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Introduction to Linguistics (TEM-8). What is Linguistics?.  Linguist ics is the scientific study of language. What does it mean? What does scientific mean? What does language mean?. Linguistics: the scientific study of language. the scientific study of languages

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what is linguistics
What is Linguistics?

 Linguistics is the scientific study of language.

What does it mean?

  • What does scientific mean?
  • What does language mean?
linguistics the scientific study of language
Linguistics: the scientific study of language

the scientific study of languages

the scientific study of a language

Language = language in general, not a specific language.

linguistics the core areas
Linguistics: The core Areas
  • Phonetics: What are human speech sounds and how they are produced?
  • Phonology: How do these sounds pattern systematically in languages?
  • Morphology: What is the internal structure of words?
  • Syntax: How do words combine into sentences?
  • Semantics: How do words or sentences carry meaning?
  • Pragmatics: How is language used in context?
linguistics applications
Linguistics: Applications

Some areas where the core areas are applied are

  • Psycholinguistics: how is language processed in our minds, and how do we acquire language?
  • Historical linguistics: how do language change over time, and what are common ancestors?
  • Sociolinguistics: how does language differ across sociological variables like age, gender, region?
  • Neurolinguistics: what is language in our brains?
  • Typology: What are the differences and similarities between languages?
  • Computational linguistics: how can we make computers talk or simply understand human language?
what does this sentence mean
What does this sentence mean?

Who did the coach want to shoot at the end of the game?

Hint: This sentence is multiply ambiguous.


Prescriptive & descriptive approaches to the linguistic studyPrescriptive grammar aims to lay down rules for correct and standard behavior in using language. Descriptive grammar aims to describe the language people actually use.Modern linguistics is descriptive


Performance vs. CompetenceNoam ChomskyCompetence: native speakers\' language intuition (research target of generative linguistics)Performance: actual utterances (research target of descriptive or functional linguistics)


Langue and ParoleSaussure\'s distinction of langue and parole is similar to Chomsky\'s distinction of competence and performance. Langue and competence both refers to the ideal knowledge of a particular language. Parole and performance both refers to the actual utterances.


However, the difference between Saussure and Chomsky is also obvious. Saussure developed his contrast from a sociological view (e.g. langue is the knowledge of a particular language shared by all the members of a speech community), but Chomsky developed his contrast from a biological view (e.g. Competence is the intuition of each individual, which is a genetic endowment).

what is language
What is language?

Language is a system of arbitrary vocal symbols used for human communication.

It is a system, including many different modules (phonology, morphology, syntax & semantics)

It is arbitrary. No inherent sound-meaning paring.

The primary medium for all languages is sound; therefore, language is mainly vocal.

features of human languages
Features of human languages

Human language is different from animal communication systems.

(i) arbitrariness: no inherent/logical connection between sounds and meanings.

(ii) productivity: a limited number of words can be used to express almost everything.

(iii) duality (of patterning): language has the ability to recombine small units in different orders.

(iv) displacement: language can be used to refer to things which are present or not present, real or imagined objects in the past, present, or future, or in far-away places.

(v) cultural transmission: language is passed on from one generation to another generation.

phonetics the study of speech sounds
Phonetics: the study of speech sounds
  • Although different languages contain different sounds, the sounds of all the languages of the world constitute a class of sounds that the human vocal tract is able to make. All these sounds are human speech sounds. The study of human speech sounds is called phonetics.
phonology the study of sound patterns
Phonology: the study of sound patterns

This property is called "duality (in patterning)".

When you know a language you know the sounds of that language, and you know how to combine those sounds into words. For example, If you know the sounds /p/, /a:/, /k/, you are able to combine them to form the words parkor carp, but you know there is no sound pattern /a:pk/ or /a:kp/ in English.

The study of the way sounds form patterns is called phonology. Phonology aims to discover how speech sounds in a particular language form patterns.

three b ranches of phonetics
Three branches of phonetics
  • Articulatory phonetics: the study of how the vocal tract produces the sounds of language
  • Auditory phonetics: the study of the perception of speech sounds
  • Acoustic phonetics: the study of the physical properties of the speech sounds
A. The pharyngeal cavity:
  • 13 windpipe, 12 glottis/vocal cords, 11 pharyngeal cavity
  • B. The oral cavity:
  • 1/2 lips, 3/4 teeth, 5 teeth ridge(alveolus), 6 hard palate,7 soft palate (velum), 14 uvula, 8 tip of tongue, 9 blade of tongue, 10 back of tongue
  • C. Nasal cavity: 15




vocal folds cords
Vocal folds (cords)
  • The vocal folds, also known commonly as vocal cords, are composed of two membranes stretched horizontally across the larynx.
  • A slow-motion animation of the vocal folds vibrating during speech
voiced vs voiceless
voiced vs. voiceless
  • Vibration of the vocal cords results in "voicing", which is a feature of all vowels and some consonants. Such consonants are voiced.
  • When the vocal cords are drawn wide open, letting air go through the glottis without causing vibration, the sounds produced in such a condition are voiceless.
three nasal consonants in english
Three nasal consonants in English

bilabial nasal 双唇鼻音: /m/

alveolar nasal 齿龈鼻音: /n/

velar nasal 软腭鼻音: sink, sing, song

orthographic representation of speech sounds
Orthographic representation of speech sounds

IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet):

A standardized and internationally accepted system of phonetic transcription.

