Meaning of LINGUISTICS in English


the scientific study of language. The word was first used in the middle of the 19th century to emphasize the difference between a newer approach to the study of language that was then developing and the more traditional approach of philology. The differences were and are largely matters of attitude, emphasis, and purpose. The philologist is concerned primarily with the historical development of languages as it is manifest in written texts and in the context of the associated literature and culture. The linguist, though he may be interested in written texts and in the development of languages through time, tends to give priority to spoken languages and to the problems of analyzing them as they operate at a given point in time. The field of linguistics may be divided in terms of three dichotomies: synchronic versus diachronic, theoretical versus applied, microlinguistics versus macrolinguistics. A synchronic description of a language describes the language as it is at a given time; a diachronic description is concerned with the historical development of the language and the structural changes that have taken place in it. The goal of theoretical linguistics is the construction of a general theory of the structure of language or of a general theoretical framework for the description of languages; the aim of applied linguistics is the application of the findings and techniques of the scientific study of language to practical tasks, especially to the elaboration of improved methods of language teaching. The terms microlinguistics and macrolinguistics are not yet well established, and they are, in fact, used here purely for convenience. The former refers to a narrower and the latter to a much broader view of the scope of linguistics. According to the microlinguistic view, languages should be analyzed for their own sake and without reference to their social function, to the manner in which they are acquired by children, to the psychological mechanisms that underlie the production and reception of speech, to the literary and the aesthetic or communicative function of language, and so on. In contrast, macrolinguistics embraces all of these aspects of language. Various areas within macrolinguistics have been given terminological recognition: psycholinguistics, sociolinguistics, anthropological linguistics, dialectology, mathematical and computational linguistics, and stylistics. Macrolinguistics should not be identified with applied linguistics. The application of linguistic methods and concepts to language teaching may well involve other disciplines in a way that microlinguistics does not. But there is, in principle, a theoretical aspect to every part of macrolinguistics, no less than to microlinguistics. A large portion of this article is devoted to theoretical, synchronic microlinguistics, which is generally acknowledged as the central part of the subject; it will be abbreviated henceforth as theoretical linguistics. the study of language as system. It involves an investigation of the nature, structure, constituent units, and modification of any such system. Linguistics is called theoretical when it attempts to establish a theory of the underlying structure of language, and is called applied when linguistic concepts are put to use for pedagogical purposes. Linguists may use either a synchronic approach to language study (i.e., describe a particular language at a particular time) or a diachronic approach (i.e., trace the development of a particular language through its history). Theoretical linguistics tends to isolate the structure of language from actual language production and therefore favours the synchronic approach when describing a language. Theoretical linguistics does not take into account language acquisition, usage, or any other aspects of language that are studied by scholars in such specialized fields of linguistics as psycholinguistics, sociolinguistics, and anthropological linguistics. Findings from these fields often become useful tools in the hands of applied linguists. Greek philosophers of the 5th century BC were the first in the West to be concerned with linguistic theory. For the philosophers, controversial linguistic issues revolved around the origin of the human language and the grammatical structure of Greek. In the 1st century BC, the first complete Greek grammar was written by Dionysus Thrax, an Alexandrian. It was so influential that it served as a model for Roman grammarians, whose work, in turn, became the basis for grammars of the vernacular languages written during the Middle Ages and Renaissance. Except for occasional groups of dissenting scholars, such as the speculative grammarians of the 13th and 14th centuries, most scholars confined their work to a study of Latin and Greek or to the creation of prescriptive grammars of vernacular languages in order to teach correct usage. After the Renaissance, however, interest in the grammars of the world's languages started to grow. The fruits of that interest led to important discoveries that helped establish linguistics as a science in the 19th century. The historical linguists of the 19th century developed the comparative method of diachronic description, which consisted of comparing different languages in terms of their grammar, vocabulary, and phonology in the hope of finding a common ancestral language. This the historical linguists did accomplish when they discovered that Sanskrit, Greek, and Latin were related, that most of the languages of Europe had family relationships, and that all these languages descended from a common language called Proto-Indo-European. It was also shown that, through the centuries, systematic changes in pronunciation were responsible for the differentiation of languages. The Swiss linguist, Ferdinand de Saussure, was largely responsible for changing the course of linguistic study in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Although a comparative or historical linguist in his early work, Saussure broke