Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Nature of Language: Its nature and Features....

Nature of Language

Every creature strives to communicate with its own kind. One of the ways in which this need is fulfilled is by expressing thoughts in the medium of language. Language is the bridge between individuals that tells them they are needed, that they are not alone. Language thus gives us self-expression and by extension, identity. Language is a systematic and conventional means of human communication by way to vocal sounds. Language is a system governed by rules. All languages have common set of systems, like the principles, rules, features and processes that are universal. The scientific study of language is called Linguistics.

All languages, including of course, English, are systems, or, more precisely, series of inter related systems governed by rules. In other words, languages are highly structured; they consist of patterns that recur in various combinations and rules that apply to produce these patterns.

The inter-related systems of a language include Phonology, Morphology, Syntax, Lexicon, and Semantics.

Languages that have a written representation (and not all languages do) also have a system of graphics. All languages have the same set of systems (with the possible exception of graphics) but the components of the systems and the inter relationship among the system differ from language to language.

Phonology is the sounds of a language and the study of these sounds.

Morphology Is the arrangement and relationship of the smallest meaningful units in a language these minimum units of meaning are called morphemes. It is often useful to distinguish between free and bound morphemes

Free morphemes can be used alone as independent words for example, take, for, each etc

Bound morphemes form words only when attached to at least one other morphemes; re, dis ,un, -ing,  –ful and –tion are all bound morphemes.

The most familiar bound morphemes are affixes (that is, prefixes and suffixes) but even bases (Forms to which affixes are attached) can be bound. An example of a bound base is the –cept of words as except, accept, deceptive, and reception; although -cept derives from an independent Latin verb capere ‘to take’, it appears only as a bound morpheme in English.

Syntax is the arrangement of words in to phrases, clauses, and sentences, loosely speaking, it is word order. A simple example like the difference between I had stolen my car and I had my car stolen illustrates how crucial syntax is in English. English speakers have   more option with respect to syntax than they do with respect to phonology or morphology. But we have the option of saying either I like dogs.  Or dogs I like. This freedom is limited, however; they cannot say like dogs I. Or Like I dogs.

The Lexicon of a language is the list of all the Morphemes in the language. In linguistic terminology, a lexicon differs from vocabulary or a dictionary of a language in that it includes not only independent words but also morphemes that do not appear as independent words, including affixes such as-ed, -s, mis, and poly- and bound forms like the –clude of include, exclude, and preclude, which appear only as part of words and never as independent words. One of the most remarkable features of English today is the great size and diversity of origin of its Lexicon.

Semantics is the study of meanings or all the meanings expressed by a language. It is the relationship between language and the real world, between the sounds we make and what we are talking about like all other aspects of language, meanings change overtime.

Functions of language:

  1. Gives self-expression and identity. It tells our listeners or readers about ourselves – in particular about our regional origins, social background, and level of education, age, sex, and personality.
  2. It gives shape to thoughts and emotions, and communicates these to intended audience.
  3. It is the basic element with which the history of the world has been recorded.
  4. it is a time capsule that allows us to view and re-view any moment in the past of literate man.(refer to people, events etc in the world)
  5. It is a repository of information.
  6. To express judgments, opinions, assertion etc. it is used to say if a statement is true or false.
  7. To maintain social rapport between people; to build and maintain relationship.

One of the most basic human urges is to communicate.

Language: a means of communication

A communication model:

Encoding >> Transmission >> Reception >> Decoding.

Communication happens when the decoder receives, decodes and understands the message of the encoder. The encoder and the decoder are called interlocuters.

Language is not only a human phenomenon. Animals cry, hoot, bleat, coo, dance, sing…. to communicate their message.

Human language is a more complex and sophisticated form of communication. No animal communication matches or even remotely comes close to the variety, complexity and creativity of human language.

Sounds are the basic units of language. But not sounds in themselves or in a jumble. Sounds have to be meaningful. They acquire meaning when they organize themselves in an intelligible combinations and forms.

Sounds >> forms >> meaning gives us an intelligible, sensible structure to understand the world around us.

These three components, in fact, represent the three fundamental dimensions of the organization as well as the three levels of analysis of language: phonological, syntactic, and semantic.

        i.   Phonological level:      sounds and their organization.
      ii.   Syntactic level:            forms and their organization.
    iii.   Semantic level:            meaning as manifested in the phonological and syntactic levels.

Human Language Features:

1.   Language is a system: it is a system. Language is not a collection of sounds and forms at random, but a highly organized system in which each unit has its place and value. Each sound is related to other sounds, each word is related to other words to make meaning. Arbitrariness: Human language is an arbitrary phenomenon. There is no natural connection or relationship between a word and its meaning. The signifier and the signified are brought together arbitrarily. E. g. why a table is called a ‘table’? tables do not make noises similar to the word(hence no connection). We cannot tell from the sound structure which behind it.

2.   Open-ended system: The sounds, words and sentences in a language may be finite or limited, but the combinations and constructions are infinite or unlimited. This creative or productive potential of the language enables its users to manipulate and make infinite varieties of constructions to express himself or herself. So humans have the ability to say things that have never been said before, including the possibility to express invented things or lies.

3.   Duality of structures: Human language is organised at two levels or layers simultaneously: at the level of individual sounds like n, p, b, k, a …but none of these individual, separate sounds have any meaning in themselves. Their meaning comes from the meaningful combinations to produce words. Although our capacity to produce new sounds (letters) is limited, we frequently coin new words. Hence, our capacity to produce vocabulary is unlimited.

4.   Displacement: Human language can be used to refer to any dimension of space and time. We can use language to refer to the past, the present and the future. It can also be used to refer to any place here or elsewhere. In neither case does the language user have to move from his or her place to refer to time or place. E. g.: A gorilla cannot tell his friends about his parents, adventures, and experiences of the past. It lacks the freedom to apply its knowledge to a new context.(dance of honey bee indicates rich deposits of foods to other bees. They frequently repeat the same pattern in dance whereas humans are able to invent even new context)

5.   Meta-linguistic system: Human language can be used to talk about itself, its features, functions, varieties and levels of sophistications.

6.   Cultural Transmission: Human beings may be born with innate predispositions to acquire language, but they are not born with the ability to produce utterances in a specific language. Language is not genetically transmitted. It is culturally transmitted and has to be consciously learned. (The process whereby language is passed down from generation to generation is described as cultural transmission)

7.   Language is an individual and social phenomenon: Language serves to expressing individual needs and urges; it brings an individual into relationship with the external world.

8.   Human language is species-specific and species-uniform: Language is specific to the human of the species and all human beings are capable of learning the language in which they are born.

Language Acquisition:

Language acquisition is the process by which humans acquire the capacity to perceive and comprehend language, as well as to produce and use words and sentences to communicate. Language acquisition is one of the quintessential human traits, because non-humans do not communicate by using language. Language acquisition usually refers to first-language acquisition, which studies infants' acquisition of their native language. This is distinguished from second-language acquisition, which deals with the acquisition (in both children and adults) of additional languages.

The capacity to successfully use language requires one to acquire a range of tools including phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, and an extensive vocabulary. Language can be vocalized as in speech or manual as in sign. The human language capacity is represented in the brain. Even though the human language capacity is finite, one can say and understand an infinite number of sentences, which is based on a syntactic principle called recursion. Evidence suggests that every individual has three recursive mechanisms that allow sentences to go indeterminately. These three mechanisms are: relativization, complementation and coordination.

The capacity to acquire and use language is a key aspect that distinguishes humans from other beings. Although it is difficult to pin down what aspects of language are uniquely human, there are a few design features that can be found in all known forms of human language, but that are missing from forms of animal communication. For example, many animals are able to communicate with each other by signaling to the things around them, but this kind of communication lacks the arbitrariness of human vernaculars (in that there is nothing about the sound of the word "dog" that would hint at its meaning). Other forms of animal communication may utilize arbitrary sounds, but are unable to combine those sounds in different ways to create completely novel messages that can then be automatically understood by another. Charles F. Hockett called this design feature of human language "productivity". It is crucial to the understanding of human language acquisition that we are not limited to a finite set of words, but, rather, must be able to understand and utilize a complex system that allows for an infinite number of possible messages. So, while many forms of animal communication exist, they differ from human languages in that they have a limited range of vocabulary tokens, and the vocabulary items are not combined syntactically to create phrases.

