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WHAT IS LANGUAGE?. Introduction to Linguistics. WHAT IS LANGUAGE?. The design features of a language (Charles Hockett). Mode of communication Semanticity Pragmatic function Interchangeability Cultural transmission Arbitrariness Discreteness Displacement Productivity. Arbitrariness.

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What is language

WHAT IS LANGUAGE?

Introduction to Linguistics



The design features of a language charles hockett
The design features of a language (Charles Hockett)

  • Mode of communication

  • Semanticity

  • Pragmatic function

  • Interchangeability

  • Cultural transmission

  • Arbitrariness

  • Discreteness

  • Displacement

  • Productivity





Productivity
Productivity

  • All human languages use a finite set of linguistic data to generate an infinite set of possible sentences – the creative aspect of language



A mystery where does language come from 1
A mystery: where does language come from? (1)

  • Ding-Dong

  • humans make to mimic the sounds of the world around them.

    • boom = explosion

    • oink = the sound made by a pig.

  • Bow-wow

  • humans form their first words by imitating animal sounds.

  • It seems difficult to accept that humans learned to speak to one another by talking to the animals.


A mystery where does language come from 2
A mystery: where does language come from? (2)

  • Pooh-pooh

  • the first words developed from sighs of pleasure, moans of pain, and other semi-involuntary cries or exclamations.

  • Uh-oh

  • human language begins with the use of arbitrary symbols that represent warnings to other members of the human band.

  • Yo-he-ho

  • language arose in rhythmic chants and vocalisms uttered by people engaged in communal labour.


A mystery where does language come from 3
A mystery: where does language come from? (3)

  • Language is a human instinct

    • Human beings are born with the ability to speak language.

    • Universal Grammar (UG)


Universal grammar ug
Universal Grammar (UG)

  • Definition

    • The properties that all human languages share.

  • Feature

    • Innateness

      • Human beings are born with language ability.

  • Evidence

    • Children can acquire languages they are exposed to with ease.


What does it mean by saying you speak mandarin chinese
What does it mean by saying you speak Mandarin Chinese ?

  • Linguistically, you possess the linguistic knowledge of Mandarin Chinese.

    • Sounds

    • Words

    • Sentences


Linguistic knowledge
Linguistic Knowledge

  • Knowledge of sound system

    • The inventory of sounds in a language

      • Chinese: [+l], [-r]. Lai, *rai

    • The possible arrangement of sound sequences

      • English: [nuk]; [snuk]; *[sknuk]; *[mnuk]

      • Chinese: [mau]; [myau]; *[aum]; *[yaum]

  • Knowledge of words

    • Form and meaning => arbitrary

  • Knowledge of sentences and non-sentences

    • All students love linguistics;

    • *Love linguistics all students


Competence vs performance
Competence vs. Performance

  • Competence

    • What you know about linguistic knowledge

    • A perfect linguistic system

  • Performance

    • How you use this linguistic knowledge in actual speech production and comprehension

  • Example:

    • Competence:

      • John likes German cars.

    • Performance: You don’t

      • *John like German car.


What is grammar
What is grammar?

  • What a speaker knows about language.

    • Linguistic knowledge, competence

  • Components

    • Phonology

    • Morphology

    • Syntax

    • lexicon


Types of grammar
Types of grammar

  • Descriptive grammar

    • To describe what you know about grammar

      • John is the person who/whom I met yesterday.

      • 暴露 [bau lou], [pou lou]

  • Prescriptive grammar

    • To tell you how you should use about grammar

      • John is the person *who/whom I met yesterday.

      • 暴露 *[bau lou], [pou lou]

  • Teaching grammar

    • Used to learn a language


Do you agree
Do you agree…

  • Apes and dogs have their own languages. We just don’t understand them.

  • The Formosan languages (e.g., Paiwan, Atayal) are aboriginal languages. They are not as good as Chinese, English, or French.


The truth is
The truth is…

  • Wherever humans exist, language exits.

  • All languages are equal - no ‘primitive’ language


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