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An introduction to the use of linguistic power

Characteristics of language Definitions of language Many definitions of language have been proposed. Henry Sweet, an English phonetician and language scholar, stated: Words are combined into sentences, this combination answering to that of ideas into thoughts. Trager formulated the following definition: Every physiologically and mentally typical person acquires in childhood the ability to make use, as both sender and receiver, of a system of communication that comprises a circumscribed set of an introduction to the use of linguistic power e.

In spoken languagethis symbol set consists of noises resulting from movements of certain organs within the throat and mouth. In signed languagesthese symbols may be hand or body movements, gestures, or facial expressions.

By means of these symbols, people are able to impart information, to express feelings and emotions, to influence the activities of others, and to comport themselves with varying degrees of friendliness or hostility toward persons who make use of substantially the same set of symbols. Different systems of communication constitute different languages; the degree of difference needed to establish a different language cannot be stated exactly.

No two people speak exactly alike; hence, one is able to recognize the voices of friends over the telephone and to keep distinct a number of unseen speakers in a radio broadcast. Yet, clearly, no one would say that they speak different languages. Generally, systems of communication are recognized as different languages if they cannot be understood without specific learning by both parties, though the precise limits of mutual intelligibility are hard to draw and belong on a scale rather than on either side of a definite dividing line.

Substantially different systems of communication that may impede but do not prevent mutual comprehension are called dialects of a language. In order to describe in detail the actual different language patterns of individuals, the term idiolectmeaning the habits of expression of a single person, has been coined.

Typically, people acquire a single language initially—their first language, or native tongue, the language used by those with whom, or by whom, they are brought up from infancy.

About The Language of Crime and Deviance

Complete mastery of two languages is designated as bilingualism ; in many cases—such as upbringing by parents using different languages at home or being raised within a multilingual community—children grow up as bilinguals. Language, as described above, is species-specific to human beings.

Other members of the animal kingdom have the ability to communicate, through vocal noises or by other means, but the most important single feature characterizing human language that is, every individual languageagainst every known mode of animal communication, is its infinite productivity and creativity. Animal communication systems are by contrast very tightly circumscribed in what may be communicated. Indeed, displaced reference, the ability to communicate about things outside immediate temporal and spatial contiguity, which is fundamental to speech, is found elsewhere only in the so-called language of bees.

Bees are able, by carrying out various conventionalized movements referred to as bee dances in or near the hive, to indicate to others the locations and strengths of food sources.

But food sources are the only known theme of this communication system. Surprisingly, however, this system, nearest to human language in function, belongs to a species remote from humanity in the animal kingdom. On the other hand, the animal performance superficially most like human speech, the mimicry of parrots and of some other birds that have been kept in the company of humans, is wholly derivative and serves no independent communicative function.

Attempts to teach sign language to chimpanzees and other apes through imitation have achieved limited success, though the interpretation of the significance of ape signing ability remains controversial. However, sociolinguistic and psycholinguistic studies have drawn attention to a range of other functions for language. Among these is the use of language to express a national or local identity a common source of conflict in situations of multiethnicity around the world, such as in Belgium, Indiaand Quebec.

Language interacts with every aspect of human life in society, and it can be understood only if it is considered in relation to society. This article attempts to survey language in this light and to consider its various functions and the purposes it can and has been made to serve.

Because each language is both a working system of communication in the period and in the community wherein it is used and also the product of its history and the source of its future development, any account of language must consider it from both these points of view. The science of language is known an introduction to the use of linguistic power linguistics. It includes what are generally distinguished as descriptive linguistics and historical linguistics.

Linguistics is now a highly technical subject; it embraces, both descriptively and historically, such major divisions as phoneticsgrammar including syntax and morphologysemanticsand pragmaticsdealing in detail with these various aspects of language.

Historical attitudes toward language As is evident from the discussion above, human life in its present form would be impossible and inconceivable without the use of language. People have long recognized the force and significance of language.