A major debate in understanding language acquisition is how these capacities are picked up by infants from the linguistic input. Input in the linguistic context is defined as "All words, contexts, and other forms of language to which a learner is exposed, relative to acquired proficiency in first or second languages". Nativists such as Noam Chomsky have focused on the hugely complex nature of human grammars, the finiteness and ambiguity of the input that children receive, and the relatively limited cognitive abilities of an infant. From these characteristics they conclude that the process of language acquisition in infants must be tightly constrained and guided by the biologically given characteristics of the human brain. Otherwise, they argue, it is extremely difficult to explain how children, within the first five years of life, routinely master the complex, largely tacit grammatical rules of their native language.

Other scholars, however, have resisted the possibility that infants' routine success at acquiring the grammar of their native language requires anything more than the forms of learning seen with other cognitive skills, including such mundane motor skills as learning to ride a bike. In particular, there has been resistance to the possibility that human biology includes any form of specialization for language. This conflict is often referred to as the "Nature vs. Nurture" debate. Of course, most scholars acknowledge that certain aspects of language acquisition must result from the specific ways in which the human brain is "wired" (a "nature" component, which accounts for the failure of non-human species to acquire human languages) and that certain others are shaped by the particular language environment in which a person is raised (a "nurture" component, which accounts for the fact that humans raised in different societies acquire different languages). The as-yet unresolved question is the extent to which the specific cognitive capacities in the "nature" component are also used outside of language.

Theories of Language Acquisition:

The Behaviorist Theory: behaviorist believes that children learn to speak by imitation and parents then reinforce or correct their speech constantly. They believe that the child is born with an empty slate and language items are written on that mental slate as the child grows and experiences the world to which it is exposed.

The Rationalist Theory: Rationalist argues that language learning is a much more complex process. The child is born with all the facilities to learn the language. The linguistic ability is inherent in the mind of the child. All that the child does is discover and test.

The Cognitive Theory: According to this theory, children can only use certain linguistic structures when they understand fully the concepts surrounding them. Jean Piaget linked language acquisition to a child’s maturation. To use linguistic structures they must understand the concept. A child use comparison of size if the child does not understand the concept of size.

Why Should We Care About Word Histories?
If a word's etymology is not the same as its definition, why should we care at all about word histories? Well, for one thing, understanding how words have developed can teach us a great deal about our cultural history. In addition, studying the histories of familiar words can help us to deduce the meanings of unfamiliar words, thereby enriching our vocabularies. Finally, word stories are often both entertaining and thought provoking. As any youngster can tell you, words are fun.

History of Etymology:

The search for meaningful origins for familiar or strange words is far older than the modern understanding of linguistic evolution and the relationships of languages, which began no earlier than the 18th century. From Antiquity through the 17th century, from Pāṇini to Pindar to Sir Thomas Browne, etymology had been a form of witty wordplay, in which the supposed origins of words were changed to satisfy contemporary requirements.
The Greek poet Pindar (born in approximately 522 BCE) employed creative etymologies to flatter his patrons. Plutarch employed etymologies insecurely based on fancied resemblances insounds. Isidore of Seville's Etymologiae was an encyclopedic tracing of "first things" that remained uncritically in use in Europe until the sixteenth century. Etymologicum genuinum is agrammatical encyclopedia edited at Constantinople in the ninth century, one of several similar Byzantine works. The fourteenth-century Legenda Aurea begins each vita of a saint with a fancifulexcursus in the form of an etymology.[citation needed]

Modern era:

Etymology in the modern sense emerged in the late 18th century European academia, within the context of the wider "Age of Enlightenment," although preceded by 17th century pioneers such asMarcus Zuerius van Boxhorn, Vossius, Stephen Skinner, Elisha Coles, and William Wotton. The first known systematic attempt to prove the relationship between two languages on the basis of similarity of grammar and lexicon was made in 1770 by the Hungarian, János Sajnovics, when he attempted to demonstrate the relationship between Sami and Hungarian (work that was later extended to the whole Finno-Ugric language family in 1799 by his fellow countryman, Samuel Gyarmathi).[3] The origin of modern historical linguistics is often traced back to Sir William Jones, an English philologist living in India, who in 1782 observed the genetic relationship between Sanskrit, Greek and Latin. Jones published his The Sanskrit Language in 1786, laying the foundation for the field of Indo-European linguistics.
In etymology, back-formation is the process of creating a new lexeme, usually by removing actual or supposed affixes. The resulting neologism is called a back-formation, a term coined byJames Murray in 1889. (OED online first definition of 'back formation' is from the definition of to burgle, which was first published in 1889.)

Etymology Definition:

Etymology is the study of the history of words, their origins, and how their form and meaning have changed over time. By an extension, the term "the etymology of [a word]" means the origin of the particular word.

The etymology of a word refers to its origin and historical development: that is, its earliest known use, its transmission from one language to another, and its changes in form and meaning. Etymology is also the term for the branch of linguistics that studies word histories.

For languages with a long written history, etymologists make use of texts in these languages and texts about the languages to gather knowledge about how words were used during earlier periods of their history and when they entered the languages in question. Etymologists also apply the methods of comparative linguistics to reconstruct information about languages that are too old for any direct information to be available.

By analyzing related languages with a technique known as the comparative method, linguists can make inferences about their shared parent language and its vocabulary. In this way, word roots have been found that can be traced all the way back to the origin of, for instance, the Indo-European language family.

Even though etymological research originally grew from the philological tradition, currently much etymological research is done on language families where little or no early documentation is available, such as Uralic and Austronesian.

The word etymology is derived from the Greek etymon, meaning "true sense" and the suffix -logia, denoting "the study of". Etymon is also used in English to refer to the source word of a given word. For example, Latin candidus, which means "white", is the etymon of English candid.


Etymologists apply a number of methods to study the origins of words, some of which are:
•           Philological research. Changes in the form and meaning of the word can be traced with the aid of older texts, if such are available.

•           Making use of dialectological data. The form or meaning of the word might show variations between dialects, which may yield clues about its earlier history.

           The comparative method. By a systematic comparison of related languages, etymologists may often be able to detect which words derive from their common ancestor language and which were instead later borrowed from another language.

•           The study of semantic change. Etymologists must often make hypotheses about changes in the meaning of particular words. Such hypotheses are tested against the general knowledge of semantic shifts. For example, the assumption of a particular change of meaning may be substantiated by showing that the same type of change has occurred in other languages as well.

Semantic change, also known as semantic shift or semantic progression describes the evolution of word usage — usually to the point that the modern meaning is radically different from the original usage. In diachronic (or historical) linguistics, semantic change is a change in one of the meanings of a word. Every word has a variety of senses and connotations which can be added, removed, or altered over time, often to the extent that cognates across space and time have very different meanings. The study of semantic change can be seen as part of etymology,onomasiology, semasiology, and semantics.

Types of word origins:

•        Etymological theory recognizes that words originate through a limited number of basic mechanisms, the most important of which are borrowing (i.e., the adoption of "loanwords" from other languages); word formation such as derivation and compounding; and onomatopoeia and sound symbolism, (i.e., the creation of imitative words such as "click").

•           While the origin of newly emerged words is often more or less transparent, it tends to become obscured through time due to sound change or semantic change. Due to sound change, it is not readily obvious that the English word set is related to the word sit (the former is originally a causative formation of the latter). It is even less obvious that bless is related to blood (the former was originally a derivative with the meaning "to mark with blood").

•           Semantic change may also occur. For example, the English word bead originally meant "prayer". It acquired its modern meaning through the practice of counting the recitation of prayers by using beads. Most often combinations of etymological mechanisms apply. For example, the German word bitte (please) the German word beten (to pray) and the Dutch word bidden (to pray) are related through sound and meaning to the English word bead.

·         The combination of sound change and semantic change often creates etymological connections that are impossible to detect by merely looking at the modern word-forms. For instance, English lord comes from Old English hlāf-weard, meaning literally “bread guard”. The components of this compound, in turn, yielded modern English loaf and ward.

