New User Special Price Expires in

Let's log you in.

Sign in with Facebook


Don't have a StudySoup account? Create one here!


Create a StudySoup account

Be part of our community, it's free to join!

Sign up with Facebook


Create your account
By creating an account you agree to StudySoup's terms and conditions and privacy policy

Already have a StudySoup account? Login here

Chapter 1 Textbook Notes

by: Larue Duckett

Chapter 1 Textbook Notes SLC 201

Marketplace > Arizona State University > SLC 201 > Chapter 1 Textbook Notes
Larue Duckett

View Full Document for 0 Karma

View Full Document


Unlock These Notes for FREE

Enter your email below and we will instantly email you these Notes for Introduction to Linguistics

(Limited time offer)

Unlock Notes

Already have a StudySoup account? Login here

Unlock FREE Class Notes

Enter your email below to receive Introduction to Linguistics notes

Everyone needs better class notes. Enter your email and we will send you notes for this class for free.

Unlock FREE notes

About this Document

These notes are for chapter 1 of our textbook
Introduction to Linguistics
Mariana Bahtchevanova
Class Notes




Popular in Introduction to Linguistics

Popular in Department

This 10 page Class Notes was uploaded by Larue Duckett on Sunday August 21, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to SLC 201 at Arizona State University taught by Mariana Bahtchevanova in Fall 2016. Since its upload, it has received 10 views.


Reviews for Chapter 1 Textbook Notes


Report this Material


What is Karma?


Karma is the currency of StudySoup.

You can buy or earn more Karma at anytime and redeem it for class notes, study guides, flashcards, and more!