The basic principle of the IPA is using one letter to represent one sound.

classification of english sounds
Classification of English sounds

English speech sounds:

  • Vowels: Speech sounds which are produced with no obstructionof the vocal tract, so no turbulence or a total stopping of the air can be perceived.
  • Consonants: Speech sounds which are produced by constricting or obstructing the vocal tract at some place to modulate the flow of air in the vocal tract.
classification of english consonants
Classification of English consonants
  • Manner of articulation (发音方式)
  • Place of articulation (发音部位)
classification of english vowels
Vowels can be divided by a number of factors:

The hightestpositionof the tongue: front, central, back

The openness of the mouth: open, semi-open, semi-close, close

The shapeof the lips: rounded, unrounded

The length of the vowels: long, short

Thestateof the larynx: tense (long vowels), lax (short vowels)

Classification of English vowels
review questions
Review questions
  • In what ways can English consonants be classified?
  • In what ways can English vowels be classified?
phonology vs phonetics
Phonology vs. Phonetics
  • 1. Phonetics: it is interested in all the speech sounds used in all human languages: phonetic features they possess, how they can be classified, etc.
  • 2. Phonology: it aims to discover how speech sounds in a language form sound patterns. The conclusions we reach about the phonology of one language is very often langauge specific.
phone phoneme and allophone
Phone, Phoneme, and Allophone
  • 1. Phone: a phonetic unit or a segment (a consonant or a vowel). The speech sounds we hear and produce are all phones.

pit: [ph] [i] [th]

spit: [s] [p] [i] [th]

leaf: [l] [i:] [f]

feel: [f] [i:] [ł]

phone phoneme and allophone1
Phone, Phoneme, and Allophone
  • 2. Phoneme: an abstract phonological unit of distinctive value that is represented or realized by a certain phone.

peak: [ph] [i:] [kh]

speak: [s] [p] [i:] [kh]

There is a slight difference in the way [ph] and [p] are pronounced, but such a phonetic difference does not give rise to difference in meaning. so the phoneme /p/ is realized by two different phones.

phone phoneme and allophone2
Phone, Phoneme, and Allophone
  • 3. Allophones: the different phones which can represent a phoneme in different phonetic contexts.

pit: [ph] [i] [th]

spit: [s] [p] [i] [th]

leaf: [l] [i:] [f]

feel: [f] [i:] [ł]

/ p /

/ l /

complementary distribution
Complementary Distribution
  • If the two similar sounds are allophones of the same phoneme, then they are said to be in complementary distribution, which means they cannot occur in the same phonetic environment.

dark / l /: at the end of a word

clear / l /: before a vowel

some rules in phonology
Some rules in phonology
  • 1. Sequential rules
  • 2. Assimilation rule
  • 3. Deletion rule
sequential rules
Sequential rules
  • To find out all the phonemes of a language is only part of the task of the phonologist. He also has to find out in what way the phonemes can be combined.

/k/ /b/ /l/ /i/

possible arrangements: /kilb/, /blik/, /kilb/, /klib/, etc.

impossible arrangements: /lbki/, /ilbk/, /bkil/, etc.

There are rules that govern the combination of sounds in a particular language. These rules are calledsequential rules.

sequential rules1
Sequential rules

In English, if three consonants occur together at the beginning of a word, the combination should obey the following three rules:

1. the first phoneme should be: /s/

2. the second phoneme should be: /p/, /t/, /k/

3. the third phoneme should be: /l/, /r/, /w/

spring, strict, square, scream

sixths /siksθs/ CCCVCCCC

assimilation rule
Assimilation rule
  • The assimilation rule assimilates one sound to another by "copying" a feature of the neighbouring phoneme, thus making the two phones similar.


閊门 san mun --> sam mun

唔好 m hou --> m mou

今日 kam jat --> kam mat

deletion rule
Deletion rule
  • A sound segment may be deleted.
  • Examples: /g/ is deleted in ‘sign’ /sain/, but retained in ‘signature’;
  • ‘he is’ /hi iz/ in fast speech becomes /hiz/
  • \'memory\' /meməri/ becomes /memri/
segmental vs suprasegmental
segmental vs. suprasegmental
  • segmental features 音段特征

phonological features associated with consonants or vowels

  • suprasegmental features 超音段特征

phonological features associated not with segments, but with larger units such as syllalbe, word, and sentence.

s uprasegmental features
suprasegmental features
  • 1. Stress: word stress and sentence stress
  • 2. Tone
  • 3. Intonation
  • The location of stress in English distinguishes meaning.

\'increase (n.) vs. in\'crease (v.)

\'rebel (n.) vs. re\'bel (v.)

\'permit (n.) vs. per\'mit (v.)

  • Tones are pitch variations. 不同的音高
  • Pitch variations can distinguish meaning just like phonemes. The tone is a suprasegmental feature associated with syllables.
  • Language with tones are called tone language.

When pitch, stress and sound length are tied to the sentence rather than the word in isolation, they are collectively known as intonation.

Four basic intonation types of English, known as the four tones:

1. the falling tone

2. the rising tone

3. the fall-rise tone

4. the rise-fall tone

That\'s not the book he wants.

