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Applied linguistics Essay

Linguistics, though one of the youngest behavioral sciences, has a background extending over several millennia. During this period scholars with various interests have concerned themselves with language. Some of the most readable treatises on language were produced by the Greeks and Romans, such as Plato’s Cratylus and Quintilian’s advice to an orator. Much of our terminology was devised in the course of this earlier concern. Any of introductions to linguistic cannot, therefore, limit itself to one school; rather it must present the general principles applied in the study of language.

A knowledge of earlier studies of languages in particularly important at a time when the vigorous transformationalist school has affirmed its relationship with traditional grammar. Any discipline is based on earlier work, though scientific schools are rarely capable of advancing their subject on all fronts. Thus, nineteenth-century linguistics made particular advances in phonetics and historical linguistics. In the first four decades of this century linguistics contribute especially to refinements in phonological theory, while collecting data on exotic languages.

Subsequent linguistics have devoted themselves especially to syntactic study and to the interrelations between linguistics and other behavioral sciences. Since the tempo of scientific research is being speeded up, it is not surprising that the transformationalist school is already becoming fragmented, with some of this member focusing on semantic study. This century therefore has seen a shift in emphasis from phonological to syntactic to semantic studies. At the same time, linguistics has become closely involved with the sciences specializing in human behavior.

It is difficult to present in an elementary text all of the concerns of linguistics. Moreover, since linguistics is an empirical science, any elementary text must include a great deal of linguistic data, that is, examples of spoken language. The data included must be taken from the native languages of students. For a pedagogical treatment one must select material carefully because of the richness of language; therefore data from other languages can only be given as supplements to that of English.

But students should use every opportunity to collect and study data from other languages as they acquired adequate techniques for assembling and analyzing linguistic material. In order to gain control of linguistics, the data of language must first 1. 1Aims for descriptive linguistics Descriptive linguistics aims to provide an understanding of language by analyzing in its various uses. Generally descriptive linguists deal with one language at a specific time, such as contemporary English.

But to gain perspective, they also examine others, preferably those having different structures, such as Chinese, which lacks all inflections, or Japanese, which adds inflections in a regular manner, or Eskimo, which may combine the entities of a sentence into a word-like sequence. Linguists also draw on studies of human behavior; psychology for an understanding of the mental processes involved in the use of language; anthropology and sociology for an understanding of man’s behavior in the contexts in which man uses language and from pertinent fields of other sciences are formulated in grammars.

This book is an introduction to the aims and procedures of descriptive linguistics, presenting at the same time some of the contributions of that study to the understanding of language. Like other behavioral sciences-for example, anthropology-linguistics is confronted with two major task is to acquire an understanding of the various languages spoken today or at any time in the history of man. To achieve an understanding of any one language is a great task, as the inadequacy of our grammars many indicate.

Providing descriptions of the 5,000 or so languages in use today, as well as future; we may illustrate the extent of the work that needs to be done by noting that the most widely translated book, the Bible, has been translated into only just over a thousand languages. Many of these languages are little known; others are almost completely obscure. But even without knowledge of many languages and with only a seriously inadequate understanding of many others, linguistics must set out to fulfill task number two; to comprehend language as a phenomenon.

This second task of linguistics will be our main concern. We will illustrate the aims and procedures involved in carrying out this task by talking our examples primarily from one language, English. As in most linguistic studies, the unit of language selected for linguistic analysis here is the sentence. Speakers of every language speak in sentences and interpret sentences as units. If they are literate, that is, if they display language by means of writing, they divide these units into segments; any English sentence is marked off first by punctuation marks, and is then

broken up into words, which are further segmented into letters. Linguists also analyze sentences into smaller segments, as we will see, but with greater rigor than the general speaker. The aim of this linguistic analysis is to understand how speakers construct and interpret any selected sentence and eventually to account for language as a phenomenon of human behavior. Speakers of a language have the remarkable capability of constructing and interpreting sentences they have never encountered before.