new ground by drawing the distinction between diachronic and synchronic linguistics and by introducing another distinction between langue (language) and parole (speech). For Saussure, langue referred to the unobservable underlying structure of language and parole was the outward manifestation of that structure. With the posthumous publication of his Cours de Linguistique Gnrale (1916), in which these distinctions were made public, a new era of linguistic study called structuralism began. Saussure redefined the goal for linguistics: to describe the nature of la langue. Although the structuralists who followed Saussure, such as the U.S. linguists Edward Sapir and Leonard Bloomfield, differed as to what linguistics should specifically study and for what reasons, there was a concerted effort among structuralists to insist that language study be based on empirical evidence. Structuralists also moved away from previous prescriptive approaches by looking at language the way it is, not the way someone thinks it should be. By the 1950s, weaknesses in structuralism were being identified by some linguists. They pointed out that, because structural linguists had never fully accepted Saussure's implied notion that the human language system is a mental property, they had to limit their subject matter to observable phenomena only. As a result, some of them tended to ignore those aspects of language that cannot be observed and to overlook those things that characterize all languages. The U.S. linguist Noam Chomsky challenged the structuralist approach by saying that universal patterns are present in all languages. Because he was interested in understanding how the mind works through studying language, Chomsky stressed the mentalistic theory of language that structuralists had rejected. The goals of linguistics changed once again as a result of Chomsky's work. He claimed that linguistics should study a native speaker's unconscious knowledge of his or her own language (competence), not the speaker's actual production of language (performance). Because Chomsky thought that a description of the rules that make up a native speaker's competence could account for an infinite number of examples of performance, he wanted to write a grammar that would identify those unconscious rules. Unlike the structuralists, then, who collected samples of language produced by native speakers and then classified them, Chomsky developed transformational grammar, a set of rules that could generate structural descriptions for all the grammatical sentences of a language, and he tested results against actual language samples. Transformational grammar has been continually evolving since Chomsky first introduced it in Syntactic Structures in 1957. From the 1970s on, many transformationalists focussed their attention on the relation between syntax and semantics, an issue that was largely ignored by Chomsky until 1965. Additional reading Robert H. Robins, A Short History of Linguistics, 2nd ed. (1979), and General Linguistics: An Introductory Survey, 3rd ed. (1980), together offer a comprehensive and balanced treatment of the whole field. Leonard Bloomfield, Language (1933), a classic introduction to the subject, is still not completely superseded and is essential reading for an understanding of subsequent American work. Charles F. Hockett, A Course in Modern Linguistics (1958), a comprehensive, stimulating, though somewhat personal textbook, represents the post-Bloomfieldian period in the United States. John Lyons has produced a number of notable surveys: Introduction to Theoretical Linguistics (1968), attempts to synthesize more traditional and more modern ideas on language, paying particular attention to generative grammar and semantics; New Horizons in Linguistics (ed., 1970), contains previously unpublished chapters on developments in most areas of linguistics; Language and Linguistics: An Introduction (1981), is a textbook covering theoretical developments. Martin Joos (ed.), Readings in Linguistics (1957), is an excellent selection of key articles on structuralism in the post-Bloomfieldian period. Z.S. Harris, Methods in Structural Linguistics (1951), offers the most extreme and most consistent expression of the distributional approach to linguistic analysisimportant for the development of generative grammar. Noam Chomsky, Syntactic Structures (1957), is the first generally accessible and relatively non-technical treatment of generative grammar, widely recognized as one of the most revolutionary books on language to appear in the 20th century; J.P.B. Allen and Paul Van Buren (eds.), Chomsky: Selected Readings (1971), contains an annotated selection of key passages from Chomsky's main works. S. Pit Corder (ed.), The Edinburgh Course in Applied Linguistics, 4 vol. (197377), is a collection of readings covering a wide range of views. Richard C. Oldfield and J.C. Marshall (eds.), Language (1968); J.A. Fodor, T.G. Bever, and M.F. Garrett, The Psychology of Language (1974); and Joseph F. Kess, Psycholinguistics (1976), are important works in psycholinguistics. Dell Hymes (ed.), Language in Culture and Society (1964), is an excellent selection of articles in sociolinguistics and anthropological linguistics.Language, Word, International Journal of American Linguistics (United States); Philological Society Transactions, Journal of Linguistics (Great Britain); Lingua, Studies in Language (Holland); Bulletin de la Socit de Linguistique de Paris (France). The Editors of the Encyclopdia Britannica Historical (diachronic) linguistics Linguistic change All languages change in the course of time. Written records make it clear that 15th-century English is quite noticeably different from 20th-century English, as is 15th-century French or German from modern French or German. It was the principal achievement of the 19th-century linguists not only to realize more clearly than their predecessors the ubiquity of linguistic change but also to put its scientific investigation on a sound footing by means of