Morphology (形态学)
  • Morphology is the study of
    • the internal structure of words(词的内部结构)

(morphological structure of words)


    • processes/rules of word formation(构词法)

(morphological processes of word-formation)

internal structure of words and rules for word formation
Internal structure of words and rules for word formation

1. Internal structure

disapprove = dis + approve

2.Rules for word formation

disapprove *approvedis

dis+V--> V *V+dis-->V

  • Morphology: the study of the internal structure of words, and the rules by which words are formed.
Morpheme (语素)
  • Themorpheme is the smallestmeaningful unit of language. (lexical and grammatical meaning)
  • A morpheme must have a meaning, and it is the smallest unit of meaning (the smallest sound-meaning union which cannot be further analyzed into smaller units)
morpheme vs phoneme
Morpheme vs. Phoneme
  • A phoneme is a phonological unit (normally a sound) with contrastive value, which means replacing one sound with the other in a word can change the word\'s meaning.


pit: [p] [i] [t]

bit: [b] [i] [t]


morpheme vs syllable
Morpheme vs. Syllable
  • The wordlady can be divided into two syllables (la.dy), but it consists of just one morpheme, because a syllable has nothing to do with meaning.

The word disagreeable can be divided into five syllables (dis.a.gree.a.ble), but it consists of only three morphemes (dis+agree+able).

The word books contains only one syllable, but it consists of two morphemes (book+s) (Notice: the morpheme –shas a grammatical meaning [Plural])

morpheme morph allomorph
Morpheme, Morph, Allomorph

books /-s/

pigs /-z/

boxes /-iz/

A morphis a physical form representing a certain morpheme in a language.

  • Sometimes different morphs may represent the same morpheme; i.e., a morpheme may take different forms. If so, they are called allomorphs of that morpheme.

two different spelling forms, and three different phonological forms, but these different forms represent the same grammatical meaning [Plural])

complementary distribution1
Complementary Distribution
  • Allomorphs are morphs in complementary distribution;i.e.they are never found in identical contexts.
  • The choice of allomorph used in a given context is normally based on the properties of the neighboring sounds.

Example: The third person singular verb suffix and the plural nominal suffix –s in English










complementary distribution2
Complementary Distribution



negative morpheme in-

morph1: im morph2: in morph3: in

impossible indecent incomplete

[imp---] [ind---] [iŋk---]













classification of morphemes
Classification of Morphemes

Morphemes can be classified in various ways.

free or bound

root or affix

inflectional or derivational

free and bound morphemes
Free and Bound Morphemes
  • We can divide reader into readand –er. However, we cannot split read into smaller morphemes. This means that the word read is itself a single morpheme.
  • A morpheme which can stand alone as a word is called a free morpheme. By contrast, -er has to combine with other morphemes. So it is a bound morpheme.

Root, stem & affix

nature + al = natural

Affixes: bound morphemes which attach to roots or stems.

un + nature + al = unnatural

Stem: a root plus affixes

Root: the basic morpheme

which provides the central

meaning in a word

Complex Word

simple word









nature + al = natural

Linguists sometimes use the word “Base” to mean any root or stem to which an affix is attached. In this example, nature, natural, and unnaturally would all be considered bases.

un + nature + al = unnatural

un + nature + al + ly = unnaturally


complex word














bound root morphemes
bound root morphemes

All mophemes are bound or free. Affixes are bound morphemes. Root morphemes, can be bound or free.













ceive was once a word in Latin ‘to take’, but in Modern English, it is no longer a word, so it is not a free morpheme.

example of bound root
Example of bound root

Latin root viv-/vit- meaning “life” or “to live”.






re-vive: to live again, to bring back to life

vit-amin: life medicine

vit-al: full of life

viv-acious: full of life

viv-id: having the quality of life

inflectional and derivational morphemes
Inflectional and Derivational Morphemes

Affixes can be divided into inflectional morphemes and derivational morphemes. This reflects two major morphological (word building) processes:



Helps to ‘wrap’

lexical words for various

grammatical functions

Helps to make new

lexical words

inflectional morphemes
Inflectional Morphemes
  • Inflectional morphemes do not change grammatical category of the base to which they are attached. They do not change the meaning of the base. They only carry relevant grammatical information, e.g. plural. Thus,bookand books are both nouns referring to the same kind of entity.
  • The number of inflectional affixes is small and fixed. NO new ones have been added since 1500.
derivational morphemes
Derivational Morphemes
  • Derivational morphemes form new words
    • either by changing the meaning of the base to which they are attached

kind ~ unkind; obey ~ disobey

accurate ~ inaccurate; act ~ react

cigar ~ cigarette; book ~ booklet

    • or by changing the grammatical category (part of speech) of the base

kind ~ kindly; act ~ active ~ activity

able ~ enable; damp ~ dampen

care ~ careful; dark ~ darkness

sum inflection and derivation
Sum: Inflection and Derivation
  • Derivational morphemes are used to create new lexical items (lexemes).
  • Inflectional morphemes only contribute to the inflectional paradigm of the lexemes, which lists all the word-forms of the lexeme.



free root (自由词根)


bound root (粘着词根)



inflectional affixes (语法性词缀)


derivational affixes (词汇性词缀)

  • Words are composed of morphemes.
  • A morpheme is the smallest meaningful unit.
  • Morphemes can be classified into free morphemes and bound morphemes, roots and affixes, inflectional and derivational.
  • The concept of morpheme is important in explaining word-formation processes. In English the most central and productive word-formation processes are compounding and affixation. Compounding refers to the word-formation process of combining two free morphemes, and affixation refers to the word-formation process of adding affixes to roots.
major word formation processes
Major word-formation processes
  • Affixation (Derivation)
  • Compounding
    • Endocentric compounds
    • Exocentric compounds
  • Affixation involves adding affixes to a root morpheme (or a stem) to

- derive a new word

(derivation: teach-er)

- to realize certain grammatical function

(inflection: boy-s)

  • An affix is a bound morpheme. There are four types of affixes: prefix, suffix, infix, and circumfix.
  • Compounding is a word-formation process consisting of combining two or more roots to form a compound .

airmail air force air-conditioner

flowerpot flower pot flower-pot

airline air line air-line

girlfriend girl friend girl-friend

Spelling is not a reliable criterion to determine the compound status.

endocentric compounds
Endocentric Compounds


  • Semantically, an endocentric compound indicates a sub-grouping within the class of entities that the head denotes. Thus, a schoolboyis a kind of boy,

abedroomis a kind of room, and

a teapot is a kind of pot.