The sentence A machine chose the chords may have been produced here for the first time; yet no speaker of English has any difficulty interpreting it. Linguistics seeks to determinate the basis of this capability. In carrying out such study, a linguist is investigating human behavior. Linguistics is, accordingly, a behavioral science. Like other scientists, a linguistic limits his concern. A full understanding of any sentence would involve some knowledge of man’s mental processes-how language is stored in the brain, how it is perceived, how it is directed by the brain.

Understanding any sentence would also involve knowledge of the society in which the sentence is produced-how for example; any speaker could assert that a nonanimate machine might select some arrangement of tones called a chord. These requirements for understanding language in detail call on so many sciences-biology, psychology, anthropology, sociology, among others-that specialties haven arisen within linguistics itself, notably phonetics, psycholinguistics, and sociolinguistics. Thorough linguistic descriptions are fundamental to all such specialties, and accordingly descriptive linguistics is the basic discipline of linguistics.

In descriptive linguistics various procedures have been devised to arrive at grammars, that is, to produce descriptions of a given language. For most purposes a linguist deals with the sounds of a sentence, using earlier example A machine chose the chords may indicate why the linguist uses transcriptions. Through various historical accidents the spelling sequence ch is used for three different sounds in this sentence: as in sheen; as in catch; [k] as in kiss. Unless a linguistic description identified these different sounds, an investigator of speech perception would be misled.

As the transcription indicates, a linguist may also note a vocal patterning of the words that is different from a written patterning of the words. The indefinite article a may be as closely linked in speech to the syllable as is the second syllable of machine; the plural suffix in chords is [z] after [d], rather than [s] as after [t] in courts. In studying relationships of this kind, a linguist is not simply trying to sort out sounds, but he is also trying to determine segments that are grammatically significant. But like all scientists he must limit his goals and deal with one problem at time. As John R.

Firth says: The study of the living voice of a man in action is a very big job indeed. In order to be able to handle it at all, we must split up the whole integrated behavior patter we call speech, and apply specialized techniques to the description and classification of these so-called elements of speech we detach by analysis. This book is an introduction to such techniques. In keeping with Firth’s statement, it presents these techniques in a sequence determined by pedagogical principles. Students acquiring these techniques must not assume that the sequence in which these principles are presented reflects directly the structure of language.

In many ways Chapters 1 to 7 may be viewed as preliminary; a knowledge of their contents is essential for an understanding of the subsequent chapters, which deal with the procedures by which linguists attempt to understand language as a “whole integrated behavior pattern”. 1. 2The study of Language as a System of Symbols To achieve an understanding of any language, we rely heavily on an examination of our own language. But to put our own language into perspective, we need to contrast it with one or more other languages; for this purpose in this book we will primarily use Japanese.

To survey the procedures of a linguist, we may examine any simple utterance, such as “Could you please tell me where the station is? ” This sentence could be pronounced slowly or rapidly, with some effect on the transcription; we may record one utterance of it as 1. 2. 1Historical Linguistics We could study the sentence “Could you please tell me where the station is? ” in two ways, either by examining its construction or the history of its components. If we were interested in a historical approach, we would note the form of the component tell, for example, in order English, which would be Middle English tellen, Old English tellan.

We could relate Old English tellan to Old High German zellan, which became New High German zahlen ‘count‘, and even to other forms. Through such comparison we would note (1) differences in sound: English t versus German ts; (2) differences in form: English tell with no infinitive; (3) differences in meaning: Contemporary English tell is no longer used with the meaning ‘count’, as the German verb is, though (bank) teller preserves this meaning. The study of the development of language is referred to as historical linguistics.

Historical linguistics presupposes a thorough description of the stages of development of the languages being studied. For example, a historical grammar of English is based on descriptive grammars of Old and Middle English as well as New English. Descriptive linguistics is therefore a prerequisite for historical linguistics. 1. 2. 2Descriptive Linguistics Dealing with the sentence “Could you please tell me where the station is? ” we note again the inadequacy of the English spelling system for indicating the actual sounds of the language. On the one hand, the symbol e represents various sounds, as in please, tell, me, where.

