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In Chapters 3–6, we describe the phonology, morphology, and syntax of primarily Standard

American English. Review these chapters, and describe at least one way in which

the dialect that you speak differs (or can differ in some contexts) from the description

of the “standard” in each of these categories: phonology, inflectional morphology,

pronouns, auxiliary verbs, adverbs, prepositions.


250-450 words would be fine. 


Attached are chapters 3-6 if needed. 

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67 A child learning to write, or any inexperienced writer, often writes words the way that he or she says them. So a child might write samwich for sandwich or snift for sniffed . The first pronunciation, “samwich,” is common for many speakers of English, not just kids. If you are honest with yourself, do you really say the “d” when you say sandwich fast in natural speech? You would be in good company if you do not. Even if you do pronounce the “d,” where did that “d” go for many speak- ers of English? The answer is that speakers delete the “d” to simplify what would otherwise be a string of three consonants. That said, there remains another question: with the “d” deleted, why does the “n” turn into an “m”? What happens is that the sound /n/ becomes more like the sound /w/ that follows it, and when /n/ becomes more like /w/, it turns into /m/. The study of the English sound system, or English phonology, explains how /m/ is more like /w/ than /n/ is. (As a side note, sometimes it’s hard to grasp how sounds work in relation to one another without sounding them out. We encourage you to do so—you’ll discover, for example, the simi- lar position of your lips in making /m/ and /w/ much more efficiently by sounding them out than purely by reading paragraphs about the details of their pronunciation.) What about snift and sniffed ? We all pronounce sniffed with a final “t.” We learn that for most verbs the past-tense ending is spelled - ed , and many of us stop paying attention to the fact that this past-tense ending does not always sound like a “d.” There are, in fact, three different pronunciations of the - ed ending: one with /t/ (e.g., sniffed ), one with /d/ (e.g., snored ), and one with a full extra syllable Chapter 3 English Phonology The word sandwich sometimes gets spelled samwich , as it is on this sign. What happens phonologically with this word to cause the samwich spelling?
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ending in /d/ (e.g., snorted ). And it is entirely predictable, based on the last sound of the verb, which ending will be added, as we will discuss in this chapter. In every variety of every language, sounds are arranged according to a complex set of rules. We begin the study of the structure of the English language with the sound system for two main reasons: (1) sounds are the fundamental building blocks of language; and (2) sounds perhaps most clearly demonstrate the “systematicity” of language, that is, the ways in which language is rule governed and the elements of a language are interrelated. The study of phonetics and phonology may be one of the most unfamiliar units in a course on the English language, as this is a way of thinking about sound that you may never have encountered before. Phonetics and Phonology When you listen to another English speaker talk, you probably think that you are hearing separate words that string together to make sentences. On a page, words are separated by white spaces. But when you listen to another person talk, you don’t hear white spaces. In fact, you hear a nearly continuous stream of sound. How does your brain separate this stream of sound into meaningful segments? Within the continuous stream of sound that we usually think of as “speech” or even “language,” our brains distinguish individual sound units or segments, which linguists call phonemes . A phoneme is what native speakers would think of as a distinctive sound of a language, a sound different from all other sounds in the language. The “p” in puck and cup is a phoneme distinct from any of the other sounds in those words—those other sounds are phonemes too. To be absolutely precise, when we say the “p” in cup , we are representing the phoneme in speech—the phoneme is an abstraction. Phonemes are the building blocks of words. Many phonemes have subtle variants, which linguists call allophones . A sound may be produced differently in different “environments,” that is, depending on the position of the sound in a word (e.g., initial or final) or the other sounds that appear next to the sound. For instance, the “p” in puck isn’t exactly the same as the “p” in cup . If you say puck , you’ll hear (or feel) the aspiration, the puff of air, as “p” moves into the vowel that follows it. But the “p” in cup , which is in the word-final position (that is, it occurs at the end of the word), stops the airflow—there’s no aspiration. Native speakers of a language hear all of the allophones, the variants of a sound, as the same sound or phoneme. We will return to this concept below. Phonology is the study of the sound system of any given language: the organization of a language’s sounds and their relationships to one another. Phonology examines which sounds make up the distinctive consonants and vowels of a language, which sounds would be considered by speakers just to be variants of those distinctive sounds, and which sounds or sound combinations do not seem to appear in that language. Every language is different in some of these categories. Some languages contain sounds that other languages do not (the African language Xhosa has clicks and English does not). Some languages make a distinction between two sounds that other languages do not (English 68 English Phonology
