Chapter 1 Invitations to Linguistics
1.1 Why study language?
1. Language is very essential to human beings.
2. In language there are many things we should know.
3. For further understanding, we need to study language scientifically.
1.2 What is language?
Language is a means of verbal communication. It is a system of arbitrary vocal symbols used for human communication.
1.3 Design features of language
The features that define our human languages can be called design features which can distinguish human language from any animal system of communication.
Arbitrariness refers to the fact that the forms of linguistic signs bear no natural relationship to their meanings.
Duality refers to the property of having two levels of structures, such that units of the primary level are composed of elements of the secondary level and each of the two levels has its own principles of organization.
Creativity means that language is resourceful because of its duality and its recursiveness.
Recursiveness refers to the rule which can be applied repeatedly without any definite limit. The recursive nature of language provides a theoretical basis for the possibility of creating endless sentences.
Displacement means that human languages enable their users to symbolize objects, events and concepts which are not present (in time and space) at the moment of conversation.
1.4 Origin of language
1. The bow-wow theory
In primitive times people imitated the sounds of the animal calls in the wild environment they lived and speech developed from that.
2. The pooh-pooh theory
In the hard life of our primitive ancestors, they utter instinctive sounds of pains, anger and joy which gradually developed into language.
3. The “yo-he-ho” theory
As primitive people worked together, they produced some rhythmic grunts which gradually developed into chants and then into language.
1.5 Functions of language
As is proposed by Jacobson, language has six functions:
2. Poetic: to indulge in language for its own sake;
3. Emotive: to express attitudes, feelings and emotions;
4. Conative: to persuade and influence others through commands and entreaties;
5. Phatic: to establish communion with others;
6. Metalingual: to clear up intentions, words and meanings.
Halliday (1994) proposes a theory of metafunctions of language. It means that language has three metafunctions:
1. Ideational function: to convey new information, to communicate a content that is unknown to the hearer;
2. Interpersonal function: embodying all use of language to express social and personal relationships;
3. Textual function: referring to the fact that language has mechanisms to make any stretch of spoken and written
discourse into a coherent and unified text and make a living passage different from a random list of sentences.
According to Hu Zhuanglin, language has at least seven functions:
The informative function means language is the instrument of thought and people often use it to communicate new information.
1.5.2 Interpersonal function
The interpersonal function means people can use language to establish and maintain their status in a society.
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.
1.5.4 Emotive function
The emotive function 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.
1.5.5 Phatic communion
The phatic communion means people always use some small, seemingly meaningless expressions such as Good morning, God bless you, Nice day, etc., to maintain a comfortable relationship between people without any factual content.
1.5.6 Recreational function
The recreational function means people use language for the sheer joy of using it, such as a baby’s babbling or a chanter’s chanting.
1.5.7 Metalingual function
The metalingual function means people can use language to talk about itself. E.g. I can use the word “book” to talk about a book, and I can also use the expression “the word book” to talk about the sign “b-o-o-k”
1.6 What is linguistics?
Linguistics is the scientific study of language. It studies not just one language of any one community, but the language of all human beings.
1.7 Main branches of linguistics
Phonetics is the study of speech sounds, it includes three main areas: articulatory phonetics, acoustic
Phonology studies the rules governing the structure, distribution, and sequencing of speech sounds and the shape of syllables.
Morphology studies the minimal units of meaning – morphemes and word-formation processes.
Syntax refers to the rules governing the way words are combined to form sentences in a language, or simply, the study of the formation of sentences.
Semantics examines how meaning is encoded in a language.
Pragmatics is the study of meaning in context.
Macrolinguistics is the study of language in all aspects, distinct from microlinguistics, which dealt solely with the formal aspect of language system.
Psycholinguistics investigates the interrelation of language and mind, in processing and producing utterances and in language acquisition for example.
Sociolinguistics is a term which covers a variety of different interests in language and society, including the language and the social characteristics of its users.
1.8.3 Anthropological linguistics
Anthropological linguistics studies the relationship between language and culture in a community.
1.8.4 Computational linguistics
Computational linguistics is an interdisciplinary field which centers around the use of computers to process or produce human language.
1.9 Important distinctions in linguistics
1.9.1 Descriptive vs. prescriptive
To say that linguistics is a descriptive science is to say that the linguist tries to discover and record the rules to which the members of a language-community actually conform and does not seek to impose upon them other rules, or norms, of correctness.
Prescriptive linguistics aims to lay down rules for the correct use of language and settle the disputes over usage once and for all.
For example, “Don’t say X.” is a prescriptive command; “People don’t say X.” is a descriptive statement.
The distinction lies in prescribing how things ought to be and describing how things are. In the 18th century, all the main European languages were studied prescriptively. However, modern linguistics is mostly descriptive because the nature of linguistics as a science determines its preoccupation with description instead of prescription.
1.9.2 Synchronic vs. diachronic
A synchronic study takes a fixed instant (usually at present) as its point of observation. Saussure’s
diachronic description is the study of a language through the course of its history. E.g. a study of the features
undergone since then would be a diachronic study. In modern linguistics, synchronic study seems to enjoy priority over diachronic study. The reason is that unless the various state of a language are successfully studied it would be difficult to describe the changes that have taken place in its historical development.
