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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Linguistics Subdivision

Morphology is the identification, analysis and description of structure of words (words as units in the lexicon are the subject matter of lexicology). While words are generally accepted as being (with clitics) the smallest units of syntax, it is clear that in most (if not all) languages, words can be related to other words by rules. For example, English speakers recognize that the words dog, dogs, and dog catcher are closely related. English speakers recognize these relations from their tacit knowledge of the rules of word formation in English. They infer intuitively that dog is to dogs as cat is to cats; similarly, dog is to dog catcher as dish is to dishwasher. The rules understood by the speaker reflect specific patterns (or regularities) in the way words are formed from smaller units and how those smaller units interact in speech. In this way, morphology is the branch of linguistics that studies patterns of word formation within and across languages, and attempts to formulate rules that model the knowledge of the speakers of those languages.

Phonology (from the Greek: φωνή, phōnē, "voice, sound" and λόγος, lógos, "word, speech, subject of discussion") is the systematic use of sound to encode meaning in any spoken human language, or the field of linguistics studying this use. Just as a language has syntax and vocabulary, it also has a phonology in the sense of a sound system. When describing the formal area of study, the term typically describes linguistic analysis either beneath the word (e.g., syllable, onset and rime, phoneme, articulatory gesture, articulatory feature, mora, etc.) or to units at all levels of language that are thought to structure sound for conveying linguistic meaning. It is viewed as the subfield of linguistics that deals with the sound systems of languages. Whereas phonetics is about the physical production, acoustic transmission and perception of the sounds of speech, phonology describes the way sounds function within a given language or across languages to encode meaning. The term 'phonology' was used in the linguistics of a greater part of the 20th century as a cover term uniting phonemics and phonetics. Current phonology can interface with disciplines such as psycholinguistics and speech perception, resulting in specific areas like articulatory or laboratory phonology.

In linguistics, syntax (from Ancient Greek συν- syn-, "together", and τάξις táxis, "arrangement") is the study of the principles and rules for constructing sentences in natural languages. In addition to referring to the discipline, the term syntax is also used to refer directly to the rules and principles that govern the sentence structure of any individual language, as in "the syntax of Modern Irish". Modern research in syntax attempts to describe languages in terms of such rules. Many professionals in this discipline attempt to find general rules that apply to all natural languages. The term syntax is also sometimes used to refer to the rules governing the behavior of mathematical systems, such as logic, artificial formal languages, and computer programming languages.

In linguistics, lexis (from the Greek: λέξις "word") describes the storage of language in our mental lexicon as prefabricated patterns (lexical units) that can be recalled and sorted into meaningful speech and writing. Recent research in corpus linguistics suggests that the long-held dichotomy between grammar and vocabulary does not exist.[citation needed] Lexis as a concept differs from the traditional paradigm of grammar in that it defines probable language use, not possible language usage. This notion contrasts starkly with the Chomskian proposition of a “Universal Grammar” as the prime mover for language; grammar still plays an integral role in lexis, of course, but it is the result of accumulated lexis, not its generator.

