Alan Smith, Web Journal of Modern Language Linguistics The Study of Language Fourth edition GEORGE YULE CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY PRESS. This page intentionally left blank The Study of Language This best-selling .. The Study of Language Fourth edition GEORGE YULE; 5. Cambridge Core - English Language and Linguistics: General Interest - The Study of Language - by George Yule. Scopus Citations. View all citations for this book on Scopus. ×. 4th edition . Frontmatter. pp i-iv. Access. PDF; Export citation.
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The Study of Language - George Yule. 1. The Study of Language .. ed, -s • When free morphemes are used with bound morphemes, the basic word – form. The Study of Language (4th ed.) by George Yule. Read online, or download in secure PDF or secure EPUB format. The Study of Language. Fourth edition. GEORGE YULE connections with anthropology through the study of language and culture, and with sociology through.
This is reflexivity. Displacement When your pet cat comes home and stands at your feet calling meow, you are likely to understand this message as relating to that immediate time and place. Animal communication seems to be designed exclusively for this moment, here and now. It cannot effectively be used to relate events that are far removed in time and place. Humans can refer to past and future time.
This property of human language is called displacement. It allows language users to talk about things and events not present in the immediate environment. Indeed, displacement allows us to talk about things and places e. Animal communication is generally considered to lack this property.
We could look at bee communication as a small exception because it seems to have some version of displacement. For example, when a honeybee finds a source of nectar and returns to the beehive, it can perform a complex dance routine to communicate to the other bees the location of this nectar.
Depending on the type of dance round dance for nearby and tail-wagging dance, with variable tempo, for further away and how far , the other bees can work out where this newly discovered feast can be found.
Yes, but it is displacement of a very limited type. Certainly, the bee can direct other bees to a food source. However, it must be the most recent food source. It cannot be that delicious rose bush on the other side of town that we visited last weekend, nor can it be, as far as we know, possible future nectar in bee heaven. The connection is quite arbitrary. This aspect of the relationship between linguistic signs and objects in the world is described as arbitrariness.
However, this type of game only emphasizes the arbitrariness of the connection that normally exists between a word and its meaning. Animals and human language 13 Figure 2. English examples are cuckoo, crash, slurp, squelch or whirr.
However, these onomatopoeic words are relatively rare in human language. For the majority of animal signals, there does appear to be a clear connection between the conveyed message and the signal used to convey it.
This impression we have of the non-arbitrariness of animal signaling may be closely connected to the fact that, for any animal, the set of signals used in communication is finite.
That is, each variety of animal communication consists of a fixed and limited set of vocal or gestural forms. Many of these forms are only used in specific situations e. Productivity Humans are continually creating new expressions and novel utterances by manipulat- ing their linguistic resources to describe new objects and situations. The communication systems of other creatures are not like that.
Cicadas have four signals to choose from and vervet monkeys have thirty-six vocal calls. Nor does it seem possible for creatures to produce new signals to communicate novel experiences or events.
Ten bees were taken to the top, given a taste of the delicious food, and sent off to tell the rest of the hive about their find.
The message was conveyed via a bee dance and the whole gang buzzed off to get the free food. The problem seems to be that bee communication has a fixed set of signals for communicating location and they all relate to horizontal distance. This limiting feature of animal communication is described in terms of fixed reference.
Each signal in the system is fixed as relating to a particular object or occasion. These signals are fixed in terms of their reference and cannot be manipulated. Watch out for that flying snake!
Cultural transmission While we may inherit physical features such as brown eyes and dark hair from our parents, we do not inherit their language. We acquire a language in a culture with other speakers and not from parental genes. An infant born to Korean parents in Korea, but adopted and brought up from birth by English speakers in the United States, will have physical characteristics inherited from his or her natural parents, but will inevitably speak English.
A kitten, given comparable early experiences, will produce meow regardless. This process whereby a language is passed on from one generation to the next is described as cultural transmission. It is clear that humans are born with some kind of predisposition to acquire language in a general sense.
However, we are not born with the ability to produce utterances in a specific language such as English. We acquire our first language as children in a culture. The general pattern in animal communication is that creatures are born with a set of specific signals that are produced instinctively.
There is some evidence from studies of birds as they develop their songs that instinct has to combine with learning or exposure in order for the right song to be produced.
If those birds spend their first seven weeks without hearing other birds, they will instinctively produce songs or calls, but those songs will be abnormal in some way. Cultural transmission of a specific lan- guage is crucial in the human acquisition process. Animals and human language 15 Duality Human language is organized at two levels or layers simultaneously. In speech production, we have a physical level at which we can produce individual sounds, like n, b and i.
As individual sounds, none of these discrete forms has any intrinsic meaning. In a particular combination such as bin, we have another level producing a meaning that is different from the meaning of the combination in nib. So, at one level, we have distinct sounds, and, at another level, we have distinct meanings. This duality of levels is, in fact, one of the most economical features of human language because, with a limited set of discrete sounds, we are capable of producing a very large number of sound combinations e.
Among other creatures, each communicative signal appears to be a single fixed form that cannot be broken down into separate parts. If the dog was operating with the double level i. Talking to animals If these properties of human language make it such a unique communication system, quite different from the communication systems of other creatures, then it would seem extremely unlikely that other creatures would be able to understand it.
