The dialects we speak help to define who we are. They tell those who hear us where we come from, our social or ethnic identification, and other such intimate facts about us. The registers we use reflect the circumstances in which we are communicating. They indicate where we are speaking or writing, to whom, via what medium, about what subject, and for what purpose.
Dialects and registers provide options—alternative ways of using language. And those options confront us with the question of what is the right or best alternative. But Lowth and his followers knew, or thought they knew, better; and their attitude survives to this day. But the facts of language are not so clean-cut. Instead, many students of usage today prefer to talk about acceptability, that is, the degree to which users of a language will judge an expression as OK or will let its use pass without noticing anything out of the ordinary.
An acceptable expression is one that people do not object to, indeed do not even notice unless it is called to their attention. Acceptability is not absolute, but is a matter of degree; one expression may be more or less acceptable than another. Thus most. Americans pronounce the past-tense verb ate like eight and regard any other pronunciation as unacceptable.
That statement, however, raises several questions. When and how did human beings acquire language? To what extent is language innate, and to what extent is it learned? How does human language differ from the communication systems of other creatures? We will look briefly at each of these questions. Theories of the Origin of Language The ultimate origin of language is a matter of speculation since we have no real information about it.
The earliest languages for which we have records are already in a high stage of development, and the same is true of languages spoken by technologically primitive peoples. The problem of how language began has tantalized philosophical minds, and many theories have been advanced, to which waggish scholars have given such fanciful names as the pooh-pooh theory, the bow-wow theory, the ding-dong theory, and the yo-he-ho theory.
The nicknames indicate how seriously the theories need be taken: they are based, respectively, on the notions that language was in the beginning ejaculatory, or echoic onomatopoeic , or characterized by a mystic appropriateness of sound to sense in contrast to being merely imitative, or made up of grunts and groans emitted in the course of group actions.
Eventually human physiology and behavior changed in several related ways. The human brain, which had been expanding in size, lateralized—that is, each half came to specialize in certain activities, and language ability was localized in the left hemisphere of most persons. As people had more things to do with their hands, they could use them less for communication and had to rely more on sounds.
Therefore, increasingly complex forms of oral signals developed, and language as we know it evolved. The fact that we human beings alone have vocal language but share with our closest animal kin the apes an ability to learn complex gesture systems suggests that manual signs may have preceded language as a form of communication.
We cannot know how language really began; we can be sure only of its immense antiquity. However human beings started to talk, they did so long ago, and it was not until much later that they devised a system of making marks on wood, stone, or clay to represent what they said. Compared with language, writing is a newfangled invention, although certainly not less brilliant for being so. Innate Language Ability The acquisition of language would seem to be an arduous task.
But it is a task that children all over the world seem not to mind in the least. After childhood, however, perhaps in the teen years, most people find it difficult to learn a new language. Young children seem to be genetically equipped with an ability to acquire language. But after a while, that automatic ability atrophies, and learning a new language becomes a chore. To be sure, children of five or so have not acquired all of the words or grammatical constructions they will need as they grow up.
But they have mastered the basics of the language they will speak for the rest of their lives. The immensity of that accomplishment can be appreciated by anyone who has learned a second language as an adult. It is clear that, although every particular language has to be learned, the ability to acquire and use language is a part of our genetic inheritance and operates most efficiently in our younger years.
Do Birds and Beasts Really Talk? Some animals are physically just about as well equipped as humans to produce speech sounds, and some—certain birds, for instance—have in fact been taught to do so. But no other species makes use of a system of sounds even remotely resembling ours. Human language and animal communication are fundamentally different. In the second half of the twentieth century, a trio of chimpanzees—Sarah, Lana, and Washoe—greatly modified our ideas about the linguistic abilities of our closest relatives in the animal kingdom.
After several efforts to teach chimps to talk had ended in almost total failure, it was generally concluded that apes lack the cognitive ability to learn language. Some psychologists reasoned, however, that the main problem might be a simple anatomical limitation: human vocal organs are so different from the corresponding ones in apes that the animals cannot produce the sounds of human speech.
If they have the mental, but not the physical, ability to talk, then they should be able to learn a language using a medium other than sound. Sarah was taught to communicate by arranging plastic tokens of arbitrary color and shape. Each of the tokens, which were metal-backed and placed on a magnetized board, represented a word in the system, and groups of tokens corresponded to sentences.