the comparative method (see the section History of linguistics: The 19th century). This will be treated in greater detail in the following section. Here various kinds, or categories, of linguistic change will be listed and exemplified. Sound change Since the beginning of the 19th century, when scholars observed that there were a number of systematic correspondences in related words between the sounds of the Germanic languages and the sounds of what were later recognized as other Indo-European languages, particular attention has been paid in diachronic linguistics to changes in the sound systems of languages. Certain common types of sound change, most notably assimilation and dissimilation, can be explained, at least partially, in terms of syntagmatic, or contextual, conditioning. By assimilation is meant the process by which one sound is made similar in its place or manner of articulation to a neighbouring sound. For example, the word cupboard was presumably once pronounced, as the spelling indicates, with the consonant cluster pb in the middle. The p was assimilated to b in manner of articulation (i.e., voicing was maintained throughout the cluster), and subsequently the resultant double consonant bb was simplified. With a single b in the middle and an unstressed second syllable, the word cupboard, as it is pronounced nowadays, is no longer so evidently a compound of cup and board as its spelling still shows it to have been. The Italian words notte night and otto eight manifest assimilation of the first consonant to the second consonant of the cluster in place of articulation (cf. Latin nocte(m), octo). Assimilation is also responsible for the phenomenon referred to as umlaut in the Germanic languages. The high front vowel i of suffixes had the effect of fronting and raising preceding back vowels and, in particular, of converting an a sound into an e sound. In Modern German this is still a morphologically productive process (cf. Mann man: Mnner men). In English it has left its mark in such irregular forms as men (from *manniz), feet (from *fotiz), and length (from *langa). Dissimilation refers to the process by which one sound becomes different from a neighbouring sound. For example, the word pilgrim (French plerin) derives ultimately from the Latin peregrinus; the l sound results from dissimilation of the first r under the influence of the second r. A special case of dissimilation is haplology, in which the second of the two identical or similar syllables is dropped. Examples include the standard modern British pronunciations of Worcester and Gloucester with two syllables rather than three and the common pronunciation of library as if it were written libry. Both assimilation and dissimilation are commonly subsumed under the principle of ease of articulation. This is clearly applicable in typical instances of assimilation. It is less obvious how or why a succession of unlike sounds in contiguous syllables should be easier to pronounce than a succession of identical or similar sounds. But a better understanding of this phenomenon, as of other slips of the tongue, may result from current work in the physiological and neurological aspects of speech production. Not all sound change is to be accounted for in terms of syntagmatic conditioning. The change of p, t, and k to f, q (the th sound in thin), and h or of b, d, g to p, t, and k in early Germanic cannot be explained in these terms. Nor can the so-called Great Vowel Shift in English, which, in the 15th century, modified the quality of all the long vowels (cf. profane : profanity; divine : divinity; and others). Attempts have been made to develop a general theory of sound change, notably by the French linguist Andr Martinet. But no such theory has yet won universal acceptance, and it is likely that the causes of sound change are multiple. Sound change is not necessarily phonological; it may be merely phonetic (see above Structural linguistics: Phonology). The pronunciation of one or more of the phones realizing a particular phoneme may change slightly without affecting any of the previously existing phonological distinctions; this no doubt happens quite frequently as a language is transmitted from one generation to the next. Two diachronically distinct states of the language would differ in this respect in the same way as two coexistent but geographically or socially distinct accents of the same language might differ. It is only when two previously distinct phonemes are merged or a unitary phoneme splits into two (typically when allophonic variation becomes phonemic) that sound change must definitely be considered as phonological. For example, the sound change of p to f, t to q(th), and k to h, on the one hand, and of b to p, d to t, and g to k, on the other, in early Germanic had the effect of changing the phonological system. The voiceless stops did not become fricatives in all positions; they remained as voiceless stops after s. Consequently, the p sound that was preserved after s merged with the p that derived by sound change from b. (It is here assumed that the aspirated p sound and the unaspirated p sound are to be regarded as allophones of the same phoneme). Prior to the Germanic sound shift the phoneme to be found at the beginning of the words for five or father also occurred after s in words for spit or spew; after the change this was no longer the case. Methods of synchronic linguistic analysis Structural linguistics This section is concerned mainly with a version of structuralism (which may also be called descriptive linguistics) developed by scholars working in a post-Bloomfieldian tradition. Phonology With the great progress made in phonetics in the late 19th century, it had become clear that the question whether two speech sounds were the same or not was more complex than might appear at first sight. Two utterances of what was taken to be the same word might differ quite perceptibly from one occasion of utterance to the next. Some of this variation could be attributed to a difference