Some humans, however, do not behave as if this is the case. There is, after all, a lot of spoken language directed by humans to animals, apparently under the impression that the animal follows what is being said. Riders can say Whoa to horses and they stop or so it seems , we can say Heel to dogs and they will follow at heel well, sometimes , and a variety of circus animals go Up, Down and Roll over in response to spoken commands.
Should we treat these examples as evidence that non-humans can understand human language? Probably not. If it seems difficult to conceive of animals understanding human language, then it appears to be even less likely that an animal would be capable of producing human language.
After all, we do not generally observe animals of one species learning to produce the signals of another species. And, in some homes, a new baby and a puppy may arrive at the same time. Baby and puppy grow up in the same environment, hearing mostly the same things, but about two years later, the baby is making lots of human speech sounds and the puppy is not. But perhaps a puppy is a poor example. Chimpanzees and language The idea of raising a chimp and a child together may seem like a nightmare, but this is basically what was done in an early attempt to teach a chimpanzee to use human language.
In the s, two scientists Luella and Winthrop Kellogg reported on their experience of raising an infant chimpanzee together with their baby son. In the s, a chimpanzee named Viki was reared by another scientist couple Catherine and Keith Hayes in their own home, exactly as if she was a human child.
Viki eventually managed to produce some words, rather poorly articulated versions of mama, papa and cup. In retrospect, this was a remarkable achievement since it has become clear that non-human primates do not actually have a physically structured vocal tract which is suitable for articulating the sounds used in speech. Washoe Recognizing that a chimpanzee was a poor candidate for spoken language learning, another scientist couple Beatrix and Allen Gardner set out to teach a female chim- panzee called Washoe to use a version of American Sign Language.
As described later in Chapter 15, this sign language has all the essential properties of human language and is learned by many congenitally deaf children as their natural first language. From the beginning, the Gardners and their research assistants raised Washoe like a human child in a comfortable domestic environment. In a period of three and a half years, Washoe came to use signs for more than a hundred words, ranging from airplane, baby and banana through to window, woman and you.
Some of the forms appear to have been inventions by Washoe, as in her novel sign for bib and in the combination water bird referring to a swan , which would seem to indicate that her communication system had the potential for productivity.
Washoe also demonstrated understanding of a much larger number of signs than she produced and was capable of holding rudimentary conversations, mainly in the form of question—answer sequences. A similar ability with sign language was reported by Francine Patterson working with a gorilla named Koko not long after. Sarah and Lana At the same time as Washoe was learning sign language, another chimpanzee was being taught by Ann and David Premack to use a set of plastic shapes for the purpose of communicating with humans.
The basic approach was quite different from that of the Gardners. Sarah was systematically trained to associate these shapes with objects or actions. She remained an animal in a cage, being trained with food rewards to manipulate a set of symbols. Once she had learned to use a large number of these plastic shapes, Sarah was capable of getting an apple by selecting the correct plastic shape a blue triangle from a large array. Notice that this symbol is arbitrary since it would be hard to argue for any natural connection between an apple and a blue plastic triangle.
Sarah was also capable of producing Figure 2. Sarah got the chocolate. A similar training technique with another artificial language was used by Duane Rumbaugh to train a chimpanzee called Lana. The language she learned was called Yerkish and consisted of a set of symbols on a large keyboard linked to a computer.
When Lana wanted some water, she had to press four symbols, in the correct sequence, to produce the message please machine give water. Figure 2. There is, however, a lot of skepticism regarding these apparent linguistic skills. This is only one of the many arguments that have been presented against the idea that the use of signs and symbols by these chimpan- zees is similar to the use of language.
They also emphasize a major difference between the experiences of Washoe and Nim. While Nim was kept in a windowless cell as a research animal and had to deal with a lot of different research assistants who were often not fluent in American Sign Language, Washoe lived in a domestic environment with a lot of opportunity for imaginative play and interaction with fluent signers who were also using sign language with each other.
They also report that another group of younger chimpanzees not only learned sign language, but also occasionally used signs with each other and with Washoe, even when there were no humans present.
Kanzi In a more recent set of studies, an interesting development relevant to this controversy came about almost by accident. Although Matata did not do very well, her son Kanzi spontaneously started using the symbol system with great ease. He had learned not by being taught, but by being exposed to, and observing, a kind of language in use at a very early age.
Kanzi eventually developed a large symbol vocabulary over forms. By the age of eight, he was reported to be able, through the association of symbols with spoken words, to demonstrate understanding of spoken English at a level comparable to a two-and-a-half-year-old human child. He had also become capable of using his symbol system to ask to watch his favorite movies, Quest for Fire about primitive humans and Greystoke about the Tarzan legend.
Using language Important lessons have been learned from attempts to teach chimpanzees how to use forms of language. We have answered some questions. Were Washoe and Kanzi capable of taking part in interaction with humans by using a symbol system chosen by humans and not chimpanzees? In a very broad sense, language does serve as a type of communication system that can be observed in a variety of different situations.