Lana also used word symbols, but hers were on a typewriter connected to a computer. She communicated with people, and they with her via the computer. Washoe, in the most interesting of these efforts to teach animals a language, was schooled in a gesture language used by the deaf, American Sign Language. Her remarkable success in learning to communicate with this quite natural and adaptable system has resulted in its being taught to a number of other chimpanzees and gorillas.
The apes learn signs, use them appropriately, combine them meaningfully, and when occasion requires even invent new signs or combinations. The linguistic accomplishment of these apes is remarkable; nevertheless, it is a far cry from the fullness of a human language.
The number of signs or tokens the ape learns, the complexity of the syntax with which those signs are combined, and the breadth of ideas that they represent are all far more restricted than in any human language. Moreover, human linguistic systems have been fundamentally shaped by the fact that they are expressed in sound. Vocalness of language is no mere incidental characteristic but rather is central to the nature of language.
We must still say that only human beings have language in the full sense of that term. The relationship of language to thought has generated a great deal of speculation. At one extreme are those who believe that language merely clothes thought and that thought is quite independent of the language we use to express it. At the other extreme are those who believe that thought is merely suppressed language and that, when we are thinking, we are just talking under our breath. The truth is probably somewhere between those two extremes. It is certainly true that until we put our ideas into words they are likely to remain vague, inchoate, and uncertain.
The idea that language has such influence and thus importance is called the Whorf hypothesis after the linguist Benjamin Lee Whorf. Efforts have been made to test the hypothesis—for example, by giving to persons who spoke quite different languages a large number of chips, each of a different color. Those tested were told to sort the chips into piles so that each pile contained chips of similar color. Each person was allowed to make any number of piles. As might be predicted, the number of piles tended to correspond with the number of basic color terms in the language spoken by the sorter.
In English we have eleven basic color terms red, pink, orange, brown, yellow, green, blue, purple, black, gray, and white , so English speakers tend to sort color chips into eleven piles. If a language has only six basic color terms corresponding, say, to our red, yellow, green, blue, black, and white , speakers of that language tend to cancel their perception of all other differences and sort color chips into those six piles.
Pink is only a tint or light version of red. But because we have different basic terms for those two colors, they seem to us to be quite distinct colors; light. Thus, how we think about and respond to colors is a function of how our language classifies them. Though a relatively trivial matter, color terms illustrate that the way we react to the world corresponds to the way our language categorizes it.
How many of our other assumptions are reflexes of our language? Because it may, today the generic use of masculine forms is widely avoided in favor of gender-neutral or inclusive language. Does the linguistic requirement for a subject and verb lead us to expect an actor or agent in every action, even though some things may happen without anyone making them happen? The implications of the Whorf hypothesis are far-reaching and of considerable philosophical importance, even though no way of confidently testing those implications seems possible. Instead, any speaker can use the resources of the language—its vocabulary and grammatical patterns—to make up new messages, sentences that no one has ever said before.
Because a language is an open system, it can be used to talk about new things. However, all bees can communicate about is a nectar supply—its direction, distance, and abundance. As a consequence, a bee would make a very dull conversationalist. Another aspect of the communicative function of language is that it can be displaced.
That is, we can talk about things not present—about rain when the weather is dry, about taxes even when they are not being collected, and about a yeti even if no such creature exists. The characteristic of displacement means that human beings can abstract, lie, and talk about talk itself. Displaced language is a vehicle of memory and of imagination.
A bee communicates with other bees about a nectar source only when it has just found such a source. Bees do not celebrate the delights of nectar by dancing for sheer pleasure. Human beings use language for many purposes quite unconnected with their immediate environment. Indeed, most language use is probably thus displaced.
Finally, an important characteristic is that language is not just utilitarian. One of the uses of language is for entertainment, high and low: for jokes, stories, puzzles, and poetry. Language in general is an ability inherent in us. Specific languages such as English are systems that result from that ability. We can know the underlying ability only through studying the actual languages that are its expressions. Thus, one of the best reasons for studying languages is to find out about ourselves, about what makes us persons. And the best place to start such study is with our own language, the one that has nurtured our minds and formed our view of the world.
A good approach to studying languages is the historical one. To understand how things are, it is often helpful and sometimes essential to know how they got to be that way.
The same is true of a language. For example, the highly irregular plurals of nouns like man-men, mouse-mice, goosegeese, and ox-oxen can be explained historically. So can the spelling of Modern English, which may seem chaotic, or at least unruly, to anyone who has had to struggle with it. The orthographic joke attributed to George Bernard Shaw, that in English fish might be spelled ghoti gh as in enough, o as in women, and ti as in nation , has been repeated often, but the only way to understand the anomalies of our spelling is to study the history of our language.
