Describing Language- by AYLİN AYDIN, Uludag University
ULUDAG UNIVERSITY ENGLISH LANGUAGE TEACHING DEPARTMENTTHE PRACTICE OF ENGLISH LANGUAGE TEACHING AYLİN AYDIN ADNAN ERKUT COŞKUN ŞEREF ŞEN
WHAT IS GRAMMAR?GRAMMAR is the description of the ways in which words can changetheir forms and can be combined into sentences in that language.Short definition: The systematic study and description of a language.
MorphemeIn linguistics, a morpheme is the smallest semantically meaningful unit in alanguage. The field of study dedicated to morphemes is called morphology. Amorpheme is not identical to a word, and the principal difference between thetwo is that a morpheme may or may not stand alone, whereas a word, bydefinition, is a freestanding unit of meaning. Every word comprises one or moremorphemes.Example: the word cats has two morphemes. Cat is a morpheme, and s is amorpheme.
SYNTAXSyntax is the order in which you place words, to make a sentence either soundgood or convey a certain meaning.While morphology looks at how the smallest linguistic unit (called morphemes)are formed into complete words, syntax looks at how those words are formed intocomplete sentences."To your house we are going" would be an example of awkward syntax. Youunderstand it, but it sounds odd. People who are learning a language might haveproblems with syntax.If you mess with syntax, you can change the meaning:The young man carries the lady.The lady carries the young man.
SPOKEN AND WRITTEN GRAMMAR• Writers orientate more towards norms, speakers orient towards each other• Writing is more off-line and not time bound; speech is more online and in real time• Spoken language: absence of ‘sentences’ ‘incomplete’ utterances jointly produced utterances flexible structures.For example: ‘’Didn’t know you used boiling water’’ - I didn’t know that you used boiling water
EllipsisEllipsis means to leave out the words without destroying the meaning.It simply means ‘’ommission’’.•Didn’t know that film was on tonight? (I)•Sounds good to me. (That/It)•Lots of things to tell you about the trip to Barcelona. (There are)A: Are you going to Leeds this weekend?B: Yes, I must. (go this weekend)
PROBLEMS WITH GRAMMAR RULES DESCRIPTIVE GRAMMAR: Descriptive grammar refers to the structure of a language as it is actually used by speakers and writers. PEDAGOGIC GRAMMAR: Pedagogic grammar refers to the structure of a language as certain people think it should be used. Both kinds of grammar are concerned with rules--but in different ways. Specialists in descriptive grammar study the rules or patterns that underlie our use of words, phrases, clauses, and sentences. On the other hand, pedagogic grammar (such as most editors and teachers) lay out rules about what they believe to be the “correct” or “incorrect” use of language.
VOCABULARYA persons vocabulary is the set of words within a language that are familiar tothat person. A vocabulary usually develops with age, and serves as a useful andfundamental tool for communication and acquiring knowledge.Language Corpora: The term language corpus is used to mean a number of ratherdifferent things. It may refer simply to any collection of linguistic data (written,spoken, or a mixture of the two), generally to characterize a particular state orvariety of one or more languages.Computer Corpora: It allows dictionary makers to say how frequently individualwords are used.
WORD MEANINGThe least problematic issue of vocabulary , it would seem , is meaning.For instance, the word ‘’table’’ means a thing with legs which we can write onand eat off.But table can also have different meanings:- You can table a motion at a conference- You can summarize a information in a tableSo, the same collecation of sounds and letters can have many different meanings.It is called POLYSEMY .
ANTONYMAntonym is the opposite meaning of the word.An antonym is usually an adjective or adverb, but can include verb formssuch as "coming / going", "leading/ following", and "heeding / ignoring".Example: The antonym of up is down. Small is an antonym of bigSYNONYMSynonyms are words that mean the same as another word.Example: a synonym for lazy is slothful. Verb "buy" and "purchase Adjective "sick" and "ill Adverb "quickly" and "speedily " Preposition "on" and "upon"
HYPONYMYThe term hyponymy means the semantic relation of being subordinateor belonging to a lower rank or classFor example, boar and piglet are also hyponyms of the subordinate pig,since the meaning of each of the three words sow, boar, and pigletcontains the meaning of the word pig.SUPERORDINATEa word the meaning of which includes the meaning of another word orwords ``red is a superordinate of ``scarlet, ``vermilion, and ``crimson
CONNOTATIONConnotation is the tone or emotional association that a word has. It can benegative or positive, but is usually something seen by the population in general.For example, "slim" and "scrawny" both mean that a person is thin. "Slim,"though, has a positive connotation -- it makes you think of an attractive person,while "scrawny" has a negative connotation -- it makes you think of amalnourished or impoverished person.