The first root in each case functions as a modifier of the head

which specifies the meaning of the head more precisely.


exocentric compounds
Exocentric Compounds


  • Compounds need not always contain a head. Such compounds are called exocentric compounds.
  • The meaning of an exocentric compound is opaque. It is impossible to work out what an exocentric compound means from the sum of the meanings of its parts.
examples of exocentric compounds english
Examples of Exocentric Compounds (English)

Pickpocket: it is not a pocket, but a person who picks things out of other’s pocket illegally.

Blue collar: it is not a collar, but a person who wears blue-collared uniform at work.

Laptop: it is not the top of one’s lap, but rather the portable computer.

Blockhead: it is neither a kind of block nor a kind of head but rather an idiot.

Turncoat: it is not a kind of coat but a renegade.

minor word formation processes
Minor word-formation processes
  • Initialism and acronyms
  • Clipping
  • Blending
  • Back formation
  • Words from proper names
  • Clipping involves the type of word-formation device in which only part of the stem is retained. The beginning may be retained as in lab (from laboratory), the end as in phone (from telephone), the middle as in flu (from influenza).
  • A blend may be defined as a new lexeme built from parts of two (or more) words or a word plus a part of another word, for example, brunch (breakfast + lunch); smog (smoke + mog).
  • Words formed in this way are called ‘blends’.
  • Blending = clipping + compounding.
more examples of blending
More examples of blending

smoke + fog  smog

Oxford + Cambridge  Oxbridge

motor + hotel  motel

slang + language  slanguage

American + Indian  Amerind

slim + gynmastics  slimnastics

back formation

Which word is older? Which word do we have first?

back formation1
  • Back-formation is the making of a new word from an older word which is mistakenly thought to be its derivative.
  • It involves the shortening of a longer word by cutting away an imagined/supposed derivational suffix.

But how can I judge which is right?


edit + or  edit

The word edit is often cited as an example of back-formation. In other words, edit is not the source of editor, as dive is not the source of diver, which is the expected derivational pattern; rather, the opposite is the case.
  • Edit in the sense “to prepare for publication,” first recorded in 1793, comes from editor, first recorded in 1712 in the sense “one who edits.”

Diachronic evidence (历时证据):

editor: first recoded in 1712

edit: first recoded in 1793, almost a hundred years later.

words from proper names
Words from Proper Names
  • Another minor word-formation process is the creation of new words from proper names. The transition from proper names to common nouns is a gradual one.
  • Proper names
    • People’s name
    • Name of places
    • Book names
a good example sandwich
A good example: sandwich
  • It originates from John Montagu (1718-92), Fourth Earl of Sandwich. He was so fond of gambling that he would not leave the gambling table to have a proper meal. He was said to eat while playing. Later,

people used his name to refer to all similar food.


Syntax studies the organization of words into phrases, and phrases into sentences.







orgnization principles linear order hierarchical structure
Orgnization principles: Linear order & Hierarchical structure
  • There are two basic principles of sentence orgnization:
    • linear word order (线性结构)
    • hierarchical structure (非线性结构、纵向层级结构)
hierarchical structure
Hierarchical structure
  • Although linear order is an important principle of sentence organization, sentences are more than just ordered sequences of words.

We need more intelligent leaders.

more intelligent leaders

The same linear order, but different hierarchical structure; therefore, different interpretations (ambiguity)

more intelligent leaders

Category (范畴)
  • Syntactic (word-level) category
    • word class; parts of speech
  • Phrasal (phrase) category
syntactic categories
Syntactic categories

These are the major ones but there are others.


articles, demonstrative pronouns, pronouns, quantifiers…

phrase phrase structure rule
Phrase & Phrase Structure Rule
  • Syntactic categories are organized into larger units called “phrases” according to the phrase structure rule.
  • Phrase Structure Rule (短语结构规则):

- tells us how to construct phrases

- generate a tree

- predicts the ungrammaticality of other structures

noun phrase np
Noun Phrase (NP)
  • NP → N+PP

students of linguitics map of China

  • NP → AP+N

very smart students extremely important thing






very smart


of lingusitics

preposition phrase pp
Preposition Phrase (PP)
  • PP→ P+DP

inthe book






N PP from England

teachers of English

what is semantics
What is semantics?
  • Semantics is the study of meaning.
  • More specifically, semantics is the study of the meaning of words and sentences in particular.
meaning the object of semantics
Meaning: The object ofsemantics

How can you know the meaing of a word?