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104 B loggers have created not only a new genre of writing—the blog—but a new world of words as well. According to the new edition of the OED , the word blog is first cited in 1999. It began as the compound weblog and then was shortened by losing most of the first syllable. The noun blog quickly gave birth to the verb to blog , which in turn allowed the creation of blogging (the activ- ity), blogger (the person), and blogosphere (the network of bloggers and blog read- ers all over the Web). The American Dialect Society elected blog as the word most likely to succeed from the year 2002. A few years ago, one particular blogger created the blog www.whatevs.org, on which he introduced an array of new words—usually not completely made- up words, but derivations of already existing English words. For example, the shortened form whatevs can replace whatever when it is used to express the lack of a strong opinion. The shortened form evs is often used for ever : “Blogging is the best way to pass time evs.” Addish for ‘in addition’ represents a shortening with a respelling of the final sound as -ish to form a new word. Visitors to the site report that they now find themselves using evs , addish , obvs (‘obviously’), and other new words not only in their own blogging but in their speech as well. None of these new words may stick. But then again, some of them might gain enough currency to make it into a dictionary some day. After all, blog already has. Of particular interest for this chapter is that most of these “new” words are made from “old” parts. Occasionally a new word, like quark, is completely made up and English speakers have borrowed many words from other languages over the centuries. But the majority of new words in English involve the combination, short- ening, or other manipulation of already existing English components. We Chapter 4 English Morphology Blogs, like www.whatevs.org, have introduced or popularized new words in the English language, such as the word whatevs .
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speakers of English make up new words every day, and we know how to inter- pret most new words when we meet them. When you surf the Web and encounter words like bloggy (“That’s a bloggy notion”), bloghead (“Only a blog- head would think that”), blogtastic (“What he said about American foreign pol- icy was blogtastic”), or blogapalooza (“Let’s all meet up this weekend for a big ol’ blogapalooza”), you know exactly what they mean. We may think that we create these new words haphazardly and that they are “just slang.” But in fact, the processes of creating new words follow systematic patterns. This chap- ter focuses specifically on how existing words are structured and classified and how new words are formed. Morphology The study of word structure is called morphology . The word morphology comes from the Greek word morph é , meaning ‘form, shape’, which is also related to the English verb morph meaning ‘change’. But the study of language change is called historical linguis- tics, not morphology. Why not call the study of word structure “wordology” instead of “morphology”? Because many words are made up of smaller units, called morphemes, and morphology covers those units too. Linguists do not agree universally on a definition of morpheme, but the currently predominant view is that articulated by Zelig Harris (1942, 109): “Every sequence of phonemes which has meaning, and which is not composed of smaller sequences having meaning, is a morpheme.” Morphemes, therefore, are the smallest meaningful units in language. Some morphemes are freestanding words, such as small , unit , in , language . Some morphemes are not full words but they still carry meaning, such as the superlative suffix - est in smallest , the suffixes - ing in freestanding and - ful in meaningful , and the plural suffix - s in units . In linguistic terms, all of these are morphemes as well as lexi- cal items, small as well as - est . But we call small and smallest “words”; we don’t call - est a word. Why not? The answer lies in the roles any one of them can play in phrases, clauses, and sentences: freestanding morphemes have a different grammatical status from bound ones. English sentences are typically constructed from multiple words, some of which contain only one morpheme and some of which combine morphemes. In some languages, words and complete utterances are often the same thing. Consider this example borrowed from Leonard Bloomfield’s classic Language (1933, 207): the Inuit word that sounds like /a:wlisa-ut-iss ʔ ar-si-niarpu- ɔ a/ apparently means ‘I am looking for something suit- able for a fish-line’. This one word serves the purpose of an entire English sentence. Inuit is an agglutinative language : a language in which words are formed from strings of rel- atively stable parts or morphemes. That is, in agglutinative languages, morphemes change little in the process of combination. The Inuit word is thus a string of meaningful parts, or morphemes, most of which cannot stand on their own—in other words, they cannot be Inuit words themselves. Morphology 105
