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Applied Linguistics

  • Date Submitted: 12/24/2012 07:41 AM
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The Basics of Applied Linguistics

1.1 What is human language? Language is a highly elaborated signaling system. We call the aspects that are peculiar to it the design features of language. Some of these we find only with the language of human beings, others we have in common with animals. Another aspect of human language is that we express thoughts with words.
1.1.1 DESIGN FEATURES OF LANGUAGE A principle feature of human language is the duality of patterning. It enables us to use our language in a very economic way for a virtually infinite production of linguistic units. How does this principle work? All human languages have a small, limited set of speech sounds. The limitation derives from the restricted capacity of our vocal apparatus. The speech sounds are referred to as consonants and vowels. Linguistically speaking, the distinctive speech sounds are called phonemes. You cannot use isolated phonemes for communication, because phonemes are by themselves meaningless. But we can assemble and reassemble phonemes into larger linguistic units. These are commonly called "words". Although our capacity to produce new phonemes is limited, we frequently coin new words. Hence, our capacity to produce vocabulary is unlimited.

Notes: Language and words: some words have a direct relation to its form and meaning ‘iconic’ For example ‘Time period’ a long time. Here, the extension serves to visually represent the semantic emphasis. Iconicity in language can be found frequently.

However most words are Arbitrary. The words have no direct connect towards its meaning. Another example for nonarbitrariness are onomatopoeia. These are words that seem to resemble sounds. There are many examples for onomatopoetic words, like splash or bang. Some names for animals are also onomatopoetic, for example, "cuckoo". Still, since animals such as the bird are named differently in different languages, there can be no ultimate motivation for the name.

1.2 What is linguistics?...


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