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Language Files: Materials for an Introduction to Language and Linguistics

di Ohio State University Department of Linguistics

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While continuing to keep each chapter independent to allow maximum flexibility for teaching and learning, the ninth edition of Language Files has improved the organization within each chapter by adding an introduction file at the beginning. The introduction file provides an overview of the subfield of linguistics to be studied, as well as the specific topics to be discussed.… (altro)

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After discussing the modern concept that a dictionary defines a word it goes on to state that: “There is simply no higher authority on word meaning than the community of native speakers of a language.” (Page 249, file 6.2.1)

“Slang responds to a need in people to be creative in their language use and to show group membership (often unconsciously). These observations liken slang to some feature in the nature of being human and of interacting with humans. For these reasons slang is found in all languages,(even in Ancient Greek of 2,500 years ago, for instance).” (Page 420)

Section 10.4.4 Gender Variation
“One pattern that has been repeatedly found , at least in studies of Western cultures, is that women tend to use more prestige (standard) variants than men, and listeners even expect female speech to be more like that of the middle class and male speech to be more like that of the working class. ... (Page 439)

5)The cop saw the man with the binoculars.

Flying planes can be dangerous, which can mean ‘Planes that are flying can be dangerous’ or ‘The action of flying a plane can be dangerous.’

Many people deny even having different speech styles, on the grounds that it would be insincere, a form of playacting, to speak differently to different people. However, “putting on airs” is not the only way to change one’s speech style. It isn’t even the most common. In reality, adapting one’s speech style to the audience is like choosing the right tool for a particular task. (Section 10.1.2)

13.1.1Synchronic vs. Diachronic Linguistics
One of the biggest successes of linguistics has been the scientific investigation and understanding of language change for what it really is: an inescapable fact about natural human languages and not the result of moral corruption or intellectual deterioration of communities of speakers, as traditionally thought by many language “authorities.” All languages change except for the ones that do not have any native speakers left (i.e., dead languages), such as Latin, Sanskrit, and Attic Greek—and when these languages did have native speakers, they changed, too. (Section 13.1.1)

13.2.2Models of Language Relatedness
According to SIL International’s publication Ethnologue, there are 141 language families (e.g., Indo-European, Sino-Tibetan, Niger-Congo, Uralic, etc.) along with 137 signed languages, 88 creoles, 13 pidgins, 21 mixed languages, 75 language “isolates” that do not seem to be related to anything, and 51 unclassified languages.

However, there is a disadvantage to this model in that the structure of the family tree may lead to two misconceptions about language change: first, that each language forms a uniform speech community without internal variation and without contact with its neighbor languages, and second, that the split of a parent language into its daughter languages is a sudden or abrupt occurrence, happening without intermediate stages. (Section 13.2.2)

Of course, the effects of writing on culture have not always been viewed positively, and languages that are only spoken are not in any way inferior to ones that have a writing system. Indeed, when writing systems (and later printing) were introduced, many people worried about their potentially negative impact on the human mind (much as some people worry today about the influence of calculators, computers, and smartphones on our ability to think for ourselves). Similarly, concerns have been raised that “textspeak” is ruining the verbal abilities of young people. (Section 15.1.3)

Even in English, the written form of the language usually differs from the spoken form of the language. In fact, some consider writing to be a separate dialect. In addition, as we shall see in the following section, many cultures and societies have multiple writing systems.(Section 15.1.3)
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  bread2u | Jul 1, 2020 |
I based an introductory linguistics course around this textbook. It worked well.
  billmcn | Aug 6, 2007 |
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While continuing to keep each chapter independent to allow maximum flexibility for teaching and learning, the ninth edition of Language Files has improved the organization within each chapter by adding an introduction file at the beginning. The introduction file provides an overview of the subfield of linguistics to be studied, as well as the specific topics to be discussed.

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