The fact that the present-day pronunciation and meaning of cupboard do not much suggest a board for cups is also something we need history to explain. Why do we talk about withstanding a thing when we mean that we stand in opposition to it, rather than in company with it? If people are unkempt, can they also be kempt, and what does kempt mean? Is there any connection between heal, whole, healthy, hale, and holy?
Knowing about the history of the language can help us to answer these and many similar questions. Knowledge of the history of English is no nostrum or panacea for curing all our linguistic ills why do we call some medicines by those names? Yet another reason for studying the history of English is that it can help us to understand the literature of earlier times.
Unless we are aware of such older usage, we are likely to be led badly astray in the picture we conjure up for these lines. Hors seems to be singular, but the verb were looks like a plural. It is a small point, but unless we know what a text means literally, we cannot appreciate it as literature. In the remainder of this book, we will be concerned with some of what is known about the origins and the development of the English language—its sounds, writing, grammar, vocabulary, and uses through the centuries and around the world.
General Akmajian. Linguistics: An Introduction. Anderson et al. Glossary of Linguistic Terms. The Routledge Companion to Semiotics and Linguistics. The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Language. The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language. A Dictionary of Language. International Encyclopedia of Linguistics. Haspelmath and Naumann. Glottopedia: Discovering Linguistics. The Oxford Companion to the English Language.
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General Linguistics. The Seeds of Speech. The Origins of Complex Language. From Hand to Mouth. The Origin of Language. Language Acquisition Blake. Routes to Child Language. How Children Learn the Meanings of Words. First Language Acquisition. The Development of Language. Karmiloff and Karmiloff-Smith.
Pathways to Language. Language, Mind, and Culture. The Whorf Theory Complex. Language, Thought, and Reality. Language is basically speech, so sounds are its fundamental building blocks. But we learn the sounds of our language at such an early age that we are unaware of them without special study. Moreover, the alphabet we use has always been inadequate to represent the sounds of the English language, and that is especially true of Modern English.
One letter can represent many different sounds, as a stands for as many as six different sounds in cat, came, calm, any, call, and was riming with fuzz. This is obviously an unsatisfactory state of affairs. Phoneticians, who study the sounds used in language, have therefore invented a phonetic alphabet in which the same symbols consistently represent the same sounds, thus making it possible to write sounds unambiguously. The phonetic alphabet uses the familiar Roman letters, but assigns to each a single sound value. Then, because there are more sounds than twenty-six, some letters have been borrowed from other alphabets, and other letters have been invented, so that finally the phonetic alphabet has one letter for each sound.
To show that the letters of this phonetic alphabet represent sounds rather than ordinary spellings, they are written between square brackets, whereas ordinary spellings are italicized or underlined in handwriting and typing. Thus so represents the spelling and [so] the pronunciation of the same word.
Phoneticians describe and classify sounds according to the way they are made. So to understand the phonetic alphabet and the sounds it represents, you must know something about how sounds are produced. You can use this diagram together with the following discussion of sounds to locate the places where the sounds are made. They are also classified by their manner of articulation that is, how they are made as stops, fricatives, affricates, nasals, liquids, or semivowels.
For most consonants, it is also necessary to observe whether or not they have voice vibration of the vocal cords.
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Voice can be heard as a kind of buzz or hum accompanying the sounds that have it. The accompanying chart uses these principles of classification to show all the consonants of present-day English with illustrative words. The chart also includes a few other consonant symbols without illustrative words ; they represent sounds treated in later chapters. They are included here only so you can refer to this chart later. Stops: The sounds [p], [t], and [k] are voiceless stops also called plosives or explosives. They are so called because in making them the flow of the breath is actually stopped for a split second at some position in the mouth and is then released by an explosion of air without vibration of the vocal cords.
If vibration or voice is added while making these sounds, the results are the voiced stops [b], [d], and [g]. When the air is stopped by the two lips, the result is [p] or [b]; hence they are called, respectively, the voiceless and voiced bilabial stops. Stoppage made by the tip of the tongue against the gums above the teeth the alveolar ridge produces [t] or [d]; hence these sounds are called, respectively, the voiceless and voiced alveolar stops. In other languages, such as Spanish, similar sounds are made with the tip of the tongue against the upper teeth, producing dental stops.
