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The classification of languages. Introduction to Linguistics 2. Defining language. Dialect and language Defining criteria If two speeches are mutually intelligible, they are dialects. Fuzzy boundaries.

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the classification of languages

The classification of languages

Introduction to Linguistics 2

defining language
Defining language
  • Dialect and language
    • Defining criteria
      • If two speeches are mutually intelligible, they are dialects.
fuzzy boundaries
Fuzzy boundaries
  • Claimed to be one language, but there are a variety of mutually unintelligible ‘dialects’.
    • Chinese
      • Taiwanese, Cantonese, Mandarin/ Putonhua, Wu…
  • Claimed to be two independent languages, but they are actually mutually intelligible.
    • Serbian and Croatian
approaches to language classification
Approaches to language classification
  • Genetic classification
  • Linguistic typology
genetic classification1
Genetic classification
  • Languages with related historical decent are said to be genetically related.
  • ‘language families’
linguistic universals
Linguistic Universals
  • The common linguistic features that are found in all or most languages.
how to describe linguistic universals
How to describe linguistic universals
  • Absolute universals vs. universal tendencies
  • Implicational universals
  • Markedness theory
absolute universals vs universal tendencies
Absolute universals vs. universal tendencies
  • Absolute universals
    • The linguistic features that occur in ALL languages
  • Universal tendencies
    • The linguistic features that occur in MOST languages
implicational universals
Implicational universals
  • The presence of one linguistic feature in one language must indicate the occurrence of another.
  • If A is found in language L, B must be also present in language L.
  • The implication is one-way.
  • Example:
    • If one language has fricative phonemes, it will also have stop phonemes
implicational universals example
Implicational universals: Example
  • The implication is one-way.
  • Example:
    • If one language has fricative phonemes (/s/, /z/), it will also have stop phonemes (/p/, /t/).
    • But not vice versa.
markedness theory
Markedness theory
  • The most common/default features are unmarked.
  • The less common features are marked.
markedness theory example
Markedness theory:example
  • Gender in nouns
    • Which is marked? Masculine or feminine?
    • Prince-princess; actor-actress
    • Doctor-female doctor; nurse-male nurse
  • 萬綠叢中一點紅
    • Which is marked?
typological classification by
Typological classification by
  • Phonology
  • Morphology
  • Syntax
typology phonology
Typology: phonology
  • Vowel systems
  • Consonant systems
  • Suprasegmental systems
  • Syllable structure
typology phonology vowel
Typology: phonology: vowel
  • Universals
    • The most common vowel system
      • 5 vowels /a/-/i/-/u/-/e/-/o/
    • The most common phonemes
      • /a/-/i/-/u/
    • Front vowel phonemes are generally unrounded.
    • Low vowels are generally unrounded.
typology phonology consonant
Typology: phonology: Consonant
  • Universals
    • All languages have stops
    • /p, t, k/
    • The most common fricative phoneme is /s/
    • Most of languages have at least one nasal.
  • Implicational universals
    • Fricatives -> stops
    • Voiced obstruents -> voiceless obstruents
    • Affricates -> stops and fricatives
typology phonology suprasemental
Typology: phonology: suprasemental
  • Types
    • Tone languages
      • Languages that use pitch to make semantic distinctions of words
      • Mandarin Chinese
    • Stress languages
      • Fixed stress
      • Free stress
  • Syllable structure
    • CV, V
typology morphology
Typology: morphology
  • The isolating type
  • The polysynthetic type
  • The synthetic type
    • The agglutinating type
    • The fusional type
typology morphology the isolating analytic type
Typology: morphology: The isolating/analytic type
  • One word represents one single morpheme.
    • No affixes
  • Mandarin Chinese
typology morphology the polysynthetic type
Typology: morphology: The polysynthetic type
  • One single word with a long string of roots and affixes
  • The semantic equivalent of one sentence in other languages.
    • Qasu-iir-sar-vig-ssar-si-ngit-luunar-nar-puq ‘some one did not find a completely suitable resting place.’ (Inuktitut)
typology morphology the agglutinating type
Typology: morphology: The agglutinating type
  • An agglutinating words
    • Contains several morphemes
    • The root and affixes in the words can be semantically identified.


Tu –ta –wa -on- esha


'we will show them'

an aggluinating example antidisestablishmentarianism
An aggluinating example:Antidisestablishmentarianism
  • establish (9)
    • to set up, put in place, or institute (originally from the Latin stare, to stand)
  • dis-establish (12)
    • ending the established status of a body, in particular a church, given such status by law, such as the Church of England
  • disestablish-ment (16)
    • the separation of church and state (specifically in this context it is the political movement of the 1860s in Britain)
  • anti-disestablishment (20)
    • opposition to disestablishment
  • antidisestablishment-arian (25)
    • an advocate of opposition to disestablishment
  • Antidisestablishmentarian-ism (28)
    • the movement or ideology that opposes disestablishment
typology morphology the fusional inflectional type
Typology: morphology: The fusional/inflectional type
  • A fusional/inflectional word contains several morphemes which indicate grammatical categories.
    • Ein kleiner Hamster "a little hamster" (nominative case)
    • Der kleine Hamster "the little hamster"

(nominative case)

    • Ich sah den kleinen Hamster "I saw the little hamster" (accusative case)
    • Mit kleinem Hamster "with little hamster" (dative case).
typology syntax
Typology: syntax
  • Word order universals
    • SVO
    • SOV
    • VSO
word order svo
Word order: SVO
  • John loves Mary.
word order sov
word order: SOV
  • 私 は 箱 を 開けます。
  • watashi-wa-hako-o-akemasu.
  • I box open
  • ‘I open the box.’