What is meaning?

dictionary definition
Dictionary definition
  • If a word\'s meaning is its dictionary definition, then understanding this meaning requires understanding the meanings of the words used in the definitions.

pride: the quality of being proud

proud: feeling or showing pride

Circularity: 循环定义

different conceptions of meaning
Different conceptions of meaning
  • The naming theory
  • The conceptulist view
  • Contextualism
  • Behaviorism
the naming theory d efinition
The naming theory: definition
  • The naming theory(命名说) is one of the oldest notions concerning meaning. According to this theory, the linguistic forms or symbols, in other words, the words used in a language, are simply labels of the objects they stand for. So words are just names or labels for things.
  • The physical object is the meaning of the name.
p roblems with the naming theory
Problems with the naming theory
  • 1. The theory seems applicable to nouns only.
  • 2. There are nouns which denote things that do not exist in the real world at all.
  • 3. There are nouns that do not refer to physical objects, but abstract notions.
the conceptualist view
The conceptualist view

According tothe conceptualist view(概念论), there is no direct link between a linguistic form[a word, a phrase or a sentence] and what it refers to.

The symbol or a word refers to “things” by virtue of theconceptassociated with the form in the speaker\'s mind; and the concept is the meaning of the word.

semantic triangle
1. 形式与意义直接相关,用实线连接。意义通过符号形式来表达,形式是语义的载体。

2. 意义是在各观事物的基础上概括而成的,是客观事物在头脑中的概括反映,两者也有直接联系,用实线连接。

3. 形式和所指之间没有必然的联系,故而两者间用虚线连接,所以同一事物可以用不同的形式来表示。

Semantic triangle




(Ogden and Richards 1923: The meaning of meaning)

the strong points of the conceptualist view
The strong points of the conceptualist view
  • 概念论解决了指称论留下的难题:有的语言符号形式有意义,而没有所指,例如unicorn, dragon, Santa Claus, etc.
the weak points of the conceptualist view
The weak points of the conceptualist view
  • Different people\'s mental image may be very different from each other.
    • for a student, the word \'lecture\' will probably be associated with an image of one person standing in front of a blackboard and talking;
    • for a teacher, the word \'lecture\' will probably be associated with an image of many students sitting in rows facing forward.
the weak points of the conceptualist view1
The weak points of the conceptualist view
  • Even so, both the student and the teacher understand the word \'lecture\' as meaning more or less the same thing, despite the difference in mental images.
  • It is hard to see how a word like this could mean essentially the same thing for different people if meanings were just mental image.
contextualism d efinition
Contextualism: definition
  • Contextualism(语境论)holds the position that meaning should be studied in terms of situation, use, and context. According to this view, one can derive meaning from observable contexts.
  • "for a large class of cases, the meaning of a word is its use in the language."
  • Language is always used in a certain context. It is the context that determines the meaning of a paritcular word.
situational context vs linguistic context
1. Situational context refers to the particular spatiotemporal situation in which an utterance occurs, the main components of which include, apart from the place and time of the utterance, the speaker and the hearer, the actions they are performing at the time, the various objects and events exising in the situation.

2. Linguistic context, some times known as context, is concerned with the probability of a word’s co-occurrence or collocation with another word, which forms part of the ‘meaning” of the word, and also concerned with the part of text that precedes and follows a particular utterance.

Situational context VS. linguistic context
behaviorism d efinition
Behaviorism: definition
  • According to this view, the meaning of a language form is the “situation in which the speaker utters it and the response it calls forth in the hearer”. (Bloomfield 1933: 139)
  • Bloomfield(布龙菲尔德):意义就是讲话人的刺激和听话人的反应。(meaning as speaker’s Stimulus and hearer’sResponse)
example a nalyze the meaning of the sentence i m thirsty from the behaviorist view
Example: analyze the meaning of the sentence “I’m Thirsty” from the behaviorist view

Jill Jack

S________ r …… s ________ R

S = Jill saw an apple

r = Jill said “I’m Thirsty”

s = Jack heard Jill said “I’m thirsty”

R = Jack picks the apple for Jill


practical events

Jill Jack

S________ r …… s ________ R

Meaning consists in the relationship between thespeech and the practical events

We catch the meaning of the speech of "r...s" by observing the behavior (the prctical events).

speech (words, phrase, sentences)

summary different conceptions of meaning
Summary: different conceptions of meaning
  • The naming theory
    • words→things
  • The conceptulist view
    • words→concepts→things
  • Contextualism & Behaviorism
    • stimuli→words→responses
  • Lexical semantics
    • word meaning
  • Compositional semantics
    • phrase/sentence meaning
sense and reference
Sense and Reference
  • Semantics is not concerned with the study of the external world. Semantics is not able to cope with the study of how language refers to the external world, either. [Notice the weak points of the conceptualist view of meaning]
  • The primary focus of semantics is on the way how people relate words to each other according to their "sense", rather than their reference (referent).
  • Aword\'s reference (referent) is the object it refers to.
  • A word\'s sense is the way the object is presented/identified.
example the morning star vs the evening star
Example: the morning star vs. the evening star

different sense:


different sense:


the same reference

  • Reference means what a linguistic form refers to in a particular context in the real world;
  • it deals with the relationship between the linguistic element and the non-linguistic world of experience.
  • 指称意义:即表明词语跟语言外部世界的关系的意义。
major sense relations
Major Sense Relations
  • Synonymy
  • Polysemy
  • Homonymy
  • Hyponymy
  • Antonymy
  • Synonymy refers to the sameness or close similarity of meaning. Words that are close in meaning are called synonyms.
types of synonyms
Types of Synonyms

1. Dialectal

2. Stylistic (formal vs. informal)

3. Emotive

4. Collocational

source of synonyms
Source of synonyms
  • Why are there so many synonyms in English?
    • The primary reason for this has to do with the heavy borrowing from other languages, especially from French and Latin.
9. The words “kids, child, offspring” are examples of _____.

