Language SubsystemsPhonology - sound system
Elementary sound units and rules for combining them (certain sound combinations are not allowed)
Phonemes - sound categories (e.g., 'b') with different pronunciations (allophones)Morphology - word system
Words and rules for combining them
Morphemes - minimal meaning units
Free - stand alone
Bound - do not stand alone; must be combined with others
Inflectional - provide additional information (e.g., 's' for n > 1)
Derivational - alter meaning of morpheme (e.g., un-; ly for changing adj. -> adv.
Sample rules (in English): add 's' for nouns to indicate plural (but irregular nouns)
Semantics - meaning systemLexical - word meaning (e.g., referent)
Compositional - meaning of word combinations (phrases/sentences). Can't be determined by combining lexical meaning (Blind Venetian = Venetian Blind).
Speaker meaning - what a particular speaker means with a remark in a particular context (= sentence meaning; context dependent).
Syntax - word combination system
relates sound to meaning. Word order conveys meaning (especially in English)
treated at sentence level; existence of syntax for larger stretches of language (discourse; conversation) is not clear.Pragmatics - system of language use
variations in production and comprehension as a function of context (broadly defined).
Catch-all category (everything not covered above).
Focus on speaker meaning; both intended and unintended.
Topics = politeness, conversational structure, conversational inference (recognition of intention)Summary: Sounds are combined (phonetics) to form words with a particular sense and reference (morphology) that can be combined to create a grammatical sentence (syntax) with a particular meaning (semantics) that a speaker can use to accomplish a particular goal in some context (pragmatics).
Issue: Independence of subsystems. How and to what extent do these subsystems interact?In some theories (e.g., Chomsky) they are viewed as relatively autonomous.
-"Colorless green ideas sleep furiously" - grammatical but meaningless (so, syntax and semantics are separate)However, clearly dependencies exist. Some examples:
1. Morphology and phonology: word superiority effect; letters identified more quickly if part of a word.
2. Phonology (e.g., intonation) - pragmatics: rising intonation produces a question interpretation.
3. Pragmatics and syntax: pragmatic constraints on insertion of 'please' in conventional indirect requests.
Language DisciplinesLinguistics (theoretical; e.g., Chomsky)
Describe structural properties of language (e.g., syntactic rules)
Evidence = linguistic intuitions
In general, focus on language competence (what ideal, decontextualized, hearer/speaker knows in order to use language). Separate from language performance (actual use).
In general, takes an individualistic perspective (how single speaker constructs/interprets utterance apart from others who are involved in the act).
Part of competence may involve factors normally associated with performance.
This issue is dealt with in pragmatics, applied linguistics, etc.Psycholinguistics -
examination of psychological processes involved in language use. How do people produce, comprehend, and acquire language.
Evidence = experimental
Greater emphasis on performance; but still somewhat asocial, Individualized, idealized sentences, etc.Sociolinguistics -
social dimension of language use
Examination (often empirical) of how language use (hence performance) is affected by social features (e.g., dialect/code switching; politeness; address form shifts)Additional disciplines
- philosophy (semantics), artificial intelligence (simulation of language use), social psychology (interpersonal aspects of language; underpinnings of social thought)Levels of analysis - language use can be examined at different levels
Computational - Description of hypothetical rules (e.g., Chomsky/competence)
Representational - How rules are represented and use (e.g., psycholinguistics)
Implementational - Physical performance of activity (e.g., neurolinguistics)
Design Features of Language (from Hockett)Features of language that may distinguish it from other forms of communication.
2.Broadcast transmission and Directional Reception
Overhearers - impacts use3.Rapid fading
Cognitive consequence; must plan while receiving (conversation processing differs from text processing)4. Interchangability
users can be both senders and receivers5. Total/complete feedback
have access to what they're producing6. Specialization
energetic consequences are irrelevant; sound waves per se are irrelevant in terms of conveying meaning; e.g., volume is irrelevant in terms of meaning (true?)
meaningful symbols; associative link between communicative elements and features of the world (including relationship betweennn words; function word).
(Internal representation required?)8. Arbitrary
no natural relationship between communicative elements and their referents (signals rather than signs)9. Disreteness
elements have either/or quality. Not analog. Related to arbitrariness and specialization.10. Displacement
communicated information can be removed in time/space from actual communication.11. Productivity
open system; discrete elements can be comined in infinite variety of ways. Syntax allows for iteration and recursion and hence productivity (even though elements are discreete); continuous system wouldn't require syntax.12. Duality of patterning
Discrete elements are hierarchically organized; primitive elements are meaningless; it is the hierarchical organization that allows for meaning. Phonemes -> morphemes; Morphemes -> Sentences (meaning not morphemes combined). Sentences -> Discourse.13.Traditional transmission.
Language is taught (indirectly) and learned.Some possible additions:
Possible to communicate about communication
(e.g., this course)
possible to lie and deceive
Reflexive intention (intention that is intended to be recognized)