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Chapter 2 – The Elements of Language
Language is a complex phenomenon. In order to better understand language, it is often broken down into individual components. In this chapter we will discuss these components that will be referred to through the subsequent sections on language development and language disorders in this text.
After reading this chapter students should be able to:
- Explain what a phoneme is and how to recognize it.
- Define the term morpheme and understand how to count morphemes in words.
- Explain the rules that underlie syntax and recognize their application to sentence building.
- Describe the challenges in developing rules for semantics.
- Explain the concept of pragmatics and its application in communication.
- Identifying phonemes of a language
- Phonological rules
- Phonotactic constraints
- Definition of phonology
- Definition of morphology
- Types of morphemes
- Definition of syntax
- Syntactic Rules
- Phrase structure rules
- Transformational rules
- Government and binding theory
- Definition of semantics
- Semantic component theory
- Fundamental features
- Selection restrictions
- Definition of pragmatics
- Speech acts
- Conversational rules VII. Summary
Phoneme Voiced/Unvoiced sounds
Place of articulation Phonotactic constraints
Manner of articulation Optimality theory
- Discuss the experiences that students have had with speech recognition, such as when they called a doctor’s office or an airline. What, if any, difficulties did they encounter? What are the challenges in developing speech recognition systems?
- Help students understand the concept of minimal pairs by asking them to provide additional examples of English words that can change meaning with the addition or deletion of an initial sound.
- Use the video on “sound production” to help students understand how the production of consonants differs from the production of vowel sounds.
2.1 Have students go to the “Antimoon” web site to explore the difference between American and British English sound production and how sounds are represented by IPA symbols.
- Provide students with some examples of “real” and “nonsense” words (or elicit examples from the students). Discuss why some sound combinations are permissible in English and some are not.
- The distinction between a phoneme and a morpheme can be difficult to understand. Discuss how these differ and give (or elicit) examples of each.
- Discuss what the results of the “Morphology Exercise” tell us about the rules of English morphology.
- Ask students to list other words like “cranberry” that have been thought to be one morpheme but, because of changes in usage, have become two or more morphemes. Discuss the implications for language change.
- Ask students to develop a list of free and a list of bound morphemes and explain how they differ.
Phrase structure rules
Government and binding theory
- Discuss the evidence for the existence of syntactic rules (e.g. “errors” made by young children; the ability to make guesses about the type of words that can be used to complete a sentence).
- Use the example from “Jabberwocky” to discuss how we know there is such a thing as a syntactic rule.
- Give an example of a simple sentence to illustrate how phrase structure rules are used.
- Explain the limitations of phrase structure rules by giving an example of a question (e.g. Are you going to school”) that illustrates elements that have been moved from their “usual” position in the phrase.
- After students have completed the “Syntax Exercise,” discuss the implications of the examples for understanding the development of syntactic rules in children.
- X-bar theory can be very difficult to understand. It is not necessary to understand the details but it is important to understand how X-bar theory extends the transformational grammar model. The video on X-bar theory can be used to illustrate this-especially the first two minutes of the video.
- What is the subject in the following sentences:
The ball was hit by the girl.
How do you know?
Make up a grammatical rule that tells how sentences like those above are created.
- Students could generate additional sentences that include syntactic structures that could be challenging for children of different ages to understand. They could then identify the structure being presented and explain why it would be challenging for younger children.
Semantic feature model
- Discuss the issues raised by Chomsky’s use of the sentence: “Colorless green ideas sleep furiously.” How does this utterance call into question the primacy of syntax?
- Discuss the concept of semantic selection restrictions, then ask students to generate additional examples of words that do not go together (like “married bachelor”). Discuss what such examples tell us about the existence of semantic rules.
- Discuss the problems that arise when using an indirect request such as, “Can you raise your hand?” Why is it that this utterance can be misunderstood? How does this example illustrate the need for another set of language rules?
- Ask students to explain what is “wrong’ with the following sentence? The freckled orange ate dinner with the purple cat.
Why is the sentence “wrong”? What does this tell us about semantic rules?
- Ask students to draw a picture of a dog, then share their picture with a partner. What was the same about each picture? What was different? What do the results tell us about the existence of “prototypical” referents for words? What are the implications for the development of semantic knowledge in children?
Indirect speech acts
- Discuss examples of “violation” of conversational rules. How might these violations make conversational participants uneasy.
- Some linguists have asserted that pragmatics is not really an element of language because it requires the use of extra-linguistics knowledge (such as knowledge of socio-cultural norms). Ask students to vote on whether pragmatics is an element of knowledge and justify their answer with an example. Discuss the implications for language use.
2.8 The “Pragmatic Language Exercise” gives several examples of indirect speech acts. Ask students to generate additional examples and discuss why listeners might be confused about the intent of the speaker.
Chapter 2 – Testbank
2.1. The element of language concerned with how words are put together to make sentences is:
2.2. Eric’s teacher said to him, “Can you raise your hand?” after Eric called out an answer.
Eric answered, “Yes.” Eric’s response violates a rule of which aspect of language:
2.3. The smallest linguistic unit that carries meaning is a:
a. speech act.
2.4. Which of the following phrase-structure rules best describes the following sentence:
“The fat cat chased the dog.”
- NP= Art + Noun; VP= V + DO; DO=Art + Noun
- NP= Art + Adj+ Noun; VP= V
- NP= Art + Adj+ Noun; VP= V + DO; DO=Art +
- NP= Noun; VP= V + DO; DO= Noun
2.5. Phonology is the study of:
- how language is used in social interaction.
- the sound system of language.
- how meaning is applied to words.
- how words are put together to form
2.6. According to semantic theory, the words “colorless” and “green” can not appear together because they violate:
- phonological rules.
- phrase structure rules.
- the relation principle.
- selection restrictions.
2.7. Which of the following words does not conform to the phonotactic constraints found in the English language:
2.8. A phoneme may be defined as, “the small linguistic unit that carries meaning.”
2.9. Phonology is the study of the sound system of language.
2.10. Morphological rules govern how words are formed.
2.11. Phrase structure rules are the only kind needed to describe the syntax of a language.
2.12. Syntax is the study of how meaning is attached to words.
2.13. The study of how people vary their language in different conversational situations is called “speech acts.”
2.14. The plural “S” is an example of a morpheme.
2.15. The word “sailboats” consists of morphemes.
2.16. Transformational rules operate on the of an utterance to arrive at the
2.17. When a teacher says, “Can you sit down” to a child who is out of their seat, the teacher is using an speech act.
2.18. According to the semantic component theory of semantics, all words have certain features and restrictions.
2.19. Pragmatics includes the study of and .
2.20. How many morphemes are in the word, “government?” Explain your answer.
2.21. What is the role of socio-cultural norms in the use of language for communication?
|Multiple Choice||True-False||Short Answer|
| 2.1 Answer: A
| 2.8 Answer: F
2.2 Answer: C
| 2.9 Answer: T
| 2.3 Answer: D
| 2.10 Answer: T
|2.16 (deep structure/surface structure)|
2.4 Answer: C
| 2.11 Answer: F
| 2.5 Answer: B
| 2.12 Answer: F
2.6 Answer: D
2.7 Answer: B
| 2.13 Answer: F
| 2.19 (speech acts/conversational rules)