1.9.3 Langue & parole
Saussure distinguished the linguistic competence of the speaker and the actual phenomena or data of linguistics as langue and parole. Langue is relative stable and systematic, parole is subject to personal and situational constraints; langue is not spoken by an individual, parole is always a naturally occurring event.
What a linguist should do, according to Saussure, is to draw rules from a mass of confused facts, i.e. to discover the regularities governing all instances of parole and make them the subject of linguistics.
1.9.4 Competence and performance
According to Chomsky, a language user’s underlying knowledge about the system of rules is called the linguistic competence, and the actual use of language in concrete situations is called performance.
Competence enables a speaker to produce and understand and indefinite number of sentences and to recognize grammatical mistakes and ambiguities. A speaker’s competence is stable while his performance is often influenced by psychological and social factors. So a speaker’s performance does not always match his supposed competence. Chomsky believes that linguists ought to study competence, rather than performance.
Chomsky’s competence-performance distinction is not exactly the same as, though similar to, Saussure’s langue-parole distinction. Langue is a social product and a set of conventions of a community, while competence is deemed as a property of mind of each individual. Saussure looks at language more from a sociological or sociolinguistic point of view than Chomsky since the latter deals with his issues psychologically or psycholinguistically.
1.9.5 Etic vs. emic
Being etic means researchers’ making far too many, as well as behaviorally and inconsequential, differentiations, just as often the case with phonetics vs. phonemics analysis in linguistics proper.
An emic set of speech acts and events must be one that is validated as meaningful via final resource to the native members of a speech community rather than via appeal to the investigator’s ingenuity or intuition alone.
Following the suffix formations of (phon)etics vs (phon)emics, these terms were introduced into the social sciences by Kenneth Pike (1967) to denote the distinction between the material and functional study of language: phonetics studies the acoustically measurable and articulatorily definable immediate sound utterances, whereas phonemics analyzes the specific selection each language makes from that universal catalogue from a functional aspect.
Chapter 2 Speech Sounds
2.1 Speech production and perception
Phonetics is the study of speech sounds. It includes three main areas:
1. Articulatory phonetics – the study of the production of speech sounds
2. Acoustic phonetics – the study of the physical properties of the sounds produced in speech
3. Auditory phonetics – the study of perception of speech sounds
Most phoneticians are interested in articulatory phonetics.
2.2 Speech organs
considered as consisting of three parts: the initiator of the air stream, the producer of voice and the resonating cavities.
2.3 Segments, divergences, and phonetic transcription
2.3.1 Segments and divergences
As there are more sounds in English than its letters, each letter must represent more than one sound.
2.3.2 Phonetic transcription
International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA): the system of symbols for representing the pronunciation of words in any language according to the principles of the International Phonetic Association. The symbols consists of letters and diacritics. Some letters are taken from the Roman alphabet, some are special symbols.
2.4.1 Consonants and vowels
A consonant is produced by constricting or obstructing the vocal tract at some places to divert, impede,
or completely shut off the flow of air in the oral cavity.
A vowel is produced without obstruction so no turbulence or a total stopping of the air can be perceived.
The categories of consonant are established on the basis of several factors. The most important of these factors are:
1. the actual relationship between the articulators and thus the way in which the air passes through
certain parts of the vocal tract (manner of articulation);
2. where in the vocal tract there is approximation, narrowing, or the obstruction of the air (place of
2.4.3 Manners of articulation
1. Stop/plosive: A speech sound which is produced by stopping the air stream from the lungs and then
suddenly releasing it. In English,  are stops and
 are nasal stops.
2. Fricative: A speech sound which is produced by allowing the air stream from the lungs to escape
with friction. This is caused by bringing the two articulators, e.g. the upper teeth and the lower lip,
close together but not closes enough to stop the airstreams completely. In English,
 are fricatives.
3. (Median) approximant: An articulation in which one articulator is close to another, but without the
vocal tract being narrowed to such an extent that a turbulent airstream is produced. In English this
class of sounds includes .
4. Lateral (approximant): A speech sound which is produced by partially blocking the airstream from
the lungs, usually by the tongue, but letting it escape at one or both sides of the blockage.  is the
only lateral in English.
Other consonantal articulations include trill, tap or flap, and affricate.
2.4.4 Places of articulation
1. Bilabial: A speech sound which is made with the two lips.
2. Labiodental: A speech sound which is made with the lower lip and the upper front teeth.
3. Dental: A speech sound which is made by the tongue tip or blade and the upper front teeth.
4. Alveolar: A speech sound which is made with the tongue tip or blade and the alveolar ridge.
5. Postalveolar: A speech sound which is made with the tongue tip and the back of the alveolar ridge.
underside of the tongue tip or blade forms a stricture with the back of the alveolar ridge or the hard
7. Palatal: A speech sound which is made with the front of the tongue and the hard palate.
8. Velar: A speech sound which is made with the back of the tongue and the soft palate.
9. Uvular: A speech sound which is made with the back of the tongue and the uvula, the short
projection of the soft tissue and muscle at the posterior end of the velum.
