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Unit 1

Moiss A. Bittner
Phonetics and Phonology
Autumn Term
What is Linguistics?

It is 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 into use? (Performance/Language Processing)

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Language
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)
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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)
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Importance of Language

The most important tool ever invented.

Distinguishes us from other creatures.
Provides a medium to think effectively, communicate
interpersonally and collaborate with other people in work.

Impossible to imagine a world without language.

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Languages of the World
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Hierarchy of Language
Texts/discourses
Sentences/utterances
Clauses
Phrases
Words
Morphemes
Syllables
Phonemes



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Main Branches of Linguistics

Phonetics
Phonology
Morphology
Syntax
Semantics
Pragmatics
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Semiotics*
* the study of sign and symbol systems.
Phonetics
Phonetics is about the physical aspect of sounds. It studies the
production, transmission, and perception of speech sounds
called phones in all living languages, including:

Production of speech, that is how speech sounds are actually made:
Articulatory Phonetics
Transmission of speech sounds (physical characteristics such as
colour, loudness, amplitude, frequency): Acoustic Phonetics.
Perception of the sounds by human brain: Auditory Phonetics.

Phonetic transcriptions are done using the square brackets [ ].

onos (phonos: sounds) and ikos (ikos: treatise, science, or study).



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Phonology
Phonology studies the sound system of specific languages.
It is about the abstract aspect of sounds and it studies
the phonemes.
Phonemic transcriptions adopt the slash / /.
Phonology is about establishing what are the phonemes in a given
language, i.e. those sounds that can bring a difference in meaning
between two words.

onos (phonos: sounds), and logos (logos: study)

Phoneme (from the Greek: , phnma, a sound uttered) is
the smallest segmental unit of sound employed to form meaningful
contrasts between utterances in spoken language. /tS/
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Morphology
Studies the formation of words from smaller units
called morphemes.

Morpheme: minimal meaningful language unit. (-ed, -ing)
Grapheme(s): written symbol to represent speech. <ch>
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Syntax
The syntax of a language deals with the grammatical
structure of a language.

Grammar is the structural foundation of our ability to
express ourselves.

Descriptive grammar: structure actually used by
speakers and writers.
Prescriptive grammar: structure that should be used.
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Rules that govern the formation of sentences from words.

Syntactic phrases include:
Noun Phrase : a tall man, the bus
Verb Phrase : travel around, hit the ball
Prepositional Phrase : in the class, at the club
Adjective Phrase : Very good, nice girl

The Grammatical Rules:
SVO: eg. English
SOV: eg . Hindi


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Semantics

Study of language meaning.

The study of conventional, compositional meaning.

Concerned with not only the meaning of words, but
also that of morphemes and of sentences.

Lexical semantics study how and what the words of a
language denote.
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Semantic Relations
Exempli gratia:

Pretty and attractive are synonyms.
Good and bad are antonyms.
Animal is a hypernym of mammal which is a hypernym of dog.
Dog is a hyponym of mammal which is a hyponym of animal.
Bark is a meronym of tree which is a meronym of forest.
Forest is a holonym of tree which is a holonym of bark.
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Pragmatics
Pragmatics is the study of meaning in context.

Pragmatics pays heed to social conventions and cultural norms
such as those of politeness, formality, and familiarity and also
to prosody, intonation, facial expressions, and gestures, all of which can
vary considerably from one context to the next.

Pragmatics, then, is a very broad and multifaceted field concerned with
the communicative functions of language.

Essentially it is the study of language meaning and use in context:
interpersonal, social, cultural. It takes into account what a speaker
means, implies, and aims to communicate with an utterance. So it is a
particularly important area for language learners.
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References
Adapted from: Verma, Apurv & Prasad, Ashish, 2012. Branches of Linguistics. Available at:
http://es.slideshare.net/dapurv5/branches-of-linguistics-11652624

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linguistics

http://en.citizendium.org/wiki/Linguistics

http://linguistics.wfu.edu/Some_basics.html

https://sites.google.com/a/sheffield.ac.uk/all-about-linguistics/what-
is-linguistics

http://www.macmillandictionaryblog.com/a-pragmatic-note


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