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What is Linguistics?

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Title: What is Linguistics?


1
Chapter One Invitations to Linguistics
2
1. Why Study Language?
3
1.1 Some myths about language
  • Language is only a means of communication.
  • Language has a form-meaning correspondence.
  • The function of language is to exchange
    information.
  • English is more difficult to learn than Chinese.
  • Black English is not standard and should be
    reformed.

4
1.2 Some fundamental views about L
  • Children learn their native language swiftly,
    efficiently and without instruction.
  • Language operates by rules.
  • All languages have three major components a
    sound system, a system of lexicogrammar and a
    system of semantics.
  • Everyone speaks a dialect.
  • Language slowly changes.

5
  • Speakers of all languages employ a range of
    styles and a set of jargons.
  • Languages are intimately related to the societies
    and individuals who use them.
  • Writing is derivative of speech.

6
2. What is Language?
  • Language is not to be confused with human
    speech, of which it is only a definite part,
    though certainly an essential one. It is both a
    social product of the faculty of speech and a
    collection of necessary conventions that have
    been adopted by a social body to permit
    individuals to exercise that faculty.
  • --Ferdinand de Saussure (1857-1913) Course in
    General Linguistics (1916)

7
  • Language is a purely human and non-instinctive
    method of communicating ideas, emotions and
    desires by means of voluntarily produced
    symbols.
  • --Edward Sapir (1884-1939)
  • Language An Introduction to the
  • Study of Speech (1921)

8
  • A language is a system of arbitrary vocal
    symbols by means of which a social group
    co-operates.
  • --Bernard Bloch (1907-1965) George Trager
    (1906-1992) Outline of Linguistic Analysis
    (1942)
  • A language is a system of arbitrary vocal
    symbols by means of which the members of a
    society interact in terms of their total
    culture.
  • --George Trager The Field of Linguistics (1949)

9
  • From now on I will consider language to be a set
    (finite or infinite) of sentences, each finite in
    length and constructed out of a finite set of
    elements.
  • --Noam Chomsky (1928- ) Syntactic Structures
    (1957)

10
  • Language is the institution whereby humans
    communicate and interact with each other by means
    of habitually used oral-auditory arbitrary
    symbols.
  • --Robert A. Hall (1911-1997) Introductory
    Linguistics (1964)
  • Language is a system of arbitrary vocal symbols
    used for human communication.
  • --Ronald Wardhaugh Introduction to Linguistics
    (1977)

11
  • The question What is language? is comparable
    with -- and, some would say, hardly less profound
    than -- What is life?, the presuppositions of
    which circumscribe and unify the biological
    sciences... it is not so much the question itself
    as the particular interpretation that the
    biologist puts upon it and the unravelling of its
    more detailed implications within some currently
    accepted theoretical framework that nourish the
    biologist's day-to-day speculations and research.
    So it is for the linguist in relation to the
    question What is language??
  • --John Lyons (1932- ) Language and Linguistics
    (1981)

12
  • ... in a sense all definitions of language
    are, by themselves, inadequate, since, if they
    are to be more than trivial and uninformative,
    they must presuppose ... some general theory of
    language and of linguistic analysis.
  • --R. H. Robins (1921-2000) General Linguistics
    (1989)

13
  • Language is a form of human communication by
    means of a system of symbols principally
    transmitted by vocal sounds.
  • --Stuart C. Poole An Introduction to Linguistics
    (1999)

14
  • Language is a means of verbal communication.
  • It is instrumental in that communicating by
    speaking or writing is a purposeful act.
  • It is social and conventional in that language is
    a social semiotic and communication can only take
    place effectively if all the users share a broad
    understanding of human interaction including such
    associated factors as nonverbal cues, motivation,
    and socio-cultural roles.
  • -- Our textbook (2006)

15
3. Design Features of Language
  • Language distinguishes human beings from animals
    in that it is far more sophisticated than any
    animal communication system.

16
Human language is unique
  • Arbitrariness
  • Duality
  • Creativity
  • Displacement

17
3.1 Arbitrarines
  • Saussure the forms of linguistic signs bear no
    natural relationship to their meaning
  • Arbitrary relationship between the sound of a
    morpheme and its meaning, even with onomatopoeic
    words
  • The dog barks wow wow in English but ??? in
    Chinese.

18
  • Arbitrariness at the syntactic level language is
    not arbitrary at the syntactic level.
  • He came in and sat down.
  • He sat down and came in.
  • He sat down after he came in.
  • The link between a linguistic sign and its
    meaning is a matter of convention.

