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1 The origins of language
We don’t know for sure how the language originated
Jespersen speculates that it developed when people enjoyed themselves
The divine source – humans were provided with language by God
o There were experiments to prove which language could be labeled as divine
The natural-sound source – language was an imitation of natural sounds heard by early
o Bow-wow theory – language developed from onomatopoeic sounds of nature (eg.
bow-wow, cuckoo, bang, boom, splash) or natural cries of emotion (pain, anger, joy –
eg. Ah!, Hey!, Wow!, Yuck!)
o Yo-heave-ho theory – language developed from sounds of people involved in physical
effort (esp. when several people had to coordinate with each other)
The oral-gesture source – language developed as a set of oral gestures, similar to
Glossogenetics – addresses biological formation and development of human language,
describes unique human features that enable people to use and develop language (eg.
upright posture, two-legged locomotion, revised role of front limbs)
teeth – upright, even in height – helpful in making sounds such as f, v and th;
lips – more complex muscle construction than other primates; helps with p, b, w
mouth – relatively small, can opened and closed rapidly
tongue – flexible, can be used to shape various sounds
larynx – situated differently from that of monkeys, due to upright posture it was moved
o however, people can choke on pieces of food more easily than animals
pharynx – situated above the vocal cords, resonator for sounds produced via the larynx
lateralized brain – specialized functions on each of the two hemispheres
o left hemisphere – language, analytic functions, tool-using etc.
o ability to construct more complex messages
Functions of language:
interactional – humans use the language to interact with each other (socializing,
transactional – humans use the language to share knowledge, skills or information
2 The development of writing
cave drawings – ca. 20k years ago
clay tokens (drawings on pottery) – ca. 10k years ago
alphabetic script – ca 3k years ago
pictograms – pictures used to represent particular images in a consistent way;
conventional connection must exist between the symbol and its interpretation
o eg. for ‘sun’
ideograms – pictures representing abstract, derived ideas rather than literal concepts;
o eg. - pictogram for ‘sun’, ideogram for ‘heat’, ‘daytime’
o modern pictograms:
- language-independent logograms – used by Sumerians in form of cuneiform (‘wedge-shaped’) writing; the form
gives no clue to what is being referred to by the symbols
o eg. Chinese characters – represent the whole word, not the sound of spoken language;
rebus writing – symbol of one concept is used to represent the sound of the other word in
syllabic writing – symbols represent pronunciations of single syllables
o to some extent, modern Japanese has syllabary (syllabic writing system)
alphabetic writing – written symbols representing a single sound
o Arabic and Hebrew were based on it
o Cyrillic alphabet in Russia
no correspondence between the written and spoken form of language due to historical
o in 15th century, when printing was introduced, writing conventions were already
derived from Latin and French
o many early printers were Dutch and couldn’t decide about accurate English
o in 16th century many old words were brought back to their Latin origins (eg. original
iland became island)
3 The properties of language
communicative – intentional, used to communicate (express) something directly
informative – unintentional, carrying some kind of indirect information (eg sneezing =
having a cold, yawning = being bored)
animals do not communicate anything by their appearance; they send only communicative
signals using sounds
Unique properties of human language:
displacement – ability to relate to events far from here and now (past or future,
somewhere else); animals cannot refer to things not present in the immediate environment
o also, we can talk about things and places whose existence we cannot be sure of –
mythical creatures, demons, angels, Santa Claus, etc. – animals cannot relate to fiction
o however, to some degree bees possess this ability – when a worker bee finds a source
of nectar, it comes back to the hive and performs complex dance routine to
communicate to its friends the location of the nectar
arbitrariness – no natural connection between sound and its meaning; the writing form
has no iconic relationship with the real concept (seeing the word ‘dog’ we cannot
determine from its shape that it means the four-legged barking animal)
o however, some words ‘echo’ sounds of objects and activities – eg. cuckoo, crash,
splash, squelch (onomatopoeic words)
productivity (open-endedness, creativity) – one can produce unlimited number of
utterances using the limited number of elements in the language
o animals cannot produce new signals to communicate new experiences or events
o fixed reference – each animal signal relates to only one particular object or occasion
cultural transmission – we don’t inherit the language from our parents, we acquire it in