10. Pharyngeal: A speech sound which is made with the root of the tongue and the walls of the pharynx.
11. Glottal: A speech sound which is made with the two pieces of vocal folds pushed towards each
2.4.5 The consonants of English
Received Pronunciation (RP): The type of British Standard English pronunciation which has been regarded as the prestige variety and which shows no regional variation. It has often been popularly referred to as “BBC English” or “Oxford English” because it is widely used in the private sector of the education system and spoken by most newsreaders of the BBC network.
A chart of English consonants
Place of articulation
articulation Bilabial Labio-
Palatal Velar Glottal
Fricative Approximant Lateral
In many cases there are two sounds that share the same place and manner of articulation. These pairs
of consonants are distinguished by voicing, the one appearing on the left is voiceless and the one on the right is voiced.
Therefore, the consonants of English can be described in the following way:
[p] voiceless bilabial stop
[b] voiced bilabial stop
[s] voiceless alveolar fricative
[z] voiced alveolar fricative
[m] bilabial nasal
[n] alveolar nasal
[l] alveolar lateral
[j] palatal approximant
[h] glottal fricative
[r] alveolar approximant
2.5.1 The criteria of vowel description
1. The part of the tongue that is raised – front, center, or back.
2. The extent to which the tongue rises in the direction of the palate. Normally, three or four degrees
are recognized: high, mid (often divided into mid-high and mid-low) and low.
3. The kind of opening made at the lips – various degrees of lip rounding or spreading.
4. The position of the soft palate – raised for oral vowels, and lowered for vowels which have been
2.5.2 The theory of cardinal vowels
Cardinal vowels are a set of vowel qualities arbitrarily defined, fixed and unchanging, intending to provide
a frame of reference for the description of the actual vowels of existing languages.
By convention, the eight primary cardinal vowels are numbered from one to eight as follows: CV1,
CV2, CV3, CV4, CV5, CV6, CV7, CV8.
A set of secondary cardinal vowels is obtained by reversing the lip-rounding for a give position: CV9 –
CV16. [I am sorry I cannot type out many of these. If you want to know, you may consult the textbook p. 47.
2.5.3 Vowel glides
Pure (monophthong) vowels: vowels which are produced without any noticeable change in vowel quality.
Vowel glides: Vowels where there is an audible change of quality.
Diphthong: A vowel which is usually considered as one distinctive vowel of a particular language but really involves two vowels, with one vowel gliding to the other.
2.5.4 The vowels of RP
 high front tense unrounded vowel
 high back lax rounded vowel
 central lax unrounded vowel
 low back lax rounded vowel
2.6 Coarticulation and phonetic transcription
Coarticulation: The simultaneous or overlapping articulation of two successive phonological units.
Anticipatory coarticulation: If the sound becomes more like the following sound, as in the case of lamp, it is known as anticipatory coarticulation.
Perseverative coarticulation: If the sound displays the influence of the preceding sound, as in the case of map, it is perseverative coarticulation.
Nasalization: Change or process by which vowels or consonants become nasal.
Diacritics: Any mark in writing additional to a letter or other basic elements.
2.6.2 Broad and narrow transcriptions
The use of a simple set of symbols in our transcription is called a broad transcription. The use of more specific symbols to show more phonetic detail is referred to as a narrow transcription. The former was meant to indicate only these sounds capable of distinguishing one word from another in a given language while the latter was meant to symbolize all the possible speech sounds, including even the minutest shades of pronunciation.
2.7 Phonological analysis
Phonetics is the study of speech sounds. It includes three main areas: articulatory phonetics, acoustic phonetics, and auditory phonetics. On the other hand, phonology studies the rules governing the structure, distribution, and
subjects, so sometimes it is hard to draw the boundary between them. Phonetics is the study of all possible speech sounds while phonology studies the way in which speakers of a language systematically use a selection of these sounds in order to express meaning. That is to say, phonology is concerned with the linguistic patterning of sounds in human languages, with its primary aim being to discover the principles that govern the way sounds are organized in languages, and to explain the variations that occur.
2.8 Phonemes and allophones
2.8.1 Minimal pairs
Minimal pairs are two words in a language which differ from each other by only one distinctive sound and which also differ in meaning. E.g. the English words tie and die are minimal pairs as they differ in meaning and in their initial phonemes /t/ and /d/. By identifying the minimal pairs of a language, a phonologist can find out which sound substitutions cause differences of meaning.
2.8.2 The phoneme theory
A phoneme is the smallest linguistic unit of sound that can signal a difference in meaning. Any of the
different forms of a phoneme is called its allophones. E.g. in English, when the phoneme // occurs at the
beginning of the word like peak //, it is said with a little puff of air, it is aspirated. But when // occurs
in the word like speak //, it is said without the puff of the air, it is unaspirated. Both the aspirate
[ ] in peak and the unaspirated [ =] in speak have the same phonemic function, i.e. they are both heard
and identified as // and not as //; they are both allophones of the phoneme //.