A. dialectal synonyms B. stylistic synonyms

C. emotive synonyms D. collocational synonyms

emotive meaning
Emotive meaning


There are 2,000 vagrants in the city.


There are 2,000 people with no fixed addresses in the city.


There are 2,000 homeless in the city.

All three of these expressions refer to the same people, but they will invoke different emotive associations in the readers’ mind: a ‘vagrant’ is a public nuisance, while a homeless person is a worthy object of pity and charity.

evaluative meaning
Evaluative Meaning
  • Snarl words are marked derog. (=derogatory).
  • Purr words are marked apprec.(=appreciatory).
polysemy d efinition
Polysemy: definition

Polysemy is the phenomenon where the same one word may have more than one meaning. Such a word is called a polysemous word.

face: the front of the head

a surface of a thing

a person\'s countenance

a person

primary meaning derived meaning
primary meaning & derived meaning
  • At the time when the word was created, it was endowed with only one meaning.
  • This first meaning is the primary meaning.
  • With the development of the language, more and more meanings become associated with the word.
  • These later meanings are called derived meaning, as they are derived from the primary meaning.
example face

We can get the derived meanings by extension, narrowing, analogy, transfer, etc.

Example: face

a person

(Derived Meaning)


(Derived Meaning)

outward appearance

(Derived Meaning)

the front of the head

(Primary Meaning)


(Derived Meaning)

the surface of a thing

(Derived Meaning)


Homonymy refers to the phenomenon that words having different meanings have the same form, i.e., different words are identical in sound or spelling, or in both. Such words are called homonyms.

lie: make an untrue statement.

lie: put oneself in a resting position.

types of homonymy
Types of homonymy
  • Perfect homonyms (complete homohyms)
  • Homographs
  • Homophones
perfect homonyms
Perfect homonyms
  • Perfect homonyms: words identical in both sound and spelling, but different in meaning

lie: vi.

lie: vi.

bank: n.

bank: n.

bear: n.

bear: vt.

  • Homographs: words identical only in spelling but different in sound and meaning.

bow: vi. to bend one’s head as a greeting

bow: n. the device used for shooting arrows

sow: n. female pig

sow: vi. to scatter seeds

perfect: v. /- ’-/

perfect: adj. /’- -/

  • Homophones: words identical only in sound but different in spelling and meaning.

son deer right

sun dear write

pair stationary

pear stationery

Hyponymy(词义之间的) 下义关系
  • Hyponymy is the sense relationship that relates words hierarchically. The underlying observation is that some words have a more general meaning, while others have a more specific meaning, while referring to the same entity.

We are not going to have any food today.

We are not going to have any vegetables today.






They are subordinate terms. They are hyponyms of the superordinate term FOOD.





They are subordinate terms. They are hyponyms of the superordinate term MEAT.










Reading from the bottom of the hierarchy, ORANGE is a ‘kind of’ fruit, which is a kind of food.

Antonymy (反义关系)
  • Antonymy is a relationship of ‘meaning opposition’ that may hold between two words.
  • Antonyms can be defined as words which are opposite in meaning.
  • Major types of antonyms:
    • Gradable antonyms
    • Contradictory or complementary antonyms
    • Converse antonyms
gradable antonyms
Gradable antonyms
  • Gradable antonyms include pairs like the following:

beautiful ugly

expensive cheap

fast slow

hot cold

long short

rich poor

wide narrow

These pairs are called gradable antonyms because they do not represent a more/less relation. The words can be the end-points of a continuum (连续体).

Since they are gradable, they allow comparison.

contradictory complementary antonyms
Contradictory (complementary) antonyms
  • Contradictory antonyms include pairs like the following:

asleep awake

dead alive

on off

remember forget

win lose

true false

These pairs are called contradictory antonyms because they represent an either/or relation.

If you permitsome behavior, then it is not forbidden.

Since they are not gradable, they do not allow comparison.

converse antonyms
Converse antonyms (逆行)
  • The following are examples of converse antonyms:

lend borrow

husband wife

above below

before after

behind in front of

buy sell

give receive

parent child

speak listen

Lend is the converse of borrowand vice versa; i.e. the substitution of one member for the other does not change the meaning of a sentence if it is accompanied by the change of subject and object.

John lent Mary five dollars.

Mary borrowed five dollars from John.

contradictory antonyms vs converse antonyms
Contradictory antonymsvs. Converse antonyms

Converse antonyms are relational antonyms.

The bridge is above the river.

The river is below the bridge.

This behavior is allowed.

This behavior is notprohibited.

Mary is John’s wife. John is Mary’s husband.

??Mary is not John’s husband.

I allow you to introduce Mary.

*You forbidden me to introduce Mary.

Contradictory antonyms are either/or antonym.

I don’t forbidden you to introduce Mary.

analysis of meaning
Analysis of meaning
  • Componential analysis
  • Predication analysis
componential analysis
Componential Analysis
  • Componential Analysis is a way proposed by the structural semanticists to analyze word meaning. The approach is based upon the belief that the meaning of a word can be decomposed into meaning components, called semantic features(语义特征).
componential analysis1
Componential Analysis

The analysis of word meaning is often seen as a process of breaking down the sense of a word into its minimal components, which are known as semantic features or sense components.

componential analysis2
Componential Analysis

Man: [+human, +adult, +male]

Woman: [+human, +adult, -male]

Boy: [???]