Types of semantic change:

There are a number of possible ways of classifying types of semantic change. None of them totally satisfactory.

1.      Generalization and Narrowing
2.      Amelioration and Pejoration
3.      Strengthening and Weakening
4.      Abstraction and Concretization
5.      Shift in Denotation

1        Generalization and narrowing
Generalization is extension of meaning to cover wider semantic areas. For example, the Indo-European root bhares-meant “barely” (and is in fact the ancestor of the English word barely) But the Latin descendant of this root, far, could be used to mean cereal grain of various types and thus is the source of
 Our word farina, a fine meal prepared from any cereal grain. Narrowing, a more common type of change in English than generalization, is a restriction in the range of meaning(s) of a word .an example of narrowing would be the English word mead an alcoholic beverage made from fermented honey. Its origin is the Indo-European root medium, which referred to both honey and mead because English has the word honey to refer to the unfermented fluid; the meaning of mead can be narrowed to refer only to the fermented product.

2        Amelioration and pejoration
Amelioration, or a change to a more favorable meaning, can be exemplified by the English word croon, borrowed from the middle Dutch word kronen in English it means to hum or sing softly, but in middle Dutch it meant to groan or lament pejoration , the opposite of amelioration, is a change to a more negative meaning. For example theEnglish word fool comes from the latin word follies, which originally meant only “bellows” but came to mean “winding”, air.the fool in English uses in negative sense.

3        Strengthening and weakening
Strengthening, or intensification of meaning, is relatively rare. One example is the word down, from the same root as the words drink and drench.  Because of the universal tendency to exaggerate .Weakening or meaning is much more common than strengthening. two of the many possible instances of weakening  between old English (OE) and Present Day English (PDE) are OE sona ‘immediately”, PDE soon and  OE owellan ‘ kill’, ‘murder’.

4        Abstraction and concretization
Abstraction occurs when specific, concrete meaning changes to a more abstract meaning, for instance, OE heathen once meant simple one dwelling on the wealth. But because of the association of heath with wilderness and lack of civilization, the term heathan acquired its present more abstract meaning of ‘irreligious, unenlightened un civilized’ concretization is the reverse process, as an example, one could cite the indo-European root albtio- which meant ‘white’ one of its reflexes is OE aelf, PDE elf, a change in meaning from the abstract quality of whiteness to an instance of something concrete that has this quality

5        Shift in Denotation
A shift in denotation occurs when the real world reference of a word changes. For example, OE clud meant “rock, hill” but its PDE descendant is cloud

A number of classification schemes have been suggested for semantic change. The most widely accepted scheme in the English-speaking academic world is from Bloomfield (1933):

·         Narrowing: Change from superordinate level to subordinate level. For example, skyline used to refer to any horizon, but now it has narrowed to a horizon decorated by skyscrapers.

·         Widening: Change from subordinate level to superordinate level. There are many examples of specific brand names being used for the general product, such as with Kleenex. Such uses are known as generonyms.

·         Metaphor: Change based on similarity of thing. For example, broadcast originally meant "to cast seeds out"; with the advent of radio and television, the word was extended to indicate the transmission of audio and video signals. Outside of agricultural circles, very few people use broadcast in the earlier sense.

·         Metonymy: Change based on nearness in space or time, e.g., jaw "cheek" → "mandible".

·         Synecdoche: Change based on whole-part relation. The convention of using capital cities to represent countries or their governments is an example of this.

·         Meiosis: Change from weaker to stronger meaning, e.g., kill "torment" → "slaughter"

·         Hyperbole:  Change from stronger to weaker meaning, e.g., astound "strike with thunder" → "surprise strongly".

·         Degeneration: e.g., knave "boy" → "servant" → "deceitful or despicable man".

·         Elevation: e.g., knight "boy" → "nobleman".

However, the categorization of Blank (1998) has gained increasing acceptance:

·         Metaphor: Change based on similarity between concepts, e.g., mouse "rodent" → "computer device".

·   Metonymy: Change based on contiguity between concepts, e.g., horn "animal horn" → "musical instrument".

·         Synecdoche: Same as above.

·         Specialization of meaning: Downward shift in a taxonomy, e.g., corn "grain" → "wheat" (UK), → "maize" (US).

·         Generalization of meaning: Upward shift in a taxonomy, e.g., hoover "Hoover vacuum cleaner" → "any type of vacuum cleaner".

·         Cohyponymic transfer: Horizontal shift in a taxonomy, e.g., the confusion of mouse and rat in some dialects.

·         Antiphrasis: Change based on a contrastive aspect of the concepts, e.g., perfect lady in the sense of "prostitute".

·         Auto-antonymy: Change of a word's sense and concept to the complementary opposite, e.g., bad in the slang sense of "good".

·         Auto-converse: Lexical expression of a relationship by the two extremes of the respective relationship, e.g., take in the dialectal use as "give".

·         Ellipsis: Semantic change based on the contiguity of names, e.g., car "cart" → "automobile", due to the invention of the (motor) car.

·         Folk-etymology: Semantic change based on the similarity of names, e.g., French contredanse, orig. English country dance.

Blank considers it problematic, though, to include amelioration and pejoration of meaning as well as strengthening and weakening of meaning. According to Blank, these are not objectively classifiable phenomena; moreover, Blank has shown that all of the examples listed under these headings can be grouped into the other phenomena.

·         Back-formation is different from clipping – back-formation may change the part of speech or the word's meaning, whereas clipping creates shortened words from longer words, but does not change the part of speech or the meaning of the word.

For example, the noun resurrection was borrowed from Latin, and the verb resurrect was then backformed hundreds of years later from it by removing the ion suffix. This segmentation ofresurrection into resurrect + ion was possible because English had examples of Latinate words in the form of verb and verb+-ion pairs, such as opine/opinion. These became the pattern for many more such pairs, where a verb derived from a Latin supine stem and a noun ending in ion entered the language together, such as insert/insertion, project/projection, etc.
Back-formation may be similar to the reanalyses of folk etymologies when it rests on an erroneous understanding of the morphology of the longer word. For example, the singular noun asset is a back-formation from the plural assets. However, assets is originally not a plural; it is a loan-word from Anglo-Norman asetz (modern French assez). The -s was reanalyzed as a plural suffix.

Back-formation in the English language:

Many words came into English by this route: Pease was once a mass noun but was reinterpreted as a plural, leading to the back-formation pea. The noun statistic was likewise a back-formation from the field of study statistics. In Britain, the verb burgle came into use in the 19th century as a back-formation from burglar (which can be compared to the North American verb burglarize formed by suffixation).

Other examples are:

·         Adjective "couth" from "uncouth"
·         Verb "edit" from "editor"
·         Singular "syrinx", plural "syringes" (from Greek): new singular "syringe" formed
·         Singular "sastruga", plural "sastrugi" (from Russian): new Latin-type singular "sastrugus" has been used sometimes
·         Verbs "euthanase" or "euthanize" from the noun "euthanasia".

Methods Of Etymology:
Etymology is the study of the history of words — when they entered a language, from what source, and how their form and meaning have changed over time.
Etymological theory recognizes that words originate through a limited number of basic mechanisms, the most important of which are the following:
·         Borrowing, i.e. the adoption of loanwords from other languages.
·         Word formation such as derivation and compounding.
·         Onomatopoeia and sound symbolism, i.e. the creation of imitative words.
While the origin of newly emerged words is often more or less transparent, it tends to become obscured through time due to:
·         Sound change: for example, it is not obvious at first sight that English set is related to sit (the former is originally a causative formation of the latter), and even less so that bless is related to blood (the former was originally a derivative with the meaning “to mark with blood”, or the like).
·         Semantic change: English bead originally meant “prayer”, and acquired its modern sense through the practice of counting prayers with beads.
Most often combinations of etymological mechanisms apply. For example, the German word bitte (please) the German word beten (to pray) and the Dutch word bidden (to pray) are related through sound and meaning to the English word bead.
The combination of sound change and semantic change often creates etymological connections that are impossible to detect by merely looking at the modern word-forms. For instance, English lord comes from Old English hlāf-weard, meaning literally “bread guard”. The components of this compound, in turn, yielded modern English loaf and ward.