the culture of other speakers of it; language is passed from one generation to the next
o people do not have specific predispositions for speaking a particular language, such as
English or Polish
o animals learn their signals instinctively
discreteness – each sound in the language is treated as discrete, i.e. change in
pronunciation of one sound leads to a change in meaning of the word, eg pack vs back
duality – two levels of language (sound and meaning):
o distinct sounds – they carry no meaning when put individually
o distinct meanings – we can combine sounds to express different meanings (messages)
o we can produce a large number of sound combinations which are distinct (different) in
meaning using limited number of distinct sounds
Other properties (not uniquely human):
vocal-auditory channel – language is typically generated via the vocal organs and
perceived via the ears; however, we can transmit the language without sound, eg. in
writing or sign language
reciprocity – any speaker/sender of a linguistic signal can also be a listener/receiver)
specialization – linguistic signals serve only linguistic purpose, they cannot be used for
feeding or breathing
non-directionality – anyone can pick up linguistic signals, not only their original
rapid fade – linguistic signals appear and disappear quickly
4 Animals and human language
Washoe – raised like a child in domestic environment, she used signs of American Sign
Language and combined them to produce simple ‘sentences’; she understood more
symbols than she actually produced
Sarah – used plastic shapes representing words to arrange ‘sentences’
Lana – learnt Yerkish (set of symbols visible on a large computer keyboard)
Nim Chimpsky – learnt and used ASL similarly to human children, but he only produce
signs as a response, and did not develop into more complex ones
Clever Hans – horse that used hoofbeats to answer arithmetical questions and tap out the
letters of the alphabet
Buzz and Doris – two dolphins signaling themselves about the food nearby
Kanzi – learnt Yerkish only seeing his mother Matata learning it; he learnt it by being
exposed to the language
The animals could take part in interaction using sign language
The animals couldn’t use the language to the extent of human child
They usually repeated learnt phrases without developing new ones
They rarely started the conversation themselves
It was actually more like training than learning the language
5 The sounds of language
Phonetics – general study of characteristics of speech sounds:
articulatory phonetics – study about how speech is made (‘articulated’)
acoustic phonetics – deals with the physical properties of speech when sound waves ‘in
auditory (perceptual) phonetics – perception of sounds via the ear
forensic phonetics – speaker identification, analysis of recorded utterances for legal
Articulation of sounds:
voiceless – vocal cords spread apart, the air from lungs passes through them without
voiced – vocal cords drawn together, they vibrate when pushed by the flow of air
Place of articulation – where the sound is produced:
bilabials – sounds produced using both upper and lower lips: [p], [b], [m]
labiodentals – formed with upper teeth and lower lip: [f], [v]
dentals – tongue tip behind the upper front teeth: [th]
alveolars – front part of the tongue on the alveolar ridge: [t], [d], [s], [z], [n], [l]
alveo-palatals – tongue at the front of the palate near alveolar ridge: [sh], [ch], [dg]
velars – back of the tongue against the vellum: [k], [g]
glottals –without use of the tounge or any other parts: [h]
o glottis – space between the vocal cords and larynx
o open glottis – voiceless sounds
Manner of articulation – how the sounds are produced:
stops (plosives) – stopping the airstream and letting it go abruptly: [p], [b], [t], [d], [k]
fricatives – blocking the airstream and letting it go through the narrow opening (friction):
[f], [v], [th], [s], [z], [s], [ż]
affricates – stopping the airstream and obstructed release: [ch], [dg]
nasals – airstream through the nose: [m], [n], [ng]
approximants (semi-wovels, glides)- [w], [y], [l], [h]
glottal stop – closing the vocal cords and then releasing it: [?], eg. Uh-uh meaning ‘no’
flap – pronouncing eg. [t] similarly to [d] – AmE
all are voiced
produced with relatively free flow of air
they differ in way which the tongue influences the flow of air
o eg. high-front vowel – front part of the tongue in raised position
Diphthongs – begin with vowel sound and end with a glide; they change vocalic position
while being uttered: [ay], [aw]. [oy]
Diphthongization – common in Southern British, AmE
6 The sound patterns of language
Phonology – abstract study which describes the systems and patterns of speech sounds in the
language. It’s based on subconscious knowledge of every language speaker.
Phoneme – each sound which distinguishes the meaning in the language. If we replace one
sound with the other and the meaning changes, those sounds are separate phonemes.
Phones –different versions of one sound type; allophones – all phones are versions of the
same phoneme, eg. aspirated vs unaspirated sounds.