EXTENDING WORD USEWords do not just have different meanings. They can also be stretcedand twisted to fit different contexts and different uses. We say thatsomeone is in a black mood or someone is yellow, yet we are notactually describing a colour. In such contexts black and yellow meansomething else. METAPHOR It is a figure of speech in which a word or phrase that ordinarily designates one thing is used to designate another, thus making an implicit comparison For example: ‘’Time is a thief’’ ‘’A lifetime is a day, death is sleep; A lifetime is a year, death is winter..’’
IDIOMAn idiom is an expression, word, or phrase that has a figurative meaningExample: A drop in the oceanMeaning: A very small part of something.Example: A piece of cakeMeaning: Easy, simple to do, no difficulties.Example: She kicked the bucketMeaning: She died.CLICHEA cliche is a phrase, expression or idea that has been overworked.Something that is trite, stereotyped or hackneyed." As American as apple pie"" A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush"" Drunk as a lord"" Money doesn’t grow on trees "
WORD COMBINATIONSWord combinations are also called ‘’collocation’’ which refers to a group of twoor more words that usually go together.Example:make tea - I made a cup of tea for lunch.do homework - I did all of my homework yesterday.(not ‘’do tea’’ or ‘’make homework’’)Some collocations: take a vacation totally awesome tired of Ill give you a call Ill be in touch. to burst into laughter to commit crime to earn a living
LEXICAL PHRASESIt is also called as ‘’language chunks’’. A lexical phrase is a group of words whichforms a grammatical unit of some kind and which exhibits a degree of ‘inflexibility’.Examples: The problem with that is . . . On the one hand . . ., one the other hand . . . What Im trying to say is . . . So what youre saying is . . . Thats beside the point.
THE GRAMMAR OF WORDSNOUN: A noun is a word used to name a person, animal, place, thing, and abstract idea.ADJECTIVE: Adjectives are used to modify nouns.VERB: A verb or compound verb asserts something about the subject of thesentence and express actions, events, or states of being.DETERMINER: A determiner is a word or affix that belongs to a class of nounmodifiers that expresses the reference, including quantity, of a noun.PREPOSITIONS: A preposition links nouns, pronouns and phrases to other words in asentence.UNCOUNTABLE: Uncountable nouns are substances, concepts etc that we cannot divideinto separate elements. E.g. music, art, love, happinessCOUNTABLE: They are things that we can count. E.g. dog, cat, animal, man, personTRANSITIVE: A transitive verb is a verb that requires a direct object to complete itsmeaning.INTRANSITIVE: An intransitive verb is a verb that does not require a direct object tomake sense.
LANGUAGE IN USEThe words we use and what they actually mean in the context we usethem are not the same thing at all. We choose words and phrases tohave different effects from the surface meanings they appear toexpress, and we do this on the basis of a number of variables:purpose, appropriacy, language in discourse, and genre.
1. PURPOSE Performatives: A performatives are verbs--such as promise, invite, apologize, and forbid--that explicitly conveys the kind of speech act being performed. If you’ve ever said, “I promise” or “I apologize,” you have performed those actions by the simple act of saying them. You’re not talking about doing these things or stating that you’re doing them; you’re actually doing them. The same is true when you say, “I bet,” “I invite,” “I request,” or “I protest,” for example.
2. APPROPRIACYWhen we attempt to achieve a communicative purpose, we have to choosewhich of the language forms to use.• Setting: we speak differently in libraries from the way we do in night clubs.• Participants: The people involved in an exchange clearly affect the language being chosen• Gender: Research shows that men and women typically use language differently when addressing either members of the same or the opposite sex.• Channel: There are differences between spoken and written grammars. But spoken language doesn’t stay the same. Every different channel generates different uses of language.• Topic: The topic we are addressing affects our lexical and grammatical choices.
3. LANGUAGE AS DISCOURSE Turn-taking: It is about how people take turns to speak in a conversation. Researchers worked on describing conversations in terms, patterns and routes. It was made to understand how they are used in discourse. Discourse is the language used in context over an extended period. We use a variety of devices to structure written discourse. Using such devices to refer to something earlier in the text is called ‘’anaphoric reference’’; in the case of reference forwards to something which will occur later, we call such reference ‘’cataphoric’’; reference outside the text is ‘’exophoric’’.