Semantics is the study of meaning in communication. The word is derived from the Greek word σημαντικός (semantikos), "significant",[1] from σημαίνω (semaino), "to signify, to indicate" and that from σήμα (sema), "sign, mark, token".[2] In linguistics, it is the study of interpretation of signs as used by agents or communities within particular circumstances and contexts.[3] It has related meanings in several other fields.
Semanticists differ on what constitutes meaning in an expression. For example, in the sentence, "John loves a bagel", the word bagel may refer to the object itself, which is its literal meaning or denotation, but it may also refer to many other figurative associations, such as how it meets John's hunger, etc., which may be its connotation. Traditionally, the formal semantic view restricts semantics to its literal meaning, and relegates all figurative associations to pragmatics, but many find this distinction difficult to defend.[4] The degree to which a theorist subscribes to the literal-figurative distinction decreases as one moves from the formal semantic, semiotic, pragmatic, to the cognitive semantic traditions.
The word semantic in its modern sense is considered to have first appeared in French as sémantique in Michel Bréal's 1897 book, Essai de sémantique'. In International Scientific Vocabulary semantics is also called semasiology. The discipline of Semantics is distinct from Alfred Korzybski's General Semantics, which is a system for looking at the semantic reactions of the whole human organism in its environment to some event, symbolic or otherwise.
Pragmatics is the study of how the arrangement of words and phrases can alter the meaning of a sentence. The ability to understand another speaker's intended meaning is called pragmatic competence. An utterance describing pragmatic function is described as metapragmatic. Another perspective is that pragmatics deals with the ways we reach our goal in communication. Suppose a person wanted to ask someone else to stop smoking. This could be achieved by using several utterances. The person could simply say, 'Stop smoking, please!' which is direct and with clear semantic meaning; alternatively, the person could say, 'Whew, this room could use an air purifier' which implies a similar meaning but is indirect and therefore requires pragmatic inference to derive the intended meaning.
Pragmatics is regarded as one of the most challenging aspects for language learners to grasp, and can only truly be learned with experience. Pragmatics deals with the structural ambiguity in a sentence.
Systemic functional grammar (SFG) or systemic functional linguistics (SFL) is a model of grammar that was developed by Michael Halliday in the 1960s.[1] It is part of a broad social semiotic approach to language called systemic linguistics. The term "systemic" refers to the view of language as "a network of systems, or interrelated sets of options for making meaning";[2] The term "functional" indicates that the approach is concerned with meaning, as opposed to formal grammar, which focuses on word classes such as nouns and verbs, typically without reference beyond the individual clause.
Systemic functional grammar is concerned primarily with the choices that the grammar makes available to speakers and writers.[1] These choices relate speakers' and writers' intentions to the concrete forms of a language. Traditionally the "choices" are viewed in terms of either the content or the structure of the language used. In SFG, language is analyzed in three different ways, or strata: semantics, phonology, and lexicogrammar.[3] SFG presents a view of language in terms of both structure (grammar) and words (lexis). The term "lexicogrammar" describes this combined approach.
Sociolinguistics is the study of the effect of any and all aspects of society, including cultural norms, expectations, and context, on the way language is used. Sociolinguistics overlaps to a considerable degree with pragmatics.
It also studies how lects differ between groups separated by certain social variables, e.g., ethnicity, religion, status, gender, level of education, age, etc., and how creation and adherence to these rules is used to categorize individuals in social class or socio-economic classes. As the usage of a language varies from place to place (dialect), language usage varies among social classes, and it is these sociolects that sociolinguistics studies.
The social aspects of language were in the modern sense first studied by Indian and Japanese linguists in the 1930s, and also by Gauchat in Switzerland in the early 1900s, but none received much attention in the West until much later. The study of the social motivation of language change, on the other hand, has its foundation in the wave model of the late 19th century. Sociolinguistics in the west first appeared in the 1960s and was pioneered by linguists such as William Labov in the US and Basil Bernstein in the UK.
Corpus linguistics is the study of language as expressed in samples (corpora) or "real world" text. This method represents a digestive approach to deriving a set of abstract rules by which a natural language is governed or else relates to another language. Originally done by hand, corpora are largely derived by an automated process, which is corrected.
The corpus approach runs counter to Noam Chomsky's view that real language is riddled with performance-related errors, thus requiring careful analysis of small speech samples obtained in a highly controlled laboratory setting.
The problem of laboratory-selected sentences is similar to that facing lab-based psychology: researchers do not have any measure of the ethnographic representativity of their data.
Corpus linguistics does away with Chomsky's competence/performance split; adherents believe that reliable language analysis best occurs on field-collected samples, in natural contexts and with minimal experimental interference. Within CL there are divergent views as to the value of corpus annotation, from John Sinclair[1] advocating minimal annotation and allowing texts to 'speak for themselves', to others, such as the Survey of English Usage team[2] advocating annotation as a path to greater linguistic understanding and rigour.
Psycholinguistics or psychology of language is the study of the psychological and neurobiological factors that enable humans to acquire, use, and understand language. Initial forays into psycholinguistics were largely philosophical ventures, due mainly to a lack of cohesive data on how the human brain functioned. Modern research makes use of biology, neuroscience, cognitive science, and information theory to study how the brain processes language. There are a number of subdisciplines; for example, as non-invasive techniques for studying the neurological workings of the brain become more and more widespread, neurolinguistics has become a field in its own right.
Psycholinguistics covers the cognitive processes that make it possible to generate a grammatical and meaningful sentence out of vocabulary and grammatical structures, as well as the processes that make it possible to understand utterances, words, text, etc. Developmental psycholinguistics studies children's ability to learn language.
Linguistic anthropology is that branch of anthropology that brings linguistic methods to bear on anthropological problems, linking the analysis of semiotic and particularly linguistic forms and processes to the interpretation of sociocultural processes.
In linguistics and cognitive science, cognitive linguistics (CL) refers to the school of linguistics that understands language creation, learning, and usage as best explained by reference to human cognition in general. It is characterized by adherence to three central positions. First, it denies that there is an autonomous linguistic faculty in the mind; second, it understands grammar in terms of conceptualization; and third, it claims that knowledge of language arises out of language use. [1]
Cognitive linguists deny that the mind has any module for language-acquisition that is unique and autonomous. This stands in contrast to the work done in the field of generative grammar. Although cognitive linguists do not necessarily deny that part of the human linguistic ability is innate, they deny that it is separate from the rest of cognition. Thus, they argue that knowledge of linguistic phenomena — i.e., phonemes, morphemes, and syntax — is essentially conceptual in nature. Moreover, they argue that the storage and retrieval of linguistic data is not significantly different from the storage and retrieval of other knowledge, and use of language in understanding employs similar cognitive abilities as used in other non-linguistic tasks.
Departing from the tradition of truth-conditional semantics, cognitive linguists view meaning in terms of conceptualization. Instead of viewing meaning in terms of models of the world, they view it in terms of mental spaces.
Finally, cognitive linguistics argues that language is both embodied and situated in a specific environment. This can be considered a moderate offshoot of the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, in that language and cognition mutually influence one another, and are both embedded in the experiences and environments of its users.
Computational linguistics is an interdisciplinary field dealing with the statistical and/or rule-based modeling of natural language from a computational perspective. This modeling is not limited to any particular field of linguistics. Traditionally, computational linguistics was usually performed by computer scientists who had specialized in the application of computers to the processing of a natural language. Computational linguists often work as members of interdisciplinary teams, including linguists (specifically trained in linguistics), language experts (persons with some level of ability in the languages relevant to a given project), and computer scientists. In general, computational linguistics draws upon the involvement of linguists, computer scientists, experts in artificial intelligence, mathematicians, logicians, cognitive scientists, cognitive psychologists, psycholinguists, anthropologists and neuroscientists, amongst others.

