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PROPERTIES OF LANGUAGE. Language is dynamic: change is a matter of fact and not a symptom of decay Unfolding of historical events Movement of people

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properties of language
PROPERTIES OF LANGUAGE
  • Language is dynamic: change is a matter of fact and not a symptom of decay
        • Unfolding of historical events
        • Movement of people
        • Changing world – “Language responds to our needs. More precisely, we as users of language, add and delete as we must in order to talk and write about the events, concepts, and things that come and go in our lives.” Stalker, 1987
properties of language2
Properties of Language

2. Language is an arbitrary system, with its words and other structures having no necessary connection with objects

  • Dog? Chien? Hund?
  • “bow-wow” or “tan-tan”?
  • 26 symbols or over 3,000 characters?
properties of language3
Properties of Language

3. Language varies from place to place and among social groups, but all varieties of language communicate.

  • How do you ask for a soft drink?
  • What do you call your Grandparents?
  • Issues of prestige and status
      • African American English (AAE)
  • Registers – who is talking to whom about what?
properties of language4
Properties of Language

4. Language serves a multitude of functions (Halliday, 1975 and Tough, 1977)

  • Instrumental
  • Regulatory  Reveal or assert needs and wants
  • Interactional
  • Personal  Connect with self and others
  • Heuristic
  • Imaginative
  • Representational  Create, comprehend, expand knowledge
properties of language5
Properties of Language

5. Language is orderly or patterned:

Phonology – a system of sounds (phonemes)

  • Brip - jike
  • Stribe - tbluck
  • nguma - Pazer

When are we going to eat mother? (inflection)

properties of language6
Properties of Language

5. Language is orderly or patterned:

Morphology – building blocks of words

(morphemes: smallest units of meaning)

  • turn -ed -s -ing re-
  • turned turns turning return
  • turntable downturn
properties of language7
Properties of Language

5. Language is orderly or patterned:

Syntax – words and morphemes are combined to generate phrases and sentences

  • horse man carried the
properties of language8
Properties of Language

5. Language is orderly or patterned:

Semantics – subtle shades of meaning that we bring to language

  • Denotations and connotations:
    • old, elderly, aging
  • Importance of context
properties of language9
Properties of Language

5. Language is orderly or patterned:

Pragmatics: language in use

  • The social conventions of language (e.g. turn-taking, physical space)
  • Social registers – rules of using language in different social situations
  • Linguistic competence vs. communicative competence
properties of language10
Properties of Language

5. Language is orderly or patterned:

Discourses – conventions for connected oral or written language that is larger than a sentence in length

  • Narrative language vs. expository language
  • Conversational vs. literary language
  • Political discourse, etc.
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