2.9 Phonological processes
Assimilation: A process by which one sound takes on some or all the characteristics of a neighboring sound.
Regressive assimilation: If a following sound is influencing a preceding sound, we call it regressive assimilation.
Progressive assimilation: If a preceding sound is influencing a following sound, we call it progressive assimilation.
Devoicing: A process by which voiced sounds become voiceless. Devoicing of voiced consonants often occurs in English when they are at the end of a word.
2.9.2 Phonological processes and phonological rules
The changes in assimilation, nasalization, dentalization, and velarization are all phonological processes in which a target or affected segment undergoes a structural change in certain environments or contexts. In each process the change is conditioned or triggered by a following sound or, in the case of progressive assimilation, a preceding sound. Consequently, we can say that any phonological process must have three aspects to it: a set of sounds to undergo the process; a set of sounds produced by the process; a set of situations in which the process applies.
We can represent the process by mans of an arrow: voiced fricative → voiceless / __________ voiceless.
This is a phonological rule. The slash (/) specifies the environment in which the change takes place. The bar (called the focus bar) indicates the position of the target segment. So the rule reads: a voiced fricative is transformed into the corresponding voiceless sound when it appears before a voiceless sound.
2.9.3 Rule ordering
2.10 Distinctive features
Distinctive feature: A particular characteristic which distinguishes one distinctive sound unit of a language from another or one group of sounds from another group.
Binary feature: A property of a phoneme or a word which can be used to describe the phoneme or word. A binary feature is either present or absent. Binary features are also used to describe the semantic properties of words.
Suprasegmental features: Suprasegmental features are those aspects of speech that involve more than single sound segments. The principal suprasegmental features are syllables, stress, tone, and intonation.
Syllable: A unit in speech which is often longer than one sound and smaller than a whole word.
Open syllable: A syllable which ends in a vowel.
Closed syllable: A syllable which ends in a consonant.
Maximal onset principle: The principle which states that when there is a choice as to where to place a consonant, it
is put into the onset rather than the coda. E.g. The correct syllabification of the word country should be //.
It shouldn’t be // or // according to this principle.
Stress refers to the degree of force used in producing a syllable. In transcription, a raised vertical line  is used just before the syllable it relates to.
Chapter 3 Lexicon
3.1 What is word?
1. What is a lexeme?
A lexeme is the smallest unit in the meaning system of a language that can be distinguished from other similar
units. It is an abstract unit. It can occur in many different forms in actual spoken or written sentences, and is regarded as the same lexeme even when inflected. E.g. the word “write” is the lexeme of “write, writes, wrote, writing and written.”
2. What is a morpheme?
A morpheme is the smallest unit of language in terms of relationship between expression and content, a unit
that cannot be divided into further smaller units without destroying or drastically altering the meaning, whether it is lexical or grammatical. E.g. the word “boxes” has two morphemes: “box” and “es,” neither of which permits further division or analysis shapes if we don’t want to sacrifice its meaning.
3. What is an allomorph?
An allomorph is the alternate shapes of the same morpheme. E.g. the variants of the plurality “-s” makes the allomorphs thereof in the following examples: map – maps, mouse – mice, ox – oxen, tooth – teeth, etc.
4. What is a word?
A word is the smallest of the linguistic units that can constitute, by itself, a complete utterance in speech or
3.1.1 Three senses of “word”
1. A physically definable unit
2. The common factor underlying a set of forms
3. A grammatical unit
3.1.2 Identification of words
Words are the most stable of all linguistic units, in respect of their internal structure, i.e. the constituent parts of a complex word have little potential for rearrangement, compared with the relative positional mobility of the constituents of sentences in the hierarchy. Take the word chairman for example.
If the morphemes are rearranged as * manchair, it is an unacceptable word in English.
2. Relative uninterruptibility
By uninterruptibility, we men new elements are not to be inserted into a word even when there are several parts in a word. Nothing is to be inserted in between the three parts of the word disappointment: dis + appoint + ment. Nor is one allowed to use pauses between the parts of a word: * dis appoint ment.
3. A minimum free form
This was first suggested by Leonard Bloomfield. He advocated treating sentence as “the maximum free form” and word “the minimum free form,” the latter being the smallest unit that can constitute, by itself, a complete utterance.
3.1.3 Classification of words
1. Variable and invariable words
In variable words, one can find ordered and regular series of grammatically different word form; on the other hand, part of the word remains relatively constant. E.g. follow – follows – following – followed.
Invariable words refer to those words such as since, when, seldom, through, hello, etc. They have no inflective endings.
2. Grammatical words and lexical words
Grammatical words, a.k.a. function words, express grammatical meanings, such as, conjunctions, prepositions, articles, and pronouns, are grammatical words.
Lexical words, a.k.a. content words, have lexical meanings, i.e. those which refer to substance, action and quality, such as nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs, are lexical words.
3. Closed-class words and open-class words
Closed-class word: A word that belongs to the closed-class is one whose membership is fixed or limited. New members are not regularly added. Therefore, pronouns, prepositions, conjunctions, articles, etc. are all closed items.