Naming —applying a word to pick out and refer to a fellow human being, an animal, an object, or a class of such beings or objects—is only one part of the use of language, but it is an essential and prominent part.

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In many cultures people have seen in the ability to name a means to control or to possess; this explains the reluctance, in some communitieswith which names are revealed to strangers and the taboo restrictions found in several parts of the world on using the names of persons recently dead.

Such restrictions echo widespread and perhaps universal taboos on naming directly things considered obscene, blasphemous, or very fearful. Perhaps not surprisingly, several independent traditions ascribe a divine or at least a supernatural origin to language or to the language of a particular community. So out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name.

A similar divine aura pervades early accounts of the origin of writing. The Norse god Odin was held responsible for the invention of the runic alphabet. The inspired stroke of genius whereby the ancient Greeks adapted a variety of the Phoenician consonantal script so as to represent the distinctive consonant and vowel sounds of Greek, thus producing the first alphabet such as is known today, was linked with the mythological figure Cadmuswho, coming from Phoenicia, was said to have founded Thebes and introduced writing into Greece see Phoenician language.

By a an introduction to the use of linguistic power account, the Arabic alphabettogether with the language itselfwas given to Adam by God. The later biblical tradition of the Tower of Babel Genesis 11: Courtesy of the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna The origin of language has never failed to provide a subject for speculation, and its inaccessibility adds to its fascination.

But people have tried to go farther, to an introduction to the use of linguistic power or to reconstruct something like the actual forms and structure of the first language. This lies forever beyond the reach of science, in that spoken language in some form is almost certainly coeval with Homo sapiens. The earliest records of written language, the only linguistic fossils humanity can hope to have, go back no more than 4,000 to 5,000 years. On several occasions attempts have been made to identify one particular existing language as representing the original or oldest tongue of humankind, but, in fact, the universal process of linguistic change rules out any such hopes from the start.

The Greek historian Herodotus told a possibly satirical story in which King Psamtik I of Egypt reigned 664—610 bce caused a child to be brought up without ever hearing a word spoken in his presence.

In Christian Europe the position of Hebrew as the language of the Hebrew Bible Old Testament gave valid grounds through many centuries for regarding Hebrewthe language in which God was assumed to have addressed Adam, as the parent language of all humankind.

Such a view continued to be expressed even well into the 19th century. Only since the mid-1800s has linguistic science made sufficient progress finally to clarify the impracticability of speculation along these lines.

When people have begun to reflect on language, its relation to thinking becomes a central concern.

Several cultures have independently viewed the main function of language as the expression of thought. Such an attitude passed into Latin theory and thence into medieval doctrine. Medieval grammarians envisaged three stages in the speaking process: Rationalist writers on language in the 17th century gave essentially a similar account: Such a view of language continued to be accepted as generally adequate and gave rise to the sort of definition proposed by Henry Sweet and quoted above.

The main objection to it is that it either gives so wide an interpretation to thought as virtually to empty the word of any specific content or gives such a narrow interpretation of language as to exclude a great deal of normal usage.

A recognition of the part played by speaking and writing in social cooperation in everyday life has highlighted the many and varied functions of language in all cultures, apart from the functions strictly involved in the communication of thought, which had been the main focus of attention for those who approached language from the standpoint of the philosopher.

The Language of Crime and Deviance

These thinkers were concerned with the origin and development of language in relation to thought in a way that earlier students had not been. The medieval and rationalist views implied that humans, as rational, thinking creatures, invented language to express their thoughts, fitting words to an already developed structure of intellectual competence. The relations between thought and communication are certainly not fully explained today, and it is clear that it is a great oversimplification to define thought as subvocal speech, in the manner of some behaviourists.

But it is no less clear that propositions and other alleged logical structures cannot be wholly separated from the language structures said to express them. Even the symbolizations of modern formal logic are ultimately derived from statements made in some natural language and are interpreted in that light.