In another situation, we observe very similar behavior from chimpanzees and bonobos when they are interacting with humans they know. It is in this more fundamental or abstract sense that we say that language is uniquely human.
In the following chapters, we will begin to look in detail at the many elements that make up this uniquely human phenomenon. Animals and human language 21 Study questions 1 Why is reflexivity considered to be a special property of human language? B We recognized a distinction early in the chapter between communicative and informative signals. D What was the significance of the name given to the chimpanzee in the research conducted by the psychologist Herbert Terrace?
E We reviewed studies involving chimpanzees and bonobos learning to communicate with humans. Can only African apes accomplish this task? Are there any studies involving the Asian great ape, the orangutan, learning how to use a human communication system? F Consider these statements about the symbol-using abilities of chimpanzees in animal language studies and decide if they are correct or not.
What evidence can be used to argue for or against the accuracy of these statements? II The most persistent criticism of the chimpanzee language-learning projects is that the chimpanzees are simply making responses like trained animals for rewards and are consequently not using language to express anything.
Read over the following reports and try to decide how the different behaviors of these chimpanzees Dar, Washoe and Moja should be characterized. Signs are represented by words in capital letters. I was hoping for Washoe to potty herself and did not comply. Greg was hooting and making other sounds, to prevent Dar from falling asleep.
This went on. Finally I woofed and Moja leapt on me and hugged me. Moja stares longingly at Dairy Queen as we drive by. For background reading, see Rimpau et al. Gardner and T. Wang ed. The Emergence of Language 16—27 W. Freeman Lana Rumbaugh, D. Lewin Kanzi: Archibald, M. Aronoff and J. Gardner and B.
Gardner, B. Others may stumble but not you On hiccough, thorough, lough and through. Well done! And now you wish, perhaps, To learn of less familiar traps?
Beware of heard, a dreadful word, That looks like beard and sounds like bird. And dead: Watch out for meat and great and threat They rhyme with suite and straight and debt.
You see the sign and you decide to ask what kind of new thing this is. When you hear the pronunciation, you recognize the word usually written as chef. How did he arrive at that other spelling? Take the first sound of the word sure, the middle sound of the word dead, and the final sound of the word laugh. If we cannot use the letters of the alphabet in a consistent way to represent the sounds we make, how do we go about describing the sounds of a language like English?
One solution is to produce a separate alphabet with symbols that represent sounds. Such a set of symbols does exist and is called the phonetic alphabet. In this chapter, we will look at how these symbols are used to represent both the consonant and vowel sounds of English words and what physical aspects of the human vocal tract are involved in the produc- tion of those sounds. Phonetics The general study of the characteristics of speech sounds is called phonetics. Our main interest will be in articulatory phonetics, which is the study of how speech sounds are made, or articulated.
Other areas of study are acoustic phonetics, which deals with the physical properties of speech as sound waves in the air, and auditory phonetics or perceptual phonetics which deals with the perception, via the ear, of speech sounds. Voiced and voiceless sounds In articulatory phonetics, we investigate how speech sounds are produced using the fairly complex oral equipment we have.
We start with the air pushed out by the lungs up through the trachea or windpipe to the larynx. Inside the larynx are your vocal folds or vocal cords , which take two basic positions. Sounds produced in this way are described as voiceless. Sounds produced in this way are described as voiced. Because these are voiced sounds, you should be able to feel some vibration.
Because these are voiceless sounds, there should be no vibration. Z-Z-Z-Z to hear and feel some vibration, whereas no vibration will be heard or felt if you make voiceless sounds e.
S-S-S-S in the same way. Most consonant sounds are produced by using the tongue and other parts of the mouth to constrict, in some way, the shape of the oral cavity through which the air is passing.
The terms used to describe many sounds are those which denote the place of articulation of the sound: What we need is a slice of head. If you crack a head right down the middle, you will be able to see which parts of the oral cavity are crucially involved in speech production. To describe the place of articulation of most consonant sounds, we can start at the front of the mouth and work back. We can also keep the voiced—voiceless distinction in mind and begin using the symbols of the phonetic alphabet for specific sounds.
These symbols will be enclosed within square brackets [ ]. The initial sounds in the words pat, bat and mat are all bilabials. They are represented by the symbols [p], which is voiceless, and [b] and [m], which are voiced. We can also describe the [w] sound found at the beginning of way, walk and world as a bilabial. Labiodentals These are sounds formed with the upper teeth and the lower lip. The initial sounds of the words fat and vat and the final sounds in the words safe and save are labiodentals.
They are represented by the symbols [f], which is voiceless, and [v], which is voiced. Notice that the final sound in the word cough, and the initial sound in photo, despite the spelling differences, are both pronounced as [f]. Dentals These sounds are formed with the tongue tip behind the upper front teeth.
The initial sound of thin and the final sound of bath are both voiceless dentals. It is also the middle consonant sound in feather and the final sound of bathe. Alveolars These are sounds formed with the front part of the tongue on the alveolar ridge, which is the rough, bony ridge immediately behind and above the upper teeth. The initial sounds in top, dip, sit, zoo and nut are all alveolars. The symbols for these sounds are easy to remember — [t], [d], [s], [z], [n].