Open-class word: A word that belongs to the open-class is one whose membership is in principle infinite or unlimited. Nouns, verbs, adjectives and many adverbs are all open-class items.
4. Word class
This is close to the notion of parts of speech in traditional grammar. Today, word class displays a wider range of more precisely defined categories. Here are some of the categories newly introduced into linguistic analysis.
(1) Particles: Particles include at least the infinitive marker “to,” the negative marker “not,” and the
subordinate units in phrasal verbs, such as “get by,” “do up,” “look back,” etc.
(2) Auxiliaries: Auxiliaries used to be regarded as verbs. Because of their unique properties,
which one could hardly expect of a verb, linguists today tend to define them as a separate
(3) Pro-forms: Pro-forms are the forms which can serve as replacements for different elements in
a sentence. For example, in the following conversation, so replaces that I can come.
A: I hope you can come.
(4) Determiners: Determiners refer to words which are used before the noun acting as head of a
noun phrase, and determine the kind of reference the noun phrase has. Determiners can be
divided into three subclasses: predeterminers, central determiners and postdeterminers.
3.2 The formation of word
3.2.1 Morpheme and morphology
Morphology studies the internal structure of words, and the rules by which words are formed.
3.2.2 Types of morphemes
1. Free morpheme and bound morpheme
Free morphemes: Those which may occur alone, that is, those which may constitute words by themselves, are free morphemes.
Bound morphemes: Those which must appear with at least another morpheme are called bound morphemes.
2. Root, affix and stem
A root is the base form of a word that cannot further be analyzed. An affix is the collective term for
the type of formative that can be used only when added to another morpheme. A stem is any morpheme
or combination of morphemes to which an inflectional affix can be added.
A root is the base form of a word that cannot further be analyzed without total loss of identity. That is
to say, it is that part of the word left when all the affixes are removed. In the word internationalism, after
the removal of inter-, -al and -ism, what is left is the root nation. All words contain a root morpheme. A
root may be free or bound. E.g. black in blackbird, blackboard and blacksmith; -ceive in receive,
conceive and perceive. A few English roots may have both free and bound variants. E.g. the word sleep
is a free root morpheme, whereas slep- in the past tence form slept cannot exist by itself, and therefore
bound. A stem is any morpheme or combination of morphemes to which an inflectional affix can be
added. E.g. friend- in friends and friendship- in friendships are both stems. The former shows that a stem
can be equivalent to a root, whereas the latter shows that a stem may contain a root and a derivational
3. Inflectional affix and derivational affix
Inflection is the manifestation of grammatical relationships through the addition of inflectional affixes, such as number, person, finiteness, aspect and case, which do not change the grammatical class of the
stems to which they are attached.
The distinction between inflectional affixes and derivational affixes is sometimes known as a distinction between inflectional morphemes and derivational morphemes. We can tell the difference
between them with the following ways:
(1) Inflectional affixes very often add a minute or delicate grammatical meaning to the stem. E.g.
toys, walks, John’s, etc. Therefore, they serve to produce different forms of a single word. In
contrast, derivational affixes often change the lexical meaning. E.g. cite, citation, etc.
(2) Inflectional affixes don’t change the word class of the word they attach to, such as flower,
flowers, whereas derivational affixes might or might not, such as the relation between small
and smallness for the former, and that between brother and brotherhood for the latter.
(3) Inflectional affixes are often conditioned by nonsemantic linguistic factors outside the word
they attach to but within the phrase or sentence. E.g. the choice of likes in “The boy likes to
derivational affixes are more often based on simple meaning distinctions. E.g. The choice of
clever and cleverness depends on whether we want to talk about the property “clever” or we
want to talk about “the state of being clever.”
(4) In English, inflectional affixes are mostly suffixes, which are always word final. E.g. drums,
walks, etc. But derivational affixes can be prefixes or suffixes. E.g. depart, teacher, etc.
3.2.3 Inflection and word formation
Inflection is the manifestation of grammatical relationships through the addition of inflectional affixes, such as number, person, finiteness, aspect and case, which do not change the grammatical class of the
stems to which they are attached.
2. Word formation
Word formation refers to the process of word variations signaling lexical relationships. It can be further subclassified into the compositional type (compound) and derivational type (derivation).
Compounds refer to those words that consist of more than one lexical morpheme, or the way to join two separate words to produce a single form, such as ice-cream, sunrise, paper bag, railway,
rest-room, simple-minded, wedding-ring, etc.
The head of a nominal or an adjectival endocentric compound is deverbal, that is, it is derived from a verb. Consequently, it is also called a verbal compound or a synthetic compound. Usually,
the first member is a participant of the process verb. E.g. Nouns: self-control, pain-killer, etc.
Adjectives: virus-sensitive, machine washable, etc. The exocentric compounds are formed by V + N,
V + A, and V + P, whereas the exocentric come from V + N and V + A. E.g. Nouns: playboy,
cutthroat, etc. Adjectives: breakneck, walk-in, etc.
Derivation shows the relation between roots and suffixes. In contrast with inflections, derivations can make the word class of the original word either changed or unchanged.
