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Edward Sapir - Language an Introduction to the Study of Speech

Edward Sapir - Language an Introduction to the Study of Speech

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LANGUAGEAN INTRODUCTION TO THE STUDYOF SPEECH
Edward Sapir
The noted linguist and anthropologist Edward Sapir wrote this work toshow language in “relation to other fundamental interests—the problemof thought, the nature of the historical process, race, culture, art.”
Language 
is not only a study of language and culture, but ultimately onthe world of relations and influence.
NEW YORK: HARCOURT, BRACE, 1921
1.INTRODUCTORY: LANGUAGE DEFINED
Language a cultural, not a biologically inherited, function. Futility of interjectional and sound-imitative theories of the origin of speech.Definition of language. The psycho-physical basis of speech. Conceptsand language. Is thought possible without language? Abbreviations andtransfers of the speech process. The universality of language.
 2.THE ELEMENTS OF SPEECH
Sounds not properly elements of speech. Words and significant parts of words (radical elements, grammatical elements). Types of words. Theword a formal, not a functional unit. The word has a real psychologicalexistence. The sentence. The cognitive, volitional, and emotionalaspects of speech. Feeling-tones of words.
 3.THE SOUNDS OF LANGUAGE
The vast number of possible sounds. The articulating organs and theirshare in the production of speech sounds: lungs, glottal cords, nose,mouth and its parts. Vowel articulations. How and where consonants arearticulated. The phonetic habits of a language. The “values” of sounds.Phonetic patterns.
 4.FORM IN LANGUAGE: GRAMMATICAL PROCESSES
Formal processes as distinct from grammatical functions. Intercrossingof the two points of view. Six main types of grammatical process. Wordsequence as a method. Compounding of radical elements. Affixing:prefixes and suffixes; infixes. Internal vocalic change; consonantalchange. Reduplication. Functional variations of stress; of pitch.
 5.FORM IN LANGUAGE: GRAMMATICAL CONCEPTS
Analysis of a typical English sentence. Types of concepts illustrated byit. Inconsistent expression of analogous concepts. How the samesentence may be expressed in other languages with striking differencesin the selection and grouping of concepts. Essential and non-essentialconcepts. The mixing of essential relational concepts with secondaryones of more concrete order. Form for form’s sake. Classification of linguistic concepts: basic or concrete, derivational, concrete relational,pure relational. Tendency for these types of concepts to flow into eachother. Categories expressed in various grammatical systems. Order andstress as relating principles in the sentence. Concord. Parts of speech:no absolute classification possible; noun and verb.
 6.TYPES OF LINGUISTIC STRUCTURE
The possibility of classifying languages. Difficulties. Classification intoform-languages and formless languages not valid. Classificationaccording to formal processes used not practicable. Classificationaccording to degree of synthesis. “Inflective” and “agglutinative.”Fusion and symbolism as linguistic techniques. Agglutination.“Inflective” a confused term. Threefold classification suggested: whattypes of concepts are expressed? what is the prevailing technique? whatis the degree of synthesis? Four fundamental conceptual types.Examples tabulated. Historical test of the validity of the suggested
 
conceptual classification.
 7.LANGUAGE AS A HISTORICAL PRODUCT: DRIFT
Variability of language. Individual and dialectic variations. Timevariation or “drift.” How dialects arise. Linguistic stocks. Direction or“slope” of linguistic drift. Tendencies illustrated in an English sentence.Hesitations of usage as symptomatic of the direction of drift. Levelingtendencies in English. Weakening of case elements. Tendency to fixedposition in the sentence. Drift toward the invariable word.
 8.LANGUAGE AS A HISTORICAL PRODUCT:PHONETIC LAW 
Parallels in drift in related languages. Phonetic law as illustrated in thehistory of certain English and German vowels and consonants.Regularity of phonetic law. Shifting of sounds without destruction of phonetic pattern. Difficulty of explaining the nature of phonetic drifts.Vowel mutation in English and German. Morphological influence onphonetic change. Analogical levelings to offset irregularities producedby phonetic laws. New morphological features due to phonetic change.
 9.HOW LANGUAGES INFLUENCE EACH OTHER
Linguistic influences due to cultural contact. Borrowing of words.Resistances to borrowing. Phonetic modification of borrowed words.Phonetic interinfluencings of neighboring languages. Morphologicalborrowings. Morphological resemblances as vestiges of geneticrelationship.
 10.LANGUAGE, RACE AND CULTURE
Naïve tendency to consider linguistic, racial, and cultural groupings ascongruent. Race and language need not correspond. Cultural andlinguistic boundaries not identical. Coincidences between linguisticcleavages and those of language and culture due to historical, notintrinsic psychological, causes. Language does not in any deep sense“reflect” culture.
 11.LANGUAGE AND LITERATURE
Language as the material or medium of literature. Literature may moveon the generalized linguistic plane or may be inseparable from specificlinguistic conditions. Language as a collective art. Necessary estheticadvantages or limitations in any language. Style as conditioned byinherent features of the language. Prosody as conditioned by thephonetic dynamics of a language.
 

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