Of these, [t] and [s] are voiceless whereas [d], [z] and [n] are voiced. It may be clear that the final sounds of the words bus and buzz have to be [s] and [z] respectively, but what about the final sound of the word raise?
Notice also that despite the different spelling of knot and not, both of these words are pronounced with [n] as the initial sound. Other alveolars are the [l] sound found at the beginning of words such as lap and lit, and the [r] sound at the beginning of right and write.
Palatals If you feel back behind the alveolar ridge, you should find a hard part in the roof of your mouth. This is called the hard palate or just the palate. Sounds produced with the tongue and the palate are called palatals or alveo-palatals. Examples of palatals are the initial sounds in the words shout and child, which are both voiceless.
One other voiced palatal is the [j] sound used at the beginning of words like you and yet. Velars Even further back in the roof of the mouth, beyond the hard palate, you will find a soft area, which is called the soft palate, or the velum.
Sounds produced with the back of the tongue against the velum are called velars. There is a voiceless velar sound, represented by the symbol [k], which occurs not only in kid and kill, but is also the initial sound in car and cold. Despite the variety in spelling, this [k] sound is both the initial and final sound in the words cook, kick and coke.
This is also the final sound in words like bag, mug and, despite the spelling, plague. It occurs twice in the form ringing. It is the sound [h] which occurs at the beginning of have and house and, for most speakers, as the first sound in who and whose. This sound is usually described as a voiceless glottal. When the glottis is open, as in the production of other voiceless sounds, and there is no manipu- lation of the air passing out of the mouth, the sound produced is that represented by [h].
Charting consonant sounds Having described in some detail the place of articulation of English consonant sounds, we can summarize the basic information in the accompanying chart.
Also included in this chart, on the left-hand side, is a set of terms used to describe manner of articulation which we will discuss in the following section. It contains the majority of consonant sounds used in the basic description of English pronunciation.
There are, however, several differences between this basic set of symbols and the much more comprehensive chart produced by the International Phonetic Association IPA.
The most obvious difference is in the range of sounds covered. We would go to an IPA chart for a description of the sounds of all languages. Uvular sounds also occur in many native languages of North and South America.
Other non- English sounds such as pharyngeals produced in the pharynx occur in languages such as Arabic. There are many other consonant sounds in the languages of the world. There can be a lot of variation among speakers in the pronunciation of the initial sound in raw and red, the medial sound in very, and the final sound in hour and air.
Different symbols e. Finally, in some phonetic descriptions, there are different symbols for a few of the sounds represented here. For a fuller discussion of the use of these symbols, see Ladefoged Manner of articulation So far, we have concentrated on describing consonant sounds in terms of where they are articulated. We can also describe the same sounds in terms of how they are articulated.
Such a description is necessary if we want to be able to differentiate between some sounds which, in the preceding discussion, we have placed in the same category. For example, we can say that [t] and [s] are both voiceless alveolar sounds. How do they differ? They differ in their manner of articulation, that is, in the way they are pronounced.
The [t] sound is one of a set of sounds called stops and the [s] sound is one of a set called fricatives. A full description of the [t] sound at the beginning of a word like ten is as a voiceless alveolar stop. In some discussions, only the manner of articulation is mentioned, as when it is said that the word bed, for example, begins and ends with voiced stops.
As the air is pushed through, a type of friction is produced and the resulting sounds are called fricatives. If you put your open hand in front of your mouth when making these sounds, [f] and [s] in particular, you should be able to feel the stream of air being pushed out.
The sound [h], as in Hi or Hello, is voiceless and also usually included in the set of fricatives. These are called affricates and occur at the beginning of the words cheap and jeep. Nasals Most sounds are produced orally, with the velum raised, preventing airflow from entering the nasal cavity. These three sounds are all voiced. The words morning, knitting and name begin and end with nasals.
Liquids The initial sounds in led and red are described as liquids. They are both voiced. The [l] sound is called a lateral liquid and is formed by letting the air stream flow around the sides of the tongue as the tip of the tongue makes contact with the middle of the alveolar ridge.
The [r] sound at the beginning of red is formed with the tongue tip raised and curled back near the alveolar ridge. Glides The sounds [w] and [j] are described as glides. They are both voiced and occur at the beginning of we, wet, you and yes.
Try saying the expression Oh oh!. Between the first Oh and the second oh, we typically produce a glottal stop. This sound is considered to be characteristic of Cockney London speech.
This sound is produced by the tongue tip tapping the alveolar ridge briefly. Nor do writer and rider, metal and medal. They all have flaps. The student who was told about the importance of Plato in class and wrote it in his notes as play- dough was clearly a victim of a misinterpreted flap.
This rather lengthy list of the phonetic features of English consonant sounds is not presented as a challenge to your ability to memorize a lot of terminology and symbols.
It is presented as an illustration of how a thorough description of the physical aspects of speech production will allow us to characterize the sounds of spoken English, inde- pendently of the vagaries of spelling found in written English. There are, however, some sounds that we have not yet investigated. These are the types of sounds known as vowels and diphthongs. Vowels While the consonant sounds are mostly articulated via closure or obstruction in the vocal tract, vowel sounds are produced with a relatively free flow of air.