Minimal pair – two words are identical in form but differ in one phoneme in the same
position, such as pat – bat, site – side, fan - van.
Minimal set – the same as above, but there are more than two words.
Phonotactics – describes how the sounds are likely to combine with each other, deals with
the sequence or position of English phonemes.
Syllable – must contain a vowel (or vowel-like sound):
onset – one or more consonants
rime - one vowel (nucleus) plus following consonant(s) (coda)
No coda, but onset + nucleus => open syllables (me, to, no)
Coda is present => closed syllables (up, cup, at)
More than one consonant in onset or/and coda => consonant cluster (eg st in stop)
Co-articulation effects – making one sound almost at the same time as the next one in
assimilation – some aspect of one phoneme is copied by the other (eg. nasalizing [n] in I
elision – omitting the sound segment that would be present in the pronunciation of the
word in isolation (eg. [himesbi] for he must be)
7 Words and word-formation processes
Neologism – new word in the language which can be quickly understood.
coinage – invention of totally new items, eg. trade names for one company’s product
which become general terms (without initial capital letter):
o aspirin, xerox, Teflon
borrowing – taking over the words from other languages:
o alcohol (Arabic), piano (Italian), robot (Czech), zebra (Bantu)
loan-translation, calque – direct translation of the elements of words into borrowing
o teenager = nastolatek
compounding – joining two separate words into a single form:
o bookcase, sunburn, wallpaper, textbook
blending – joining the beginning of one word and the ending of another to create new
o smog (smoke + fog), brunch (breakfast + lunch), Chunnel (Channel + tunnel)
clipping – reducing certain elements of the word (abbreviating)
o gasoline => gas, cabriolet => cab, fanatic => fan
backformation – reducing one word (noun) to create other form (verb):
o television => to televise, option => to opt, donation => to donate
hypocorisms (AmE) – reducing word into one syllable and adding -y or –ie
o Aussie (Australian), bookie (bookmaker), hankie (handkerchief)
conversion – change in the function of a word, when a noun comes to be used as a verb
without any reduction
o paper – to paper the bedroom walls, butter – to butter the bread
o to guess – a guess, to must – a must, to spy – a spy
o to see through – see-through material, dirty – to dirty sth
acronyms – words from intial letters of a set of other words:
o laser, scuba, radar, snafu (situation normal, all fouled up)
derivation – adding a affixes to the words:
o prefixes - at the beginning of the word (un-, dis-)
o suffixes – at the end of the word (-ish, -ful)
o infixes – not present in English – adding affix inside the word (unfuckingbelievable!
Young Urban Professional + -ie => yuppie (acronym + hypocorism)
analogy – words are formed in a similar way to the existing ones (eg. yuppie from hippe)
Morphology – the study of forms in language (morphemes).
Morpheme – the smallest unit of meaning that the word can be divided into.
Stem – the basic word-form involved in the use of bound morpheme.
free – can stand by themselves as single words
o lexical – carry the content of messages we convey (boy, man, house, tiger etc.)
o functional – closed class of words that have some function (articles, pronouns,
conjunctions, prepositions – and, but, when, on, in)
bound – cannot stand alone, they are attached to another form
o derivational – make new words of a different grammatical category from the stem
(can change grammatical category of the word)
good (adjective) + -ness => goodness (noun)
teach (verb) + -er => teacher (noun)
o inflectional – do not make new words, but indicate grammatical function of a word
(never changes grammatical category of the word)
indicate whether the word is singular or plural, past tense or not, comparative or
Noun + -‘s, -s
Verb + -s, -ing, -ed, -en
Adjective + -est, -er
Morphs – forms to realize morphemes.
Allomorphs – different versions of the same morpheme.
9 Phrases and sentences: grammar
Mental grammar – subconscious internal linguistic knowledge which helps to produce and
recognize appropriately structured expressions.
Linguistic etiquette – knowledge which structures are ‘proper’ or ‘best’ to be used in the
The parts of speech:
nouns – refer to people, objects, things, creatures, abstract ideas
adjectives – provide more information about the things referred to (happy people)
verbs – refer to various kinds of actions and states (run, jump, be, seem) involving the
things in events
adverbs – provide more information about the actions and events
prepositions – provide information about time, place etc. (at, in, on, near)
pronouns – replace nouns, refer to things already known (this, it,he, she)
conjunctions – connect and indicate relationships between things and events (although)
Traditional grammar – derived from Classical Latin and Greek. Those languages were the
languages of scholarship, religion, philosophy and ‘knowledge’.
agreement – whether the parts of speech ‘agree’ with each other
number – whether the noun is singular or plural
person – distinctions of first (speaker), second (hearer) and third person (any others)
tense – distinctions of relation to the time
voice – active or passive
o natural gender – from biological distinction between male and female
o grammatical gender – in terms of grammatical form
The prescriptive approach – setting out rules for ‘proper’ use of language, eg.:
Never split an infinitive. (!To boldly go… - Captain Kirk’s infinitive)
Never end a sentence with a preposition.
