History of European Linguistics

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Brief introduction to semiotics and the field of linguistics

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History of European Linguistics

  1. 1. History of European Linguistics VUB-BNU Summer School “European Languages, culture and educational systems” Dr. Kamakshi Rajagopal
  2. 2. Structure of the session Some theory: Language as a system of signs (45min) Break (15min) Group exercise (30min): groups of 6, laptops? Plenary presentation and discussion (30min)
  3. 3. Why Study Language? • Instrument for communication • Instrument for our learning • Insight into our culture • Insight into our brain
  4. 4. Semiotics = Study of Signs a + b = a - b x ≥ y ∞ π :-) :-( ;-) ¬ (A∧B) = ¬A∨¬B
  5. 5. Language as a System of Signs to convey Meaning
  6. 6. Ferdinand De Saussure (1857-1913) • A Sign is a Concept (signifié) conveyed by a Form (signifiant) • Arbitrary TREE ARBRE BOOM
  7. 7. Ferdinand De Saussure (1857-1913) • Language – Langue (abstract) – Parole (utterances) • Synchronic vs diachronic analysis • Syntagma (relations of succession) vs Paradigma (relations of substitutability)
  8. 8. Example • The child catches the ball • The children catch the ball lights a lamp The child catches the ball A woman PARADIGMA SYNTAGMA
  9. 9. Levels of structure • Phonology: cat /kæt/ vs bat /bæt/ • Morphology: plural cat-s ; children 3rd person sings • Syntax: The cat, The woman sings • Semantics: The cat vs the bat
  10. 10. After de Saussure - Only structure, no meaning > generative grammar - Meaning drives structure > functionalism
  11. 11. Generative grammar • Rule-based • Well-formed sentences • Semantics? “Colourless green ideas sleep furiously” Adj Adj N V Adv NP VP S
  12. 12. Functionalism • Meaning is the primary driver of form in language • Language can be used to perform certain functions In Europe, two schools of thought: • Prague School  Jakobson • Copenhagen School  Halliday
  13. 13. Roman Jakobson (1896-1982) Six functions of language • Referential function • Expressive function • Conative function • Poetic function • Phatic function • Metalingual function
  14. 14. Sender Channel Context Message Receiver Code Reference Expressive ConativePoetic Phatic Metalingual “Hey, Wow!” “Hello?” “John…” Louisa is talking to John who is at Rock Werchter. Upon hearing a song over the telephone, Louisa says: “Hey, Wow!!! That song is by Stromae … Papaoutai… Is it ”Papa, ou t’es…” or “Papa, ou tu es”? …….Hello? John, can you hear me?” “Papa, ou t’es” or “Papa, ou tu es”” Papaoutai “That song is by Stromae”
  15. 15. Systemic Functional Grammar Michael Halliday (1925)
  16. 16. Pragmatics • Intention of the speaker • Speech Acts – Locutionary act: the utterance itself “It is cold here.” – Illocutionary act: the intended result of the speaker Request to close the door – Perlocutionary act: the effect of the illocutionary act The door is closed
  17. 17. Exercises: Language in ads • What are the signs used? (form and concept) • How is language used in the ad? • What effect is reached? • Is it a good ad?
  18. 18. References • About de Saussure Baskin, W. (trans.) (1974). De Saussure, F. Course in General Linguistics, Glasgow: Fontana • Roman Jakobson Jakobson, J. (1962-1987). The Selected Writings of Roman Jakobson, The Hague and Berlin: Mouton. • M.A.K. Halliday Halliday, M.A.K. (1994). An introduction to functional grammar. London: E. Arnold. • Chomsky Chomsky, N. (1985). Syntactic Structures. Reprint. Berlin and New York, 1985.

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