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Tuesday, August 27, 2013 Ch 1: A Language Like English, 1-30 A Few Preliminaries Remember to be conscious of language use: your

language use: your own and that of others; dont take it for granted Be curious about language in general and the EN language in particular; question assumptions Connect class material to your everyday linguistic and social lives Familiarize yourself with the symbols and abbrevs. on pp. xx-xxi Use the Glossary at the end of the book (many test questions will involve definitions) What Is Linguistics Anyway? Linguistics: the scientific study of language as a system (often empirical but also often theoretical) Like an object, language has an internal working structure we can understand once we stop taking it for granted and approach it analytically Language Must Be Considered Externally and Internally Language in use is also social and tied up with (personal, communal) identity issues Language is powerful: names, magical and taboo words, bad words, offensive words We judge and are judged based on language use, and we have linguistic preconceptions, expectations, and assumptions; we must not judge language users unfairly E.g., ask (aks, ax): language history, correctness, and judgement: the variants are grammatical and systematic and equal(?)

Arbitrariness and Systematicity Relations between language and meaning are mostly arbitrary; language conveys meaning through social agreement and convention Linguistic sign = signifier (form, sounds or letters) + signified (meaning, object or concept); the relation between signifier and signified is arbitrary However, the relations among signs is not arbitrary but systematic Language is organized systematically, that is, according to rules; e.g., word order, sound combinations, pronunciation of plural -s EN is systematic and rule-governed; we see this by studying it analytically Contrast language competence and performance Conventionality and Creativity We as language users agree, by convention, on what a linguistic sign means (because signs are arbitrary); cf. different languages vocabulary Language is creative because we can say new things and say old things in new ways Finite linguistic resources can be used to make infinite utterances; we have rulegoverned rearrangement[s] (11) of language; e.g., letters of the alphabet; cf. musical notes or piano keys Grammaticality Non-linguists use grammatical usually to mean correct; for them, grammar is an issue of right and wrong

Linguists usually use grammatical to mean understandable according to the systematic rules of language; for them, notions of right and wrong are not an issue Cf. prescriptive vs. descriptive (NB: p. 12 is largely a preview of concepts and aspects to come) Language: A Working Definition Human language is a conventional system of signs that allows for the creative communication of meaning (8) Is this definition of language complete? Satisfying? Problematic?

Thursday, August 29, 2013 Ch 1: A Language Like English, 1-30, CONT. Language Grouping and Language Change EN is a Gmc language EN is cognate with Latin not descended from it; they are cognate language because they descend from a common ancestor (Proto-Indo-European) EN has changed and is constantly changing in many of its aspects (spelling, pronunciation, vocabulary, etc.) Change is neither progress nor decline, though many disagree and many dislike language change; grammatical complexity remains the same Language change is gradual and involves internal and external factors Language vs. Communication Language use is a defining characteristic of being human Language is uniquely human (?); it all depends on how we define and characterize language What about dogs, birds, bees, chimps, dolphins? If there is a difference between human language and animal communication, is it qualitative or quantitative? Language acquired socially not innate Language is very productive Language can be ambiguous and self-reflexive *Language is infinitely creative Does it matter anyway?