3.2.4 The counterpoint of phonology and morphology
1. Allomorph: Any of the different forms of a morpheme.
2. Morphophonology / morphophonemics: Morphophonology is a branch of linguistics referring to the
analysis and classification of the phonological factors that affect the appearance of morphemes,
and correspondingly, the grammatical factors that affect the appearance of phonemes. It is also
called morphonology or morphonemics.
3. Assimilation: Assimilation refers to the change of a sound as a result of the influence of an adjacent
sound, which is more specifically called “contact” or “contiguous” assimilation.
4. Dissimilation: Dissimilation refers to the influence exercised by one sound segment upon the
articulation of another, so that the sounds become less alike, or different.
3.3 Lexical change
3.3.1 Lexical change proper
Since economic activities are the most important and dynamic in human life, many new lexical items come directly from the consumer items, their producers or their brand names.
Blending is a relatively complex form of compounding, in which two words are blended by joining the initial part of the first word and the final part of the second word, or by joining the initial parts of the two words.
3. Abbreviation / clipping
A new word is created by cutting the final part, cutting the initial part or cutting both the initial parts
of the original words.
Acronym is made up from the first letters of the name of an organization, which has a heavily modified headword.
Back-formation refers to an abnormal type of word-formation where a shorter word is derived by deleting an imaged affix from a longer form already in the language.
6. Analogical creation
The principle of analogical creation can account for the co-existence of two forms, regular and irregular, in the conjugation of some English verbs.
English in its development has managed to widen her vocabulary by borrowing words from other languages. Greek, Latin, French, Spanish, Arabic and other languages have all played an active role in this process.
3.3.2 Phonological change
The loss of sound can first refer to the disappearance of the very sound as a phoneme in the phonological system. The loss of sounds may also occur in utterances at the expense of some unstressed words.
Sounds may be lost but they may also be added to the original sound sequence.
Metathesis is a process involving an alternation in the sequence of sounds. Metathesis had been originally a performance error, which was overlooked and accepted by the speech community.
Assimilation refers to the change of a sound as a result of the influence of an adjacent sound, which is more specifically called “contact” or “contiguous” assimilation.
3.3.3 Morpho-syntactical change
1. Morphological change
The form of inflectional affixes may also change.
2. Syntactical change
There are more instances of changes in the syntactical features of words
3.3.4 Semantic change
Broadening is a process to extend or elevate the meaning from its specific sense to a relatively general one.
Contrary to broadening, the original meaning of a word can be narrowed or restricted to a specific sense.
3. Meaning shift
All semantic changes involve meaning shift. Here meaning shift is understood in its narrow sense,
i.e. the change of meaning has nothing to do with generalization or restriction as mentioned above.
4. Class shift
By shifting the word class one can change the meaning of a word from a concrete entity or notion to
a process or attribution. This process of word formation is also known as zero-derivation, or conversion.
5. Folk etymology
Folk etymology refers to a change in form of a word or phrase, resulting from an incorrect popular notion of the origin or meaning of the term or from the influence of more familiar terms mistakenly taken
to be analogous.
3.3.5 Orthographic change
Changes can also be found at the graphitic level. Since writing is a recording of the sound system in English, phonological changes will no doubt set off graphitic changes.
Chapter 4 Syntax
4.1 The traditional approach
4.1.1 Number, gender and case
4.1.2 Tense and aspect
For these two sections, please consult materials on traditional English grammar.
4.1.3 Concord and government
Concord (a.k.a. agreement) may be defined as the requirement that the forms of two or more words in a syntactic relationship should agree with each other in terms of some categories. E.g. in English the determiner and the noun it precedes should concord in number as in this man, these men. And the form of a subject should agree with that of the verb in terms of number in the present tense, e.g. He speaks English; They speak English.
Government is another type of control over the form of some words by other words in certain syntactic construction. It differs from concord in that this is a relationship in which a word of a certain class determines the form of others in terms of certain category. E.g. in English, the pronoun after a verb or a preposition should be in the object form as in She gave him a book; She gave a book to him. In other words, the verb, or the preposition, governs the form of the pronoun after it. The former is the governor, and the latter is the governed.
4.2 The structural approach
4.2.1 Syntagmatic and paradigmatic relations
Syntagmatic (a.k.a. horizontal / chain) relation is a relation between one item and others in a sequence, or between elements which are all present, such as the relation between weather and the others in the following sentence: If the weather is nice, we’ll go out.
Paradigmatic (a.k.a. vertical / choice) relation is a relation holding between elements replaceable with each other at a particular place in a structure, or between one element present and the others absent.
4.2.2 Immediate constituent analysis (IC analysis)
1. How to do it
may be a sentence or a word group or a word.
Immediate constituent analysis, IC analysis for short, refers to the analysis of a sentence in terms of its immediate constituents – word groups (phrases), which are in turn analyzed into the immediate constituents of their own, and the process goes on until the ultimate sake of convenience. The IC analysis of a sentence may be carried out with brackets or shown with a tree diagram. E.g.
Poor John ran away. →
(1) ((Poor) (John)) ((ran) (away)).
