Invitations to Linguistics
Ferdinand de Saussure (1857-1913) (Father of Modern Linguistics
About this course
1. Who this course is for
2. What this course is about
3. Duration of this course
4. How to study this course
5. How to do well in assessment
6. Suggested further reading
1. Who this course is for
(1) This course is intended for English majors, generally for 3rd year college students (undergraduates), or at any level of proficiency from intermediate upwards, who need to know the fundamentals of linguistics.
(2) Please note that a fairly good knowledge of linguistics is required in any postgraduate entrance exam, so we strongly advise prospective MA students to spend adequate time on this course. (3) If you choose linguistics as your future research interest and you plan to do more advanced work in this academic field, it is the right time for you to know the ABC of general linguistics. 2. What this course is about
Chapter 1 Invitations to Linguistics
Chapter 2 Speech Sounds (phonology)
Chapter 3 Lexicon (morphology)
Chapter 4 Syntax
Chapter 5 Meaning (semantics)
Chapter 6 Language in Use (pragmatics)
Chapter 7 Language, Culture, and Society
Chapter 8 Theories and Schools of Modern
3. Duration of this course
2 teaching hours per week for 17 weeks in one semester to cover 8 chapters. 4.How to study this course
(1) You are kindly required to attend every class and you need to take notes carefully and quickly if you can.
(2) It is advisable to understand linguistic theories, ideas or notions through examples instead of memorizing word by word without comprehension.
(3) Please review regularly what you have learned after class, and do additional exercises to strengthen the knowledge in your mind.
5. How to do well in assessment
(1) Required attendance and good performance in class account for about 40% of your total score. Please note that there are also some occasional in-class quizzes.
Any one who skips one third of the class in the spring semester will be suspended in the final exam. Poor attendance will lead to the poor outcome of the finals.
(2) The test paper which accounts for 60% is mainly based on what you have learned in class. 6. Suggested further reading
1) H. G. Widdowson: 《语言学》.
(2) Stuart C. Poole:《语言学入门》.
(3) Victoria Fromkin.《语言导论》.
(4) Grover Hudson: 《语言学入门纲要》.
(5) 戴炜栋 何兆熊；《新编简明英语语言学
What is linguistics，
; Linguistics is generally a scientific study of language. It is a major branch of social
; Linguistics studies not just one language of any society, but the language of all human
society, language in general. 语言学是对语言进行科学地研究的学科。它所研究的并
What makes linguistics a science，
; Lingusitics investigates not any particular language, but language in general. Linguistic
study is scientific because it is based on the systematic investigation of authentic
language data. No serious linguistic conclusion is reached until after the linguist has done
the following three things: observing the way language is actually used, formulating some
hypotheses, and testing these hypotheses against linguistic facts to prove their validity. What makes linguistics a science
; A scientific study is one which is based on the systematic investigation of data, conducted
with reference to some general theory of language structure.
; observation------generalization------hypothesis------teste by further observation------theory
Main branches of linguistics
; Phonetics the production of speech, 语音学
; Phonology studies the rules governig the structure ,the sequencing of speech
sounds and the shape of syllables. 音系学
; Morphology the internal organization of words, the minimal units of meaning
– morphemes and word-formation process. 形态学
; Syntax principles of forming and undrstanding correct English sentences
; Semantics How meaning is encoded in a language语义学
; Pragmatics the study of meaning in context.语用学
; Psycholinguistics the interrelation of language and mind in processing and
producing utterances and in language acquisition 心理语言学
; Sociolinguistics the social function of language and the social characteristics of
its users. 社会语言学
; Anthropological linguistics the history and structure of unwritten languages
; Computational linguistics the use of computer to process or produce human
Important Distinctions in Linguistics
Descriptive and prescriptive
Synchronic and diachronic
Langue and parole
Competence and performance
Descriptive vs. prescriptive
; They represent two different types of linguistic study.
; If a linguistic study aims to describe and analyze the language people actually use, it is
said to be descriptive;
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
People don't say X. / Don't say X.
Synchronic vs. diachronic
; The description of a language at some point of time in history is a synchronic study;
; the description of language as it changes through time is a diachronic study. A diachronic
study is a historical study; it studies the historical development of language over a period
langue & parole
; The distinction was made by the Swiss linguist Saussure in the early 20th century.
; Langue refers to the abstract linguistic system shared by all the members of a speech
community, and parole refers to the realization of language in actual use, or the actual or
actualized language. 语言是一个语言社会的所有成员共同使用的抽象语言系统。言
; convention?actual use
abstract ? concete
stable ? variable
Competence and performance
; The distinction is discussed by the American linguist N. Chomsky in the late 1950’s.
; competence(语言能力): a language user’s underlying knowledge about the system of
performance(语言应用): the actual use of language in concrete situations.
