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An Introductory Course of General Linguistics

The Difference between

Knowledge and Skill

The Arrangement of the Course 1. Introduction (Chapter 1) (4 hours) 2. Phonetics and Phonology (Chapter 2) (4 hours) 3. Morphology (Chapter 3) 4. Syntax (Chapter 4) (4 hours) 5. Semantics (Chapter 5) 6. Psycholinguistics (Chapter 6) 7. Sociolinguistics (Chapter 7) (4 hours) 8. Pragmatics (Chapter 8) (4 hours) 9. Language and Literature (Chapter 9) 10. Computational linguistics (Chapter 10) 11. TEFL (Chapter 11) 12. Schools of linguistics (Chapter 12) (4 hours)

Chapter 1 Invitations to Linguisticss
1.1 Why Study Language?
The myths about language

Myth 1. Language is only a means of communication.
Myth 2. Language has a form-meaning correspondence.

Myth 3. The function of language is to exchange information.
Myth 4. Language A is more difficult to learn than B. Myth 5. Black English is not standard and should be reformed.

Some fundamental views (1) Children learn their native language swiftly, efficiently and without instruction. (2) Language operates by rules. (3) All language have three major components: a sound system, a system of lexicogrammar and a system of semantics. (4) Everyone speaks a dialect. (5) Language slowly changes. (6) Speakers of all languages employ a range of styles and a set of jargons. (7) Languages are intimately related to the societies and individuals who use them. (8) Writing is derivative of speech.

1.2 What is Language (1) The definition in Webster?s New World Dictionary (2) Multimodal: linguistic, visual, gestrual, spatial, audio

(3) Language is a means of verbal communication. It is instrumental, social and conventional. Language learning and use are determined by the intervention of biological, cognitive, psychological, and environmental factors.

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)

“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)

“A language is a system of arbitrary vocal symbols by means of which a social group cooperates.” --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)

“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)

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)

“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)

“... 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)

“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)

“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 sociocultural roles.

-- Hu Zhuanglin (ed.) (2006)

? Some main attributes of language included in the above definitions: ? a. System ? Elements of language are combined according to rules.
? ? “iblk” , “ikbl”, “ibkl”, “bilk” “Been he wounded has” vs “He has been wounded”

? b. Arbitrary
? There is no intrinsic connection between a linguistic symbol and what the symbol stands for. The link between a linguistic sign and its meaning is a matter of CONVENTION. (F. de Saussure, 1916/1960)

花 flower はな

? ? ? ? ? ?

?Tis not enough no harshness gives offence, The sound must be an echo to the scene. (Pope: Essay on Criticism) What?s in a name? That which we call a rose By any other name would smell as sweet (Shakespeare: Romeo and Juliet, Act II, Scene 2) onomatopoeia iconicity

? c. Vocal

The primary medium of language is sound, with writing coming into being much later than the spoken form. Children?s acquisition of mother tongue; Many languages do not have written systems: Korea didn?t have Hangul (训民正音), a written form invented by King Sejong, until the 15th century; Writing is based on speech; People use spoken language more often than writing.

? d. Symbols ? If a sign and the object it signifies are associated by social convention, the sign is called a symbol. Traffic lights, language, … ? e. Human-specific ? Failures of experiments conducted in the 20th century to teach human language to chimpanzees, parrots, and bees. ? 1930s, prof. and Mrs. Kellogg raised their infant son together with an infant chimpanzee named Gua. Gua understood 100 words at 16 months, more than their son at that age, but Gua never went beyond that. ? Animals lack the capacity to learn and do not have the mental capacity to be communicatively creative.

? When we study human language, we are approaching what some might call the “human essence,” the distinctive qualities of mind that are, so far as we know, unique to man. (Chomsky, 1972)


When we study human language, we are approaching what some might call the “human essence,” the distinctive qualities of mind that are, so far as we know, unique to man. (Chomsky 1972) ? it → he/she

1.3 Design Features of Language (The features that define our human languages) 1.3.1 Arbitrariness The forms of linguistic signs bear no natural relationship to their meaning. (1) Arbitrary relationship between the sound of a morpheme and its meaning.

(2) Arbitrariness at the syntactic level
(3) Arbitrariness and convention

1.3.2 Duality (1)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. (Lyons, 1981:20) (2)Sounds are secondary units and words as primiary units, since the secondary units are meaningless and the primary units have distinct and identifiable meaning. The property of duality only exists in such a system with both elements and units.

(3) Language is hiearchical. Syllables, morphems, words, sentences/utterances, texts/discourse (4) The great productive power of language is endowed with its duality. 1.3.3 Creativity (1) Language is resourceful because of its duality and its recursiveness. (2) If language is defined merely as a system of communication, then language is not unique to humans.

1.3.4 Displacement (1) Human languages enable their users to symbolize objects, events and concepts which are not present (in time and space) at the moment of communication.

(2) Our language enables us to eommunicate about things that do not exist or do not yet exist. (3) Displacement benefits human beings by giving them the power to handle generalizations and abstractions.

1.4 Origin of Language

(1) According to the Bible
(2) Some well-known theories The “bow-wow” theory The “pooh-pooh” theory The “yo-he-ho” theory (3) Language evolves within specific historical, social and cultural contexts.

? Creationism ? Genesis
? And out of the ground The Lord God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them; and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof. And Adam gave

names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air and to
every beast of the field.