Poor John ran away
2. Its advantages
Through IC analysis, the internal structure of a sentence may be demonstrated clearly, any ambiguities, if any, will be revealed in that IC analysis emphasizes not only the linear structure of the sentence but also the hierarchical structure of the sentence. E.g. the sentence Leave the book on the shelf. is ambiguous. It has two meanings: (1) Put the book on the shelf; (2) Don’t touch the book on the shelf. These two meanings can be shown by the following tree diagrams. (Omitted. See the textbook p125~128.)
3. Its problems
However, IC analysis has three disadvantages. First, at the beginning, some advocator insisted on binary divisions. Any construction, at any level, will be cut into two parts. But this is not possible. E.g. Old men and women is ambiguous in that it may mean old + men and women or old men + and women. It’s impossible to combine with only the preceding part or only the succeeding part. Second, constructions with discontinuous constituents will pose technical problems for tree diagrams in IC analysis. E.g. the phrasal verbs like make up, turn on, or give up will cause problems in that when the object is expressed by a pronoun, it will interrupt the phrasal verb as in make it up. The most serious problem is that there are structural ambiguities which cannot be revealed by IC analysis. E.g. the tree diagram and the labels can only do one analysis for the love of God.
4.2.3 Endocentric and exocentric constructions
An endocentric construction is one whose distribution is functionally equivalent, or approaching equivalence, to one of its constituents, which serves as the center, or head, of the whole. It is also called headed construction. Typical endocentric constructions are noun phrases, verb phrases and adjective phrases. They may be further divided into two subtypes: subordinate and coordinate constructions. Those, in which there is only one head, with the head being dominant and the other constructions dependent, are subordinate constructions. In the coordinate construction, there are more than one head, e.g. boys and girls, in which the two content constituents, boys and girls, are of equal syntactic status, and no one is dependent on the other.
The exocentric construction is defined negatively as a construction whose distribution is not functionally equivalent to any of its constituents. There is no noticeable center or head in it. Typical exocentric constructions are prepositional phrases, subordinate clauses, English basic sentences, and the verb plus object constructions.
4.3 The generative approach
4.3.1 Deep and surface structures
abstract representation of the syntactic properties of a construction, i.e. the underlying level of structural relations between its different constituents, such as the relation between the underlying subject and its verb, or
b and its object.
The surfaces structure is the final stage in the syntactic derivation of a construction, which closely corresponds to the structural organization of a construction people actually produce and receive.
The example for the surface structure is The newspaper was not delivered today. The deep structure of the above sentence would be something like: (negative) someone (past tense) deliver the newspaper today (passive). The items in brackets are not lexical items but grammatical concepts which shape the final form of the sentence. Rules which describe deep structure are in the first part of the grammar (base component).
Rules which transform these structures into surface structures (transformational rules) are in the second part of the grammar (transformational component).
4.3.2 The standard theory and after
What is the trace theory?
After the movement of an element in a sentence there will be a trace left in the original position. This is the notion trace in T-G grammar. It’s suggested that if we have the notion trace, all the necessary information for semantic interpretation may come from the surface structure. E.g. The passive Dams are built by beavers.
differs from the active Beavers built dams. in implying that all dams are built by beavers. If we add a trace element represented by the letter t after built in the passive as Dams are built t by beavers, then the deep structure information that the word dams was originally the object of built is also captured by the surface structure. Trace theory proves to be not only theoretically significant but also empirically valid.
4.3.3 Government, binding, etc.
1. Constituent command / C-command: α c-commands β if α does not dominate β and every γ that
dominates α also dominates β, as shown in the diagram below:
2. Binding theory: Part of the government / binding theory. It examines connections between noun
phrases in sentences and explores the way they relate and refer to each other.
(1) An anaphor is bound in its governing category.
(2) A pronominal is free in its governing category.
(3) An r-expression is free.
3. Binding: The notion binding is borrowed from logic, which refers to the relation between a quantifier
and a variable, that is a variable is bound by a quantifier. In the generative approach, binding refers
to the relation between different referring word and the subject of a sentence containing it.
4. Anaphor: A process where a word or phrase refers back to another word or phrase which was used
earlier in a text or conversation. In a narrow sense, it used to include only reflexives like myself and
reciprocals like each other.
5. Pronominal: A pronominal refers to pronouns other than reflexives and reciprocals.
6. R-expression: A r-expression, as the abbreviation of a referential-expression, covers all the other
7. The D-structure and the S-structure
In Government / Binding theory, the D-structure is an abstract level of sentence representation
where semantic roles such as an agent (the doer of an action) and patient (the entity affected by an
action) are assigned to the sentence. Agent is sometimes also referred to as the logical subject and
patient as the rheme of the sentence. E.g. (in simplified form)
Vera shoot intruders
Agent or logical subject patient or rheme
The next level of sentence representation is the S-structure where syntactic / grammatical cases
such as nominative / grammatical subject and accusative / grammatical object are assigned. E.g.