Girl: [???]

We can use three semantic features to define four words

predication analysis
Predication Analysis
  • Predication analysis is a way proposed by G. Leech to analyze the sentence meaning. In this framework, the basic unit is called predication(述谓结构), which is the abstraction of the meaning of a sentence.

(1) Tome smokes.

(2) Tom is smoking.

(3) Tom has been smoking.

(4) Tom, smoke.

(5) Does Tom smoke?

(6) Tome does not smoke.








To fully understand the meaning of a sentence, we must understand the context in which it is used.

Pragmatics is concerned with how people use language within a context and how they use language in particular ways.

This chapter examines how factors such as time, place, and the social relationship between speaker and hearer affect the ways in which language is used to perform different functions.

origin and development of pragmatics
Origin and development of pragmatics

Development in linguistics

(1) Saussure: 语言学所要研究的是“语言”(langue),而不是“言语”(parole),因为语言是一个手一定规则制约的体系,而言语则不是,只有语言才能经得起严谨的、科学的分析,而言语则不能。

(2) Chomsky: 以句法为中心,把语言的意义排除在语言研究之外。

(3) The rise of semantics.

(4) The rise of Contextualism: Malinowsky, Firth, Halliday

pragmatics vs semantics
Pragmatics vs. semantics

Semantics: The meaning of language was considered as something intrinsic , and inherent, i.e., a property attached to language itself. Therefore, meanings of words and sentences are studied independent of language use.

Pragmatics: It would be impossible to give an adequate description of meaning if the context of language use is left unconsidered. Therefore, context is taken into consideration.

Both semantics and pragmatics study the meaning of a linguistic form. However, they are different.What essentially distinguishes them is whetherthe context is considered.
  • If it is not considered, the study is in the area of semantics; if it is considered, the study is in the area of pragmatics.
importance of context
Importance of Context
  • Context determines the speaker’s use of language and also the hearer’s interpretation of what is said to him.
my bag is heavy
“My bag is heavy”

1. Sentence meaning: BAG (BE HEAVY)

2. Possible pragmatic meanings:

  • An indirect, polite request, asking the hearer to help him carry the bag. (When?)
  • A declining of someone’s request for help. (When?)
more examples
More examples

Try to think of contexts in which the following sentences can be used for other intentions or purposes than just stating facts.

(1) The room is messy.

(2) Oh, it is raining.

(3) The music of the movie is good.

(4) You have been keeping my notes for a whole week now.

what is a speech act
What is a speech act?
  • Just as people can perform physical acts, such as hitting a baseball, they can perform mental acts, such as imagining hitting a baseball. People can also perform another kind of act simply by using language; these are called speech acts.
  • We use language to do a lot of things.
sentence types
Sentence types
  • Certain speech acts are so central to communication that we have special sentence types to mark them.

Sentence Type Example

Declarative He is cooking in the kitchen.

Interrogative Is he cooking in the kitchen?

Imperative Cook the chicken!

sentence types1
Sentence types
  • Certain speech acts are so central to communication that we have special sentence types to mark them.

Sentence Type Speech Act

declarative assertion

interrogative question

imperative order or request

Notice that interrogative sentences typically express questions, but this association does not always hold.

speech act theory
Speech act theory
  • John Austin’s model of speech acts
    • Speech act theory: a philosophical explanation of the nature of linguistic communication. It aims to answer this question: “What do we do when using language?”
The model of three speech acts: according to this model, a speaker might be performing three acts simultaneously when speaking: locutionary, illocutionary and perlocutionary
  • Locutionary act: act of uttering words, phrases, clauses
  • Illocutionary act: the act of expressing the speaker’s intention
  • Perlocutionary act: the act performed by or resulting fro saying something, the consequence of the utterance
principles of conversation
Principles of conversation
  • The philosopher Paul Grice formulated a Cooperative Principle, which he believed underlies language use, according to which we must make sure that what we say in conversation satisfy the purposes of the conversation.
  • Grice argued that there are a number of conversational rules, or maxims, that regulate conversation in the spirit of the Cooperative Principle.
four maxims
Four maxims
  • The maxim of quantity

Make your contribution as informative as required. No more and no less.

  • The maxim of quality

Do not say what you believe to be false and do not say what you lack evidence for.

  • The maxim of relation

Be relevant

  • The maxim of manner

Avoid obscurity, ambiguity. Be brief and orderly.


All languages change through time, but how they change, what drives these changes, and what kinds of changes we can expect are not obvious.

By comparing different languages, different dialects of the same language, or different historical stages of a particular language, we can discover the history of languages.


Historical linguistics is concerned with language change. It is interested in what kinds of changes occur (and why), and equally important, what kinds of changes don’t occur (and why not).

Languages change in all aspects o the grammar: the phonology, morphology, syntax, and semantics.

sound change
Sound change

Sound changes tend to be systematic; it is possible to see a regular pattern of pronunciation changes throughout the history of the English language.

example knight nait
Example: knight [nait]

Modern English spelling contains many “silent letters,” which are actually just remnant indicators of earlier pronunciations. To anyone leaning English, the presence of such letters can be quite troublesome.