They are all typically voiced. To describe vowel sounds, we consider the way in which the tongue influences the shape through which the airflow must pass. For the first two, your mouth will stay fairly closed, but for the last two, your tongue will move lower and cause your mouth to open wider.
The sounds of relaxation and pleasure typically contain lower vowels. The terminology for describing vowel sounds in English e. Following the chart is a list of the major vowels with examples of familiar words illustrating some of the variation in spelling that is possible for each sound. The movement in this diphthong is from low towards high front. While the vowels [e], [a] and [o] are used as single sounds in other languages, and in some other varieties of English, they are only typically used as the first sounds of diphthongs in American English.
The accompanying diagram provides a rough idea of how diphthongs are produced and is followed by a list of the sounds, with examples to illustrate some of the variation in the spelling of these sounds. Also, some of the sound distinc- tions shown here may not even be used regularly in your own speech.
In fact, in casual speech, we all use schwa more than any other single sound. There are many other variations in the actual physical articulation of the sounds we have considered here. The more we focus on the subtle differences in the actual articulation of each sound, the more likely we are to find ourselves describing the pronunciation of small groups or even individual speakers. Such subtle differences enable us to identify individual voices and recognize people we know as soon as they speak.
We are clearly able to disregard all the subtle individual variation in the phonetic detail of voices and recognize each underlying sound type as part of a word with a particular meaning. To make sense of how we do that, we need to look at the more general sound patterns, or the phonology, of a language.
The sounds of language 37 Study questions 1 What is the difference between acoustic phonetics and articulatory phonetics? Keeping this in mind, try to provide a basic phonetic representation of the following words. Some words will be in more than one list. So we say that [k] is a voiceless velar fricative. Write similar definitions for the initial sounds in the normal pronunciation of the following words.
Among the types of consonants already described affricates, fricatives, glides, liquids, nasals, stops , which are obstruents, which are sonorants, and why? E i How would you make a retroflex sound? F What is forensic phonetics? In front of a mirror or enlist a cooperative friend to be the speaker , say the following pairs of words.
What clues are you using to help you make your decision? II English has a number of expressions such as chit-chat and flip-flop which never seem to occur in the reverse order i. Perhaps you can add examples to the following list of similar expressions. Further reading Basic treatments Ladefoged, P. Roach, J. Hartman and J.
Live inne contri nire foresta. No mugheggia. Uanna dei pappa, mamma, e beibi go bice, orie e furghetta locche di dorra. Bai ene bai commese Goldilocchese. Sci garra natingha tu du batte meiche troble. Sci puscia olle fudde daon di maute; no live cromma. Den sci gos appesterrese enne slipse in olle beddse.
Bob Belviso, quoted in Espy In the preceding chapter, we investigated the physical production of speech sounds in terms of the articulatory mechanisms of the human vocal tract. That investigation was possible because of some rather amazing facts about the nature of language. Yet those two physically different individuals would inevitably have physically different vocal tracts, in terms of size and shape. In a sense, every individual has a physically different vocal tract.
Consequently, in purely physical terms, every individual will pronounce sounds differently. There are, then, potentially millions of physically different ways of saying the simple word me.
Obvious differences occur when that individual is shouting, is suffering from a bad cold or is asking for a sixth martini. Given this vast range of potential differences in the actual physical production of a speech sound, how do we manage consistently to recognize all those versions of me as the form [mi], and not [ni] or [si] or [ma] or [mo] or something else entirely?
The answer to that question is provided to a large extent by the study of phonology.
Phonology Phonology is essentially the description of the systems and patterns of speech sounds in a language. It is, in effect, based on a theory of what every speaker of a language unconsciously knows about the sound patterns of that language.
Because of this theoretical status, phonology is concerned with the abstract or mental aspect of the sounds in language rather than with the actual physical articulation of speech sounds.
See the end of the chapter for a translation. Phonology is about the underlying design, the blueprint of each sound type, which serves as the constant basis of all the variations in different physical articulations of that sound type in different contexts.
In actual speech, these [t] sounds are all very different. However, all these articulation differences in [t] sounds are less important to us than the distinction between the [t] sounds in general and the [k] sounds, or the [f] sounds, or the [b] sounds, because there are meaningful consequences related to the use of one rather than the others.
These sounds must be distinct meaningful sounds, regardless of which individual vocal tract is being used to pronounce them, because they are what make the words tar, car, far and bar meaningfully distinct. Considered from this point of view, we can see that phonology is concerned with the abstract set of sounds in a language that allows us to distinguish meaning in the actual physical sounds we say and hear.
Phonemes Each one of these meaning-distinguishing sounds in a language is described as a phoneme. When we learn to use alphabetic writing, we are actually using the concept of the phoneme as the single stable sound type which is represented by a single written symbol.
An essential property of a phoneme is that it functions contrastively. This contrastive property is the basic operational test for determining the phonemes that exist in a language.
If we substitute one sound for another in a word and there is a change of meaning, then the two sounds represent different phonemes. The basic phonemes of English are listed with the consonant, vowel and diphthong diagrams in Chapter 3. Because these two sounds share some features i.