It is impossible for man to name things without acquiring language. What language spoken by Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden? Hebrew? A Sweden scholar?s finding: God speaks Swedish language, Adam speaks Denmark language, and Serpent speaks French.
The Babel

? Evolutionism
? a. Bow-wow theory (摹声说): ? In primitive times people imitated the sounds of the environment where they lived and speech developed from that. (onomatopoeic words) ? small percentage; different words for the same thing. ? cock-a-doodle-doo vs 咯咯咯/喔喔喔 ? b. Pooh-pooh theory (噗噗说): ? In the hard life of our primitive ancestors, they utter instinctive sounds of pain, anger and joy. (interjection) ? c. Yo-he-ho theory (劳动喊声说) ? As primitive people worked together, they produced some rhythmic grunts which gradually developed into chants and then into language.

? d. Ta-ta theory (达达说/手势说) ? e. Sing-song theory (唱歌说) ? f. Contact theory (接触说)

? At its foundation in 1866, the Linguistic Society of Paris chose to emphasize its seriousness as a scholarly body by including in its statutes a ban on the presentation of any papers concerning the origin of language.

1.5 Functions of Language (1) Jackbson?s view: referential, poetic, emotive,

conative, phatic, metalingual
(2) Halliday?s views: ideational, interpersonal,

(3) The editors? view: informative, interpersonal, performative, emotive, phatic, recreational, metalingual

1.6 What is Linguistics? (1) Linguistics is usually defined as the science of language or, as the scientific study of language. (2) The practical, theoretical importance of linguistics. (3) The data and research method of linguistics:

intuition and corpus; empirical; qulitative and

1.7 Main Branches of Linguistics

1.7.1 Phonetics
(1) 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. (2) Anatomic and physiological phonetics, articulatory phonetics, acoustic phonetics, auditory phonetics

1.7.2 Phonology (1) Phonology studies the rules governing the structure, distribution, and sequencing of speech sounds and the shape of syllables. (2) A phoneme is the smallest linguistic unit of sound that can signal a difference in meaning. (3) Phonetics is the study of speech sounds that the human voice is capable of creating whereas phonology is the study of a subset of whose sounds that constitute language and meaning. The first fouceses on chaos and the second focuses on order.s

1.7.3 Morphology

(1)Morphology is concerned with the internal
organization of words. It studies the minimal units

of meaning-morphemes and word-formation


(4)Language differ in their degrees of dependence on
the morphological components.

1.7.4 Syntax Syntax is about principles of forming and understanding correct English sentences. The form or structure of a sentence is governed by the rules of syntax. These rules specify word order, sentence organization, and the relationships between words, word classes and other sentence elements. 1.7.5 Semantics Semantics examines how meaning is encoded in a language. It is concerned with meanings of lexical items, morphems, sentences. The key concepts: semantic components, denotation, sense relations (antonymy and synonymy; entailment and presupposition)

1.8 Macrolinguistics 1.8.1 Psycholinguistics 1.8.2 Sociolinguistics 1.8.3 Anthropological linguistics

1.8.4 Computational linguistics

a. Sociolinguistics is the study of the characteristics of language varieties, the characteristics of their functions, and the characteristics of their speakers.
? The language a person uses often reveals his social background. ? There exist social norms that determine the type of language to be used on a certain occasion. ? Language changes are caused by social changes, such as the appearance and disappearance of some words, the meaning changes of some words.

? b. psycholinguistics studies how humans learn language and the relationship of linguistic behavior and the psychological processes in producing and understanding language. It involves the study of speech perception, memory, attention, and other processes in language use.

? c. anthropological linguistics is primarily concerned with the history and structure of formerly unwritten languages. ? d. Computational linguistics is the study of language using the techniques and concepts of computer science. It often refers to the problems in machine translation, information retrieval, and artificial intelligence.

? Applied linguistics: in a broad sense, the term applied linguistics is used with reference to the application of linguistic theories and methods to other fields, such as the analysis of language disorders, language learning and teaching, stylistics, lexicography, translating and interpreting, and language planning. ? More often, we use applied linguistics to refer to the application of linguistic theories, methods, and findings to the study of language learning and teaching.

1.9 Important Distinctions in Linguistics
1.9.1 Descriptive vs. Prescriptive 1.9.2 Synchronic vs. Diachronic 1.9.3 Langue & Parole 1.9.4 Competence & Performance

? 1.9.1 Prescriptive vs. descriptive


They are two different types of linguistic study.
If the linguistic study aims to lay down rules for

“correct and standard” behavior in using language, i.e.
to tell people what they should say and what they should not say, it is said to be prescriptive. ? If a linguistic study aims to describe and analyze the language people actually use, it is said to be descriptive.

? “ A language is what the speakers do and not what
someone thinks they ought to do.”

? 1.9.2 Synchronic vs. diachronic
? Language exists in time and changes through time.


A synchronic linguistics takes a fixed instant as its
point of observation.


A diachronic linguistics is the study of language
through the course of its history.

? 1.9.3 Langue vs. parole

F. de Saussure


Langue refers to the abstract linguistic system
shared by all the members of a speech community, and parole refers to the realization of langue in actual use.


Langue is the set of conventions and rules which

language users all have to abide by, and parole is the
concrete use of the conventions and the application of the rules. ? Langue is the studying subject.

? 1.9.4 Competence and performance ?
? ? ? ? ? N. Chomsky Competence is the ideal user?s knowledge of the rules of his language. Performance is the actual realization of this

knowledge in linguistic communication.
Competence is the studying subject. Langue, parole: competence, performance sociological view vs. psychological view

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