19
3.2 Duality
  • The property of having two levels of structures,
    such that units of the primary level are composed
    of elements of the secondary level and each of
    the two levels has its own principles of
    organization
  • Primary units words (meaningful) consist of
    secondary units sounds (meaningless).

20
  • Hierarchy of language stratification as the
    infinite use of finite means.
  • Sounds gt syllables gt morphemes gt words gt phrases
    gt clauses gt sentences/utterances gt
    texts/discourses

21
3.3 Creativity
  • Language is resourceful because of its duality
    and its recursiveness. We can use it to create
    new meanings.
  • Words can be used in new ways to mean new things,
    and can be instantly understood by people who
    have never come across that usage before.

22
  • Birds, bees, crabs, spiders, and most other
    creatures communicate in some way, but the
    information imparted is severely limited and
    confined to a small set of messages.
  • Because of duality the human speaker is able to
    combine the basic linguistic units to form an
    infinite set of sentences, most of which are
    never before produced or heard.

23
  • The recursive nature of language provides a
    potential to create an infinite number of
    sentences. For instance
  • He bought a book which was written by a teacher
    who taught in a school which was known for its
    graduates who ...

24
3.4 Displacement
  • Human languages enable their users to symbolize
    objects, events and concepts which are not
    present (in time and space) at the moment of
    communication.
  • Thus, we can refer to Confucius, or the North
    Pole, even though the first has been dead for
    over 2550 years and the second is situated far
    away from us.

25
  • Animal communication is normally under immediate
    stimulus control. For instance, a warning cry of
    a bird instantly announces danger.
  • Human language is stimulus-free. What we are
    talking about need not be triggered by any
    external stimulus in the world or any internal
    state.

26
  • The honeybee's dance exhibits displacement a
    little bit he can refer to a source of food,
    which is remote in time and space when he reports
    on it.
  • A dog cannot tell people that its master will be
    home in a few days.
  • Our language enables us to communicate about
    things that do not exist or do not yet exist.

27
  • Displacement benefits human beings by giving us
    the power to handle generalizations and
    abstractions. Once we can talk about physically
    distant thing, we acquire the ability to
    understand concepts which denote non-things,
    such as truth and beauty.

28
4. Origin of language
  • The Divine origin
  • In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was
    with God, and the Word was God.
  • (Gospel, John 1 1)

29
  • And the Lord said, Behold, the people is one,
    and they have all one language and this they
    begin to do and now nothing will be restrained
    from them, which they have imagined to do.
    (Genesis, 11 6)

30
4.1 The bow-wow theory
  • In primitive times people imitated the sounds of
    the animal calls in the wild environment they
    lived and speech developed from that.
  • Onomatopoeic words seem to be a convenient
    evidence for this theory. But they are very
    different in the degree of resemblance they
    express with the natural sounds.
  • This theory lacks supportive evidence.

31
4.2 The pooh-pooh theory
  • In the hard life of our primitive ancestors, they
    utter instinctive sounds of pain, anger and joy.
    As for evidence, we can only cite the universal
    use of sounds as interjections.
  • What makes the theory problematic is that there
    is only a limited number of interjections in
    almost all languages.
  • Besides, interjections such as Oh, Ah, Oops bear
    little relationship with the sound system of a
    language and therefore are not good evidence.

32
4.3 The yo-he-ho theory
  • As primitive people worked together, they
    produced some rhythmic grunts which gradually
    developed into chants and then into language.
  • We do have prosodic use of rhythms in languages,
    but rhythmic grunts are far different from
    language in its present sense. The theory is
    again at most a speculation.

33
  • The by-now fruitless search for the origin of
    languages reflects people's concern with the
    origin of humanity and may come up with
    enlightening findings in future.
  • One thing we can say for certain is that language
    evolves within specific historical, social and
    cultural contexts.

34
5. Functions of language
  • Linguists talk about the functions of language in
    an abstract sense, that is, not in terms of using
    language to chat, to think, to buy and sell, to
    read and write, to greet, praise and condemn
    people, etc.
  • They summarize these practical functions and
    attempt some broad classifications of the basic
    functions of language.

35
  • For Jakobson, language is above all for
    communication.
  • While for many people, the purpose of
    communication is referential, for him (and the
    Prague school structuralists), reference is not
    the only, not even the primary goal of
    communication.

