Grammar

How Young Learners Learn Languages – True or False

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(960 words)

For this writing task, I was asked to give my response to 5 statements about how young learners learn languages. I will answer true or false statements 1- 5 and explain why.

1) Babies are unable to respond until they are at least 6 months old.

Is this True or False?

2) Babbling has an element of the meaning of which the young child is aware.

Is this True or False?

3) Children may sometimes use words in a way different from an adult’s understanding of the language item.

Is this True or False?

4) Grammar rules cannot usually be taught to young children.

Is this True or False?

5) Repetition plays an important part in first language acquisition.

Is this True or False?

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What is IN a preposition?

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Have you ever thought about how prepositions work in a sentence?

Prepositions can have 1. spatial, 2. temporal, or 3. abstract meanings

  1. I live in a house.
  2. I left home at 9am.
  3. Something came across my mind

There is a concept of Space in prepositions. How do we locate an object relative to space?

  1. John is at the dentist.
  2. John went to the dentist.

However, the scale is Relative. Look at these two sentences.

  1. The ant walked across his hand.
  2. A bus drove across the country.

What is the semantic category/communicative function?

  1. The balloon passed over the house.
  2. The balloon passed over.
  3. The balloon went up. (postulate)
  4. The balloon went over there. (landmark)

How does Spatial Awareness work?

Think about dimensions: 1D, 2D, and 3D

  1. John drove down the road. (a line – one dimensional space)

2. The skater twirled on the pond. (the pond is a surface, 2D)

3. The astronaut checked his equipment in the airlock.  (a room has 3D and we are placing him inside)

Where is the location of space?

at – (non-directional) Amy ran at the track.

at – (core meaning, denote position) I am at school.

at – (being at a specific point) The intersection of the lines is at co-ordinates 3,4 on the graph.

How does a motion verb work with prepositions?

  1. John threw the ball at Mary.
  2. John threw the ball to Mary.

How does the preposition modify the verb?

  1. (place) John exercised inside the house.
  2. (path) John stormed inside the house.

What is a phrasal verb?

kick-off

ran into my teacher

ask out

blow up

break-in (interrupt)

break up (relationship)

How does the phrase with a preposition become idiomatic?

hold your hand up

off like a shot

in at the deep end

off the record

in the pink

English can be crazy!

  1. A house can burn up as it burns down.
  2. You can fill in a form by filling it out.
  3. Why is it after dark when it is after light?

Syntax – an indepth look

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(6981 words)

Human communication in all its forms almost always uses words. We could say that communication is essentially the expression of thought. Every time we speak or write we are faced with a myriad of choices to explain ourselves. Within this information transmission that uses thought, we use words to express our beliefs and judgments, intentions and desires, etc. The words are used in a combination to make others understand our desired thoughts. Human languages are among several systems of human communication (some others such as gestures, symbol systems), but language has immeasurably greater communicative power than the others. The grammar we use to communicate, the context, the people with whom we are communicating with and whether we are writing or speaking have to be in a form that is fully recognized. Sentences are not unordered strings of words; rather the words and morphemes are grouped into functional constituents such as subject, predicate, direct object, noun phrase, verb phrase, and so on. It means that we take a finite number of discrete elements (words) and combine them to create larger structures that are different in meaning from the original words themselves. The choices for expression make use of many patterns in the English language. All human languages have very similar underlying structures; they all have phrase structure rules and transformational rules. The use of these words is systematized according to syntax. It is Syntax that this paper is concerned with. In this paper, I will take a deeper look at how English language syntax helps us form the complete understandable sentences that help us communicate so well.

It is clear to see that the sentence ‘Man hits animal’ is not the same as ‘Animal hits man’.  We know this because we use a code, or set of rules, to translate between orders of words and combinations of thoughts. Generally speaking, this set of rules is called generative grammar. Syntax works on a prescriptive use of grammar although spoken English is not as formal as we think and works along the lines of a more descriptive method. Descriptive syntax is about understanding the rules that a speech community employs by examining the way that the members of that community actually do talk. I will try to show in this paper syntax as comprehensively as possible while recognizing that the coverage of all the details is impossible.