Stoppage made by the back of the tongue against the roof of the mouth produces [k] or [g]—respectively the voiceless and voiced palatovelar stops. The roof of the mouth is divided into the hard palate called just palate for short and the soft palate or velum. You can feel these two parts by running the tip of your tongue back along the roof of the mouth; first, you will feel the hard bone under the skin, and then the roof will become soft and spongy. Depending on what vowels they are near, some [k] and [g] sounds are palatal like those in geek and others are velar like those in gook.
The fricatives of present-day English are four pairs of voiceless and voiced sounds, plus one that is unpaired voiceless. Labiodental [f] and [v] are produced with the lower lip against the upper teeth. You may find these two sounds hard to tell apart at first because they are usually spelled alike and are not as important as some of the other pairs in identifying words. Alveolar [s] and [z] are made by putting the tip of the tongue near the alveolar ridge.
The voiceless fricative [h] has very generalized mouth friction but is called a glottal fricative because when it is said very emphatically, it includes some friction at the vocal cords or glottis. Affricates: The voiceless and voiced affricates are the initial and final sounds of church and judge, respectively. They include the bilabial [m], with lips completely closed; the alveolar [n], with stoppage made at the gum line; and the.
Liquids: The sounds [l] and [r] are called liquids. They are both made with the tip of the tongue in the vicinity of the alveolar ridge. The liquid [l] is called a lateral because the breath flows around the sides of the tongue in making it. There is no single pronunciation of English sounds, which vary greatly from one dialect to another. The liquid [r] is particularly unstable. In eastern New England, New York City, the coastal South, and the prestigious British accent called RP received pronunciation , [r] disappears from pronunciation unless it is followed by a vowel. Eeyore, which A.
Milne, the creator of Christopher Robin and Winnie-the-Pooh, could just as well have spelled Eeyaw, is what [h]-less Cockney donkeys presumably say instead of heehaw. Linking r gives rise by analogy to an unhistorical [r] sound called intrusive r. Semivowels: Because of their vocalic quality, [y] and [w] are called semivowels. They are indeed like vowels in the way they are made, the palatal semivowel [y] being like the vowels of eat or it, and the velar semivowel [w] like the vowels of oodles or oomph.
But in words they function like consonants. In the accompanying chart, the vowels are shown according to the position of the tongue relative to the roof of the mouth high, mid, low and to the position of the highest part of the tongue front, central, back. The chart may be taken to represent a cross section of the oral cavity, facing left. Vowel symbols with keywords are those of present-day American English. Those without keywords represent less common vowels or those of older periods of the language; they are explained and illustrated below or in later chapters. Instead, those phonetic symbols represent sounds like those the letters stand for in Spanish, French, Italian, and German.
Thus in transcribing Modern English words, we use [i] for the sound that is written i in other languages, although the sound [i] is most frequently written e, ee, ea, ie, or ei in Modern English, except in words recently borrowed from those other languages for example, police. Vowels without lip rounding all of the others in Modern English are called unrounded or spread vowels. Those four vowels are acoustically distinct from one another, but differences. The vowel [a] is heard in eastern New England speech in ask, half, laugh, and path and in some varieties of Southern speech in bye, might, tired, and the like.
Along the East Coast roughly between New York City and Philadelphia as well as in a number of other metropolitan centers, some speakers use clearly different vowels in cap and cab, bat and bad, lack and lag. This vowel may also appear in children, would, and various other words. In eastern New England, some speakers, especially of the older generation, use a vowel in whole that differs from the one in hole.
It is rare and is becoming more so. This vowel also occurs in some American dialects. If you do not use these vowel sounds, obviously you do not need their symbols to represent your speech. It is wise, however, to remember that even in English there are sounds that you do not use yourself or that you use differently from others. For them, caught and cot are homophones, as are taught and tot, dawn and don, gaud and God, pawed and pod.
Other Americans lack a phonemic contrast between two sounds only in a particular environment. Thus pin and pen are homophones for many Southerners, as are tin and ten, Jim and gem, and ping and the first syllable of penguin. Vowels can be classified not only by their height and their frontness as in the vowel chart , but also by their tenseness. A tense vowel is typically longer in duration than the closest lax vowel and also higher and less central that is, further front if it is a front vowel and further back if a back one.
For most Americans, the low and the central vowels do not enter into a tense-lax contrast. However, for. In earlier times as we shall see in Chapters 5 and 6 , English vowels were either long or short in duration; today that difference has generally become one of tenseness. In most types of current English, vowel length is hardly ever a distinguishing factor. But phonetically speaking, vowel length is just that—a difference in how long a vowel is held during its pronunciation—and any difference of vowel quality is incidental.