The prediction would be that sounds which have features in common would behave phonologically in some similar ways. A sound which does not share those features would be expected to behave differently. If so, then we will be on our way to producing a phonological account of permissible sound sequences in the language. We can describe those different versions as phones. Phones are phonetic units and appear in square brackets. For example, the [t] sound in the word tar is normally pronounced with a stronger puff of air than is present in the [t] sound in the word star.
If you put the back of your hand in front of your mouth as you say tar, then star, you should be able to feel some physical evidence of aspiration the puff of air accompanying the [t] sound at the beginning of tar but not in star. In the last chapter, we noted that the [t] sound between vowels in a word like writer often becomes a flap, which we can represent as [D].
The crucial distinction between phonemes and allophones is that substituting one phoneme for another will result in a word with a different meaning as well as a different pronunciation , but substituting allophones only results in a different and perhaps unusual pronunciation of the same word.
In the second word, the effect of the nasal consonant [n] makes the [i] sound nasalized. It is possible, of course, for two languages to have the same pair of phonetic seg- ments, but to treat them differently. In English, the effect of nasalization on a vowel is treated as allophonic variation because the nasalized version is not meaningfully contrastive.
Clearly, in these cases, the distinction is phonemic. Minimal pairs and sets Phonemic distinctions in a language can be tested via pairs and sets of words. When two words such as pat and bat are identical in form except for a contrast in one phoneme, occurring in the same position, the two words are described as a minimal pair.
More accurately, they would be classified as a minimal pair in the phonology of English. Other examples of English minimal pairs are fan—van, bet—bat, site—side. Such pairs have traditionally been used in the teaching and testing of English as a second or foreign language to help students develop the ability to understand the contrast in meaning based on the minimal sound contrast.
When a group of words can be differentiated, each one from the others, by changing one phoneme always in the same position in the word , then we have a minimal set. The sound patterns of language 45 For example, one minimal set based on the vowel phonemes of English could include feat, fit, fat, fate, fought, foot, and another minimal set based on consonant phonemes could have big, pig, rig, fig, dig, wig.
Phonotactics This type of exercise involving minimal sets also allows us to see that there are definite patterns in the types of sound combinations permitted in a language. In English, the minimal set we have just listed does not include forms such as lig or vig. According to the dictionary, these are not English words, but they could be viewed as possible English words. That is, our phonological knowledge of the pattern of sounds in English words would allow us to treat these forms as acceptable if, at some future time, they came into use.
They might, for example, begin as invented abbreviations I think Bubba is one very ignorant guy. They have been formed without obeying some constraints on the sequence or position of English phonemes. Such constraints are called the phono- tactics i. Because these constraints operate on a unit that is larger than the single segment or phoneme, we have to move on to a consideration of the basic structure of that larger phonological unit called the syllable.
Syllables A syllable must contain a vowel or vowel-like sound, including diphthongs. The most common type of syllable in language also has a consonant C before the vowel V and is typically represented as CV. Technically, the basic elements of the syllable are the onset one or more consonants followed by the rhyme. The rhyme sometimes syllable onset rhyme nucleus coda consonant s vowel consonant s Figure 4.
Syllables like me, to or no have an onset and a nucleus, but no coda. They are known as open syllables. When a coda is present, as in the syllables up, cup, at or hat, they are called closed syllables. Consonant clusters Both the onset and the coda can consist of more than one consonant, also known as a consonant cluster. There are many CC onset combinations permitted in English phonotactics, as in black, bread, trick, twin, flat and throw. English can actually have larger onset clusters, as in the words stress and splat, consisting of three initial consonants CCC.
The phonotactics of these larger onset consonant clusters is not too difficult to describe. You can check if this description is adequate for the combinations in splash, spring, strong, scream and square. Does the description also cover the second syllable in the pronunciation of exclaim? Remember that it is the onset of the syllable that is being described, not the beginning of the word.
It is quite unusual for languages to have consonant clusters of this type.
Indeed, the syllable structure of many languages e. Japanese is predominantly CV. It is also noticeable in English that large consonant clusters may be reduced in casual conversa- tional speech, particularly if they occur in the middle of a word.
This is just one example of a process that is usually discussed in terms of coarticulation effects. Coarticulation effects In much of the preceding discussion, we have been describing speech sounds in syllables and words as if they are always pronounced carefully and deliberately, almost in slow motion. Mostly our talk is fast and spontaneous, and it requires our articulators to move from one sound to the next without stopping.
The process of making one sound almost at the same time as the next sound is called coarticulation. There are two well-known coarticulation effects, described as assimilation and elision. Vowels are also subject to assimilation. It is so regular, in fact, that a phonological rule can be stated in the following way: In many words spoken carefully, the vowel receives stress, but in the course of ordinary everyday talk, that vowel may no longer receive any stress and naturally reduce to schwa.
Elision In the last example, illustrating the normal pronunciation of you and me, the [d] sound of the word and was not included in the transcription. This process of not pro- nouncing a sound segment that might be present in the deliberately careful pronunci- ation of a word in isolation is described as elision. In fact, consistently avoiding the regular patterns of assimilation and elision used in a lan- guage would result in extremely artificial-sounding talk.