On the other hand, the same sound is spelled differently, as in please, me; the station. Moreover, there are important signals, such as the variations in stress, indicated by [‘? ~], and in pitch, indicated by, which are not represented in the English spelling system. Accordingly a transcription is essential. For Japanese as shorter comparable sentence is: For the Japanese sentence a transcription is even more essential than for English. Since conventional transliteration systems are close to usable transcriptions, we may follow one of these, the Hepburn system, in citing Japanese.

Transliterated according to the principles of the Hepburn system, the sentence reads “Teishajo wa doko desu ka”. Comparing these two sentences, we can equate segments in English with those in Japanese. Any such segments that are recorded as independent entities in dictionaries we can call words. Of the English and Japanese segments station corresponds to “teishajo”, where to “doko”, and so on. The words station and “teishajo” are clearly oral symbols that correspond to things in the world around us. In somewhat the same way, all language consists of symbols. Japanese “doko” ‘what place’ is a noun, virtually as concrete as is station.

But where we feel is less concrete; we interpret it not as a symbol with reference to things in the world around us but rather with reference to a set of possibilities in the linguistic system. An even less concrete symbol is the English pattern of pitch, as marked by which corresponds to the following contour: This intonation pattern contrasts with others, such as one with a final rise, which corresponds to the following contour: In the contrasting set of English intonations indicates that the speaker is marking a serious statement; indicates that the speaker is making a serious statement; indicates that he is expressing doubt.

If someone asks the question “Where is the station” using the intonation pattern, he is seriously concerned with obtaining the information. If he uses the pattern, he shows incredulity; the meaning is? ‘Or how could you ask me where the station is? (We’re standing right in front of it. ). ’ The intonation pattern is then a symbol, much like a word. Other symbols are even less concrete, such as word order. The arrangement “You could tell me” contrasts with “Could you tell me”, and the contrast in order symbolizes different meanings to speakers of English.

In this way language consists of symbols, some of which may be readily related to things in the outside world, other merely to other potential patterns in the language. It is through such symbolization that we can use language to communicate. Through symbolization language has meaning. 1. 3Symbols Determined by Relationships We have noted above that the functions of symbols are determinate by their relationships to other entities in the system. The meaning of station is circumscribed by other words possible in the same context: airport, school, supermarket, and so on.

The meaning of “Could you tell me” is circumscribed by other possible arrangements, such as “You could tell me”, and so on. Throughout language the functions of symbols and the significance of linguistic entities are determined by their relationships to other entities in that language. And example from the simplest segment of language, its sound system, may provide an illustration. In English we have a variety of t sounds. Initially before stressed words, as in top, t is followed by a puff air; the typical pronunciation could be transcribed.

After s as in stop there is no such puff of air, and the typical pronunciation could be transcribed. In spite of this difference in sounds speakers of English consider the two entities the same; in Chinese or Hindi, on the other hand, and are considered different. Identification in each of these languages results from the interrelationships of the sounds with others in the same language. In English and never occur in the same environment. There is on the one hand no word. (A preceding asterisk is used in linguistic texts to indicate entities that are not attested.

) There is also no English word. In contrast with some languages, such as Chinese and Hindi, the two sounds and never distinguish words in English. For this reason English speakers are not aware of any difference between the ts of top and stop. The two sounds are classed together in one set; they are varying members, or allophones, of the same phoneme, or sound class. The significance of two ts for the speakers results from their relationships in the English sound system rather than from the physical differences themselves. Japanese provides a further illustration.

It too has a [t] sound in its phonological system, as we may illustrate with the brusque imperative from mate ‘wait’. But if the t stands before u, as in the indicative matsu, it is followed by an [s], in much the same way that the t of top is followed by an [h]. To understand the Japanese change of [t] to, you can compare the English pronunciation with for nature. For the Japanese the two sounds belong in one class; a Japanese speaker is no more aware of the physical difference between the two sounds and than an English speaker is of the difference between and.

Again, the important consideration is relationship. A Japanese speaker always uses before [u], never; on the other hand, he always uses before [e a o], never. What seems different in another language is classed as the same because of relationships. In support of this statement about the patterning of languages we may note the behavior of speakers when they hear a different language. As with many terms referring to sports and recreation, Japanese borrowed touring from British English. Hearing the vowel as u, they interpreted the word as.