The descriptive approach – analyzing how the language is actually used, not how it should
Structural analysis – investigates distribution of forms in a language, using ‘test-frames’ –
blank spaces for specific category:
The ______________ makes a lot of noise.
Immediate constituent analysis – shows how small components (constituents) go together to
form larger constituents.
Syntax (‘setting out together’, ‘arrangement’)– structure and ordering of component within a
Generative grammar (by Chomsky)– explicit system of formalized rules from mathematical
view of language; using finite set of rules to generate infinite number of sentences.
Properties of grammar:
it will use finite set of rules to generate an infinite number of well-formed structures
recursion – it can be used more than once in generating a structure
deep and surface structure:
o surface – syntactic form of English sentence
o deep – abstract level of organization, involving structural interpretation
structural ambiguity – the sentence has two deep structures (Anne whacked a man with
Semantics – study of the meaning of words, phrases and sentences, which emphasize
objective, general and conventional meaning conveyed by the words and sentences.
Meaning of the word:
conceptual – basic, literal components of meaning (needle = thin, sharp, steel instrument)
associative – connotations of the word (needle = pain)
The hamburger ate the man.
NP V NP
agent – performs the action
theme – involved or affected by the action
instrument – is used in performing the action
experiencer – has a feeling, perception or state
location – where the action takes place
source – where the entity moves
goal – where the entity reaches to
Mary saw a moskito on the wall EXPERIENCER THEME LOCATION
She borrowed a magazine from George AGENT THEME SOURCE and she hit the bug with the magazine. AGENT THEME INSTRUMENT
She handed the magazine back to George. AGENT THEME GOAL
”Gee thanks”, said George. AGENT
Lexical relations – are analyzed in semantic description of languages:
synonymy – closely related meanings (not always the same; may differ in terms of
o almost – nearly, cab – taxi, liberty – freedom, answer – reply
antonymy – words with opposite meanings:
o gradable antonyms – can be used in comparative constructions; negative of one word
doesn’t have to imply the other (big – small => bigger than)
o non-gradable antonyms (complementary pairs) – no comparative constructions;
negative of one form implies the other (dead – alive)
o reversives – one word doesn’t mean negative of the other (tie – untie != not tie) but
rather the reverse of it
hyponymy – meaning of one form is included in another:
o dog – animal, carrot-vegetable,
prototypes – one word is considered the best exemplar of its category:
o bird – sparrow or pigeon
o furniture – bench or stool
homophony – two different written forms have the same pronunciation (homophones):
o bare – bear, meat – meet, sew - so
homonymy – one form has more than one unrelated (separate) meaning:
o bank (of a river) – bank (institution), hands (watch) – hands (human body)
polysemy – one form having many related meanings:
o head – on the top of body; on the top of company;
metonymy – based on a close everyday connection:
o container-contents: bottle – coke, can – juice
o whole-part: car – wheels, house - roof
collocation – which words frequently go together:
o butter – bread, salt - pepper
Pragmatics – the study of ‘intended speaker meaning’ of the words.
linguistic (co-text) – words used in the same phrase or sentence, which has strong impact
on the meaning of the word
physical – the time and space in which we encounter linguistic expressions
Deictic expressions – can be understood only in their physical context:
person deixis: me, you, him, them
place deixis: here, there
time deixis:now, then, last week
Reference – act by which the speaker (or writer) uses language to enable a listener (or reader)
to identify something (Can I look at your Chomsky?).
Inference – additional information used by the listener to connect what is said to what must
be meant (I enjoy listening to Mozart).
Antecedent and anaphora:
Can I borrow your book?
Yeah, it’s on the table.
Book – antecedent (mentioned for the first time)
It – anaphoric expression (reference to already introduced entity)
Presupposition - knowledge which the speaker assumes to be true or known by the hearer.