Synchronic analysis:
In linguistics, a synchronic analysis is one that views linguistic phenomena only at one point in time, usually the present, though a synchronic analysis of a historical language form is also possible. In linguistics, a synchronic analysis is one that views linguistic phenomena only at a given time, usually the present, though a synchronic analysis of a historical language form is also possible. This may be distinguished from diachronic, which regards a phenomenon in terms of developments through time. Diachronic analysis is the main concern of historical linguistics; most other branches of linguistics are concerned with some form of synchronic analysis.
Synchronic and diachronic approaches can reach quite different conclusions. For example, a Germanic strong verb like English sing - sang - sung is irregular when viewed synchronically: the native speaker's brain processes these as learned forms, whereas the derived forms of regular verbs are processed quite differently, by the application of productive rules (for example, adding -ed to the basic form of a verb as in walk - walked). This is an insight of psycholinguistics, relevant also for language didactics, both of which are synchronic disciplines. However a diachronic analysis will show that the strong verb is the remnant of a fully regular system of internal vowel changes; historical linguistics seldom uses the category "irregular verb".

This may be distinguished from diachronic, which regards a phenomenon in terms of developments through time. Diachronic analysis is the main concern of historical linguistics; most other branches of linguistics are concerned with some form of synchronic analysis.
Synchronic and diachronic approaches can reach quite different conclusions. For example, a Germanic strong verb like English sing - sang - sung is irregular when viewed synchronically: the native speaker's brain processes these as learned forms, whereas the derived forms of regular verbs are processed quite differently, by the application of productive rules (for example, adding –ed to the basic form of a verb as in walk - walked). This is an insight of psycholinguistics, relevant also for language didactics, both of which are synchronic disciplines. However a diachronic analysis will show that the strong verb is the remnant of a fully regular system of internal vowel changes; historical linguistics seldom uses the category "irregular verb".

Historical linguistics (also called diachronic linguistics):

Historical linguistics (also called diachronic linguistics) has been defined by Nordquist as "one of the two main temporal dimensions of language study introduced by Swiss linguist Ferdinand de Saussure in his Course in General Linguistics (1916)". The central focus of historical linguistics is the study of language at different periods in history and as it changes between different periods of history. Historical linguistics is directly compared and distinguished from synchronic analysis which studies language at a single historical period of time. Five of the principal concerns of historical linguistics are: (a) to describe and account for observed changes in particular languages, (b) to reconstruct the pre-history of languages and determine their relatedness, grouping them into language families (comparative linguistics), (c) to develop general theories about how and why language changes, (d) to describe the history of speech communities, and (e) to study the history of words, i.e. etymology.
In linguistics, the comparative method is a technique for studying the development of languages by performing a feature-by-feature comparison of two or more languages with common descent from a shared ancestor, as opposed to the method of internal reconstruction, which analyses the internal development of a single language over time. Ordinarily both methods are used together to reconstruct prehistoric phases of languages, to fill in gaps in the historical record of a language, to discover the development of phonological, morphological, and other linguistic systems, and to confirm or refute hypothesized relationships between languages.

The comparative method was developed over the 19th century. Key contributions were made by the Danish scholars Rasmus Rask and Karl Verner and the German scholar Jacob Grimm. The first linguist to offerreconstructed forms from a proto-language was August Schleicher, in his Compendium der vergleichenden Grammatik der indogermanischen Sprachen, originally published in 1861. Here is Schleicher’s explanation of why he offered reconstructed forms:
In the present work an attempt is made to set forth the inferred Indo-European original language side by side with its really existent derived languages. Besides the advantages offered by such a plan, in setting immediately before the eyes of the student the final results of the investigation in a more concrete form, and thereby rendering easier his insight into the nature of particular Indo-European languages, there is, I think, another of no less importance gained by it, namely that it shows the baselessness of the assumption that the non-Indian Indo-European languages were derived from Old-Indian (Sanskrit).

English language:

English derives from Old English (sometimes referred to as Anglo-Saxon), a West Germanic variety, although its current vocabulary includes words from many languages.
The Old English roots may be seen in the similarity of numbers in English and German,  particularly seven/sieben, eight/acht, nine/neun, and ten/zehn. Pronouns are also cognate: I/mine/me ich/mein/mich;thou/thine/thee and du/dein/dich; we/wir us/uns; she/sie. However, language change has eroded many grammatical elements, such as the noun case system, which is greatly simplified in modern English, and certain elements of vocabulary, some of which are borrowed from French. Although many of the words in the English lexicon come from Romance languages, most of the common words used in English are of Germanic origin. When the Normans conquered England in 1066 (see Norman Conquest), they brought their Norman language with them. During the Anglo-Norman period, which united insular and continental territories, the ruling class spoke Anglo-Norman, while the peasants spoke the vernacular English of the time. Anglo-Norman was the conduit for the introduction of French into England, aided by the circulation of Langue d'oïl literature from France. This led to many paired words of French and English origin. For example, beef is related, through borrowing, to modern French bœuf, veal toveau, pork to porc, and poultry to poulet. All these words, French and English, refer to the meat rather than to the animal. Words that refer to farm animals, on the other hand, tend to be cognates of words in other Germanic languages.

For example swine/Schwein, cow/Kuh, calf/Kalb, and sheep/Schaf. The variant usage has been explained by the proposition that it was the Norman rulers who mostly ate meat (an expensive commodity) and the Anglo-Saxons who farmed the animals. This explanation has passed into common folklore but has been disputed.

English has proven accommodating to words from many languages, as described in the following examples. Scientific terminology relies heavily on words of Latin and Greek origin. Spanish has contributed many words, particularly in the southwestern United States. Examples include buckaroo from vaquero or "cowboy"; alligator from el lagarto or "lizard"; rodeo and savvy; states' names such as Colorado and Florida. Cuddle, eerie, and greed come from Scots; albino, palaver, lingo, verandah, and coconut from Portuguese; diva, prima donna, pasta, pizza, paparazzi, and umbrellafrom Italian; adobe, alcohol, algebra, algorithm, apricot, assassin, caliber, cotton, hazard, jacket, jar, julep, mosque, Muslim, orange, safari, sofa, and zero from Arabic; honcho, sushi, andtsunami from Japanese; dim sum, gung ho, kowtow, kumquat, ketchup, and typhoon from Cantonese; behemoth, hallelujah, Satan, jubilee, and rabbi from Hebrew; taiga, sable, and sputnik fromRussian; galore, whiskey, phoney, trousers, and Tory from Irish; brahman, guru, karma, and pandit from Sanskrit; kampong and amok from Malay; smorgasbord and ombudsman from Swedish, Danish, Norwegian; sauna from Finnish; and boondocks from the Tagalog word, bundok. (See also "loanword.")

Is the Etymology of a Word Its True Definition?

Not at all, though people sometimes try to make this argument. The word etymology is derived from the Greek word etymon, which means "the true sense of a word." But in fact the original meaning of a word is often different from its contemporary definition.

The meanings of many words have changed over time, and older senses of a word may grow uncommon or disappear entirely from everyday use. Disaster, for instance, no longer means the "evil influence of a star or planet," just as consider no longer means "to observe the stars."
Let's look at another example. Our English word salary is defined by The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language as "fixed compensation for services, paid to a person on a regular basis." Its etymology can be traced back 2,000 years to sal, the Latin word for salt. So what's the connection between salt and salary?

The Roman historian Pliny the Elder tells us that "in Rome, a soldier was paid in salt," which back then was widely used as a food preservative. Eventually, this salarium came to signify a stipend paid in any form, usually money. Even today the expression "worth your salt" indicates that you're working hard and earning your salary. However, this doesn't mean that salt is the true definition of salary.

Where Do Words Come From?

New words have entered (and continue to enter) the English language in many different ways. Here are some of the most common ways.