In current English, the length of vowels is determined primarily by neighboring sounds. For example, we distinguish bad from bat, bag from back, and lab from lap by the final consonants in those words, not by the longer vowel in the first of each pair. We tend to hold a vowel longer before a voiced consonant than before a voiceless one as in bad versus bat , but that difference is secondary to and dependent on the voiced d versus the voiceless t.
They do so by pronouncing the vowel of the first word in each pair longer than that of the second word—but also tenser and with some difference in quality. In southeastern American English, bulb with no [l] may also be distinguished from bub by vowel length, and similarly burred with no [r] from bud, and stirred with no [r] from stud. In phonetic transcriptions, a colon is used to indicate vowel length when it is necessary to do so.
Such distinctions need not concern most of us except in Old, Middle, and early Modern English, which had phonemically distinctive vowel quantity. A diphthong is a sequence of two vowels in the same syllable, as opposed to a monophthong, which is a single, simple vowel. Normally, however, there is no need to do so. The first pronunciation is more common. The ending points are equally variable. Vowels Before [r] The sound [r] modifies the quality of a vowel that comes before it.
Consequently, vowels before [r] are somewhat different from the same vowels in other environments. Such differences can be ignored, however, if we are interested only in writing differences of sound that are capable of making a difference in meaning. Fewer distinctive vowels occur before [r] than elsewhere. In particular, for many speakers tenseness is not distinctive before [r]. In all these variations, the lax vowel occurs more frequently. For most Americans nowadays, hoarse and horse are homophones. Today, for many speakers, these vowels have merged before [r], and as a result some people misspell foreword as forward because they pronounce the two words alike.
In some American speech, especially that of the lower Mississippi Valley and the West, there is no difference in pronunciation between form and farm, or and are, born and barn, or lord and lard. There is much variation among speakers from various regions in the vowels they use before [r]. Thus at one time all speakers of English distinguished the members of pairs like horse—hoarse, morning—mourning, and for—four.
Nowadays most probably do not. Because this change has not proceeded uniformly, the pronunciation of such words now varies. Some changes of sound are very important and highly systematic. Other changes are more incidental but fall into several distinct categories. In this section we examine some of the latter kind, especially changes in informal and in nonstandard speech. Assimilation: Sounds Become More Alike Assimilation is a change that makes one sound more like another near it.
In addition to such partial assimilation, by which sounds become more alike while remaining distinct, assimilation. A much older example is cupboard, in which the medial [pb] has become a single [b]. In speech with a moderately fast tempo, assimilation is very common. If we never used such assimilated forms in talking, we would sound very stilted indeed. Dissimilation: Sounds Become Less Alike The opposite of assimilation is dissimilation, a process by which neighboring sounds become less like one another. And consequently some people do indeed misspell the word that way.
Another example of dissimilation is the substandard pronunciation of chimney as chimley, with the second of two nasals changed to an [l]. The ultimate dissimilation is the complete loss of one sound because of its proximity to another similar sound. A frequent example in present-day standard English is the omission of one of two [r] sounds from words like cate r pillar, Cante r bury, rese r voir, terrest r ial, southe r ner, barbitu r ate, gove r nor, and su r prised.
The verb is usually has no stress and thus often contracts with a preceding word by the elision of its vowel. A sound omitted by elision is said to be elided. Indeed, many words sound artificial when they are given a full, unsyncopated pronunciation. Like assimilation, syncope is a normal process. Intrusion: Sounds Are Added The opposite of elision is the intrusion of sounds.
A term for this phenomenon is svarabhakti from Sanskrit , and such a vowel is called a svarabhakti vowel. If, however, you do not care to use so flamboyant a word, you can always fall back on epenthesis epenthetic or anaptyxis anaptyctic. Perhaps it is just as well to call it an intrusive schwa. Consonants may also be intrusive. A [p] may be inserted in warmth, so that it sounds as if spelled warmpth; a [t] may be inserted in sense, so it is homophonous with cents; and a [k] may be inserted in length, so that it sounds as if spelled lenkth. That is, the stop is homorganic in place with the nasal and in voicing with the fricative.
There is a simple physiological explanation for such intrusion. To move directly from nasal to voiceless fricative, it is necessary simultaneously to release the oral stoppage and to cease the vibration of vocal cords. If those two vocal activities are not perfectly synchronized, the effect will be to create a new sound between the two original ones. In these examples, the vocal vibration ceases an instant before the stoppage is released, and consequently a voiceless stop is created.