Your brother is there. (=You have a brother)
Constancy under negation:
My car is (not) a wreck = I have a car.
Speech acts – actions such as:
direct speech act - eg. question Did he..?, Are they…? used to ask the question (get the
indirect speech act – using a form, which performs different action than it would suggest:
o You left the door open. = Close the door.
Politeness – showing awareness of another person’s face (public self-image).
face-threatening act – eg. direct orders to show the social power over somebody (Give
me that salt!)
face-saving act – lessens possible threat to someone else’s face, eg. indirect speech acts
(Could you give me that salt, please?)
negative – the need to be independent and free from imposition
positive – the need to be connected, to belong, to be a member of the group
13 Discourse analysis
Discourse analysis – understanding what speakers mean despite what they say, taking part in
a course of conversation.
As a language users, we are capable of recognizing correct vs incorrect form and structure, we
can also make sense of ungrammatical texts.
Cohesion – the ties and connection within the text, that make it logical.
Coherence – arriving at interpretation, making sense of what one reads or hears.
Conversation – activity where speakers take turns at speaking. When the speaker indicates
that he has finished, he signals a completion point (asks the question, pauses, facial
Co-operative principle – our contribution to conversation must be appropriate.
Quantity: make your contribution as informative as required, not more, not less
Quality: do not say for what you lack evidence or that is untrue, do not gossip
Relation: be relevant to the topic
Manner: be clear, brief and orderly:
o avoid obscurity (Eschew obfuscation);
o avoid ambiguity
o be brief;
o be organized;
schema – conventional knowledge structure which exists in memory
script – dynamic schema consisting of a series of conventional actions (going to the
14 Language and machines
Speech synthesis – attempt to create speech electronically (the result is synthetic speech)
Navigators – computer programs that follow simple spoken commands.
Dictation systems – create written text from speech.
Artificial intelligence – making machines do things requiring intelligence if done by men.
Parsers – work from left to right along an incoming English sentence, create an analysis and
predict what elements will come next.
ELIZA – simulator of psychotherapist in form of computer terminal
SHRDLU – follows commands to move objects around in its world; it’s able to ask for
clarification if unsure;
PRAGMA – system recognizing the user’s plans and providing additional information
15 Language and the brain
Parts of the brain:
Broca’s area (anterior speech cortex) – involved in the production of speech
Wernicke’s area (posterior speech cortex) – involved in the understanding of speech
The motor cortex – controls movement of the articulatory muscles (face, jaw, tongue,
The arcuate fasciculus – links Broca’s and Wernicke’s areas
Word is heard via Wernicke’s area => signal goes through the arcuate fasciculus to Broca’s
area, which prepares an answer => signal to motor cortex in order to articulate the word.
Tongue tips and slips – when brain and speech production fail to work together smoothly:
tip of the tongue – one knows the word but cannot get it into the surface; mainly in case
of uncommon terms of names
malapropisms – mistakes in uttering the words (eg. sextet instead of sextant)
slip of the tongue – distracting the expressions (eg. long shory stort)
Spoonerisms – word reversals, eg. use the door to open the key
slips of the ear – misunderstandings (great ape instead of grey tape)
Disorders in brain function:
Aphasia – poor language function due to brain damage, which makes understanding
and/or producing linguistic forms difficult.
Broca’s aphasia (motor aphasia) – reduced amount of speech, effortful and distorted
articulation, omission of functional morphemes.
Wernicke’s aphasia (sensory aphasia) – fluent speech, but difficult to make sense of.
Anomia – difficulty in finding correct words.
Conduction aphasia – damage to the arcuate fasciculus; disrupted rhythm of speech due
to pauses and hesitations
Dichotic listening test – experiment, which proves that language functions are located in left
hemisphere. Subject sits with earphones on and gets two different sound signals through each
right ear advantage – when the testee identifies correctly the sounds from right ear. The
signal goes to the right hemisphere earlier than this from left ear and is processed as first.
The right hemisphere - non-verbal sounds.
The left hemisphere – language sounds.
Critical period – the time of lateralization of the brain, which happens in early childhood.
The language acquisition then takes place. If a child doesn’t acquire language during that
period, he will find it difficult to learnt it later on.
Genie – 13-year-old, who in the 70s spend most of her life in a small closed room. She
contacted only for a few minutes with her mother while feeding. Any attempts of producing
sound were punished by her father.