36
  • In his famous article, Linguistics and Poetics,
    he defined six primary factors of any speech
    event, namely
  • speaker, addressee, context, message, code,
    contact.
  • In conjunction with these, Jakobson established a
    well-known framework of language functions based
    on the six key elements of communication, namely

37
  • referential (to convey message and information),
  • poetic (to indulge in language for its own sake),
  • emotive (to express attitudes, feelings and
    emotions),
  • conative (to persuade and influence others
    through commands and requests),
  • phatic (to establish communion with others)
  • metalingual (to clear up intentions and meanings).

38
  • They correspond to such communication elements as
    context, message, addresser, addressee, contact
    and code respectively.
  • Jakobson's views of the functions of language are
    still of great importance.

39
Context REFERENTIAL
Addresser EMOTIVE (e.g. intonation showing anger) Message POETIC (e.g. poetry) Addressee CONATIVE (e.g. imperatives and vocatives)
Contact PHATIC (e.g. Good morning!)
Code METALINGUAL (e.g. Hello, do you hear me?) Code METALINGUAL (e.g. Hello, do you hear me?) Code METALINGUAL (e.g. Hello, do you hear me?)
40
  • Halliday proposes a theory of metafunctions of
    language, that is, language has ideational,
    interpersonal and textual functions.
  • Ideational function constructs a model of
    experience as well as logical relations,
    interpersonal function enacts social
    relationships and textual function creates
    relevance to context.

41
  • In his earlier works, Halliday proposed seven
    categories of language functions by observing
    child language development
  • Instrumental
  • Regulatory
  • Representational
  • Interactional
  • Personal
  • Heuristic
  • Imaginative

42
  • Still other classifications employ different
    categories and use different terms, but all share
    a lot in common about the basic functions of
    language.
  • Below is a summary of the major functions of
    language.

43
5.1 Informative function
  • Language is the instrument of thought and people
    often feel need to speak their thoughts aloud.
    The use of language to record the facts is a
    prerequisite of social development. The
    informative function is indeed a crucial function
    of language.
  • It is also called ideational function in the
    framework of functional grammar.

44
  • Halliday notes that
  • Language serves for the expression of content
    that is, of the speaker's experience of the real
    world, including the inner world of his own
    consciousness. ... In serving this function,
    language also gives structure to experience, and
    helps to determine our way of looking at things,
    so that it requires some intellectual effort to
    see them in any other way than that which our
    language suggests to us.

45
5.2 Interpersonal function
  • By far the most important sociological use of
    language, and by which people establish and
    maintain their status in a society.
  • In the framework of functional grammar, the
    interpersonal function is concerned with
    interaction between the addresser and addressee
    in the discourse situation and the addresser's
    attitude toward what he speaks or writes about.

46
  • For example, the ways in which people address
    others and refer to themselves (e.g. Dear Sir,
    Dear Professor, Johnny, yours, your obedient
    servant) indicate the various grades of
    interpersonal relations.

47
  • Attached to the interpersonal function is its
    function of expressing identity. For example,
  • the chanting of a crowd at a football match,
  • the shouting of names or slogans at public
    meetings,
  • the stage-managed audience reactions to TV game
    shows
  • They all signal who we are and where we belong.

48
  • Language marks our identity, physically in terms
    of age, sex, and voiceprints psychologically in
    terms of language, personality and intelligence
    geographically in terms of accents and dialects
    ethnically and socially in terms of social
    stratification, class, status, role, solidarity
    and distance.

49
  • The interpersonal function is such a broad
    category that it is often discussed under various
    other terms as in the following performative,
    emotive, expressive and phatic functions of
    language. They seem to emphasize different
    aspects of the interpersonal function.

50
5.3 Performative function
  • This concept originates from the philosophical
    study of language represented by Austin and
    Searle, whose theory now forms the back-bone of
    pragmatics (Chapter 8). For example,
  • I now declare the meeting open.
  • I bet you two pounds it will rain tomorrow.

51
  • The performative function of language is
    primarily to change the social status of persons,
    as in marriage ceremonies, the sentencing of
    criminals, the blessing of children, the naming
    of a ship at a launching ceremony, and the
    cursing of enemies.
  • The kind of language employed in performative
    verbal acts is usually quite formal and even
    ritualized.

52
The performative function can extend to the
control of reality as on some magical or
religious occasions.
  • For example, in Chinese when someone breaks a
    bowl or a plate the host or the people present
    are likely to say ???? as a means of controlling
    the invisible forces which the believers feel
    might affect their lives adversely.