From within their own phonological system the relationships between [t] and are such that they are exchanged automatically because of the following vowel. These examples of the role of sounds in language may illustrate how a symbolic system has values determined by relationships rather than by physical entities. The relationships, to be sure, are linked to physical entities. But from the externals alone, or, as they are often called, the overt, or surface, phoneme, we do not determine the value or the significance of the entities.

Since the value depends on interrelationships that are not obvious on the surface of language, we refer to the essence of language or of any symbolic system as its deep or underlying structure. In examining languages as symbolic systems, comparisons are often made with simple communication systems, such as traffic signals. In these relationships are determined by color: Red means ? stop? , yellow ‘caution’, green ‘go’. Other characteristics of a given system of traffic signals are noncentral: Some systems have red above green; some have a larger lamp for red; the exact hue of red, yellow, or green may vary.

Drivers take their signals from none of these nonessentials but rather from the relationships between the three colors; those of longest wavelength are interpreted to mean ? stop? , whether they are exactly 700 millmicrons in length, or whether the number of millimicrons varies slightly. In the same way a speaker of English identifies tin by its difference from pin, kin, thin, sin, and so on. The entities of language that convey meaning are called morphemes, units of from. The values of morphemes are determined by their relationships in any given language.

English has a contrast between could and will, which yields a different meaning in “Could you please tell me? ” as opposed to “Will you tell me? ” The meanings may be determined from the patterns in which these morphemes occur. But again, relationships are central. We do not say *Must you please tell me? Although the sequence “Must you tell me? ” is possible. The impossibility is determined by the relationships between please and must, which simply cannot co-occur in questions. It may be difficult to specify the meaning of must and please in order to demonstrate why they cannot co-occur in such sentence.

But a native speaker of English simply does not form such a sentence. He knows the possible relationships of each word, and these relationships do not permit such a combined use of must and please in questions. In this way the word relationships determine their meanings. In sum, the meaning of any entity in a symbolic system results from its relationships with other entities; the total of such entities and their values make up a symbolic system used for communication, or a language. As with traffic signals, the reference of the entities is determined by agreement in a social group using the same language.

In natural language the agreement results from convention. When we acquire our language, we learn the uses of its morphemes and words. But a symbolic system using other entities and other conventions may also be devised. Examples can be found in the colors of heraldry, which retain their meanings for flags, or in a selection of flowers, which has meaning in literary works such as Shakespeare’s. A simple example is given in Longfellow’s poem on Paul Revere. Two meaningful symbols were prearranged: One lantern in the church tower meant that the enemy was coming by land; two lanterns meant that they were coming by sea.

Using lanterns, a symbolic system consisting of two entities, would be cumbersome; after the system’s single use Revere’s system was maintained only in literary tradition. But for a computer two entities, a positive and a negative charge, permit a sophisticated communication system; for these entities can be manipulated somewhat more readily than lanterns. In this way, symbolic systems of various types may be devised to effectively convey meaning for specific purposes. Human systems, in spite of surface differences that provide obstacles to communication, are alike in using entities of sound in various arrangements to convey meaning.

To understand the operation of language, we must apply procedures that permit the discovery and description of, first, the surface structures of language and, second deep structures or underlying principles of language. An introduction to descriptive linguistics must discuss these procedures, although it is chiefly directed at indicating the results obtained in using them and at discovering the principles underlying language as a whole. 1. 4Discovery Procedures of Linguistics In setting out to describe any language, a linguistic collects a sample of data.

His usable date make up a corpus, which he then analyzes for its entities of sound, form, and meaning. Since the phonological analysis is simplest to discuss, we deal with it first here to demonstrate linguistic method. In our illustration we may start with the earlier example “Could you please tell me where the station is? ” To determinate entities in a given language, a linguist selects such sentence patterns, or frames, and explores various possible substitutions, for in determining possible substitutions, he determines the significant relationships.