of dialect or accent and is of no concern here. But even two utterances of the same word by the same speaker might vary from one occasion to the next. Variation of this kind, though it is generally less obvious and would normally pass unnoticed, is often clear enough to the trained phonetician and is measurable instrumentally. It is known that the same word is being uttered, even if the physical signal produced is variable, in part, because the different pronunciations of the same word will cluster around some acoustically identifiable norm. But this is not the whole answer, because it is actually impossible to determine norms of pronunciation in purely acoustic terms. Once it has been decided what counts as sameness of sound from the linguistic point of view, the permissible range of variation for particular sounds in particular contexts can be measured, and, within certain limits, the acoustic cues for the identification of utterances as the same can be determined. What is at issue is the difference between phonetic and phonological (or phonemic) identity, and for these purposes it will be sufficient to define phonetic identity in terms solely of acoustic sameness. Absolute phonetic identity is a theoretical ideal never fully realized. From a purely phonetic point of view, sounds are more or less similar, rather than absolutely the same or absolutely different. Speech sounds considered as units of phonetic analysis in this article are called phones, and, following the normal convention, are represented by enclosing the appropriate alphabetic symbol in square brackets. Thus will refer to a p sound (i.e., what is described more technically as a voiceless, bilabial stop); and will refer to a complex of three phonesa p sound, followed by an i sound, followed by a t sound. A phonetic transcription may be relatively broad (omitting much of the acoustic detail) or relatively narrow (putting in rather more of the detail), according to the purpose for which it is intended. A very broad transcription will be used in this article except when finer phonetic differences must be shown. Phonological, or phonemic, identity was referred to above as sameness of sound from the linguistic point of view. Considered as phonological unitsi.e., from the point of view of their function in the languagesounds are described as phonemes and are distinguished from phones by enclosing their appropriate symbol (normally, but not necessarily, an alphabetic one) between two slash marks. Thus /p/ refers to a phoneme that may be realized on different occasions of utterance or in different contexts by a variety of more or less different phones. Phonological identity, unlike phonetic similarity, is absolute: two phonemes are either the same or different, they cannot be more or less similar. For example, the English words bit and pit differ phonemically in that the first has the phoneme /b/ and the second has the phoneme /p/ in initial position. As the words are normally pronounced, the phonetic realization of /b/ will differ from the phonetic realization of /p/ in a number of different ways: it will be at least partially voiced (i.e., there will be some vibration of the vocal cords), it will be without aspiration (i.e., there will be no accompanying slight puff of air, as there will be in the case of the phone realizing /p/), and it will be pronounced with less muscular tension. It is possible to vary any one or all of these contributory differences, making the phones in question more or less similar, and it is possible to reduce the phonetic differences to the point that the hearer cannot be certain which word, bit or pit, has been uttered. But it must be either one or the other; there is no word with an initial sound formed in the same manner as /p/ or /b/ that is halfway between the two. This is what is meant by saying that phonemes are absolutely distinct from one anotherthey are discrete rather than continuously variable. How it is known whether two phones realize the same phoneme or not is dealt with differently by different schools of linguists. The orthodox post-Bloomfieldian school regards the first criterion to be phonetic similarity. Two phones are not said to realize the same phoneme unless they are sufficiently similar. What is meant by sufficiently similar is rather vague, but it must be granted that for every phoneme there is a permissible range of variation in the phones that realize it. As far as occurrence in the same context goes, there are no serious problems. More critical is the question of whether two phones occurring in different contexts can be said to realize the same phoneme or not. To take a standard example from English: the phone that occurs at the beginning of the word pit differs from the phone that occurs after the initial /s/ of spit. The p sound occurring after the /s/ is unaspirated (i.e., it is pronounced without any accompanying slight puff of air). The aspirated and unaspirated p sounds may be symbolized rather more narrowly as and respectively. The question then is whether and realize the same phoneme /p/ or whether each realizes a different phoneme. They satisfy the criterion of phonetic similarity, but this, though a necessary condition of phonemic identity, is not a sufficient one. The next question is whether there is any pair of words in which the two phones are in minimal contrast (or opposition); that is, whether there is any context in English in which the occurrence of the one rather than the other has the effect of distinguishing two or more words (in the way that versus distinguishes the so-called minimal pairs pit and bit, pan and ban, and so on). If there is, it can be said that, despite their phonetic similarity, the two phones realize (or belong to) different phonemesthat the difference between them is phonemic. If there is no context in which the two phones are in contrast (or opposition) in this sense, it can be said that they are variants of the same phonemethat the difference between them is nonphonemic. Thus, the