What Is Language? Essay

544 words - 3 pages

Richelle Parker
Ling 102
January 17, 2010
RR #1

What is Language?

This section of the text started out by laying out the design features that make up a language: channel, function, exchange, learning, arbitrariness, compositionality, imagination, and creativity. The channels of language are basically the senses you use to communicate and can vary depending on the type of message you want to get across. Exchange is simply stated, the exchange of information in either a one-way or two-way form. However, most human language is two-way considering in most cases there is a response to the message sent. Learning is a form of communication where a person learns to communicate by the people around them by sound or motion. Arbitrariness in language is the very subtle differences between ...view middle of the document...

It also spoke about the different units that go into a language, which can be broken down into phonemes, morphemes and phonasthemes. Language units at these levels can be referred to as syntax and are controlled by rules of grammar. Intonation and prosody, which consist of the pitch of voice and rhythm of the speaker’s voice, are tools used to convey emotion or attitude. Languages can have several different dialects which are slightly different ways of speaking the same language based or culture or region and the mutual intelligibility of those dialects is the percentage of how many words from one dialect can be understood by another speech community.
The text also talked about the science of language and how linguists, just like regular scientists, use the scientific method to study language. It consists of fieldwork, compiling databases known as a corpus and experimentation as well introspection where linguists create their own theories based on their personal experience. Once this data has been compiled they begin data analysis with models of how the units of the language are used and the principals and constraints that predict regularity. The last step of this process is hypothesis testing where linguists put their ideas into working models and test for recursion.
The last section of text speaks about the larynx and its evolution into the organ that help human language to be so unique to our species and the differences between human and ape voice boxes and adult and infant voice boxes.
This reading can be useful in helping me understand why people speak in certain way by listening for the subtle differences in dialect and mutual intelligibility especially because I work in the food service industry and deal with people from all over the world on a daily basis.

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