 The English language holds rules that can create larger more complex structures. It is by learning phrase and clause structures that give us a clearer picture of syntax. These structures are what make the syntax rules. We find that it is possible to create an infinite number of sentences, all of which can express meaningful thought. Thus it is possible to construct sentences that the speaker has never used before. It can be said that English has a finite number of rules which facilitate an infinite number of sentences. Syntax shows that sentences and the relationship of their component parts works in English. To understand a sentence one cannot merely pay attention to the order of words. Communication is grounded on getting our point across. The study of language is of the formal interrelations that exist between the elements of a language (i.e., sounds, words) themselves. Syntax is the system that speakers and writers use when they combine words into phrases and clauses, ultimately creating meaning in their structures. Thus, the point of us using words is to be comprehended. English speakers show this in their syntax that is used by every English-speaking person.  The old definition of a sentence was ‘a complete expression of thought’, although today this may seem a bit vague to be helpful. An English-speaking person may say ‘beautiful day!’ which is not a grammatically complete sentence, but it is our knowledge of the sentence ‘it is a beautiful day!’ that we are able to understand the utterance. So, although a person takes the language and uses it to different extremes it is our fundamental knowledge of the original grammar that allows us to comprehend incomplete sentences.

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A Study of Phonology/Syntax/Morphology

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(4205 Words)

Language is one of man’s greatest abilities. It is a human instinct. Where would we be without language? Language is a complex system that is used in all its complexity in many facets around the world. The function of language is to build symbols for concepts by means of sounds. We can wonder, predict, order, and ask, from the myriad of verbal uses. One language may have various dialects, which is seen by those who use them as languages in their own right. There are about 6,000 languages spoken worldwide. These languages around the world still use the same kinds of grammar although different patterns were formed from the many races of people. This is what we come to recognize, as our own colloquial methods of using language, be it by rules or duplication of others. All known languages have words or word-like elements combined in accordance with certain rules into sentences. Nouns and verbs are the two fundamental grammatical categories that appear in all these language around the globe. Nouns and verbs are used in grammar which is the branch of language study or linguistics. It deals with the means of showing the relationship between words in use. It seems so simple to speak but underneath that simplicity marks rules that show how all the vocal sounds fall into place. It is below the surface of language that I will talk about in this paper. I will focus on syntax (order of words), morphology (the form of words), and phonology (speech sounds) which are some of the specific rules inside of language/grammar. I would like to show how language works in its fascinating way, looking at these three linguistic usages.

There are rules for grammar that, if some of us can remember, were studied at school. This is what we call prescriptive grammar that lays down rules of usage. Such prescriptions amount to a kind of linguistic etiquette that we are supposed to uphold but actually bear little to the underlying grammar that makes communications possible. On the other side, there are descriptive colloquial methods that are characterized in different dialects in conversation. ‘I seen’ or ‘I done’ may not conform to the standard of correctness demanded of cultivated speech, but these expressions cultivate a meaning. This is the study of how people communicate despite the rules. Wherever we live, in each person we are given the ability to say an endless amount of sentences that may never have been said by anyone before. Linguists study this language, their aim is to describe all the permissible patterns of combinations and formulate them as abstract rules that underlie everyday linguistic behavior. These studies notice the language’s syntax, morphology, and phonology. It is noticed that between human individuals, there can be wide differences in cognitive strategies and specifically in modes of perception or action. These differences between individuals, generalized to a language community, provide the basis for differences between the lexicons and syntaxes of different languages.

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The Study of Linguistics – A reflection

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(964 words)

My initial thought would be to give my general view of linguistics. Therefore, linguistics is the study of human languages where within this the science examines not only the structure of language but also its use and the structure in the mind. A layman may think that a linguist, the person who is skilled in linguistics, only looks at rules and grammar but it is so much more than this. The subject takes in such fields as humanity, science, society, philosophy, and literary criticism. Language is not as routine as some may think and it is astonishing to think that language came from one source which spread across the world to create 6000 more. A learner of linguistics then would be amazed how many branches of linguistics have been created. Without language where would we be?

The first recognizable factor, I found, was the highlighting of daily use of language which has to be the main dynamic in anyone’s scaffolding of knowledge. The more any speaker uses it, the more they will be able to use their fresh available knowledge of language. Reading and writing inspire to make people more creative with their writing and speaking. This is a sensible choice to further anyone’s linguistic knowledge. This would seem straightforward. However, the path that I followed was not the one that I thought and as such, I would like to draw attention to some further points.

The Power of Babel by John McWhorter

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