·         Borrowing
The majority of the words used in modern English have been borrowed from other languages. Although most of our vocabulary comes from Latin and Greek (often by way of other European languages), English has borrowed words from more than 300 different languages around the world. Here are just a few examples:
•           futon (from the Japanese word for "bedclothes, bedding")
•           gorilla (Greek Gorillai, a tribe of hairy women, perhaps of African origin)
•           hamster (Middle High German hamastra)
•           kangaroo (Aboriginal language of Guugu Yimidhirr, gangurru , referring to a species of kangaroo)
•           kink (Dutch, "twist in a rope")
•           moccasin (Native American Indian, Virginia Algonquian, akin to Powhatan mäkäsn and Ojibwa    makisin)
•           molasses (Portuguese melaços, from Late Latin mellceum, from Latin mel, "honey")
•           muscle (Latin musculus, "mouse")
•           slogan (alteration of Scots slogorne, "battle cry")
•           smorgasbord (Swedish, literally "bread and butter table")
•           whiskey (Old Irish uisce, "water," and bethad, "of life")

·         Clipping or Shortening
Some new words are simply shortened forms of existing words, for instance indie from independent; exam from examination; flu from influenza, and fax from facsimile.

·         Compounding
A new word may also be created by combining two or more existing words: fire engine, for example, and babysitter.

·         Blends
A blend (also called a portmanteau word) is a word formed by merging the sounds and meanings of two or more other words. Examples include moped, from mo(tor) + ped(al), and brunch, from br(eakfast) + (l)unch.

·         Conversion or Functional Shift
New words are often formed by changing an existing word from one part of speech to another. For example, innovations in technology have encouraged the transformation of the nouns network, Google, microwave, and fax into verbs.

·         Transfer of Proper Nouns
Sometimes the names of people, places, and things become generalized vocabulary words. For instance, the noun maverick was derived from the name of an American cattleman, Samuel Augustus Maverick. The saxophone was named after Sax, the surname of a 19th-century Belgian family that made musical instruments.

·         Neologisms or Creative Coinages
A neologism ( /niːˈɒlədʒɪzəm/; from Greek νέο- (néo-), meaning "new", and λόγος (lógos), meaning "speech, utterance") is a newly coined term, word, or phrase, that may be in the process of entering common use, but has not yet been accepted into mainstream language. Neologisms are often directly attributable to a specific person, publication, period, or event. Neolexia (Greek: a "new word", or the act of creating a new word) is a fully equivalent term.
Neologisms are often created by combining existing words (see compound noun and adjective) or by giving words new and unique suffixes or prefixes. Portmanteaux are combined words that are sometimes used commonly. "Brunch" is an example of a portmanteau word (breakfast + lunch). Lewis Carroll's "snark" (snake + shark) is also a portmanteau. Neologisms also can be created through abbreviation or acronym, by intentionally rhyming with existing words or simply through playing with sounds.
When a word or phrase is no longer "new", it is no longer a neologism. Neologisms may take decades to become "old", however. Opinions differ on exactly how old a word must be to cease being considered a neologism.
Now and then, new products or processes inspire the creation of entirely new words. Such neologisms are usually short lived, never even making it into a dictionary. Nevertheless, some have endured, for example quark (coined by novelist James Joyce), galumph (Lewis Carroll), aspirin (originally a trademark), grok (Robert A. Heinlein).

·         Imitation of Sounds
Words are also created by onomatopoeia, naming things by imitating the sounds that are associated with them: boo, bow-wow, tinkle, click.


  • The branch of linguistics that studies word components of the phonetic system of the language.
  • Concerned with human noises by which the thought is actualized or given audible shape + nature, fs, relation to the meaning of these noises
·         Phonetics is the study of speech sounds. Although language is obviously composed of sound, speech sounds came to be the main focus of linguistic investigation only in the 20th century. 19th century linguists were more interested in written rather than spoken language. Only with the work of Swiss linguist Ferdinand de Saussure in the early 20th century did linguists recognize the primacy of sound in human language and the secondary, superficial nature of writing.

Phonetics has three branches:

·         Acoustic phonetics: is the study of the physical properties of sounds, the air wave frequencies of which sounds consist. The frequency of vibrations measured in hertz; volume of sound measured in decibels. Instruments used to measure and record speech sounds include the sound spectrograph, which produces readouts called sound spectrograms.

·         Auditory phonetics: is the study of how sounds are perceived by the human ear or recognized by the brain. (Mention Oronyms, Mondegreens.)

·         Articulatory phonetics: is the study of how sounds are produced by the vocal apparatus/how speech sounds are made or articulated.

Components of phonetic system
  • segmental phonemes
  • word stress
  • syllabic structure
  • intonation

Phoneme: Smallest distinctive speech sounds in a language. Each phoneme in a language is unique and different from other phoneme. It is the smallest unit of sound employed to form meaningful contrasts between utterances. If phoneme changes, meaning also changes. Each spoken word has one or more individual phoneme.
Pan – Span (Same phoneme)
Pan – tan (Different phoneme)

The phoneme

  • Basic concept of phonetics.
  • Smallest unit of language, existing as such speech sound which is capable of differentiating one word from another, or one grammatical form from another.
  • Speech sound that makes a difference in meaning
  • A class or family of sounds regarded as a single sound and represented in transcription by the same symbol
  • Abstractional and generalized in character exists in our minds as an abstraction and at the same time is generalized in speech in the form of its allophones
Phoneme may be pronounced differently in different ws but still remain the same phoneme pleat-play-wale.
 2 main classes of phonemes: vowels and consonants
Pairs of words that demonstrate a phonemic contrast – minimal pairs (discovered by method of commutation)

Phonemics: Study of the sound system / phoneme of a given language. It is also the classification and analysis of its phoneme.

Morpheme: Smallest meaningful unit into which a word can be divided. Free Morpheme can be used alone as individual words.
Eg: Take, Slighly.

Bound morpheme form words only when attached to one morpheme. Bound morpheme are prefixes and suffixes.

UN-SLIGHT-LY (Bound – free –bound morpheme)
Affixes: Prefixes and suffixes.
Inflectional affix – Shows a grammatical feature.

Example:         Crown – Crowns
            Go – Going

Derivational affixes are either prefixes or suffixes, which changes the meaning of the word to which they are attached.

Eg:       Plant – Transplant
            Believable – unbelievable
            Joy – Joyless

Syntax is the arrangement of words into phrases and sentences. It is words arranged into phrases and phrase arranged into sentences. Words put in order.
Eg. I had stolen the car / I had the car stolen / Stolen the car I.

Grapheme – Smallest meaningful unit of a written language.

Morphology Is the arrangement and relationship of the smallest meaningful units in a language these minimum units of meaning are called morphemes. It is often useful to distinguish between free and bound morphemes

Free morphemes can be used alone as independent words for example, take, for, each etc

Bound morphemes form words only when attached to at least one other morphemes; re, dis ,un, -ing,  –ful and –tion are all bound morphemes.

The most familiar bound morphemes are affixes (that is, prefixes and suffixes) but even bases (Forms to which affixes are attached) can be bound. An example of a bound base is the –cept of words as except, accept, deceptive, and reception; although -cept derives from an independent Latin verb capere ‘to take’, it appears only as a bound morpheme in English.
Syntax is the arrangement of words in to phrases, clauses, and sentences, loosely speaking, it is word order. A simple example like the difference between I had stolen my car and I had my car stolen illustrates how crucial syntax is in English. English speakers have   more option with respect to syntax than they do with respect to phonology or morphology. But we have the option of saying either I like dogs.  Or dogs I like. This freedom is limited, however; they cannot say like dogs I. Or Like I dogs.

The Lexicon of a language is the list of all the Morphemes in the language. In linguistic terminology, a lexicon differs from vocabulary or a dictionary of a language in that it includes not only independent words but also morphemes that do not appear as independent words, including affixes such as-ed, -s, mis, and poly- and bound forms like the –clude of include, exclude, and preclude, which appear only as part of words and never as independent words. One of the most remarkable features of English today is the great size and diversity of origin of its Lexicon.

Philology is the study of language in written historical sources; it is a combination of literary studies, history and linguistics.

Semantics is the study of meanings or all the meanings expressed by a language. It is the relationship between language and the real world, between the sounds we make and what we are talking about like all other aspects of language, meanings change overtime

There are a number of possible ways of classifying types of semantic change. None of them are totally satisfactory:

1.      Generalization and Narrowing.
2.      Amelioration and Pejoration.
3.      Strengthening and Weakening.
4.      Abstraction and Concretization.
5.      Shift in Denotation.

