Category Archives: Anatomy of Linguistics

Shortening – contraction – clipping – blending – abbreviation

Dear All, One can hear people using a variety of terms to refer to “shortened words” such as ‘shortenings’, ‘abbreviations’, etc. This post looks at these terms from the linguistic perspective to explain and help use them correctly. This post focuses on the lexical layer of the language. Let’s start with the most generic term: …

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What is language

Dear All, There exist dozens of definitions of “language” (L.). This post focuses on what a good definition of L. should cover and formulates a new definition of the notion. To begin with, what is the most important objective of L. from the linguistic perspective? Most objective of L. from the linguistic perspective is communication. …

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Mother tongue

Dear All, If you write a paper on teaching/learning foreign languages, sometimes it is desirable to find an appropriate synonym that fits the context best and corresponds well to the given context. Below are the forms which are synonymous to “mother tongue”: native language native tongue first language father tongue arterial language L1 (the use …

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Comparative linguistics

And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech (Gen. 11:1, KJV). Dear All, Have you ever heard the story about the tower of Babel? It is described in Genesis 11:1-9. The quote above is the beginning of this story. What is important for us in this discussion is that there is …

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How linguistics can help in space exploration

Video credit: SpaceX, “CRS-8 Dragon Hosted Webcast” April 8, 2016, via YouTube. Dear All, The video above shows the first successful launch + landing (on a landing pad in the ocean) of the first stage of a rocket delivering cargo to space (see also the first successful launch + landing on a landing pad on …

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Why linguistics matters

Dear All: When it comes to University courses some students opt out for “the real thing” which, in their opinion, is more related to something they want to do in their future profession. Today I would like to speak about linguistics and why it is the real thing. Regardless of what profession a student chooses …

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Descriptive linguistics

Dear All: I have recently come across two sources which seem to understand descriptive linguistics (L.) in opposite ways. The Department of Modern and Classical Languages, Literatures and Cultures’ Web page on the University of Kentucky website explains how the field of descriptive L. is represented there in the following way: “Descriptive Linguistics research is …

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Theoretical linguistics

Dear All, The previous post has focused on applied linguistics (L.). This post focuses on theoretical L. Theoretical L. is a branch of L. that is focused on developing linguistic knowledge in general (e.g. what are the linguistic levels of any language) and concrete models in particular (e.g. how the phonemes are organized in a …

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Applied linguistics

Language acquisition is “the greatest intellectual feat any of us is ever required to perform” (Bloomfield, 1933, p. 29). Dear All, The previous two posts have defined linguistics (L.) and discussed briefly its structure. This post focuses on one of the branches of L. called “applied L.” Applied L.is a conglomeration of linguistic sub-disciplines and …

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Structure of linguisitcs

Image credit: Aucasin, “Branches indo-européen” September 13, 2015, via Wikimedia Commons, (CC BY-SA 4.0). Dear All: This post continues exploring what linguistics (L.) is. This post is going to focus on the branches of of L. which do study language, but are not directly focused on a particular structural level of language. Depending on what …

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What is linguistics?

Video credit: The Virtual Linguistics Campus, “What is Linguistics (not)?” July 31, 2014, via YouTube. Dear All: We have been discussing so many interesting linguistic topics on BLOGONLINGUISTICS blog, but what is linguistics? Linguistics (L.) (from Lat. lingua – “language”) is scientific study of language. The core branches of L. are associated with language structure …

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Argot, jargon, professionalism, and slang

Dear All, Argo, jargon, professionalism, and slang are the terms which are used not only by linguists, but by people with any other background in their everyday life. The everyday use of these terms contributes to the fact that sometimes these terms are used interchangeably. Even linguists who do not work closely with these notions …

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Oxymoron – enantiosemy

Image credit: Vkil, “Flammablecabinet” October 17, 2013, CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication. Dear All, Today I would like to discuss briefly two linguistic phenomena which can be easily confused: oxymoron and enantiosemy. Oxymoron (from Gr. “pointedly foolish”: ὀξύς [oxus] “sharp, keen” and μωρός [mōros] “dull, stupid”) (plural oxymora or oxymorons) is a “paradoxical connection …

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Theme and rheme

Dear All, Have you ever heard the terms “theme” and “rheme” (= focus – background/presupposition)? First, this post defines the two terms and then provides an example of how they have been applied in research. The discussion concludes by pointing at the importance of these notions in linguistics. Theme (in some sources, also “topic,” “background,” …

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Reliable and valid

Dear All, Reliability and validity are the basic properties which any research should have or at least should be aiming at achieving as closely as possible (approximate results are not always a bad thing). Reliability and validity of research results come from reliable and valid procedures (Johnstone, 2000) which I would like to clearly define …

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Coherence and cohesion

Dear All, In systemic functional linguistics (SFL) and in discourse analysis, there exist two notions, which are sometimes confused: coherence and cohesion. In this post I would like to clarify any potential confusion by defining the terms and by providing examples. Coherence (from Lat. “cohaerere” – to stick together) can be understood in a wide …

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Phoneme – sound – allophone – phone

Dear All, There are several terms in phonetics which are often confused. These terms are phoneme, sound, allophone, and phone. The purpose of this post is to clearly define each of these terms and exemplify them. Phoneme (Gr. phone “sound, voice”) is the smallest contrastive unit of language that may change the meaning of a …

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Introduction to linguistics and general linguistics (in Ukrainian)

              Dear All, Today I would like to share with you information on two of the best books in modern linguistics. They are both written by the same author, M.P. Kocherhan. The books are in Ukrainian; my apologies to those who do not read Ukrainian. The first book is entitled “Introduction to linguistics“. It consists …

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Metaphor

In spite of the fact that we often hear the term “metaphor”, it is not always used in accordance with the original (classic) linguistic definition. Moreover, even some students-linguists tend to confuse it sometimes with such linguistic phenomena as metonymy* or simile. Therefore, I hope that this post may help to clarify the situation. “From …

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X-bar theory = X-bar syntax

X-bar theory (= X-bar syntax) is a linguistic postulate according to which all phrases and sentences in languages are structured according to a certain (syntactic) model; this model can be made explicit through a linguistic analysis and consequently can be depicted graphically with the help of strictly hierarchical diagrams. The X-bar theory was developed within …

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Generative grammar

Video credit: The Virtual Linguistics Campus, “Syntax – Generative Grammar” March 19, 2012, via YouTube. Generative grammar is an approach to study of syntax which attempts to elaborate some general (hence generative) or overarching rules which may accurately predict possible combinations of words [i.e. syntactic structures] used by native speakers of this language to form …

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Grammar/semantics – form/meaning

In one of his books, the famous linguist Noam Chomsky (2002, p. 15) coined the following sentence: Colorless green ideas sleep furiously. Is the meaning of each individual word understandable? Why? Is the grammatical structure of the sentence correct? Why? What does this sentence tell us about the role of grammar? What about the role …

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Glossary in Linguistics

One of the available glossaries in linguistics that provide concise fefinitions and is a free online resource is the glossary found on the Queen Mary University of London website: http://webspace.qmul.ac.uk/cjpountain/linggloss.htm Iaroslav

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