Stylistics is the study of varieties of language whose properties position that language in context. For example, the language of advertising, politics, religion, individual authors, etc., or the language of a period in time, all are used distinctively and belong in a particular situation. In other words, they all have ‘place’ or are said to use a particular 'style'.
Stylistics also attempts to establish principles capable of explaining the particular choices made by individuals and social groups in their use of language, such as socialisation, the production and reception of meaning, critical discourse analysis and literary criticism.
Other features of stylistics include the use of dialogue, including regional accents and people’s dialects, descriptive language, the use of grammar, such as the active voice or passive voice, the distribution of sentence lengths, the use of particular language registers, etc.
Many linguists do not like the term ‘stylistics’. The word ‘style’, itself, has several connotations that make it difficult for the term to be defined accurately. However, in Linguistic Criticism, Roger Fowler makes the point that, in non-theoretical usage, the word stylistics makes sense and is useful in referring to an enormous range of literary contexts, such as John Milton’s ‘grand style’, the ‘prose style’ of Henry James, the ‘epic’ and ‘ballad style’ of classical Greek literature, etc. (Fowler. 1996, 185). In addition, stylistics is a distinctive term that may be used to determine the connections between the form and effects within a particular variety of language. Therefore, stylistics looks at what is ‘going on’ within the language; what the linguistic associations are that the style of language reveals.


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