Affix: An affix is a morpheme which is added to a root morpheme in the formation of a word. In its broadest sense, an affix can be a prefix, a suffix, or an infix. More narrowly, infixes are sometimes treated separately. See also morphology.

ATN = Augmented Transition Network.

Diphthong: If the tongue moves significantly during the production of a vowel phone, the result is a diphthong. A diphthong sounds like a rapid, blended sequence of two separate vowels. An example in English is the vowel sound in the word kite, which is like a rapid combination of a kind of 'a sound' and a kind of 'i sound'. In the IPA a diphthong is represented by two vowel symbols. It is important to note that the two symbols represent a SINGLE phone.

Ellipsis:  A technical term for leaving out words in sentences. For example, in Brian ate the ice-cream and Judy the peaches, there is ellipsis, since the word ate is omitted after Judy.

Grapheme:  A grapheme is a 'spelling unit'. For example, in Spanish the combination ll represents a different sound from a single l. Thus these are two graphemes. In English, graphemes may be quite complex. For example -tion behaves more-or-less as a single grapheme in words like function.

Inflection:  A grammatical change in the form of a word (more accurately of a lexeme), which leaves the 'base meaning' and the grammatical category of the word unchanged. In English, inflections are restricted to the endings of words (i.e. suffixes). Other languages may show changes elsewhere. As an example, the suffix s is the usual written plural inflection in English. Inflections in nouns may show changes of number, gender, case, etc.; in verbs, of number, person, tense, aspect, etc. See also morphology.

Intonation:  Intonation refers to changes in the tone or frequency of sounds during speech. For example, in English the tone usually falls at the end of a statement and rises at the end of a question, so that You want some coffee. and You want some coffee? can be distinguished by tone alone. In some languages (e.g. Chinese, Thai), sequences containing the same phones but with different intonation patterns correspond to different words.

IPA:  The International Phonetic Alphabet or IPA is a set of symbols which can be used to represent the phones and phonemes of natural languages. A subset which can be used to represent 'Standard English English' (roughly the dialect of middle-class people from the south east of England) is given in a separate table.

Morphology:  The structure of words and the study of this structure. For example, a morphological analysis of the English word unknowingly might yield four components, called morphemes. These are the root know and three affixes, the prefix un indicating negation, and two suffixes ing and ly. Note that both spelling and pronunciation changes can take place when morphemes are combined. Thus the root happy plus the affix ly yields happily not *happyly. Many English words appear to contain morphemes, but resist neat division. For example, the suffix ish often indicates that the word refers to a language (e.g. English, Spanish, Danish, Swedish), but removing the suffix does not always leave a clear root morpheme (e.g. Spanish = ?Span(e) + ish). In other cases, it may be that a word was in the past created from distinct morphemes, but that this is not obvious to a contemporary speaker as the morphemes are no longer used in forming new words.

When an affix morpheme is an inflection, the word can be said to show inflectional morphology. Thus the word chased (= chase + ed) shows inflectional morphology. In many languages, including English, inflectional morphology is relatively predictable, and can be handled by rules.

In other cases, the word can be said to show derivational morphology. Thus the word output = out + put shows derivational morphology: adding the prefix out to the verb put creates a noun with the approximate meaning "that which was put out". In many languages, including English, derivational morphology is unpredictable, and so cannot easily be handled by rules. Thus there's no noun *outgo meaning "that which went out" (although there is a noun, most often used in the plural, outgoings = out + go + ing + s).

NL = Natural Language.

NLP = Natural Language Processing.

Phone:  A phone is a 'unit sound' of a language in the sense that it is the minimal sound by which two words can differ. For example, the English word feed contains three phones since each can be independently substituted to form a different word. In the IPA, the three phones can be written as [f], [i] and [d]. Examples of substitutions are: [fid] - [f] + [s] gives [sid], i.e. seed; [fid] - [i] + [u] gives [fud], i.e. food; [fid] - [d] + [t] gives [fit], i.e. feet. The whole of each phone must be substituted to change one word into another. It is important to note that whether or not speakers can distinguish between sounds is not a test of whether they constitute distinct phones. The word tea could be represented as [ti] and the word tree as [tri]. However, the two 't sounds' are not quite the same: the tongue is further back in the mouth when pronouncing the [t] in [tri] than when pronouncing the [t] in [ti]. How far to divide up sounds into phones is essentially a pragmatic question. Using more phones will enable speech to represented more accurately but at a cost in terms of complexity. See also allophone, phoneme.

Phoneme:  A phoneme is a minimally distinctive set of sounds in a language; sound sequences which differ in a single phoneme can constitute different words. Thus the pairs tip-dip and trip-drip show that English has two distinct phonemes, which we can write as /t/ and /d/, since substituting one for the other produces a different word. However, the pronunciation of /t/ (and /d/) is not the same in each pair: the tongue is further back in the mouth when /t/ is followed by /r/. Hence there are at least two phones corresponding to the /t/ phoneme. However there are no two English words in which the ONLY difference is that the 't sound in trip' is replaced by the 't sound in tip' -- these two sounds are allophones of the same phoneme. English speakers do not need to recognize the difference between them.

Phonetics: Phonetics is the study of the sounds of speech (i.e. the study of phones). It can be distinguished from phonology which is more concerned with the underlying theory (i.e. the phonemes which underlie phones and the rules which govern the conversion of phonemes to phones and vice versa).

Phonological rule:  At some theoretical level, words can be considered to be composed of phonemes. The actual sound of a word then depends on which allophone is chosen for each phoneme. The context-sensitive rules which determine this are called phonological rules. Thus the word input can be considered to contain the phoneme /n/. However in fast speech in many dialects of English, the phone used will be [m]. The relevant phonological rule for English is that a nasal becomes articulated at the same position as a following stop.

Pragmatics:  A technical term meaning, roughly, what the person speaking or writing actually meant, rather than what the words themselves mean.

Prefix:  A prefix is a morpheme which is added before a root morpheme in the formation of a word. See morphology.

Referential semantics:  A system where the meaning of a word just is the thing it refers to.

Semantic feature:  A semantic feature is a 'primitive' which a language processor (human or computer) is assumed to be able to determine independently of the language system. The meaning of words such as nouns or adjectives can then be described in terms of sets of these features. For example we might describe the meaning of words such as boy, man, girl and woman in terms of the features YOUNG, MALE and HUMAN. Boy would be [+YOUNG, +MALE, +HUMAN], woman would be [-YOUNG, -MALE, +HUMAN]
Stress Words can be divided into syllables, usually centred around a vowel. In many languages, including English, the duration and relative loudness of a syllable -- its stress -- are important. Thus only stress distinguishes the noun PROcess (as in the sentence This process is called assimilation) from the much less common verb proCESS (as in the sentence I usually process at the degree ceremony). The noun is stressed on the first syllable, the verb on the second.

Suffix:  A suffix is a morpheme which is added after a root morpheme in the formation of a word. See morphology.

Syntax:  The syntax of a language comprises, roughly speaking, the patterns into which its words can be validly arranged to form sentences. The combination of morphology and syntax is sometimes called the grammar of a language.

Nonverbal communication:

Nonverbal communication is usually understood as the process of communication through sending and receiving wordless (mostly visual) messages between people. Messages can be communicated through gestures and touch, by body language or posture, by facial expression and eye contact. Nonverbal messages could also be communicated through material exponential; meaning, objects or artifacts (such as clothing, hairstyles or architecture). Speech contains nonverbal elements known as para language, including voice quality, rate, pitch, volume, and speaking style, as well prosodic features such as rhythm, intonation, and stress. Likewise, written texts have nonverbal elements such as handwriting style, spatial arrangement of words, or the physical layout of a page. However, much of the study of nonverbal communication has focused on face-to-face interaction, where it can be classified into three principal areas: environmental conditions where communication takes place, physical characteristics of the communicators, and behaviors of communicators during interaction.

Proxemics: Physical Space in Communication:

When you are talking to someone stay out of their “intimate space” they want to talk to you but just do not want to have you all over them. “ Most animals have a certain air space around their bodies that they claim as their personal space…1-18 in being the intimate zone, 18-48 in being the personal zone, 4-12 ft. being the social zone and the public zone at over 12 ft.”