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134 F rom 1973 to 1985, forty-one different Schoolhouse Rock educational car- toon shorts aired weekend mornings between cartoons on the ABC tele- vision network. As children sang along, they learned how a bill becomes a law, how multiplication works, and how different parts of speech function. These Schoolhouse Rock shorts were revived more than a decade later, and you may remember songs such as “A Noun Is a Person, Place, or Thing” or “Conjunction Junction,” where conjunctions are “hooking up words and phrases and clauses.” The set of these enormously successful cartoon shorts about language, known together as Grammar Rock , captures some fundamentals about English parts of speech: conjunctions really do hook up words, phrases, and clauses, even if kids don’t know a clause from a cracker. But, for obvious reasons, these cartoons do not provide sufficiently complex descriptions of any of these parts of speech. For example, nouns are not persons, places, or things; some aren’t even words for persons, places, or things. How would you classify, for example, being , nothing- ness , karma , metaphor , or phoneme? Are these things in any conventional sense? And while all conjunctions are “hook ups,” are they all equivalent? Isn’t there a big difference between the function of and and that of because ? Many college students feel shaky about their control of grammar, despite the Grammar Rock songs stuck in their heads. One Calvin and Hobbes cartoon captures this discomfort well. Calvin says to Hobbes, “I need help on my homework. What’s a pronoun?” Hobbes replies, “A noun that lost its amateur status.” With a dubious look but a scribbling pen, Calvin remarks, “Maybe I can get a point for originality.” All students know that they should know English grammar, but few feel that they have command over it—however much or little grammar they were taught Chapter 5 Calvin and Hobbes. ©1996 Watterson. Dist. by Universal Press Syndicate. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved. English Syntax: The Grammar of Words
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in school. Many students, and you may count yourself among this group, learn the most about English grammar from studying a foreign language. Learning about direct and indirect object pronouns in French makes the distinction clear in English. Distinguishing the perfect and imperfect verb aspect in Spanish clar- ifies aspect in English verbs. In this chapter, we describe the grammatical cate- gories of English words, both those that correspond to distinctions in other languages and those that are specific to English. And although we agree that Calvin should certainly get originality points for this clever description of pro- nouns, you will discover better reasons for calling them pronouns. This chapter focuses on how words behave grammatically. For example, nouns all function similarly in sentences, so we can describe how the “category of nouns” behaves “syntactically.” Syntax refers to the study of how words combine systemati- cally to form meaningful strings such as sentences. In this chapter, we stay at the level of the word. In Chapter 6, also about syntax, the focus changes to phrases, clauses, and sentences. In Chapters 5 and 6, we will parse sentences: break them down into their compo- nent parts in order to examine the form and function of each part. Parsing helps us under- stand how all the parts work together to create the meaning of the sentence. Syntax and Lexical Categories We all know grammar in the descriptive sense—it allows us to use language for com- munication. The technical term syntax can make grammar sound less familiar, but if we all know grammar, that means we all know syntax. We have to know syntax to create each and every well-formed sentence that we utter every day. The following piece of knowledge may seem obvious, but it is fundamental to English syntax: we know that words cannot appear in just any order to form a grammatical sentence. Let’s start small. If you were given the three words book, in, and the and told to place them in an order that “sounds right” or is grammatical, you would know, as a speaker of English, that there is only one possibility for a well-formed phrase: in the book. Now imagine being presented with the following hodge-podge of words and being told to make a grammatical sentence: chapter perplexed the reread students the Given the requirement of grammaticality, you could not say * The reread students chapter perplexed the, but you could go with The perplexed students reread the chapter. In any context, the function of some words will help determine their placement as the entire sentence is constructed. For example, adjectives modify nouns, and they come before the noun they modify. If we look at the collection of words above, the only adjective is Syntax and Lexical Categories 135