53
5.4 Emotive function
  • The emotive function of language is one of the
    most powerful uses of language because it is
    crucial in changing the emotional status of an
    audience for or against someone or something.
  • It is a means of getting rid of our nervous
    energy when we are under stress, e.g. swear
    words, obscenities, involuntary verbal reactions
    to a piece of art or scenery conventional
    words/phrases, e.g.
  • God, My, Damn it, What a sight, Wow, Ugh, Oh.

54
  • It is also discussed under the term expressive
    function. The expressive function can often be
    entirely personal and totally without any
    implication of communication to others.
  • For example, a man may say Ouch! after striking a
    fingernail with a hammer, or he may mutter Damn
    when realizing that he has forgotten an
    appointment.

55
  • Exclamations such as Man! Oh boy! and Hurrah! are
    usually uttered without any purpose of
    communicating to others, but as essentially a
    verbal response to a person's own feelings.
  • Such expressive utterances can also be a communal
    response of a group of people who reinforce one
    another's expressive use of language to show
    their solidarity.

56
5.5 Phatic communion
  • Phatic communion refers to the social interaction
    of language, originating from Malinowski's study
    of the functions of language performed by
    Trobriand Islanders. For example,
  • Mrs. P sneezes violently.
  • Mrs. Q Bless you.
  • Mrs. P Thank you.

57
  • We all use such small, seemingly meaningless
    expressions to maintain a comfortable
    relationship between people without involving any
    factual content.
  • Ritual exchanges about health or weather such as
    Good morning, God bless you, Nice day often state
    the obvious. Yet they indicate that a channel of
    communication is open if it should be needed.

58
  • Different cultures have different topics of
    phatic communion.
  • According to David Crystal, the weather is not a
    universal conversation filler as the English
    might like to think.
  • Rundi women (in Burundi, Central Africa), upon
    taking leave, routinely and politely say I must
    go home now, or my husband will beat me.

59
  • Broadly speaking, this function refers to
    expressions that help define and maintain
    interpersonal relations, such as slang, jokes,
    jargons, ritualistic exchanges, switches to
    social and regional dialects.
  • We have to learn a large repertoire of such
    usages if we are to interact comfortably with
    different people.

60
5.6 Recreational function
  • The recreational function of a language is often
    overlooked because it seems so restrictive in
    purpose and supposedly so limited in usefulness.
  • However, no one will deny the use of language for
    the sheer joy of using it, such as a baby's
    babbling or a chanter's chanting.

61
  • In the Latin and Islamic worlds as well as in
    some areas of China, there is widespread use of
    verbal dueling, in which one singer begins a song
    of usually few lines and challenges his opponent
    to continue the content or provide a rejoinder in
    a similar rhythm and rhyme scheme.
  • Such verbal duels may last for a few hours and is
    performed for the sheer joy of playing on
    language.

62
  • To take one example, the well-known
    movie???features a scene of ?? (song dueling)
    mostly for the sheer joy of playing on language.

63
  • If you observe a childrens play, you will find
    the power of sound. Sometimes even nonsensical
    lyrics perform a recreational function in the
    game
  • the repetitive rhythms help to control the game,
    and the children plainly take great delight in
    it. Adults also have their way to appreciate
    language for its own sake.

64
  • For instance, poetry writing gives them the
    pleasure of using language for its sheer beauty.
  • Very close here to Jakobson's poetic function.

65
5.7 Metalingual function
  • Our language can be used to talk about itself.
  • To organize any written text into a coherent
    whole, writers employ certain expressions to keep
    their readers informed about where they are and
    where they are going.

66
  • For instance, instead of saying
  • The lion chased the unicorn all round the town,
  • they say
  • All around the town the lion chased the unicorn.

A unicorn
67
  • This is the metalingual function of language and
    meshes with the thematic function of language in
    functional grammar.
  • It makes the language infinitely self-reflexive
    We human beings can talk about talk and think
    about thinking, and thus only humans can ask what
    it means to communicate, to think, to be human.

68
6. What is Linguistics?
  • The scientific study of human language
  • Aims of linguistic theory
  • What is knowledge of language? (Competence)
  • How is knowledge of language acquired?
    (Acquisition)
  • How is knowledge of language put to use?
    (Performance/language processing)

69
  • A grammar includes everything one knows about the
    structure of ones language
  • Phonetics and Phonology (the sounds and the sound
    system or patterns)
  • Lexicon (the words or vocabulary in the mental
    dictionary)
  • Morphology (the structure of words)
  • Syntax (the structure of phrases and sentences
    and the constraints on well-formedness of
    sentences)
  • Semantics (the meaning of words and sentences)

70
7. Main branches of linguistics
  • Phonetics
  • Phonology
  • Morphology
  • Syntax
  • Semantics
  • Pragmatics

71
7.1 Phonetics
  • Phonetics studies speech sounds, including the
    production of speech, that is how speech sounds
    are actually made, transmitted and received, the
    description and classification of speech sounds,
    words and connected speech, etc.