Saussure； sociological view
underlying linguistic system? convention ，规约！
underlying linguistic system? a property of the mind of each individual What makes traditional grammar different from moden linguistics?
; Modern linguistics started with the publication of F. de Saussure’ s book “Course in
General Linguistics” in the early 20th century. So Saussure is often described as “father
of modern linguistics”.
; The general approach traditionally formed to the study of language before that is roughly
referred to as “traditional grammar.” They differ in several ways:
What makes traditional grammar different from modern linguistics?
; Firstly, linguistics is descriptive while traditional grammar is prescriptive. A linguist
is interested in what is said, not in what he thinks ought to be said. He describes language
in all its aspects, but does not prescribe rules of “correctness”.
; Secondly, modern linguistics regards the spoken language as primary, not the
written. Traditional grammarians, on the other hand, tend to emphasize, may be
over-emphasize, the importance of the written word, partly because of its permanence.
; Then, modern linguistics differs from traditional grammar also in that it doesnot
force languages into a Latin-based framework. To modern linguists, it is unthinkable to
judge one language by standards of another. They are trying to set up a universal
framework, but that would be based on the features shared by most of the languages used
What is language，
; definition of language
Language is human speech; the ability to communicate by this means; a system of vocal sounds and combinations of such sounds to which meaning is attributed, used for the expression or communication of thoughts and feelings; the written representation.
Language is a system of arbitrary vocal symbols used for human communication.
; Language is a system.
; Elements of language are combined according to rules.
; "[iblk]" "Been he wounded has"
; Language is arbitrary,
; There is no intrinsic connection between symbol and what the symbol stands for.
; (1) different languages have different words for the same object.
; (2) this also explains the symbolic nature of language: words are just symbols; they are
associated with objects, actions, ideas,etc. by convention --- " a rose by any other name
would smell as sweet."
Language is Primarily Vocal
All languages use sounds. Writing is based on speaking, to capture sounds and meanings on paper.
The primary medium of language is sound.
1. Children learn to speak before they learn to read and write.
2. Children automatically learn a language as they grow up.18 months -12 yrs : sufficient exposure to writing: not natural, needs teachers
3. The spoken form came earlier than written form in history.
4. writing is based on speech.
5. Spoken language is used more often than writing.
Implied Meaning :
1. Writing extends language beyond the limitations of time and space.
2. Written language is more polished than speech, e.g. classical Latin & language used in Roman Empire.
Language is Human Specific
Human language is different from animal communications in the following aspects.
1. the ability to refer to things far removed in time and space
= displacement of lge
2. the ability to produce and understand an indefinite number of novel sentences.=creativity of lge
3. learning - a more important factor in human language than in animal communication.
4. Language is complex in its structure.
5. Animal communication system is closed, whereas human lge is open.
6. Humans can perform acts with lge.= performative function of lge
; Design features refer to the defining properties of human language that distinguish it from
any animal system of communication.
; arbitrariness ，任意性！
There is no logical connection between meanings and sounds. We can't explain why a book is called a [buk].
Arbitrariness is a matter of degree。
; (1) onomatopoeic words/coumpound words
; (2) arbitrariness at the syntactic level
By syntax we refer to the ways that sentences are constructed according to the grammar of arrangement. As we know, the order of elements in a sentence follows certain rules, and there is a certain degree of correspondence between the sequence of clauses and the real happenings. Syntax is less arbitrary than words, especially in so far as this kind of order is concerned.
(a) He came in and sat down.
(b) He sat down and came in.
; (3) arbitrariness and convention
; what is the link between a linguistic sign and its meaning? It is a matter of convention.
We have to look at the other side of the coin of arbitrariness, namely, conventionality.
; productivity ，创造性！
It refers to the feature one can produce and understand an infinitely large number sentences, including sentences they have never heard before. Productivity is contributed to the duality and recursiveness of langauge.
e.g He bought a book which was written by a teacher who taught in a school which was known for its graduates who...
; duality (双重性！
langauge is a system, which consists of two sets of structures, or two levels. at the lower or the basic level there is a structure of sounds, which are meaningless by themselves. but the sounds of language can be grouped and regrouped into a large number units of meaning, which are found at the higher level of the system.
Two basic systems: a system of sounds ; a system of meanings. It's called the duality of language. e.g.[b],[e],and [d] (secondary level) are meaningless by themselves, put together [bed]( primary level) is meaningful.
A small number of sounds are repeated ---finite
The combinations of sounds to form units of meanings ---infinite
; displacement (移位性！
Language can be used to refer to things which are present or not present, real or imagined matters
in the past, present, or future, or in far-away places. In other words, langauge can be used to refer
to contexts removed from the immediate situations of the speaker. The feature of displacement
enables people to abstract or generalize their ideas.