She was unable to use language at first, but shortly she began to respond to the speech of
others and finally to communicate in spite of very simple syntax.
16 First language acquisition
All children, regardless of social and cultural background, have predispositions to acquire
language. They acquire language roughly at the same time along much the same schedule.
interaction with other language users
physical capabilities for producing language (hearing it at first)
Caretaker speech – simplified speech style adopted by people, who spend a lot of time
interacting with young children (frequent questions, exaggerated intonation, baby-talk).
‘cooing’ – 3-10 months – first sounds, with velar consonants such as [k] and [g] and high
vowels such as [i] and [u]
‘babbling’ – 6 months – production of different vowels and consonants and their
combinations; the children use them to express emotions and emphasis
one-word (single-unit, single-form, holophrastic) stage – 12-18 months – children use
single words which function as phrases and sentences (juice = Give me some juice or
There is a juice on the table)
two-word stage – 18-20 months – children combine about 50 different words (the number
of them increases) to convey messages, such as mommy eat, baby chair
telegraphic speech – 2-3 years – producing multiple word utterances consisting mainly of
lexical morphemes (Andrew want ball, cat drink milk). Vocabulary expands to hundreds
of words and pronunciation becomes closer to that of adult.
The acquisition process – children pick up the phrases and sentences and try them out,
imitating and subconsciously learning the adult language
About 3 years of age – children pick up some grammatical forms and tend to overgeneralize
– apply the single grammatical rule to all cases, without any exceptions (She goed)
Children understand what the adults are saying, but develop their own ways of expressing it.
Stage 1 – adding wh- form to the beginning of the expression:
o Where kitty? Where horse go? Sit chair?
Stage 2 – more complex expressions, more wh- forms:
o What book name? Why you smiling? See my doggie?
Stage 3 – inversion of subject and verb:
o Can I have a piece? Will you help me? but sometimes Why kitty can’t stand up?
Stage 1 – adding no or not on the beginning of any expression:
o No mitten, not a teddy bear, no sit there
Stage 2 – additional forms are used – don’t, can’t
o He no bite you, you can’t dance, I don’t know
Stage 3 – disappearance of stage 1 forms, other auxiliaries are used:
o I didn’t caught it, She won’t let go, He not taking it
It is not always possible to determine precisely the meanings which children attach to the
words they use. Sometimes children use overextension of meaning of the words on the basis
of the shape, sound, size, movements.
17 Second language acquisition/learning
Acquisition – development of language by using it naturally in communicate situations.
Children and people who spent a lot of time abroad acquire language.
Learning – conscious process of accumulating knowledge of the language. Maths is learnt.
Optimum age – 10 to 16 years old – for learning a second language.
Affective filter – acquisition barrier that results from negative feelings or experiences:
lack of empathy with other culture (eg. hatred)
unpleasant classroom surroundings
Children are less limited by affective filter, adults can overcome it too.
Methods of teaching:
grammar-translation method – long lists of words and grammar rules to be memorized,
focus on written form; traditional approach to Latin
audiolingual method – emphasizing the spoken language, drills, developing ‘habits’
communicative approaches – focus on functions of language rather than form
(grammar), organizing lessons around certain topics
error – indicates the process of acquisition taking place rather than failure; it is a clue to
the progress made by a student
creative construction – generating structures based on overgeneralization
positive transfer of L1 knowledge – beneficial if L1 and L2 have similar features
negative transfer (interference) – not effective for L2 communication if L1 features
differ from those of L2
Interlanguage –system used in L2 acquisition consisting of aspects of L1 and L2 but having
rules of its own.
Fossilisation – when learners develop features which do not match L2.
those who experience some success are more motivated to learn
learner who is willing to guess and take a risk is likely to be more successful
Input – language the learner is exposed to. It has to be comprehensible (foreigner talk –
simplified version of language).
Negotiated input – requesting clarification and active attention on what is said.
Output – language produced by the learner in meaningful interaction. Crucial point of task-
based learning and developing communicative competence.
Communicative competence – ability to use L2 accurately, appropriately and flexibly:
grammatical competence – knowledge of accurate words and structures
sociolinguistic competence – knowing which words to use in a particular social context
strategic competence – ability to organize the message effectively and overcome
difficulties with conveying the meaning (using communicative strategy)
Applied linguistics – analyzing L2 learning from sociological, psychological, communicative
and educative point of view.