72
  • We can approach it on various levels.
  • At one level, speech is a matter of anatomy and
    physiology. We can study organs such as tongue
    and larynx and their functions in the production
    of speech.
  • At another level, we can focus on the speech
    sounds produced by these organs by identifying
    and classifying the individual sounds. This is
    the domain of articulatory phonetics.

73
  • We can also investigate the properties of the
    sound waves acoustic phonetics.
  • As speech is intended to be heard or perceived,
    it is therefore possible to focus on the way in
    which a listener analyses or processes a sound
    wave auditory phonetics.

74
7.2 Phonology
  • Phonology studies the rules governing the
    structure, distribution, and sequencing of speech
    sounds and the shape of syllables. It deals with
    the sound system of a language by treating
    phoneme as the point of departure.
  • A phoneme is the smallest linguistic unit of
    sound that can signal a difference in meaning.

75
7.3 Morphology
  • Morphology is concerned with the internal
    organization of words. It studies the minimal
    units of meaning morphemes and word-formation
    processes.
  • Although many people think of words as the basic
    meaningful elements of a language,many words can
    be broken down into still smaller units, called
    morphemes.

76
  • Morphemes serve different purposes. Some derive
    new words by changing the meaning or the part of
    speech, others only refine and give extra
    grammatical information about the already
    existing meaning of a word.
  • As morphemes are pairings of sounds with
    meanings, there are many complexities involved,
    forming a new field by the name morphophonology.

77
7.4 Syntax
  • Syntax is about principles of forming and
    understanding correct sentences.
  • The form or structure of a sentence is governed
    by the rules of syntax, which specify word order,
    sentence organization, and the relationships
    between words, word classes and other sentence
    elements.

78
  • We know that words are organized into structures
    more than just word order.
  • The children watched the firework from the hill
    .
  • The children watched the firework from the
    hill .
  • The chicken is too hot to eat.

79
7.5 Semantics
  • Semantics examines how meaning is encoded in a
    language.
  • It is not only concerned with meanings of words
    as lexical items, but also with levels of
    language below the word and above it, e.g.
    meaning of morphemes and sentences.

80
  • The following are what the key concepts look
    like
  • semantic components
  • denotation of words
  • sense relations between words such as antonymy
    and synonymy
  • sense relations between sentences such as
    entailment and presupposition and others.

81
7.6 Pragmatics
  • Pragmatics is the study of meaning in context. It
    deals with particular utterances in particular
    situations and is especially concerned with the
    various ways in which the many social contexts of
    language performance can influence
    interpretation.
  • In other words, pragmatics is concerned with the
    way language is used to communicate rather than
    with the way language is internally structured.

82
  • It regards speech performance as primarily a
    social act ruled by various social conventions.
  • Some key concepts such as reference, force,
    effect, and cooperative principles may appear
    commonsensical, yet pragmatics is just about one
    of the most promising fields of linguistic
    studies.

83
  • Take conversation for example.
  • Since language is transmitted primarily via the
    speech mode, pragmatic rules govern a number of
    conversational interactions, such as sequential
    organization, repair of errors, role and speech
    acts.
  • Organization of conversations includes taking
    turns, opening, maintaining and closing a
    conversation, establishing and maintaining a
    topic etc.

84
8. Macrolinguistics
  • Linguistics is not the only field concerned with
    language.
  • Other disciplines such as psychology, sociology,
    ethnography, the science of law and artificial
    intelligence etc. are also preoccupied with
    language.

85
  • Although Saussure's goal was to establish the
    autonomy of linguistics, giving it a well-defined
    subject of study and freeing it from reliance on
    other disciplines, with its coming of age
    linguistics is developing interactive links with
    other sciences.
  • The central goal of describing the underlying
    system remains this is the province of general,
    descriptive linguistics.