The intimate connection between language and thought, as opposed to the earlier assumed unilateral dependence of language on thought, opened the way to a recognition of the possibility that different language structures might in part favour or even determine different ways of understanding and thinking about the world. All people inhabit a broadly similar world, or they would be unable to translate from one language to another, but they do not all inhabit a world exactly the same in all particulars, and translation is not merely a matter of substituting different but equivalent labels for the contents of the same inventory.

From this stem the notorious difficulties in translation, especially when the systematizations of science, law, moralssocial structure, and so on are involved. The extent of the interdependence of language and thought—linguistic an introduction to the use of linguistic power, as it has been termed—is still a matter of debate, but the fact of such interdependence can hardly fail to be acknowledged.

  1. This is why the grammar of written language can be dealt with separately. The science of language is known as linguistics.
  2. In the case of dead languages, known with certainty only in their written forms, this must necessarily be done; insofar as the somewhat different grammar of their spoken forms made use of sound features not represented in writing e.
  3. Historical attitudes toward language As is evident from the discussion above, human life in its present form would be impossible and inconceivable without the use of language. One soon realizes how complicated any language is when trying to learn it as a second language.

Ways of studying language Languages are immensely complicated structures. One soon realizes how complicated any language is an introduction to the use of linguistic power trying to learn it as a second language. Likewise, ongoing work in the study of language has underscored just how much effort is needed to bring palpable fact within systematic statement. This article proposes simply to give a brief outline of the way language or languages can be considered and described from different points of view, or at different levels, each contributing something essential and unique to a full understanding of the subject.

A more detailed treatment of the science of linguistics can be found in the article linguistics. Phonetics and phonology The most obvious aspect of language is speech. Speech is not essential to the definition of an infinitely productive communication system, such as is constituted by a language. But, in fact, speech is the universal material of most human language, and the conditions of speaking and hearing have, throughout human history, shaped and determined its development.

The study of the anatomyphysiologyneurologyand acoustics of speaking is called phonetics ; this subject is dealt with further below see Physiological and physical basis of speech. Articulatory phonetics relates to the physiology of speech, and acoustic phonetics relates to the physics of sound waves—i.

Created and produced by QA International. But, from a rather different point of view, speech sounds are also studied in phonology. Spoken language makes use of a very wide range of the articulations and resultant sounds that are available within the human vocal and auditory resources.

Far fewer general classes of sounds are distinctive carry meaning differences in any language than the number of sounds that are actually phonetically different. The English t sounds at the beginning and end of tot and in the two places in stouter are all different, though these differences are not readily noticed by English speakers, and, rightly, the same letter is used for them all.

Similar statements could be made about most or all of the other consonant and vowel sounds in English. What is distinctive in one language may not be distinctive in another or may be used in a different way; this is an additional difficulty to be overcome in learning a foreign language. In Chinese and in several other languages loosely called tone languages, the pitchor tone, on which a syllable is said helps to distinguish one word from another: Languages differ in the ways in which consonant and vowel sounds can be grouped into syllables in words.

English and German tolerate several consonants before and after a single vowel: Italian does not have such complex syllables, and in Japanese and Swahili, for example, the ratio of consonant and vowel sounds in syllables and in words is much more even. Grammar Another component of language structure is grammar. There is more to language than sounds, and words are not to be regarded as merely sequences of syllables.

The concept of the word is a grammatical concept; in speech, words are not separated by pauses, but they are recognized as recurrent units that make up sentences. Very generally, grammar is concerned with the relations between words in sentences. Classes of words, or parts of speech, as they are often called, are distinguished because they occupy different places in sentence structure, and in most languages some of them appear in different forms according to their function English man, men; walk, walked; I, me; and so on.

Languages differ in the extent to which word-form variation is used in their grammar; Classical Chinese had almost none, English does not have much, and Latin and Greek had quite a lot. Conversely, English makes much more use of word order in grammar than did Latin or Greek.