18 Sign language
Alternate sign language – older concept of sign language as a limited set of gestures used
instead of real language; a system of gestures developed by speakers for limited
communication in specific context where speech can't be used (i.e. some religions,
Primary sign language – the first language of a group that doesn't have access to a
spoken language (e.g. ASL);
Oralism – a teaching method for deaf people required that students practised English
speech sounds and developed lip reading skill (this method wasn't successful);
ASL – American Sign Language (Ameslan) – kind of underground language used in
only deaf-deaf interaction; developed from French sign language used in Paris school in
XVIII century and then was brought to the USA;
o ASL as linguistic system – every feature found in spoken languages has a
counterpart in ASL; equivalent levels of phonology, morphology and syntax; natural
language (different dialects in different regions and historical changes); writing in
ASL in difficult, but possible;
Signed English (Manually Coded English) – producing signs correspondingly to the
words in English sentence, in English word order;
o major aim: to prepare students to be able to read and write English and enable the
deaf take part in hearing world;
o designed to make the interaction between the deaf and the hearing community
o production of a sentence takes twice as long as in English or ASL;
The structure of signs – linguistic forms of ASL involve 4 key aspects of visual
information = articulatory parameters of ASL (primes):
o shape – configuration of hands used in forming the sign;
o orientation – describes the fact that hand is palm up, e.g. not down;
o location – where we place hand first;
o movement – what kind of movement;
In addition to this, there are some non-manual components like: head-movement, eye-
movement, facial expression, fingerspelling (system of hand configurations used to
represent the letters of the alphabet);
19 Language history and change
Comparative reconstruction – reconstructing what must have been the original form in the
common ancestral language:
majority principle – the majority of words retained the original sound and the minority
changed a little through time
development principle – certain types of sound-change are very common, others very
Old English – 5th century AD
spoke by tribes from northern Europe who invaded British Isles (Angles, Saxons, Jutes)
o many basic terms derived from it: man, woman, child, house
Middle English – 11th century
after arrival of Norman French in England and their victory at Hastings under William the
Conqueror in 1066
o terms like army, court, defense, prison, tax
Metathesis – reversal in position of two corresponding sounds (frist>first, hros>horse).
Epenthesis – addition of sound to the middle of a word (aemtig>empty, spinel>spindle)
Prothesis – addition of sound at the beginning of a word
broadening of meaning (holyday – religious feast, now general break from work)
narrowing (hound – once used for any kind of dog, now only for specific breeds)
Variation of language can be perceived diachronically (from historical perspective) as well
as synchronically (in terms of differences among different groups at the same time)
20 Language varieties
Standard English – used in newspapers, books and mass-media.
Accent – a manner of pronouncing the language. Everybody speaks with an accent of one
form or another.
Dialect – also involves the differences in writing.
Isogloss – boundary between the areas with one particular linguistic item.
NORMS – non-mobile, older, rural, male speakers.
Bilingualism – knowing two distinct languages.
Pidgin – variety of language developed for specific purposes, such as trading.
Creole – Pidgin, which evolved into first language of communication.
Basilect – basic variety of language.
Acrolect – variety closer to the external model.
Mesolect – slightly different variety.
The range of varieties – post-Creole continuum.
21 Language, society and culture
Sociolinguistics – deals with inter-relationships between language and society. It is connected
to anthropology (investigating the language and culture), sociology (language in social
groups), psychology (expressing attitudes and perceptions)
Social dialects – varieties of language used by groups according to class, education, age, sex
Age and gender:
grandparents do not use the same words as their grandchildren
female speakers ten to use more prestigious forms than males from the same social
women discuss their personal feelings more than men
men prefer to talk about non-personal topics such as sport and news
men respond to problems by giving advice on solution, women respond by mentioning
personal experiences connected with the problem
eliminating gender bias in general terms: spokesperson instead of spokesman
BEV (Black English Vernacular) – widespread dialect of many African-Americans
o absence of copula: You crazy!
o double negative constructions: I can’t get no sleep.
Idiolect – personal dialect of each individual speaker of a language.
Jargon – technical vocabulary connected with a special activity of group.
Diglossia – situation in which two very different varieties of language co-exist in a speech
Linguistic determinism – theory of language which states that “language determines
thought”. We can think only in the categories which our language allows us to think in.
The Sapir-Whorf hypothesis – people of different languages perceive the world differently
from each other.
Language universals – common properties of all languages.