difference between and in English is nonphonemic; the two sounds realize, or belong to, the same phoneme, namely /p/. In several other languagese.g., Hindithe contrast between such sounds as and is phonemic, however. The question is rather more complicated than it has been represented here. In particular, it should be noted that is phonetically similar to as well as to and that, although and are in contrast, and are not. It would thus be possible to regard and as variants of the same phoneme. Most linguists, however, have taken the alternative view, assigning to the same phoneme as . Here it will suffice to note that the criteria of phonetic similarity and lack of contrast do not always uniquely determine the assignment of phones to phonemes. Various supplementary criteria may then be invoked. Phones that can occur and do not contrast in the same context are said to be in free variation in that context, and, as has been shown, there is a permissible range of variation for the phonetic realization of all phonemes. More important than free variation in the same context, however, is systematically determined variation according to the context in which a given phoneme occurs. To return to the example used above: and , though they do not contrast, are not in free variation either. Each of them has its own characteristic positions of occurrence, and neither occurs, in normal English pronunciation, in any context characteristic for the other (e.g., only occurs at the beginning of a word, and only occurs after s). This is expressed by saying that they are in complementary distribution. (The distribution of an element is the whole range of contexts in which it can occur.) Granted that and are variants of the same phoneme /p/, it can be said that they are contextually, or positionally, determined variants of it. To use the technical term, they are allophones of /p/. The allophones of a phoneme, then, are its contextually determined variants and they are in complementary distribution. The post-Bloomfieldians made the assignment of phones to phonemes subject to what is now generally referred to as the principle of bi-uniqueness. The phonemic specification of a word or utterance was held to determine uniquely its phonetic realization (except for free variation), and, conversely, the phonetic description of a word or utterance was held to determine uniquely its phonemic analysis. Thus, if two words or utterances are pronounced alike, then they must receive the same phonemic description; conversely, two words or utterances that have been given the same phonemic analysis must be pronounced alike. The principle of bi-uniqueness was also held to imply that, if a given phone was assigned to a particular phoneme in one position of occurrence, then it must be assigned to the same phoneme in all its other positions of occurrence; it could not be the allophone of one phoneme in one context and of another phoneme in other contexts. A second important principle of the post-Bloomfieldian approach was its insistence that phonemic analysis should be carried out prior to and independently of grammatical analysis. Neither this principle nor that of bi-uniqueness was at all widely accepted outside the post-Bloomfieldian school, and they have been abandoned by the generative phonologists (see below). Phonemes of the kind referred to so far are segmental; they are realized by consonantal or vocalic (vowel) segments of words, and they can be said to occur in a certain order relative to one another. For example, in the phonemic representation of the word bit, the phoneme /b/ precedes /i/, which precedes /t/. But nonsegmental, or suprasegmental, aspects of the phonemic realization of words and utterances may also be functional in a language. In English, for example, the noun import differs from the verb import in that the former is accented on the first and the latter on the second syllable. This is called a stress accent: the accented syllable is pronounced with greater force or intensity. Many other languages distinguish words suprasegmentally by tone. For example, in Mandarin Chinese the words ha day and hao good are distinguished from one another in that the first has a falling tone and the second a falling-rising tone; these are realized, respectively, as (1) a fall in the pitch of the syllable from high to low and (2) a change in the pitch of the syllable from medium to low and back to medium. Stress and tone are suprasegmental in the sense that they are superimposed upon the sequence of segmental phonemes. The term tone is conventionally restricted by linguists to phonologically relevant variations of pitch at the level of words. Intonation, which is found in all languages, is the variation in the pitch contour or pitch pattern of whole utterances, of the kind that distinguishes (either of itself or in combination with some other difference) statements from questions or indicates the mood or attitude of the speaker (as hesitant, surprised, angry, and so forth). Stress, tone, and intonation do not exhaust the phonologically relevant suprasegmental features found in various languages, but they are among the most important. A complete phonological description of a language includes all the segmental phonemes and specifies which allophones occur in which contexts. It also indicates which sequences of phonemes are possible in the language and which are not: it will indicate, for example, that the sequences /bl/ and /br/ are possible at the beginning of English words but not /bn/ or /bm/. A phonological description also identifies and states the distribution of the suprasegmental features. Just how this is to be done, however, has been rather more controversial in the post-Bloomfieldian tradition. Differences between the post-Bloomfieldian approach to phonology and approaches characteristic of other schools of structural linguistics will be treated below. Transformational-generative grammar Modifications in Chomsky's grammar

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