Proxemics is the study of how people use and perceive the physical space around them. The space between the sender and the receiver of a message influences the way the message is interpreted. In addition, the perception and use of space varies significantly across cultures[10] and different settings within cultures. Space in nonverbal communication may be divided into four main categories: intimate, social, personal, and public space.

Chronemics: Time in communication:

Chronemics is the study of the use of time in nonverbal communication. The way we perceive time, structure our time and react to time is a powerful communication tool and helps set the stage for communication. Time perceptions include punctuality and the willingness to wait, plus the speed of speech and how long people are willing to listen. The timing and frequency of an action as well as the tempo and rhythm of communications within an interaction contributes to the interpretation of nonverbal messages. Gudykunst & Ting-Toomey (1988) identified two dominant time patterns: monochronic time and polychronic time.

Monochronic Time:

A monochronic time system means that things are done one at a time and time is segmented into precise, small units. Under this system time is scheduled, arranged and managed.
The United States is considered a monochronic society. This perception of time is learned and rooted in the Industrial Revolution, where "factory life required the labor force to be on hand and in place at an appointed hour" (Guerrero, DeVito & Hecht, 1999, p. 238). For Americans, time is a precious resource not to be wasted or taken lightly. "We buy time, save time, spend time and make time. Our time can be broken down into years, months, days, hours, minutes, seconds and even milliseconds. We use time to structure both our daily lives and events that we are planning for the future. We have schedules that we must follow: appointments that we must go to at a certain time, classes that start and end at certain times, work schedules that start and end at certain times, and even our favorite TV shows, that start and end at a certain time.”

As communication scholar Edward T. Hall wrote regarding the American viewpoint of time in the business world, “the schedule is sacred.” Hall says that for monochronic cultures, “time is tangible” and viewed as a commodity where “time is money” or “time is wasted.” The result of this perspective is that Americans and other monochronic cultures, such as the German and Swiss, place a paramount value on schedules, tasks and “getting the job done.” These cultures are committed to regimented schedules and may view those who do not subscribe to the same perception of time as disrespectful.
Monochronic cultures include Germany, Canada, Switzerland, the United States, and Scandinavia.

Polychronic Time:
A polychronic time system is a system where several things can be done at once, and a more fluid approach is taken to scheduling time. Unlike Americans and most northern and western European cultures, Native American, Latin American, Arab and African cultures use the polychronic system of time.

These cultures are much less focused on the preciseness of accounting for each and every moment. As Raymond Cohen notes, polychronic cultures are deeply steeped in tradition rather than in tasks—a clear difference from their monochronic counterparts. Cohen notes that "Traditional societies have all the time in the world. The arbitrary divisions of the clock face have little saliency in cultures grounded in the cycle of the seasons, the invariant pattern of rural life, and the calendar of religious festivities" (Cohen, 1997, p. 34).

Instead, their culture is more focused on relationships, rather than watching the clock. They have no problem being “late” for an event if they are with family or friends, because the relationship is what really matters. As a result, polychronic cultures have a much less formal perception of time. They are not ruled by precise calendars and schedules. Rather, “cultures that use the polychronic time system often schedule multiple appointments simultaneously so keeping on schedule is an impossibility.”
Polychronic cultures include Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Mexico, the Philippines, India, and many in Africa.

Movement and body position:


The term "kinesics" was first used (in 1952) by Ray Birdwhistell, an anthropologist who wished to study how people communicate through posture, gesture, stance, and movement. Part of Birdwhistell's work involved making films of people in social situations and analyzing them to show different levels of communication not clearly seen otherwise. Several other anthropologists, including Margaret Mead and Gregory Bateson, also studied kinesics.

Haptics: Touching in communication:

A high five is an example of communicative touch. Haptics is the study of touching as nonverbal communication, and haptic communication refers to how people and other animals communicate via touching.

Touches among humans that can be defined as communication include handshakes, holding hands, kissing (cheek, lips, hand), back slapping, high fives, a pat on the shoulder, and brushing an arm. Touching of oneself may include licking, picking, holding, and scratching. These behaviors are referred to as "adapters" or "tells" and may send messages that reveal the intentions or feelings of a communicator. The meaning conveyed from touch is highly dependent upon the culture, the context of the situation, the relationship between communicators, and the manner of touch.
Touch is an extremely important sense for humans; as well as providing information about surfaces and textures it is a component of nonverbal communication in interpersonal relationships, and vital in conveying physical intimacy. It can be both sexual (such as kissing) and platonic (such as hugging or tickling).

Touch is the earliest sense to develop in the fetus. The development of an infant's haptic senses and how it relates to the development of the other senses such as vision have been the target of much research. Human babies have been observed to have enormous difficulty surviving if they do not possess a sense of touch, even if they retain sight and hearing. Babies who can perceive through touch, even without sight and hearing, tend to fare much better. Touch can be thought of as a basic sense in that most life forms have a response to being touched, while only a subset have sight and hearing.
In chimpanzees the sense of touch is highly developed. As newborns they see and hear poorly but cling strongly to their mothers. Harry Harlow conducted a controversial study involving rhesus monkeys and observed that monkeys reared with a "terry cloth mother," a wire feeding apparatus wrapped in soft terry cloth that provided a level of tactile stimulation and comfort, were considerably more emotionally stable as adults than those with a mere wire mother.(Harlow,1958)

Touching is treated differently from one country to another and socially acceptable levels of touching vary from one culture to another (Remland, 2009). In Thai culture, for example, touching someone's head may be thought rude. Remland and Jones (1995) studied groups of people communicating and found that touching was rare among the English (8%), the French (5%) and the Dutch (4%) compared to Italians (14%) and Greeks (12.5%).
Striking, pushing, pulling, pinching, kicking, strangling and hand-to-hand fighting are forms of touch in the context of physical abuse. In a sentence like "I never touched him/her" or "Don't you dare touch him/her," the term touch may be meant as a euphemism for either physical abuse or sexual touching.
Stoeltje (2003) wrote about how Americans are "losing touch" with this important communication skill. During a study conducted by University of Miami School of Medicine, Touch Research Institutes, American children were said to be more aggressive than their French counterparts while playing at a playground. It was noted that French women touched their children more.

Functions of nonverbal communication:

Argyle (1970) put forward the hypothesis that whereas spoken language is normally used for communicating information about events external to the speakers, non-verbal codes are used to establish and maintain interpersonal relationships. It is considered more polite or nicer to communicate attitudes towards others non-verbally rather than verbally, for instance in order to avoid embarrassing situations.

Argyle (1988) concluded there are five primary functions of nonverbal bodily behavior in human communication:

·         Express emotions
·         Express interpersonal attitudes
·         To accompany speech in managing the cues of interaction between speakers and listeners
·         Self-presentation of one’s personality
·         Rituals (greetings)

In regards to expressing interpersonal attitudes, humans communicate interpersonal closeness through a series of nonverbal actions known as immediacy behaviors. Examples of immediacy behaviors are smiling, touching, open body positions, and eye contact. Cultures that display these immediacy behaviors are considered high-contact cultures.

Interaction of verbal and nonverbal communication:

When communicating, nonverbal messages can interact with verbal messages in six ways: repeating, conflicting, complementing, substituting, regulating and accenting/moderating. Conflicting Verbal and nonverbal messages within the same interaction can sometimes send opposing or conflicting messages. A person verbally expressing a statement of truth while simultaneously fidgeting or avoiding eye contact may convey a mixed message to the receiver in the interaction. Conflicting messages may occur for a variety of reasons often stemming from feelings of uncertainty, ambivalence, or frustration. When mixed messages occur, nonverbal communication becomes the primary tool people use to attain additional information to clarify the situation; great attention is placed on bodily movements and positioning when people perceive mixed messages during interactions


 Accurate interpretation of messages is made easier when nonverbal and verbal communications complement each other. Nonverbal cues can be used to elaborate on verbal messages to reinforce the information sent when trying to achieve communicative goals; messages have been shown to be remembered well when nonverbal signals affirm the verbal exchange.