Date Created: 08/21/16
I. Introducing the Study of Language A. Summary: Languages and the study of language reveal much about human society. Language is very complex but something we all have known to do since birth. B. Why Study Language? 1. Language is distinctly human. No other species can express complex ideas like humans, despite disability and one’s limitations (blindness & deafness). a) All this is made possible through the human language faculty 2. Language is used for self-identity and social interactions 3. Studying language enlightens ideas on human society and can help day to day experiences as well (teaching, computers, treating speech disorders) C. Underlying Themes of Linguistic Study 1. A linguist is someone who takes apart the patterns of various aspects of human language in order to discover how language works 2. Themes a) Language is complex and can be studied scientifically b) Language is systematic on many levels c) You can express an infinite number of ideas in infinite ways d) Language varies at every level for different reasons e) Languages are diverse f) There are many universal properties of languages g) Many properties of language can’t be predicted using other properties h) We are not more aware of speech “rules” then we are another rules i) Children learn language without being taught j) All languages change II. What You Know When You Know a Language A. Summary: Language knowledge is referred to as linguistic competence. Your competence consists of how to communicate with others through the Speech Communication Chain, your knowledge also consists of phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, grammar, semantics, pragmatics, lexicon, and mental grammar. All these aspects of linguistic competence are extremely hard to quantify so to figure out a language linguists use descriptive grammars to discover the inner workings of a language. B. Linguistic Competence and Linguistic Performance 1. Although you know to speak a language very well, you are not consciously aware of most of the knowledge required to speak the language. This “hidden knowledge” is referred to as linguistic competence. 2. Some of our language knowledge is revealed through performance- the way a person produces and comprehends language. 3. Performance errors happen when you “slip up” and make a mistake even when you have linguistic competence in that area. 4. Linguists must use performance as a basic for figuring out linguistic competence because it is so hard to observe on its own. C. The Speech Communication Chain 1. Language is used to communicate an idea from you to someone else 2. Key elements: information source, transmitter, signal, receiver, destination 3. The Communication System: (the image on pg. 7 of your book is extremely helpful) a)– d) Think of what you want to communicate represent the Pick out the words c) Put those words together in order following rules information sourcd) Figure out how to pronounce the words e) Send these pronunciations to the vocal cords (the transmitter) f) Speak (the signal) g) Listener perceives h) Listener decodes sounds as language& h) represent the receiver i) Listener receives idea (the destination) 4. Interference in the chain of communication is called noise D. What You Know When You Know a Language 1. The most basic thing you know about a language is speech sounds (for spoken languages) known as phonetics 2. You know how these sounds work together as a system known as phonology 3. You know how to break words into smaller parts that have a certain meaning or purpose and how to create words using these smaller parts, known as morphology. 4. You know how to combine words to form phrases and sentences known as syntax. This helps you determine whether something is grammatical or ungrammatical. 5. You know how to determine the meaning of sentences known as semantics. 6. You know how to use context to interpret meaning known as pragmatics. E. How Your Linguistic Competence is Stored 1. Language only exists in the mind of its speakers 2. Lexicon is the collection of all the words you know, their functions, what they refer to, how they are pronounced, and how they relate to other words. 3. All your rules about language are stored in the form of mental grammar. a) In linguistics, grammar is a language system; a set of all the elements and rules that make up a language b) A rule, on the other hand, is just a statement of some pattern that occurs in language 4. All humans (except those with severe disabilities) are capable of language acquisition of the language they are exposed to as children, and will do so naturally without being taught. 5. No two speakers have the same mental grammar. This phenomenon is called language variation. F. Uncovering and Describing What You Know 1. Linguists must determine a speaker’s competence using mainly their performance due to how complex and unobservable linguistic competence is. 2. To discover the lexicon and mental rules of a language, linguists first have to describe the language and how it is used. 3. Linguists make generalizations about a language, known as descriptive grammars to determine what the mental grammar must consist of. III. What You Don’t (Necessarily) Know When You Know a Language A. Summary: Writing and Prescriptive Grammar are not considered part of language knowledge. B. What Language Is and Is Not 1. Writing and Prescriptive grammar, although related to language, are not part of “what you know” when you know a language. C. Language is Not Writing 1. Speaking/signing and writing both are a way to express linguistic competence, only speaking is an immediate manifestation of language. a) Therefore, speech is the primary focus of modern linguistics 2. Writing is the representation of language in a physical medium different from sound. 3. Writing is a 3 stage process: thinking of the idea, expressing it with mental grammar, and then transferring it into written form a) All units of writing are based on units of speech b) No matter how fast writing has become with modern technology, there will always be one more extra step between writing and speaking 4. Speech is considered more basic than writing because: a) Archeological evidence shows writing as a later historical development then spoken language b) Writing does not exist everywhere that spoken language does (1) An estimated 56 % of languages are unwritten c) Writing must be taught, where spoken language is acquired naturally. d) Neurological evidence shows that the understanding and making of written language in the brain is overlaid on the spoken language centers in the brain. e) Writing can be edited before it is shared with others in most cases, while speech is more spontaneous. 5. There is a widely held misconception that written language is more perfect than speech. a) Arguments for this idea are that writing is more “correct” than spoken word, writing is associated with educated speech, and writing is more physically stable than spoken language. b) However “perfect” the written language may be, it is still not a primary indication of a speaker’s linguistic competence D. Language Is Not Prescriptive Grammar 1. Linguists recognize three distinct things as “grammar” a) What the linguist is actually trying to understand – the mental grammar b) The linguist’s description of the rules of a language as it is spoken – the descriptive grammar c) The socially embedded notion of the “correct” ways to use language – the prescriptive grammar 2. Prescriptive grammar makes a valued judgement on the correctness of a language but mental grammar, by definition, cannot be “incorrect” 3. Prescriptive grammar has no basis in actual language use and most were formulated by someone 4. Prescriptive grammar and its rules have survived as long as they have due to their association with higher social statuses. IV. Design Features of a Language A. Summary: By definition a language must have a mode of communication, semanticity, a pragmatic function, interchangeability, cultural transmission, arbitrariness, discreteness, displacement, and productivity. If a language does not have all nine of these qualities, it is by definition, not a language. B. How to Identify Language When We Come Across It 1. It is extremely difficult to define language 2. Another way to explain language without defining it is identifying what features something must have to be a language. Charles Hockett’s developed such characteristics referred to as the design features of language 3. All communication systems have a mode of communication, semanticity, and pragmatic function. 4. Human languages have the same design features as communication systems but also have interchangeability, cultural transmission, arbitrariness, discreteness, displacement, and productivity. C. Mode of Communication 1. Mode of Communication refers to the means by which messages are transmitted and received. D. Semanticity 1. Semanticity is the property requiring that all signals in a communication system have a meaning or function. 2. Without meaning, language has little purpose E. Pragmatic Function 1. Languages must have a pragmatic Function meaning that they must serve some useful purpose. 2. Every part of language has a function F. Interchangeability 1. Interchangeability is the ability of the individual to send and receive, messages G. Cultural Transmission 1. Cultural transmission is an aspect of language explaining that there are parts of language that we can only acquire through communication with others. 2. To learn language, children must have some interaction with that language. H. Arbitrariness: Arbitrariness in Language 1. Words of a language represent a connection between a group of sounds/signs, which give the word its form and a meaning. 2. The combination of a form and a meaning is called a linguistic sign. 3. The connection between form and meaning is typically arbitrary. a) Arbitrary means that one thing is not in any way predictable by another, nor is that thing dictated by the other. b) Meaning is not predictable from the form; form is not dictated by the meaning I. Arbitrariness: Evidence for Arbitrariness 1. If the form and the meaning were nonarbitrary, then multiple words with the same meaning (such as pop, soda, cola, coke, soft drink) or words that sound the same but mean different things (such as pop (light exploding sound), pop (patch of bright color), and pop (short for soda pop)) 2. Evidence is also seen in different words in different languages expressing the same things such as aqua in Spanish and water in English. If there were am inherent, nonarbitrary connection between form and meaning all languages would pronounce water “water”. J. Arbitrariness: Onomatopoeia 1. Onomatopoeic words (pop, boom, drip, etc.) are an example of a nonarbitrary aspects of language. 2. However, it can be argued that Onomatopoeia is not entirely nonarbitrary because while the form is largely determined by the meaning, it is not an exact copy of the natural noise. a) For example, roosters do not actually “say” Cockle doodle Doo, but we have arbitrarily conventionalized this noise in that form 3. Different languages also have different Onomatopoeia words showing at least some arbitrary aspects in Onomatopoeia words K. Arbitrariness: Sound Symbolism 1. Sound symbolism is how certain sounds occur in words not because it’s based on some sound but because it brings out a certain meaning a) For example, in Spanish the suffix –ito indicates small. (perrito means small dog) L. Discreteness 1. Discreteness is the property of language that allows us to combine discrete (separate) units in order to create larger communicative units a) For example, English has only about 50 sounds but when we put them together we form words. Such as, if we take the sounds [k], [u], and [l] and put them together we get the word cool. M. Displacement 1. Displacement is the ability to communicate things, actions, a/o ideas that are not present when you are talking about them. a) For example, we can talk about a Starbucks with none in sight N. Productivity 1. Productivity refers to a language’s capacity for new/unique messages to be built up out of discrete units. (Ever read the book Frindle?) 2. Because of productivity in language, there is no fixed set of ways in which units can combine. 3. It is possible, in any language, to produce an infinite number of sentences. Every day you hear many sentences; you have never even heard before. O. What the Design Features Tell Us, and What They Don’t Tell Us 1. All languages exhibit all nine design features, any that don’t are therefore not languages. V. Language Modality A. Summary: There are 2 different types of language Auditory-Vocal (spoken) and Visual-Gestural (signed). Although spoken languages are more prevalent, signed languages are their own language with mental grammar and about 150 different types. B. Auditory-Vocal and Visual-Gestural Languages 1. Every language must have a modality or a mode of communication. 2. Most languages we think of are auditory-vocal languages (sometimes called aural-oral) which means they are perceived via hearing and produced via speech. They are also referred to as spoken languages. 3. There are also hundreds of human visual-gestural languages (also called signed languages) that are perceived visually and produced via hand and arm movements, facial expressions, and head movements. C. Some Common Misconceptions about Visual-Gestural Languages 1. There is a myth that signed languages derive from spoken languages rather than being languages in their own right a) A code is an artificially constructed system for representing a natural language; it has no structure of its own but instead borrows from the natural language it represents b) Signed languages on the other hand develop naturally and independently of spoken languages c) Codes also do not have native speakers whereas spoken languages do 2. There is another myth that signed languages do not have words at all but rather involve signers using their hands to draw pictures in the air or act out what they are talking about. a) However, signed languages are governed by the same sorts of phonological, morphological, and syntactic rules as spoken languages b) Second, this myth also assumes that signed languages are 100% iconic. If this was the case, everyone would know sign language innately because every word would show its meaning. This is not the case. 3. A third myth is that there is only one signed language that is used by deaf speakers all over the world. a) There are in fact 150 documented signed languages worldwide each as distinct as spoken languages D. Who Uses Signed Languages? 1. Wherever there is a large enough community of deaf individuals, a signed language is used. 2. If a deaf child is born to deaf parents, the child learns a signed language at home like most children. 3. However, if a deaf child is born to hearing parents most of the time the child goes to a school or institution to learn a signed language 4. There have been multiple times in history where a deaf population has been such a large percentage of a community that both hearing and deaf individuals adopt a signed language for communication.