The point of investigating these phonological processes is not to arrive at a set of rules about how a language should be pronounced, but to try to come to an understanding of the regularities and patterns which underlie the actual use of sounds in language. The sound patterns of language 49 Study questions 1 What is the difference between a phoneme and an allophone? B In the phonology of Hawaiian there are only open syllables.
Also, based on this slender evidence, which two English consonants are probably not phonemes in Hawaiian? C The word central has a consonant cluster -ntr- in the middle and two syllables. D Individual sounds are described as segments. What are suprasegmentals? E The English words lesson and little are typically pronounced with syllabic consonants.
F A general distinction can be made among languages depending on their basic rhythm, whether they have syllable-timing or stress-timing. How are these two types of rhythm distinguished and which type characterizes the pronunciation of English, French and Spanish? How would you describe the special phonological processes involved in the pronunciation of the negative versions of the following words? II The use of plural -s in English has three different, but very regular, phonological alternatives.
For background reading, see chapter 2 pages 55—56 of Jeffries, Bob Belviso translated One attempt to interpret those very unusual spellings might be as follows: Once upon a time was three bears; mama bear, papa bear, and baby bear.
Live in the country near the forest. No mortgage. One day papa, mama, and baby go beach, only they forget to lock the door. By and by comes Goldilocks. She got nothing to do but make trouble. She push all the food down the mouth; no leave a crumb. Then she goes upstairs and sleeps in all the beds. Further reading Basic treatments Davenport, M. Hewlett Coarticulation: By the mid eighteenth century Dutch words flooded into American English: Murray Spangler invented a device which he called an electric suction sweeper.
This device eventually became very popular and could have been known as a spangler. People could have been spanglering their floors or they might even have spanglered their rugs and curtains. The use could have extended to a type of person who droned on and on and really sucked , described as spanglerish, or to a whole style of behavior called spanglerism. However, none of that happened.
Word formation 53 Instead, Mr. Spangler sold his new invention to a local businessman called William H. The point of this small tale is that, although we had never heard of Mr. Spangler before, we really had no difficulty coping with the new words: That is, we can very quickly understand a new word in our language a neologism and accept the use of different forms of that new word.
This ability must derive in part from the fact that there is a lot of regularity in the word-formation processes in a language. In this chapter, we will explore some of the basic processes by which new words are created.
When we look closely at the etymol- ogies of less technical words, we soon discover that there are many different ways in which new words can enter the language.
We should keep in mind that these processes have been at work in the language for some time and a lot of words in daily use today were, at one time, considered barbaric misuses of the language. Yet many new words can cause similar outcries as they come into use today. Rather than act as if the language is being debased, we might prefer to view the constant evolution of new words and new uses of old words as a reassuring sign of vitality and creativeness in the way a language is shaped by the needs of its users.
Coinage One of the least common processes of word formation in English is coinage, that is, the invention of totally new terms. The most typical sources are invented trade names for commercial products that become general terms usually without capital letters for any version of that product. It may be that there is an obscure technical origin e.
The most salient contemporary example of coinage is the word google. New words based on the name of a person or a place are called eponyms. When we talked about a hoover or even a spangler , we were using an eponym.
Other common eponyms are sandwich from the eighteenth-century Earl of Sandwich who first insisted on having his bread and meat together while gambling and jeans from the Italian city of Genoa where the type of cloth was first made. Some eponyms are technical terms, based on the names of those who first discovered or invented things, such as fahrenheit from the German, Gabriel Fahrenheit , volt from the Italian, Alessandro Volta and watt from the Scottish inventor, James Watt. Borrowing As Bill Bryson observed in the quotation presented earlier, one of the most common sources of new words in English is the process simply labeled borrowing, that is, the taking over of words from other languages.
Throughout its history, the English language has adopted a vast number of words from other languages, including croissant French , dope Dutch , lilac Persian , piano Italian , pretzel German , sofa Arabic , tattoo Tahitian , tycoon Japanese , yogurt Turkish and zebra Bantu. In some cases, the borrowed words may be used with quite different meanings, as in the contemporary German use of the English words partner and look in the phrase im Partnerlook to describe two people who are together and are wearing similar clothing.
There is no equivalent use of this expression in English. The English expression moment of truth is believed to be a calque from the Spanish phrase el momento de la verdad, though not restricted to the original use as the final thrust of the sword to end a bullfight.
Compounding In some of the examples we have just considered, there is a joining of two separate words to produce a single form. Thus, Lehn and Wort are combined to produce Lehnwort in German. This combining process, technically known as compounding, is very common in languages such as German and English, but much less common in languages such as French and Spanish. Common English compounds are bookcase, doorknob, fingerprint, sunburn, textbook, wallpaper, wastebasket and waterbed.
All these examples are nouns, but we can also create compound adjectives good-looking, low-paid and compounds of adjective fast plus noun food as in a fast-food restau- rant or a full-time job. Blending The combination of two separate forms to produce a single new term is also present in the process called blending. However, blending is typically accomplished by taking only the beginning of one word and joining it to the end of the other word.
There is also the word fax, but that is not a blend. Clipping The element of reduction that is noticeable in blending is even more apparent in the process described as clipping. This occurs when a word of more than one syllable facsimile is reduced to a shorter form fax , usually beginning in casual speech.
