(2) semantics and linguistics


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(2) semantics and linguistics

  1. 1. Let us now try toplace semanticswithin linguistics andsee what that implies.
  2. 2. semantics is acomponent or level oflinguistics of the samekind as phonetics orgrammar..
  3. 3. •How dolinguists viewsemanticswithinlinguistics?
  4. 4. Nearly all linguists have, explicitly orimplicitly, accepted a linguistic model inwhich semantics is at one end andphonetics at the other, with grammarsomewhere in the middle(though not necessarily thatthere are just these threelevels).
  5. 5. •Why is this view“model”plausible?Semantics Grammar Phonetics
  6. 6. ChannelCommunication CyclereceiverSenderMessageFeedback
  7. 7. For Communication, we needACommunicationSystemSomething to communicateSomething tocommunicatewithLanguageMessageSigns or symbols
  8. 8. The Swiss linguistFerdinand de Saussure
  9. 9. De Saussure used theterm SIGN to refer tothe association of thesignifier and thesignifiedA problem with terminology
  10. 10. His more recent followersused SING forthe signifieralone.
  11. 11. •There are so manycommunicationsystems.•They are much simplerthen language.
  12. 12. Examples areTrafficlights
  13. 13. animals communicateGibbonshave a set of calls toindicate•the discovery of food,•danger,•friendly interest,•desire for company,•establishing position
  14. 14. have a set of calls toindicate•the discovery of food,•danger,•friendly interest,•desire for company,•establish position
  15. 15. Language as a systemof communicationdiffers from othercommunicationsystems.
  16. 16. First, language does not always havea message’• language is not simply amatter of providing factualinformation.(Inter-personal relations)(Social relashionships)
  17. 17. Secondly•Complexity of “signifiers;and the “signified” inlanguage.• Complexity of the relationbetween them.
  18. 18. Thirdly• difficulty(impossibility), ofspecifying preciselywhat the message is.
  19. 19. Example•In the communicationsystem of trafficwait“in English”
  20. 20. The message can beindependentlyidentified in termsof language
  21. 21. For languageMeaning (the message)cannot be identifiedindependently oflanguage.
  22. 22. What is the meaning ofCould you pleasepass the salt?Language can onlybe described interms oflanguage.
  23. 23. Language can onlybe described interms of language.
  24. 24. Is semantics “scientific”?(1)A scientific studyshould be “empirical”.
  25. 25. (2) Linguistics is defendedas:the scientific study oflanguage.
  26. 26. one essential requirementof a scientific study is thatstatements made within itmust, in principle atleast, be verifiable byobservation.
  27. 27. This can easily be applied to“phonetics”we can observewhat ishappening.
  28. 28. •We can listen to a personspeaking.Auditory phonetics
  29. 29. English vowels : 1. / i: // i:/1. / i: / e.g. seespelling:ees------eevee------eveeirec------eiayqu------ayeas------ealdief------ieClose, front ,spread narrow lips and long•We can describethe operations ofthe vocal organsArticulatory phonetics
  30. 30. We can measureprecisely the physicalcharacteristics of thesounds that areemitted.
  31. 31. Accoustic phonetics
  32. 32. thereis, unfortunately, nosimilar, simple, wayof dealing withsemantics.BUT
  33. 33. Furthermore,if linguistics isscientific, it must beconcerned not withspecific instances, butwith generalisations.
  34. 34. This point was made by two linguists:Ferdinand de SaussureAvram Noam Chomsky
  35. 35. • Made the distinction betweenFerdinand de Saussure
  36. 36. • Made the distinction between:Noam Chomsky
  37. 37. PerformanceCompetenceUnconsciousknowledge ofpossiblegrammaticalstructures in anidealizedspeakerActualproduction andcomprehensionof language inspecificinstances oflanguage use
  38. 38. What are they all concerned about?
  39. 39. They are all concernedessentially to exclude what ispurely individual and accidental(speaking or performance),and to insist that the proper studyof linguistics islanguage or competence.
  40. 40. How does Palmer differ from deSaussure and Chomsky? For de Saussure and Chomsky:language or competence is somekind of idealised system withoutany clear empirical basis Palmer prefers to think in termsof generalisations
  41. 41. What does this mean?Let’s take theexample of“phonetics” again.
  42. 42. The phonetician is notprimarily concerned with• the particular sounds•that are made at a particulartime• by a particular person.
  43. 43. What does a phonetician do?S/He studies the pronunciation ofwords.To do so, s/he(1) will listen to a number ofindividual utterances of the word,and(2) will make a generalisedstatement on the basis of these.
  44. 44. What happens at each timea person speaks is notusually of interest in itself;it is rather part of theevidence for thegeneralisations.
  45. 45. How does thisrelate to“semantics”The same must betrue of semantics.
  46. 46. Recall Lewis Carrollonce again(Through the Looking-Glass):
  47. 47. Humpty Dumpty said in arather scornful tone,When I use a word, itmeans what I choose it tomean - neither more norless.
  48. 48. Semantics is not normallyconcerned with themeaning any individualwishes to place on hiswords.
  49. 49. An individuals meaning isnot part of the generalstudy of semantics.
  50. 50. However, it is interesting orimportant for somepurposes to see how andwhy an individual divergesfrom the normal pattern.For example:(1) Literature(2) Psychiatric stdies.(3) Etc
  51. 51. An important noteWhat is the differencebetween:(1) a sentenceand(2) an utterance?
  52. 52. This is my bag.Is this a sentence oran utterance?
  53. 53. The distinction is as followsAn utterance is an eventin time:Produced by someone.At some particular time.
  54. 54. A sentence is(1) An abstract entity thathas no existence intime, but(2) It is part of the linguisticsystem of a language.
  55. 55. The distinction is related toCompetencePerformanceand
  56. 56. CompetenceSentences belong toUtterance belong toPerformance
  57. 57. So; what is semantics concerned with?Semantics is notconcerned with themeaning of utterances.It is concerned with themeaning of sentences
  58. 58. What does this imply?•Semantics cannot bestudied without assuminga great deal aboutgrammar and otheraspects of the structure oflanguage.