; cultural transmission (文化传递性！
Language is not biologically transmitted from generation to generation. The details of the linguistic system must be learned by each speaker.
Functions of language
Three main functions:
; descriptive function---is assumed to be the primary function of language; is used to
convey factual information;
; expressive function---supplies information about the user's feelings, preferences,
prejudices, and values;
; social function---serves to establish and maintain social relations between people. Jakobson---functions of language
; Jakobson defined the six primary factors of any speech event, namely: addresser,
addressee, context, message, contact, code. In conjunction with these, Jakobson
established a well-known framework of language functions based on the six key elements
of communication, namely, emotive, conative, referential, poetic，phatic communion,
addresser message addressee
emotive 情感功能 poetic 诗学功能 conative意动功能
(e.g. intonation showing anger) (e.g. poetry) (e.g. imperatives)
交感功能 phatic communion
(e.g. Hello, do you hear me?)
; British linguist M.A.K. Halliday---three macrofunctions:
; ideational function概念功能---constructs a model of experience and logical relations;
; interpersonal function 人际功能---enacts social relationships;
; textual function 语篇功能---creates relevance to context.
Informative function (信息功能！
For most people the informative function is predominantly the major role of language. Language is the instrument of thought and people often feel need to speak their thoughts aloud, for instance, when they are working on a math problem. The use of language to record the facts is a prerequisite of social development.
Halliday notes that "language serves for the expression of content; that is, of the speaker's experience of the real world, including the inner world of his own consciousness... In serving the function, language also gives structure to experience, and helps to determine our way of looking at things.
; By far the most important sociological use of language is the interpersonal function, by
which people establish and maintain their status in a society. In the framework of
functional grammar, this function is concerned with interaction between the addresser and
addressee in the discourse situation and the addresser's attitude toward what he speaks or
writes about. For example, the ways in which people address others and refer to
themselves ( e.g. Dear Sir, Dear Professor, your obedient servant) indicate the various
grades of interpersonal relations.
; The performative function of language is primarily to change the social status of persons,
as in marriage ceremonies, the sentencing of criminals, the blessing of children, the
naming of a ship at a launching ceremony, and the cursing of enemies. The kind of
language employed in performative verbal acts is ususally quite formal and even
; The emotive function of language is one of the most powerful uses of language because it
is so crucial in changing the emotional status of an audience for or against someone or
something. It is a means of getting rid of our nervous energy when we are under stress,
e.g. swear words, involuntary verabal reactions to beautiful art or scenery, e.g. God,
Damn it, Wow....
; The emotive function can often be entirely personal and totally without any implication of
communication to others. For example, exclamations are usually uttered without any
purpose of communicating to others, but as essentially a verbal response to a person's
; Mrs. P sneezes violently.
; Mrs. Q: Bless you.
; Mrs. P: Thank you.
We all use such small, seemingly meaningless expressions to maintain a comfortable relationship between people without involving any factual content. Ritual exchanges about health or weather such as Good morning, God bless you often state the obvious. And different cultures
have different topics of phatic communion. This function refers to expression that help define and maintain interpersonal relations, such as slangs, jokes, jargons, switches to social and regional dialects. We have to learn a large repertoire of such usages if we are to interact comfortably with different people.
; No one will deny the use of language for the sheer joy of using it, such as a baby's
babbling or a chanter's chanting. In some areas of China, there is widespread use of verbal
dueling, in which one singer begins a song of ususally few lines and challenges his
opponent to continue the content or provide a rejoinder in a similar rhythm and rhyme
scheme. Such verbal duels may last for a few hours and is performed for the sheer joy of
playing on language.
; Our language can be used to talk about itself.
; This makes the language infinitely self-reflexive: We human beings can talk about talk
and think about thinking, and thus only humans can ask what it means to communicate, to
think, to be human.
The functions of language
; Informative function (信息功能！ record the facts, speakers experience
determine our ways of looking at things, which is regarded as the most important
function of langauge.
; Interpersonal function ，人际功能！ is the most important sociological use of
language by which people establish and maintain their status in a society.
; Performative function ，施为功能！ is primarily to change the social status of
persons, as in marriage ceremonies. The language used is quite formal and even
ritualized. speech act theory , naming of a ship
; Emotive function ，感情功能！ changes the emotional status of an
audience for or against someone or something. "nervous "
; Phatic communion ，寒暄功能！ enables people to maintain a comfortable
relationship whithout involving any factual content. ritual exchanges about
health or weather e.g. nice day Good luck
; Recreational fuction ，娱乐功能！refers to the use of langauge for the sheer joy
of using it. chanting verbal duelings poetry writing
; Metalingual function ，元语言功能！talk about itself 我们可以说“说”，我