The term gasoline is still used, but most people talk about gas, using the clipped form. Other common examples are ad advertisement , bra brassiere , cab cabriolet , condo condominium , fan fanatic , flu influenza , perm permanent wave , phone, plane and pub public house.
There must be something about educational environments that encourages clipping because so many words get reduced, as in chem, exam, gym, lab, math, phys-ed, poly- sci, prof and typo. A particular type of reduction, favored in Australian and British English, produces forms technically known as hypocorisms.
In this process, a longer word is reduced to a single syllable, then -y or -ie is added to the end. You can probably guess what Chrissy pressies are. Backformation A very specialized type of reduction process is known as backformation. A good example of backformation is the process whereby the noun television first came into use and then the verb televise was created from it.
Other examples of words created by this process are: One very regular source of backformed verbs in English is based on the common pattern worker — work. The assumption seems to have been that if there is a noun ending in -er or something close in sound , then we can create a verb for what that noun -er does. Hence, an editor will edit, a sculptor will sculpt and burglars, peddlers and swindlers will burgle, peddle and swindle. Conversion A change in the function of a word, as for example when a noun comes to be used as a verb without any reduction , is generally known as conversion.
We bottled the home-brew last night; Have you buttered the toast? The conversion process is particularly productive in Modern English, with new uses occurring frequently.
The conversion can involve verbs becoming nouns, with guess, must and spy as the sources of a guess, a must and a spy.
Phrasal verbs to print out, to take over also become nouns a printout, a takeover. Verbs see through, stand up also become adjectives, as in see-through material or a stand-up comedian. Or adjectives, as in a dirty floor, an empty room, some crazy ideas and those nasty people, can become the verbs to dirty and to empty, or the nouns a crazy and the nasty. Some compound nouns have assumed adjectival or verbal functions, exemplified by the ball park appearing in a ball-park figure or asking someone to ball-park an estimate of the cost.
Other nouns of this type are carpool, mastermind, microwave and quarter- back, which are all regularly used as verbs. The verb to doctor often has a negative sense, not normally associated with the source noun a doctor. A similar kind of reanalysis of meaning is taking place with respect to the noun total and the verb run around, which do not have negative meanings. Acronyms Acronyms are new words formed from the initial letters of a set of other words.
Some new acronyms come into general use so quickly that many speakers do not think of their component meanings. Derivation In our list so far, we have not dealt with what is by far the most common word- formation process to be found in the production of new English words.
Some familiar examples are the elements un-, mis-, pre-, -ful, -less, -ish, -ism and -ness which appear in words like unhappy, misrepresent, prejudge, joyful, careless, boyish, terrorism and sadness.
Word formation 59 Prefixes and suffixes Looking more closely at the preceding group of words, we can see that some affixes have to be added to the beginning of the word e. These are called prefixes. These suggestions have resulted in: I hope these revisions will make the book easier to read and generally more user- friendly. To the student In The Study of Language I have tried to present a comprehensive survey of what is known about language and also of the methods used by linguists in arriving at that knowledge.
So, as you read the following chapters, take a critical view of the effectiveness of the descriptions, the analyses, and the generali- zations by measuring them against your own intuitions about how your language works. By the end of the book, you should then feel that you do know quite a lot about both the internal structure of language its form and the varied uses of language in human life its function , and also that you are ready to ask the kinds of questions that professional linguists ask when they conduct their research.
This revised edition is designed to make your learning task easier and more interesting: The online Study Guide again supports your learning with analysis, suggested answers and resources for all these tasks. The Discussion Topics and Projects found at the end of each topic provide an opportunity for you to consider some of the larger issues in the study of language, to think about some of the controversies that arise with certain topics and to try to focus your own opinions on different language- related issues.
Origins of this book This book can be traced back to introductory courses on language taught at the University of Edinburgh, the University of Minnesota and Louisiana State University, and to the suggestions and criticisms of hundreds of students who forced me to present what I had to say in a way they could understand.
An early version of the written material was developed for Independent Study students at the University of Minnesota. I am particularly indebted to Professor Hugh Buckingham, Louisiana State University, for sharing his expertise and enthusiasm over many years as a colleague and friend. For my own introductory course, I remain indebted to Willie and Annie Yule, and, for my continuing enlightenment, to Maryann Overstreet.
Preface xvii 1 The origins of language The suspicion does not appear improbable that the progenitors of man, either the males or females, or both sexes, before they had acquired the power of expressing their mutual love in articulate language, endeavoured to charm each other with musical notes and rhythm.
It remains, however, a speculation. We do know that the ability to produce sound and simple vocal patterning a hum versus a grunt, for example appears to be in an ancient part of the brain that we share with all vertebrates, including fish, frogs, birds and other mammals. We suspect that some type of spoken language must have developed between , and 50, years ago, well before written language about 5, years ago. Yet, among the traces of earlier periods of life on earth, we never find any direct evidence or artifacts relating to the speech of our distant ancestors that might tell us how language was back in the early stages.
Perhaps because of this absence of direct physical evidence, there has been no shortage of speculation about the origins of human speech. In most religions, there appears to be a divine source who provides humans with language.