In order to be certain of avoiding error, the linguist should use entire sentences, for example, “Would you please tell me” versus “Could you please tell me? ” or “Could they please tell me” versus “Would they please tell me? ” and so on. But manipulating entire sentences is cumbersome; accordingly linguists generally use single words and look for contrasts among them. They are particularly concerned with pairs of words, such as pin versus bin. Any two words, or sequences, contrasting phonologically in only one item are called a minimal pair.

In beginning an analysis of a new language, therefore, a linguist may point to objects, write down the phonological notation for them, and then proceed to describe the system of relationships he has found. Or if the informant, that is, the native speaker, is bilingual and the linguist knows one of the languages, he may use a list of everyday words to elicit the words of the unknown language. A simple substitution English frame may be taken from win. Segmenting from this frame the element ____________in, a linguist may attempt to find all possible sequences of initial consonant.

For English he would eventually find the set in Figure 1: Figure 1 Since the initial entities contrast with one another, also in other substitution frames, such as ____at, they may be interpreted to be significant. The frame ______at in Figure 2 would provide further significant entities. Figure 2 As these words and the blank spaces suggest, eventually twenty-four contrasting consonants would be found for English. To describe these, their uses, and the sounds of any language, a linguist must deal with the study of speech sounds in general. This study is known as phonology. If the linguist deal with Arabic, for “Where is the station?

” he might be given the sentence ‘the station where? ’ In this sentence he notes sounds that are not significant in English: [? ], the glottal stop;, a pharyngeal spirant; and the underlined sounds. To be prepared to deal with the sounds encountered in any language, a linguist must have a general understanding of speech sounds. The study of speech sounds is known as phonemics. Phonetics and phonemics make up the two subdivisions of phonology. In addition to sounds and phonemes a linguist looks for contrasts of form in language.

An answer to the question “Could you please tell me where the station is?” might be Take the street over there. Another answer might be: This bus takes you directly to it. Examining such contrasts, a linguist finds sets like take, takes, took, taken, taking and compares them with similar sets, such as pass, passes, passed, passed, passing; sag, sags, sagged, sagged, sagging. Analyzing these, he finds central forms _____take; pass, sag ___and varying elements, for example, s, n, ing. There is a fundamental difference between phonemes and these elements, for the latter carry meaning. We cannot, for example, state meanings for the two elements of win ____w and in.

But we can for take, pass, or sag, and for the following s, which has the meaning ‘third person singular subject’. Such entities that have meaning are called morphs; a class of morphs is a morpheme. For example, {Z} is the third singular present morpheme in English. Morphemes may have varying members, or allomorphs, like in passes, [S] in takes, and [Z] in sags. In studying the morphemes of language we must determine the entities and their arrangements. As for such study in phonology, we find suitable frames and determine entities that may occur in them, for example:

A machine chose the chords. An accompanist chose the chords. A director chose the chords A machine chooses the chords. I choose the chords. Clearly, a language contains many more morphemes than phonemes. The study of morphemes is therefore highly complex. Various labels have also been given to the study of morphemes and their arrangements. The study of the forms themselves is often called morphology but also morphemics. The study of the arrangements of morphemes, words, and phrases in sentences is called syntax. A name used by some linguists for referring to both is grammar.

But there are problems with these labels. The terms “grammar” is widely used to include phonology as well as morphology and “syntax”. For some linguists the two labels seem to have separated forms and their arrangements unnecessarily. Some linguists then use the name “syntax” as a label for both the study of forms and their arrangements. Because of these differences in usages, students will have to determine the use of these terms among individual linguists. In this book “grammar” will be used as a general term to embrace the study of sounds, or phonology, and forms, or morphology, and their arrangements, or syntax.

Morphology, as is traditional, will refer to two types of study of forms: inflection, which deals with the changes in large closely structured sets of words, such as the parts of speech; and derivation, which deals with smaller, less readily definable sets, for example, retake, takeoff, and so on. The elements detached and described in phonology are merely markers of meaning; those detached and described in morphology are carriers of meaning. Additional procedures are necessary to deal with meaning.