4. GENRE Genre is the term for any category of literature or other forms of art or culture, e.g. music, and in general, any type of discourse, whether written or spoken, audial or visual, based on some set of stylistic criteria. Genres are formed by conventions that change over time as new genres are invented and the use of old ones are discontinued. Often, works fit into multiple genres by way of borrowing and recombining these conventions.
The sounds of the language:In writing we represent words and grammar through orthogaphy. However inSpeaking , we construct words and phrases with individual sounds, and we also usepitch change, intonation, and stress to convey different meanings.To sum up the sounds of the language; Sounds are what language comes wrappedin. But not all sounds made by people are language. For example, a person cant saya sneeze. Or a burp. Burps and sneezes are sounds he cant usually help. The soundsof language are those a person wants to make. They are sounds that carry amessage.
Pitch:The pitch of a sound is also known as its frequency. When the frequency is high, thewavelength of the sound is shorter. Moreover we recognise people by the pitch oftheir voice. For instance; one person has a very high voice whereas another one has adeep voice.Intonation:Intonation is about how we say things, rather than what we say. Withoutintonation, its impossible to understand the expressions and thoughts thatgo with words. Listen to somebody speaking without paying attention to thewords: the melody you hear is the intonation. Intonation is also used toconvey emotion, involvement, and empathy.
Individual sounds:As words and sentences may not carry meaning on their on, both are made up ofPhonemes. The phonemes are just sounds, but put them together in a certain orderAnd we get a word that is instantly recognisable.If we change just one of these sounds we will get a different word.we make these sounds by using various parts of the mouth such as the lips,The tongue, the teeth, the ridge, the palate, the velum, and vocal cords.
Sounds and spelling: Its important to note that the spelling of a word is not always an accurate guideto how it is pronounced. Similarly the pronunciation of a word is not alwayshelpful when working out how that word should be spelt.There are 26 letters in the English alphabet but there are many more sounds inthe English language. This means that the number of sounds in a word is notalways the same as the number of letters.For example, the word CAT has three letters and three sounds but the wordCATCH has five letters but still only three sounds.
Stress:Stress is the term we use to describe the point in a word or phrase where pitchchanges,Vowels lenghten, and volume increases.In multisyllable words there is often more than one stressed syllable such assingularity, information, claustrophobia. In such cases we call the strongest forcethe primary stress and weaker force the secondary stress.In short Stress is vitally important in conveying meaning in phrases andsentences.
Paralinguistic features of language:The simplest definition of paralinguisticfeatures is that they are those features of the spoken language found outside the actualsounds being made. Some of the common paralinguistic features are facial expressions,head movements, hand gestures, eye movements, and eye gaze.Vocal paralinguistic features: In some ways convey attitude or intention asvoluntary or involuntary. There are also a number of ways of alerting our tone of voice,and that when we do this consciously, we do it to create different effects.
Physical paralinguistic features:It refers to the way in which we use our bodies, and by doing that we can convey anumber of meanings.For example; we may send powerful messages about how we feel or what wemean by the expression on our face, gestures we make, and even proximity or the waywe sit.• Facial expression: A facial expression is one or more motions orpositions of the muscles in the skin. These movements convey the emotionalstate of the individual to observers. Facial expressions are a form ofnonverbal communication.They are a primary means of conveying socialinformation among humans.
• Gestures:A gesture is a form of non-verbal communication in which visible bodily actionscommunicate particular messages, either in place of speech or together and inparallel with spoken words. Gestures include movement of the hands, face or otherparts of the body. Gestures differ from physical non-verbal communication thatdoes not communicate specific messages, such as purely expressive displays,proxemics, or displays of joint attention. Gestures allow individuals tocommunicate a variety of feelings and thoughts, from contempt and hostility toapproval and affection, often together with body language in addition to wordswhen they speak.
Proximity, posture, and echoing:•Proximity refers to the physical distance between speakers. This can indicate anumber of things and can also be used to consciously send messages about intent.Closeness, for example, indicates intimacy or threat to many speakers. But distancemay show formality, or lack of interest.•Posture means the way in which someone holds his or her body, especially theback, shoulders and head, when standing, walking or sitting. A few examples.Hunched shoulders and a hanging head give a powerful indication of whether theperson is happy or not.•Echoing appears to complement the verbal communication. Of course, when suchimitation is carried out consciously, it often indicates that someone is mocking atanother speaker.