word like ‘often’, for example, is frequently pronounced with a [t] because of influence from the written medium.21
  22. 22. The main differences between speech and writing: Speech: Writing: Composed of sounds. Composed of letters / signs. Make use of intonation, pitch, Makes use of punctuation and other rhythm, tempo. graphological devices like italics, boldfaces, underlines, and so on. Produced effortlessly – no tools Produced with effort – tools required. required. Transitory/ temporarily. Relatively permanent. Perceived by the ear. Perceived by the eye. Addressee present. Addressee absent. Immediately feedback. Feedback delayed. Meaning helped by context, body Meaning must be made clear within the movement, gestures. context. Spontaneous. Not spontaneous. Directly Associative Indirectly Associative.22