LS - 05 - The Modules of Grammar (1)

LS - 05 - The Modules of Grammar (1) - Chapter 5 The Parts...

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Chapter 5 The Parts of Grammar Introduction I n this chapter, I will discuss the overall organization of the mental grammar. I will start with information that might be familiar to the average reader, namely what it is that we find in a grammar books . Then I will present the structure of the grammar in more schematic terms, meant as a model of the grammar that speakers have in their heads, the mental grammar. What Do We Find in a Grammar Book? A lthough our goal is to study the structure of the mental grammar, that is the system that speakers of languages have in their heads, I will start by asking what kind of information is usually contained in a grammar (whether prescriptive or descriptive) book. I do this because most readers must have seen or used grammar books, so they know a fair amount about the structure of grammars already. It is reasonable to expect that there are resemblances between grammar books and mental grammars, although the two are quite different things as well. Pronunciation G rammar books (for whatever purposes they have been written) often describe the facts of languages by first introducing the reader to the pronunciation . This is usually done by listing the sounds of the relevant language, each sound followed by an English word that has that sound or something close to it. a as a in father carta = paper e as a in mate mele = apples o as o in rope colore = color o as o in soft toro = bull
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Part I: Grammar Chapter 5: The Modules of Grammar Some grammars use a specific way of indicating the pronunciation of foreign words such as for the following Italian words: carta cárr-tah mele máy-lay colore coh-lóh-ray toro táw-rroh Sometimes the grammar will even describe the sounds in terms of the articulatory movements needed to produce them and/or in terms of impressionistic descriptions of the sounds: p lip sound, hard b lip sound, soft A linguist calls the sounds of languages (not the letters to write them!) PHONemes, and the study of these units falls under the heading PHONology . Phonemes are divided into various subclasses, notably consonants and vowels (but further subdivisions can be made). Different languages have different sets of phonemes. English , for example, has 14 vowels and 24 consonants. The language Haida (an American-Indian language) has 3 vowels and 46 consonants. The words of each language are made up of sequences of consonants and vowels, but it is not the case that any sequence of phonemes will be a well-formed word (which means grammatical, or in accordance with the grammar) in any given language. In English , for example, the sequence pr can occur at the beginning of a word, whereas the same combination is not allowed in many other languages that have a p and r phoneme, such as, for example, Hawaiian . General statements about which combinations of consonants and vowels are permitted in a given language make reference to the notion of syllable , assuming that any combination of wellformed syllables will make a wellformed word. A more accurate statement about the phoneme sequence
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