(in simplified form)
Vera (agent) shoot intruders (patient / rheme)
Grammatical subject grammatical object
The phonetic form (PF) component and the logical form (LF) component are then needed to turn
the S-structure into a surface sentence. The PF component presents the S-structure as sound, and
the LF component gives the syntactic meaning of the sentence.
4.4 The functional approach
4.4.1 Functional sentence perspective
1. Functional sentence perspective (FSP)
The functional sentence perspective (FSP) is a type of linguistic analysis associated with the Prague School which describes how information is distributed in sentences. FSP deals particularly with the effect of the distribution of known information and new information in discourse. The known information (known as theme), refers to information that is not new to the reader or listener. The rheme refers to information that is new. FSP differs from the traditional grammatical analysis of sentences because the distribution between subject-predicate is not always the same as theme-rheme contrast. E.g.
(1) John sat in the front seat
(2) In the front seat sat John.
John is the grammatical subject in both sentences, but theme in (1) and rheme in (2).
2. Communicative dynamism (CD)
By CD Firbas means the extent to which the sentence element contributes to the development of the communication.
4.4.2 Systemic-functional grammar
1. The material process (a process of doing): the representation of outer experience.
2. The mental process (a process of sensing): the representation of inner experience.
3. The relational process (a process of being): the relation between one experience and another.
4. The behavioral process (a process of behavioring): physiological and psychological behavior.
5. The verbal process (a process of saying): any kinds of symbolic exchange of meaning.
6. The existential process (a process of happening): a representation of something in existence or
Chapter 5 Meaning
5.1 Meanings of “meaning”
1. Meaning: Meaning refers to what a language expresses about the world we live in or any possible or
2. Connotation: The additional meaning that a word or phrase has beyond its central meaning.
3. Denotation: That part of the meanings of a word or phrase that relates it to phenomena in the real world or in a
fictional or possible word.
4. Different types of meaning (Recognized by Leech, 1974)
(1) Conceptual meaning: Logical, cognitive, or denotative content.
(2) Associative meaning
a. Connotative meaning: What is communicated by virtue of what language refers to.
b. Social meaning: What is communicated of the social circumstances of language use.
c. Affective meaning: What is communicated of the feelings and attitudes of the speaker / writer.
d. Reflected meaning: What is communicated through association with another sense of the same
e. Collocative meaning: What is communicated through association with words which tend to occur in
the environment of another word.
(3) Thematic meaning: What is communicated by the way in which the message is organized in terms of
order and emphasis.
5. The difference between meaning, concept, connotation, and denotation
Meaning refers to the association of language symbols with the real world. There are many types of meaning according to different approaches.
Concept is the impression of objects in people’s mind.
Connotation is the implied meaning, similar to implication.
Denotation, like sense, is not directly related with objects, but makes the abstract assumption of the real world.
5.2 The referential theory
1. The referential theory: The theory of meaning which relates the meaning of a word to the thing it refers to, or
stands for, is known as the referential theory.
2. The semantic triangle theory
Ogden and Richards presented the classic “Semantic Triangle” as manifested in the following diagram, in which the “symbol” refers to the linguist elements (word, sentence, etc.), the “referent” refers to the object in the world of experience, and the “thought” or “reference” refers to concept or notion. Thus the symbol of a word signifies “things” by virtue of the “concept,” associated with the form of the word in the mind of the speaker of the language. The concept thus considered is the meaning of the word. The connection (represented with a dotted line) between symbol and referent is made possible only through “concept.”
Concept / notion
Thought / reference
Word stands for reality
5.3 Sense relations
Synonymy is the technical name for the sameness relation.
Antonymy is the name for oppositeness relation. There are three subtypes: gradable, complementary and converse antonymy.
1. Gradable antonymy
Gradable antonymy is the commonest type of antonymy. They are mainly adjectives, e.g. good / bad, long / short, big / small, etc.
2. Complementary antonymy
The members of a pair in complementary antonymy are complementary to each other. That is, they divide up the whole of a semantic filed completely. Not only the assertion of one means the denial of the other, the denial of one also means the assertion of the other, e.g. alive / dead, hit / miss, male / female, boy / girl, etc.
3. Converse antonymy
Converse antonyms are also called relational opposites. This is a special type of antonymy in that the members of a pair do not constitute a positive-negative opposition. They show the reversal of a relationship between two entities, e.g. buy / sell, parent / child, above / below, etc.
Hyponymy involves us in the notion of meaning inclusion. It is a matter of class membership. That is to say, when x is a kind of y, the lower term x is the hyponym, and the upper term y is the superordinate.
Two or more hyponyms of the same one superordinate are called co-hyponyms, e.g. under flower, there
are peony, jasmine, tulip, violet, rose, etc., flower is the superordinate of peony, jasmine, etc., peony is
the hyponym of flower, and peony, jasmine, tulip, violet, rose, etc. are co-hyponyms.
5.4 Componential analysis
Componential analysis defines the meaning of a lexical element in terms of semantic components. That is, the meaning of a word is not an unanalyzable whole. It may be seen as a complex of different semantic features. There are semantic units smaller than the meaning of a word. E.g.
Son: child (x, y) & male (x)