Applied Linguistics

Topics: Linguistics, Language acquisition, Language Pages: 76 (14419 words) Published: August 25, 2014

A4.2 (2011-2012)

Chapter 1: What is Language?





Language can be viewed as a social fact, as a psychological state (mental dictionary), as a set of structures (a grammatical system: a system to what orders the words have to come in if they are to make sense), or as a collection of outputs (utterances/sentences: spoken or written). Language can be viewed as a set of choices (different ways of saying a sentence), a set of contrasts (an inversion of sentences).

Idiolect (I-language: language of the individual): the language system of an individual as expressed by the way he or she speaks or writes within the overall system of a particular language. In a broader sense, someone‟s idiolect includes their way of communicating; for example, their choice of utterances and the way they interpret the utterances made by others. In a narrower sense, an idiolect might entail features, either in speech or writing, which distinguish one individual from others, such as o voice quality ( the overall impression that a listener obtains of a speaker‟s voice or characteristics of a particular voice that enable the listener to distinguish one voice from another, such as when a person is able to identify a telephone caller) o pitch ( when we listen to people speaking, we can hear some sounds or groups of sounds in their speech to be relatively higher or lower than others)

o speech rhythm (rhythm in speech is created by the contracting or relaxing of chest muscles).

Many linguists prefer to use the term IDIOLECT for the language of an individual. So you do not speak English, you speak your idiolect. That seems simple enough until we ask what „English‟ consists of. Presumably it consists of the sum of all the idiolects of people who we agree are speaking English.





I-language: an approach to language which sees it as an internal property of the human mind and as not something external or an attempt to construct grammars showing the way human mind structures language and which (universal) principles are involved.

E-language: an approach to language which describes the general structures and patterns. E-language= Langue (Saussure) = Competence (Chomsky): the system of a language, that is the arrangement of sounds and words which speakers of a language have a shared knowledge (agree to use). Langue is the ideal form of a language.

Parole (Saussure): the actual use of language by people in speech or writing. Competence: a person‟s internalized grammar of a language. This means a person‟s ability to create and understand sentences, including sentences they have never heard before. It also includes a person‟s knowledge of what are and what are not sentences of a particular language. For example, a speaker of English would recognize I want to go home as an English sentence but would not accept a sentence such as I want going home even though all the words in it are English words. Competence often refers to the ideal speaker/hearer, that is an idealized but a not real person who would have a complete knowledge of the whole language.

Performance: a person‟s actual use of language. A difference is made between a person‟s knowledge of the language (competence) and how a person uses this knowledge in producing and understanding sentences (performance). The difference between linguistic competence and linguistic performance can be seen, for example, in the production of long and complex sentences. People may have the competence to produce an infinitely long sentence but when they actually attempt to use this knowledge




A4.2 (2011-2012)

(=perform) there are many reasons why they restrict the number of adjectives, adverbs, and clauses in any one sentence. They may run out of breath, or their listeners may get bored or forget what has been said if the sentence is too long. In using language, people make errors or false starts. These may be due to...
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