إعـــــــلان

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An introduction to language

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  • An introduction to language

    What is language



    When we study human language, we are approaching what some might call the "human essence" , the distinctive qualities of mind that are , so far as we know, unique to man



    said by Noam Chomsky

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    Whatever else people do when they came together-whether they play, fight, make love, or make automobiles- they talk. We talk to our friends, our associates, our wives and husbands, our lovers, our teachers, our parents, our rivals, and even our enemies.We talk to bus drivers and total strangers. We talk face-to-face and over telephone, and everyone responds with more talk. Television and radio further swell this torent of words. Hardly a moment of our waking lives is free from words, and even in dreams we talk and are talked to . We also talk when there is no one to answer. Some of us talk aloud in our sleep. We talk to our pets and sometimes to ouselves



    The possession of alanguage, perhaps more than any other attribute, distinguishes humans from other animals. To understand our humanity, one must understand the nature of languages that makes us human. According to the philosophy expressed in the myths and relgions of many people, language is the source of human life and power. To some people of Africa, a newborn child is a Kintu, a "thing", "not yet a muntu, a "person." Only by the act of learning language does the child become a human being. According to this tradition , then, we all become "human" because we all know at least one language. But does it mean to know a language
    التعديل الأخير تم بواسطة linguist; الساعة 28-10-2009, 11:45 PM.

  • #2

    Linguistic Knowledge


    When you know a language , you can speak and be understood by others who know that language. This means you have the capacity to produce sounds that signifycertain meanings and to understand and interpret the sounds produced by others. We are referring to normal-hearing individuals. Deaf persons produce and understand sign language just as hearing persons produce and understand spoken languages. The languages of the deaf communities throughout the world are, except for their modality of expession equivalent to spoken languages

    Most everyone knows a language. Five –years-old children are nearly as proficient at speaking and understanding as their parents. Yet the ability to carry out the simplest converstion requires profound knowledge that most speakers are unaware of. This is true for speakers of all languages, from Albanian to Zulu. Aspeaker of English can produce a sentence having two relative clauses without knowing what a relative calusesis, such as

    My goddaughter who was born in Sweden and who now lives in Iowa is named Disa, after a Viking queen

    In a parallel fashion, a child can walk without understanding or being able to explain the principles of balance and support, or the neurophysiological control mechanisims that permit one to do so. The fact that we may know something unconsciously is not unique to language

    What, then , do speakers of English or Quechua or French or Mohawk or Arabic know

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