These procedures are traditionally applied to words, which are defined for their meaning and listed in dictionaries or lexicons. Yet dictionaries primarily list synonyms, defining one word in terms of another, for example, horse as ‘Equus-caballus’, or where appropriate, though illustrations. Webster’s Third New International Dictionary includes illustrations to help define horse and other selected items, such as soup plate. But the illustrations are limited; there is none, for instance, for antelope. And for some words, for example, abstraction, dictionaries would fins illustrations difficult.

Moreover, dictionaries do not deal with meanings conveyed through differences in intonation, for example, Horse? Horse! To deal with meaning in a general way, as is done with sounds, some universal criteria must be devised, such as features of meaning found in many languages. Some features of meaning are animateness or nonanimateness, human or nonhuman, male or female, and so on. If semantic features like these were used in definitions, users of a dictionary would not need to know the language for which it is written to determine meanings.

The dictionary would accordingly be more general but also more abstract than are contemporary dictionaries. Semantic analysis for features parallels widely used phonological study of this kind, but it is just in its beginnings. We do not yet know whether there is a set of semantic features that universal in all languages. When such analyses, whether for sounds, forms, or meanings, are carried out, they must be done separately for each language. We have noted that corresponds to a phoneme in Chinese and Hindi, but in English it is only a variant of /t/ before stressed vowels.

As another example we may note Italian . This is found in Italian before [g] as in lungo ‘long’ _____compare the in longer _____before [k] as in banca ___compare the in bank _____but not in other environments. Elsewhere, [n] is found. Accordingly in Italian is a variant of /n/. Its position in the Italian phonological system may be illustrated from the behavior of Italian speakers learning English. English words ending in, such as long and bang seem impossible for them, so they pronounce them with final [g], that is. To maintain the they moodily its phonological environment so that it is the same as in Italian.

An example from syntax to illustrate the necessity of analyzing each language for its structure may be supplied by German. In German the sentence I see your car is “Ich sehe Ihren Wagen”. Comparing the two, one may assume that in both languages the verb (see and sehe) follows the subject when the latter is initial in sentences. But from modified forms of the sentence, such as I often see his car and If I see his car, the different syntactic principle of German becomes clear, for these sentences must read “Oft sehe ich seinen Wagen” and “Wenn ich seinen Wagen sehe”.

These sentences demonstrate that the principles of word order in German are quite different from those in English; the position of the verb is not related to that of the subject but rather to other possible entities in clauses. In German independent declarative clauses the verb stands in second place, but in German subordinative clauses, it stands at the end. Accordingly the arrangement if the forms, and their significance, must be determined separately for English and German, as for every other language. Each language must be investigated independently for its patters of syntax as well as its phonological characteristics.

Similarly, meaning relationships must be determined separately for each language. English know corresponds to German “kennen” when it has an animate object, to “wissen” when it has an inanimate object, and to “konnen” when the object is a skill, like a language. We cannot equate English know with these, just as we cannot equate English with Italian. Because of this property of language, we must analyze each language in terms of its own structure. 1. 5Formulation of Results: Display of Description In the course of the study of language the formulation of descriptions has become increasingly compact and precise.

Before the development of linguistics sounds of language were often presented in alphabetical order in grammars in the Western tradition. But contemporary descriptions of language follow a linguistic format. Vowels are not listed in the sequence a, e, I, o, u but rather in accordance with a chart reflecting their linguistic significance. The consonants also are presented in accordance with their articulation: the labials p and b, dentals t and d, velars k and g, and so on, as illustrated in Figures 1 and 2 for _____in and ______at. Similarly, the syntax of a language is presented systematically and compactly.

Rather than discursive statements like “A sentence is made up of a subject and a predicate”, a compact formula may be given, for example:. These formulas are called rules. For the initiated they make a description very precise; the symbolization, however, must be mastered, particularly the abbreviations and the use of signs to indicate relationships. Such grammatical formats may resemble mathematical essays. Yet the information in the rules, however compact, simply corresponds to descriptions presented in more discursive grammars. Far more fundamental than such externals is the underlying design of a grammar.


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