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171 T he man who hunts ducks out occasionally. Did you read that sentence at least a couple of times before moving on to this one? Although you may not believe it, it is a grammatical sentence of English. It is called a “garden path sen- tence” because it leads you down the proverbial garden path, only for you to discover that you have misparsed the sentence—that is, misinterpreted the function of some of the words. You probably read who hunts ducks as a com- plete clause, all modifying the subject The man . You were, therefore, expect- ing another verb to come on the heels of ducks to indicate what the man who hunts ducks did: perhaps he headed out into the fields or decided to give up the sport. You were not expecting the words out occasionally —neither of which is a verb. As a speaker of English, you know that you need another verb to complete the main clause, so you realize something has gone terribly wrong in your reading of this sentence. If you are like the subjects described in the study in Steven Pinker’s book The Language Instinct (1994), your eyes probably jumped back to the potentially ambiguous word ducks to see if you could find a verb for the main clause. And sure enough: ducks can be reparsed as a third-person singular verb in the pres- ent tense, rather than as a plural noun functioning as the object of hunts , such that the sentence describes a man (who hunts) who ducks out. So what hap- pened in your original reading of the sentence? Because the verb hunt often functions transitively (i.e., it takes a direct object), you probably used your experience of that frequency to make a well-informed guess about how to understand the grammatically ambiguous word ducks , interpreting it as the Chapter 6 English Syntax: Phrases, Clauses, and Sentences Is this man hunting ducks or ducking out? The syntax of garden path sentences can lead us astray.
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object and then expecting that the verb of the main clause would come next. When that did not happen, you realized that you had made a wrong guess in parsing the structure. The point is that our brains rely on knowledge of grammatical patterns—how words combine to make grammatical phrases, clauses, and sentences—and on knowledge of the frequency of gram- matical patterns, to interpret strings of words as they occur, in speech or in writing. We don’t just interpret each word as it occurs; we understand words as functioning in grammatical contexts, in systematic, predictable relation- ships with other words. In this case, we hear or read who hunts ducks and parse that as a complete clause, which allows us to “close” that structure, return our focus to the main clause ( The man . . . ), and anticipate the verb for that clause. Whenever we talk, we employ our knowledge of grammatical rules to com- bine some of the thousands of words that we know into new, grammatical utter- ances. Our audience can then interpret our brand-new combinations by employing their knowledge of the same grammatical rules. Garden path sen- tences can be funny because they highlight our initial grammatical parsing going astray (see if you can figure out this one: The horse raced past the barn fell ). But we are fully capable of going back and reparsing any ambiguous sentence accord- ing to a different set of grammatical structures—that is all part of our linguistic competence. In this chapter, we focus on these grammatical structures. How do our brains know how to generate entirely new and yet entirely grammatical sentences? How do we know how to parse the entirely new sentences created by others? The answer is syntax. Syntax encompasses the set of descriptive rules for how words can combine into phrases, phrases into clauses, and clauses into sentences. Syntax, according to Noam Chomsky, also encompasses underlying principles and parameters that govern the grammatical structures possible in language. Generative Grammar What are we trying to describe when we describe the grammar of a language? One possible answer is: all the ways that words can be combined systematically into phrases, clauses, and sentences. To achieve this goal, we could collect a lot of lan- guage data (and it would take a lot) and then analyze which grammatical patterns are possible and which are not. This descriptive approach to grammar was popular in the first half of the twentieth century, particularly in the linguistic study of indigenous languages. Now, with large electronic corpora of English available, some corpus 172 Syntax: Phrases, Clauses, and Sentences
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