Buy Material

Are you sure you want to buy this material for

0 Karma

Buy Material

BOOM! Enjoy Your Free Notes!

We've added these Notes to your profile, click here to view them now.


You're already Subscribed!

Looks like you've already subscribed to StudySoup, you won't need to purchase another subscription to get this material. To access this material simply click 'View Full Document'

Why people love StudySoup

Steve Martinelli UC Los Angeles

"There's no way I would have passed my Organic Chemistry class this semester without the notes and study guides I got from StudySoup."

Janice Dongeun University of Washington

"I used the money I made selling my notes & study guides to pay for spring break in Olympia, Washington...which was Sweet!"

Jim McGreen Ohio University

"Knowing I can count on the Elite Notetaker in my class allows me to focus on what the professor is saying instead of just scribbling notes the whole time and falling behind."

Parker Thompson 500 Startups

"It's a great way for students to improve their educational experience and it seemed like a product that everybody wants, so all the people participating are winning."

Become an Elite Notetaker and start selling your notes online!

Refund Policy


All subscriptions to StudySoup are paid in full at the time of subscribing. To change your credit card information or to cancel your subscription, go to "Edit Settings". All credit card information will be available there. If you should decide to cancel your subscription, it will continue to be valid until the next payment period, as all payments for the current period were made in advance. For special circumstances, please email


StudySoup has more than 1 million course-specific study resources to help students study smarter. If you’re having trouble finding what you’re looking for, our customer support team can help you find what you need! Feel free to contact them here:

Recurring Subscriptions: If you have canceled your recurring subscription on the day of renewal and have not downloaded any documents, you may request a refund by submitting an email to

Satisfaction Guarantee: If you’re not satisfied with your subscription, you can contact us for further help. Contact must be made within 3 business days of your subscription purchase and your refund request will be subject for review.

Please Note: Refunds can never be provided more than 30 days after the initial purchase date regardless of your activity on the site.