Nonverbal behavior is sometimes used as the sole channel for communication of a message. People learn to identify facial expressions, body movements, and body positioning as corresponding with specific feelings and intentions. Nonverbal signals can be used without verbal communication to convey messages; when nonverbal behavior does not effectively communicate a message; verbal methods are used to enhance understanding.

Nonverbal communication is the process of sending and receiving messages from another person. These messages can be conveyed through gestures, engagement, posture, and even clothing and hygiene. Nonverbal communication can convey a very different message than a verbal conversation. This can tell someone whether they are liked, interesting or hated. Nonverbal communication can have meanings in objects as well. Certain articles in a person’s life can say a lot about them and can sometimes even talk for them. A person’s handwriting can also tell a lot about the way they can communicate with others. Nonverbal communication can be easiest practiced when the two communicators are face to face. The nonverbal aspect of communication is easiest when the environment is right for all communicators involved, such as, when the environment is right or the moment is right. Nonverbal communication is an important aspect in any conversation skill people are practicing. Nonverbal communication will inhibit someone to be able to tell other person how they are really feeling without having to voice any opinions. People can interpret body signals better than they can talk most of the time.

What is language change?

Because all language is systematic, the history of any language is the history of change in its systems. By change, we mean a permanent alteration. Changes in language may be systematic or sporadic, the addition of a vocabulary item to name a new product, for example, is a sporadic change that has little impact on the rest of the lexicon. Systematic changes, as the term suggests, affect an entire system or subsystem of the languages. These changes may be either conditioned or unconditioned. A conditioned systematic change is brought about by context or environment, whether linguistic or extra linguistic. In simple terms, all changes consist of a loss of something, a gain of something, or both- a substitution of one thing for another. Both loss and gain occur in all the subsystems of natural languages.  Change occurs at different ways and times within the subsystems of a language. A new loan word may be introduced and widely accepted within a period of a few days, as with the Russian loan sputnik in 1957.

In sum for all natural languages, change is both inevitable and constant; only dead languages (languages with no native speakers) do not change because change is constant and has always been so, there is no such thing as a “pure” or “decadent” language or dialect. There are only different languages and dialects, which arose in the first place only because all languages change.The history of the English language, this, is the record of how its patterns and rules have changed over the centuries. The history of English is not the political history of its speakers, although their political history has affected their language, sometimes dramatically, as was the case with the Norman invasion of

England in 1066. Nor is the history of the English language , same as the history of English literature, even though the language is the raw material of the literature. Indeed, the nature of any language influences its literature and imposes certain limitation on it. For example, quantitative verse is impossible in English today because English does not distinguish long and short syllables. Compared to other languages. English is difficult to rhyme in because of its stress patterns and great variety of syllable endings. On the other hand, English, unlike French, lends itself easily to alliteration .Any language with a literary tradition and extensive. Literacy will be affected by that literature. Grammatical structures originating in writing are transferred to the spoken language. Vocabulary items and phrases introduced in literature enter the spoken language. The written tradition tends to give rise to concepts of correctness and to act as a conservative influence on the spoken language


In any science, the hardest question to answer is why? In many cases, the question is unanswerable. From one point of view, it is strange that human beings speak so many languages and that these languages undergo any changes at all. Other `human activities are identical and unchanging everywhere- all human beings smile, cry, scream in terror, sleep, drink, and walk in essentially the someway. Why should they differ in speech, the one aspect of behavior that is uniquely humane? The answer is that, whereas the capacity to learn language is innate, the particular Language that anyone uses is learned. That is, the ability to learn languages is universal and unchanging but the languages themselves are diverse and constantly changing.  Given that learned behavior can and often does change, what are the forces that trigger change? One explanation for linguistic change is the principle of least effort.  According to this principle, language changes because speakers are “sloppy” and simplify their speech in various ways. Accordingly, abbreviated. Forms like math for mathematics and plane for airplane arise. Going to becomes gonna because the latter has two fewer phonemes to articulate. On the morphological level, speaker’s use showed instead of shown as the past participle of show so that they will have one less irregular verb form to remember.  

The principle of least effort is an adequate explanation for many isolated changes, such as the reduction of God be with you to good-bye, and it probably plays an important role in most systematic changes, such as the loss of inflection in English.

Another explanation for language change is analogy. Under analogical change, two things or rules that were once different become identical or at least more alike. The principle analogy is closely related to the principle of least effort. Analogy is one way of achieving least effort. By analogy, a speaker reasons, usually unconsciously, that if A is like B in several respects, then it must be like B in other respects. If beans is plural noun naming a kind of vegetable and has the singular form bean, then peas, which also names a kink of vegetable, must also be a plural and must have the singular form pea.(Historically, peas or Pease, was an uncountable singular noun; if analogy can operate at all levels of a language. On the semantic level, many people use the word livid to mean “bright”, especially bright red, as in anger. Though historically livid means “pale”, its sound association with vivid has led to analogical semantic change. Even spelling may be affected by analogy. The word delight historically contained no- -g h – but acquired these letters by analogy with such rhyming words as light, fright, sight, and might

In general, the more common a word or construction, the less susceptible it is to change by analogy. Less frequently used words or constructions are more likely to be altered to fit the patterns of more common ones. Thus the verb to be remains wildly irregular in English because it is learned so early and used so often. But the relatively uncommon verb thrive, once conjugated as thrive, throve, thriven, is well on its way to becoming a weak (regular) verb. Still another explanation frequently affected for language changes is that children learn their native language imperfectly from their elders. Imperfect learning is surely one factor, but it cannot explain all changes. For permanent linguistic change to occur, all children of a given speech

Community would, all children of a given speech community would have to make exactly the same mistakes. This intuitively seems unlikely. Further, there is ample evidence that linguistic change occurs beyond the years of childhood. Many adults, consciously or unconsciously alter their speech in various ways, changing even their phonology.

Internal and external pressure for change:

In discussing the history of a language, it is often useful to distinguish outer history (or external history) from inner history (or internal history). The outer history is the events that have happened to the speakers of the language leading to changes in the language. For example, the Norman invasion brought French-speaking conquerors to England and made French the official language of England for about three hundred years. As a result, the English language was profoundly affected. The inner history of a language is the change that occurs within the language itself, change that cannot be attributed directly to external forces. For instances, many words that were pronounced as late as the ninth century with a /a/ sound similar to that of father are today pronounced with a long o: old English ham, gat,halig;and sar correspond to modern home, goat, holy, and sore. There is no evidence of an external cause for this change and we can only assume that it resulted from pressures within the language system itself.

Among external pressures for language change, foreign contacts are the most obvious. They may be instigated by outright military invasion, by commercial relations, by immigration, or by the social prestige of a foreign language. The Viking invasion of England during the ninth and tenth centuries added, not surprisingly, many new lexical items to English. Less obviously, they contributed to (though were not the sole cause of) the loss of inflection in English because, although Norse and English were similar in many ways, their inflectional endings were quite different one way of facilitating communication between speakers of the two languages would have been to drop the inflectional endings entirely  


Although linguistic change is a slow but unceasing process, like a slow-motion movie. It is impracticable to try to describe the changes in this way; instead, we must present them as a series of still photographs, noting what has changed in the interval between one photograph and the next. This procedure fails to capture the real dynamism of linguistic change, but it does have the advantage of allowing us to examine particular aspects in detail and at a leisurely pace before they disappear. The history of the English language is normally presented in four such still photographs -Old English, Middle English, Early Modern English, and Present-Day English.

The dividing lines between one period 0f English and the next are not sharp and dramatic: The English people did not go to bed on December 31, 1099, speaking old English and wake up on January 1, 1100, speaking Middle English, Nevertheless, the changes that had accumulated by the year 1100 were sufficiently great to justify a different designation for the language after that date.

Old English (OE) is that stage of the language used between AD 450 and 1100. The period from 1100 to 1500 is Middle English (ME), the period between 1500 and 1800 is Early Modern English (EMnE), and the period since 1800 is present-Day English (PDE) for those familiar with English history, these dates may look suspiciously close to dates of important political and social events in England. The beginning of ME is just a few years after the Norman Conquest, the beginning of EMnE parallels the English Renaissance and the introduction of printing in to England, and the starting date for present-day English is on the heels.