a study of how to teach English to</li></ul> non-native English speakers<br /><ul><li> the Grammar Police!</li></li></ul><li>Linguists Ask...<br /><ul><li> What is language?
How does the human brain process and produce language?
How come we are the only creatures on this planet that are capable of knowing and using a language? Or are we?
When we say that we know a language, what exactly is it that we know?</li></li></ul><li>Language<br />Definition from Oxford English Dictionary: language, noun<br />a.The system of spoken or written communication used by a particular country, people, community, etc., typically consisting of words used within a regular grammatical and syntactic structure. e.g.: ‘English language’, ‘French language’<br />b. The vocal sounds by which mammals and birds communicate; any other signals used by animals to communicate. e.g.: ape, horse language, etc<br />c.A means of communicating other than by the use of words, as gesture, facial expression, etc.; non-verbal communication. e.g. body, code, finger, picture, sign language<br />
Language<br /><ul><li> The ability to speak and understand a </li></ul> language comes naturally to humans - <br /> just like blinking or breathing – it is<br />inherent.<br /><ul><li> Language processing is subconscious. </li></ul> We never think about the rules of<br />language.<br /><ul><li> As a result, most people take language </li></ul>for granted.<br />
Language<br /><ul><li>The ability to use language makes humans,</li></ul> different from the rest of the animal<br /> world.<br /><ul><li> We use language to think.
We even use language to talk about </li></ul> language itself!<br /><ul><li> Language is not just a random collection of</li></ul> words. <br /><ul><li> It is an incredibly sophisticated structure: a</li></ul> strictly organized system of units and rules.<br />
Language Units<br />Units of language (sounds, syllables, words, etc.) don’t just combine randomly. They are arranged in a hierarchical system.<br /> On every level, there are rules that govern which units can exist in this particular language and how they can combine with each other.<br />
Language Rules: Examples<br />Are these English words?<br />dream<br />bruise<br />strength<br />pitch<br />
Language Rules: Examples<br />What about these words? Could they be English words?<br />ricking<br />glutch<br />trest<br />stoom<br />
Answer: Sure. Even if they aren’t found in the dictionary, we can imagine them as being English words.<br />Some new-ish words which once would have sounded strange: quark, google, email <br />
Language Rules: Examples<br />What about these words? Could they be English words? <br />ngayon<br />gdje<br />mgla<br />mbwa<br />How do you know that this set of words is not possible in English?<br />
Answer: You have a set of rules in your head, like a computer, that tells you which sounds can be combined to make possible English words and which sounds can’t. These rules are called phonotactic constraints. <br />
Language Rules: Examples<br />A speaker of another language has a different “computer”, a different set of rules that compute sound combinations differently<br />ngayon“now” Tagalog<br />gdje “where” Croatian<br />mgla “darkness” Russian<br />mbwa “dog” Bantu<br />
Language Rules: Examples<br />Is this sentence?<br /> The cow jumped over the fence.<br />Or this?<br /> Unhappiness my of friend’s apparent is. <br />Or this?<br /> Colorless green ideas sleep furiously.<br />
Some Language Myths<br />You have to be really smart to learn a language.<br />“between you and I” <br />British English is better than American English.<br />Slang is not “real” language.<br />You have an accent – I don’t.<br />
Homework<br />Find someone who speaks English with an accent different from yours. Objectively observe and record those differences.<br />Describe some of those differences – does he or she use different sounds, words, expressions, etc? Be as specific as possible. Give examples. <br />One to two pages, double-spaced, no larger than 12 font size.<br />