(i) Word-initial velar stop consonants [k] and [g] were lost when they occurred before the nasal [n]:

Middle English Modern English

gnawn gnaw

knixt knight

morphological and syntactic change
Morphological and syntactic change

1. Change in “agreement” rule

2. Change in negation rule

3. Process of simplification

4. Loss of inflection

(Refer to the examples on P.96-97)

changes in the meaning
Changes in the meaning

1. Widening of meaning

2. Narrowing of meaning

3. Meaning shift

a. elevate

b. degrade

some recent trends
Some recent trends

1. Moving towards greater informality

2. The influence of American English

3. The influence of science and technology

a. space travel

b. computer and internet language

c. ecology

causes of language change
Causes of language change

1. The rapid development of science and technology

2. Social and political changes and political needs

3. The way children acquire the language

4. Economy of memory

  • Sociolinguistics is the sub-field of linguistics that studies the relation between language and society, between the uses of language and the social structures in which the users of language live.
speech community
Speech Community
  • The social group that is singled out for any special study is called the speech community. In sociolinguistics, it refers to the a group of people who have the opportunity to interact with each other and who share not just a single language with its related varieties, but also attitudes toward linguistic norms.
speech variety
Speech Variety

Speech variety, or language variety, refers to any distinguishable form of speech used by a speaker or a group of speakers.

9. The distinctive features of a speech variety may be all the following EXCEPT

A. lexical B. syntactic

C. phonological D. psycholinguistic

two approaches to sociolinguistic studies
Two approaches to sociolinguistic studies
  • Macro-Sociolinguistics
  • Micro-Sociolinguistics
varieties of language

Varieties of language

Dialects: varieties related to the user

Registers: varieties related to the use

1 regional dialects
1. Regional dialects
  • A regional dialect is a linguistic variety used by people living in the same geographical region.
2 sociolect
2. Sociolect
  • Sociolect, or social-class dialect, refers to the linguistic variety characteristic of a particular social class.
3 language and gender
3. Language and gender
  • The language used by men and women have some special features of their own.
  • Question:
  • In what ways is language used by women different from that by men?
4 language and age
4. Language and age
  • In many communities the language used by the old generation differs from that used by the younger generation in certain ways.
5 idiolect
5. Idiolect
  • Idiolect is a personal dialect of an individual speaker that combines elements regarding regional, social, gender, and age variations. In other words, an individual speaker’s regional and social background, his gender and age jointly determine the way he talks. And the language he uses, which bears distinctive features of his own, is his idiolect.
6 ethnic dialect
6. Ethnic dialect
  • An ethnic dialect is a social dialect of a language spoken by a less privileged population that has experienced some form of social isolation such as racial discrimination or segregation.
what is register
What is Register?
  • Register (语域) refers to the type pf language which is selected as appropriate to the type of situation.
  • Three variables to determine the register:
    • Field of discourse
    • Tenor of discourse
    • Mode of discourse
field of discourse
Field of discourse
  • Field of discourse (话语范围) refers to what is going on. It is concerned with the purpose and topic of communication. It answers “Why” and “about what”.
tenor of discourse
Tenor of discourse
  • Tenor of discourse (话语基调) refers to the role of relationship in the situation in question: who are the participants in the communication groups and in what relationship they stand to each other. “To whom”.
  • What is the relation between the speaker and the listener?
4 mode of discourse
4. Mode of discourse
  • Mode of discourse (话语方式) mainly refers to the means of communication. “How”.
  • Spoken or written?
1 general idea
1. General idea
  • Language used on different occasions differs in the degree of formality, which is determined by the social variables.
  • Stylistic varieties
stylistic varieties
Stylistic varieties
  • Five degrees of formality
    • Frozen
    • Formal
    • Consultative
    • Casual
    • Intimate
  • Different styles can be analyzed at three levels: syntactic, lexical and phonological
variation at the lexical level
Variation at the lexical level

More formal Less formal

offspring children

reply answer

tolerate put up with

9. The words “kids, child, offspring” are examples of _____.

A. dialectal synonyms B. stylistic synonyms

C. emotive synonyms D. collocational synonyms

  • Definition: A pidgin is a special language variety that mixes or blends languages and it is used by people who speak different languages for restricted purposes such as trading.
  • Features: limited vocabulary and very reduced grammatical structure
  • Definition: When a pidgin has become the primary language of a speech community, and is acquired by the children of that speech community as their native language, it is said to have become a Creole.
  • Features: the structure of the original pidgin is expanded, the vocabulary vastly enriched, new syntactic-semantic concepts developed.
9. A special language variety that mixes languages and is used by speakers of different language for purpose of trading is called ____.

A. dialect B. idiolect

C. pidgin D. register

what is culture
What Is Culture?

In a broad sense, culture means the total way of life of a people including the patterns of belief, customs, objects, institutions, techniques, and language that characterizes the life of the human community.

what is culture1
What Is Culture?

In a narrow sense, culture may refer to local or specific practice, beliefs or customs, which can be mostly found in folk culture, enterprise culture or food culture etc.

types of culture
Types of culture

1. Material cultural: concrete, substantial and observable

2. Spiritual culture: the products of mind (ideologies, beliefs, values, and concepts of time and space, for example), abstract, ambiguous, and hidden

It is a hypothesis concerning the relationship between language and thought, proposed by Whorf, under the influence of Sapir, his teacher.

According to this hypothesis, the structure of the language people habitually use influences the ways they think and behave. That is to say, different languages offer people different ways of express the world around, they think and speak differently. This hypothesis is also called “Linguistic relativity.”