An Introduction to the Study of Speech

Topics: Linguistics, Language, Phonetics Pages: 205 (80418 words) Published: June 8, 2013
LANGUAGE AN INTRODUCTION TO THE STUDY OF SPEECH
Edward Sapir
The noted linguist and anthropologist Edward Sapir wrote this work to show language in “relation to other fundamental interests—the problem of thought, the nature of the historical process, race, culture, art.” Language is not only a study of language and culture, but ultimately on the world of relations and influence.

NEW YORK: HARCOURT, BRACE, 1921

1. INTRODUCTORY: LANGUAGE DEFINED
Language a cultural, not a biologically inherited, function. Futility of interjectional and sound-imitative theories of the origin of speech. Definition of language. The psycho-physical basis of speech. Concepts and language. Is thought possible without language? Abbreviations and transfers of the speech process. The universality of language.

2. THE ELEMENTS OF SPEECH
Sounds not properly elements of speech. Words and significant parts of words (radical elements, grammatical elements). Types of words. The word a formal, not a functional unit. The word has a real psychological existence. The sentence. The cognitive, volitional, and emotional aspects of speech. Feeling-tones of words.

3. THE SOUNDS OF LANGUAGE
The vast number of possible sounds. The articulating organs and their share in the production of speech sounds: lungs, glottal cords, nose, mouth and its parts. Vowel articulations. How and where consonants are articulated. The phonetic habits of a language. The “values” of sounds. Phonetic patterns.

4. FORM IN LANGUAGE: GRAMMATICAL PROCESSES
Formal processes as distinct from grammatical functions. Intercrossing of the two points of view. Six main types of grammatical process. Word sequence as a method. Compounding of radical elements. Affixing: prefixes and suffixes; infixes. Internal vocalic change; consonantal change. Reduplication. Functional variations of stress; of pitch.

5. FORM IN LANGUAGE: GRAMMATICAL CONCEPTS
Analysis of a typical English sentence. Types of concepts illustrated by it. Inconsistent expression of analogous concepts. How the same sentence may be expressed in other languages with striking differences in the selection and grouping of concepts. Essential and non-essential concepts. The mixing of essential relational concepts with secondary ones of more concrete order. Form for form’s sake. Classification of linguistic concepts: basic or concrete, derivational, concrete relational, pure relational. Tendency for these types of concepts to flow into each other. Categories expressed in various grammatical systems. Order and stress as relating principles in the sentence. Concord. Parts of speech: no absolute classification possible; noun and verb.

6. TYPES OF LINGUISTIC STRUCTURE
The possibility of classifying languages. Difficulties. Classification into form-languages and formless languages not valid. Classification according to formal processes used not practicable. Classification according to degree of synthesis. “Inflective” and “agglutinative.” Fusion and symbolism as linguistic techniques. Agglutination. “Inflective” a confused term. Threefold classification suggested: what types of concepts are expressed? what is the prevailing technique? what is the degree of synthesis? Four fundamental conceptual types. Examples tabulated. Historical test of the validity of the suggested

conceptual classification.

7. LANGUAGE AS A HISTORICAL PRODUCT: DRIFT
Variability of language. Individual and dialectic variations. Time variation or “drift.” How dialects arise. Linguistic stocks. Direction or “slope” of linguistic drift. Tendencies illustrated in an English sentence. Hesitations of usage as symptomatic of the direction of drift. Leveling tendencies in English. Weakening of case elements. Tendency to fixed position in the sentence. Drift toward the invariable word.

8. LANGUAGE AS A HISTORICAL PRODUCT: PHONETIC LAW
Parallels in drift in related languages. Phonetic law as illustrated in the history of certain English and German...
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