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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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