86
  • But since language has both individual and social
    aspects, it is naturally of interest to
    psychologists and sociologists among others.
  • Therefore it is not surprising that we have some
    branches of macrolinguistics that show an
    interdisciplinary nature from their very names

87
8.1 Psycholinguistics
  • Psycholinguistics investigates the interrelation
    of language and mind, for example, in processing
    and producing utterances and in language
    acquisition.
  • It also studies language development in the
    child, such as the theories of language
    acquisition, biological foundations of language,
    and a profound aspectthe relationship between
    language and cognition.

88
8.2 Sociolinguistics
  • Sociolinguistics is the study of the
    characteristics of language varieties, the
    characteristics of their functions, and the
    characteristics of their speakers as these three
    constantly interact and change within a speech
    community.
  • An umbrella term which covers a variety of
    different interests in language and society,
    including the social functions of language and
    the social characteristics of its users.

89
8.3 Anthropological linguistics
  • Anthropology and linguistics became closely
    associated in the early days of anthropological
    fieldwork when anthropologists enlisted the help
    of linguists to study unwritten languages.
  • In contrast with other linguists, then,
    anthropological linguists are interested
    primarily in the history and structure of
    formerly unwritten languages.

90
  • Because an unwritten language must be heard in
    order to be studied, it does not leave any traces
    once its speakers died off.
  • Anthropological linguists must begin in the
    present, with comparisons of contemporary
    languages.
  • Then they may draw inferences about the kinds of
    change in language that may have occurred in the
    past and that may account for similarities and
    differences observed in the present.

91
8.4 Computational linguistics
  • Computational linguistics centers around the use
    of computers to process or produce human language
    (also known as natural language, to distinguish
    it from computer languages).
  • To this field, linguistics contributes an
    understanding of the special properties of
    language data, and provides theories and
    descriptions of language structure and use.

92
  • Some current application areas include
    translating from one language to another (Machine
    Translation), storing and finding relevant
    documents in large collections of text (Corpus
    Linguistics and Information Retrieval), and
    carrying out various forms of computer mediated
    communication.

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9. Important distinctions in linguistics
  • Descriptive vs. prescriptive
  • Synchronic vs. diachronic
  • Langue parole
  • Competence and performance

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9.1 Descriptive vs. prescriptive
  • Don't say X.
  • People don't say X.
  • The first is a prescriptive command, while the
    second is a descriptive statement.
  • The distinction lies in prescribing how things
    ought to be and describing how things are.

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  • The reason why present-day linguists are so
    insistent about the distinction between the two
    types of rules is simply that traditional grammar
    was very strongly normative in character, e.g.
  • You should never use a double-negative
  • You should not split the infinitive etc.

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Humorous grammar rules
  • Never end a sentence with a preposition.
  • And don't start a sentence with a conjunction.
  • It is wrong to ever split an infinitive.
  • Avoid cliches like the plague. (They're old hat.)
  • Also, always avoid annoying alliteration.
  • No sentence fragments.

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  • In the 18th century, all the main European
    languages were studied prescriptively.
  • The grammarians tried to lay down rules for the
    correct use of language and settle the disputes
    over usage once and for all.
  • Some usages were prescribed to be learned by
    heart, followed accurately or avoided altogether.
    It was a matter of black or white, right or wrong.

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  • These attitudes are still with us, though people
    realize nowadays the facts of usage count more
    than the authority-made standards.
  • The nature of linguistics as a science determines
    its preoccupation with description instead of
    prescription.

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9.2 Synchronic vs. diachronic
  • A synchronic description takes a fixed instant
    (usually, but not necessarily, the present) as
    its point of observation. Most grammars are of
    this kind.
  • Diachronic linguistics is the study of a language
    through the course of its history.

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9.3 Langue parole
  • Saussure distinguished the linguistic competence
    of the speaker and the actual phenomena or data
    of linguistics (utterances) as langue and parole.

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  • While parole constitutes the immediately
    accessible data, the linguist's proper object is
    the langue of each community, the lexicon,
    grammar, and phonology implanted in each
    individual by his upbringing in society and on
    the basis of which he speaks and understands his
    language.

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9.4 Competence and performance
  • This fundamental distinction is discussed by
    Chomsky in his Aspects of the Theory of Syntax
    (1965).
  • A language user's underlying knowledge about the
    system of rules is called his linguistic
    competence.
  • Performance refers to the actual use of language
    in concrete situations.

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  • Chomsky points out that this distinction is
    related to the langue-parole distinction of
    Saussure but he does not accept the view of
    seeing langue as a mere systematic inventory of
    items.
  • Competence is closer to the famous German
    linguist Humboldt's conception, that is, it
    should refer to the underlying competence as a
    system of generative processes.
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