Metathesis: Sounds Are Reordered The order of sounds can be reversed by a process called metathesis. Tax and task are historically developments of a single form, with the [ks] represented in spelling by x metathesized in the second word to [sk]—tax, after all, is a task all of us must meet. The television personality Oprah was originally named Orpah, after one of the two daughters-in-law of the Biblical Naomi Ruth 1. Two of the major changes already alluded to, namely the First Sound Shift and the Great Vowel Shift, are particularly mysterious.
This explanation is known as the substratum or. A quite different sort of explanation is that languages tend to develop a balanced sound system—that is, to make sounds as different from one another as possible by distributing them evenly in phonological space. It would be very strange if a language had five front vowels and no back ones at all, because such an unbalanced system would make poor use of its available resources.
If, for some reason, a language loses some of its sounds—say, its high vowels—a pressure inside the system may fill the gap by making mid vowels higher in their articulation. Other changes, such as assimilation, dissimilation, elision, and intrusion, are often explained as increasing the ease of articulation: some sounds can be pronounced together more smoothly if they are alike, others if they are different.
Intrusion can also help to make articulation easier. It and metathesis may result from our brains working faster than our vocal organs; consequently the nerve impulses that direct the movement of those organs sometimes get out of sync, resulting in slips of the tongue. In addition to such mechanical explanations, some sound changes imply at least partial awareness by the speaker.
Remodeling chaise longue as chaise lounge because one uses it for lounging is folk etymology Pronouncing comptroller originally a fancy, and mistaken, spelling for controller with internal [mptr] is a spelling pronunciation These are matters considered in more detail later. Speakers have a natural tendency to generalize rules—to apply them in as many circumstances as possible—so in learning a new rule, we must also learn the limitations on its use.
Although it is the most recent and rarest of English consonants, it seems to have acquired associations of exotic elegance and is now often used in words where it does not belong historically—for example, in rajah, cashmere, and kosher. As speakers use the language, they often change it, whether unconsciously or deliberately. Those changes become for the next generation just a part of the inherited system, available to use or again to change. And so a language varies over time and may, like English, eventually become quite different from its earlier system.
In English, for instance, the vowel sound of sit and the vowel sound of seat. Many pairs of words, called contrastive pairs, differ solely in the distinctive quality that these sounds have for us: bit-beat, mill-meal, fist-feast, and lick-leak are a few such pairs. But in Spanish this difference, so important in English, is of no significance at all; there are no such contrastive pairs, and hence the two vowels in question are not distinctive Spanish sounds.
Native speakers of Spanish may have difficulty hearing the difference between seat and sit—a difference that is clear to native English speakers. A phoneme is the smallest distinctive unit of speech. It consists of a number of allophones, that is, similar sounds that are not distinctive in that language. Speakers of English regard the two sounds spelled t in tone and stone as the same. Acoustically, they are quite different.
In tone the initial consonant has aspiration [th]; that is, it is followed by a breath puff, which you can clearly feel if you hold your hand before your lips while saying the word, whereas in stone this aspiration is lacking. These two different sounds both belong to, or are allophones of, the English t phoneme. In these words, the allophones occur in complementary distribution: that is to say, each has a different environment.
The unaspirated t occurs only after s, a position that the aspirated sound never occupies, so there is no overlapping of the two allophones. In other positions, such as at the end of a word like fight, aspirated and unaspirated t are in free variation: either may occur, depending on the style of speaking. In English the presence or absence of aspiration is nondistinctive. But it is distinctive or phonemic in other languages, such as Chinese and Classical Greek.
There are other allophones of the phoneme written t. For instance, in American English the t sound that appears medially in words like iota, little, and matter is made by flapping the tongue and sounds very like a [d]; [t] and [d] in that position may even have become identical, so that atom and Adam or latter and ladder are pronounced alike. In a word like outcome, the [t] may be unreleased: we pronounce the first part of the t and then go directly to the k sound that begins come. Such detail is necessary, however, only for special purposes.
Phonetic broad transcriptions of speech are, in effect, phonemic. Dictionaries tend to use symbols closely aligned with conventional English spelling, although each dictionary makes. This book uses a variant of the International Phonetic Alphabet used for writing sounds in any language , adapted in certain ways by American dialectologists and linguists. Such differences in transcription are matters partly of theory and partly of style, rather than substantial disagreements about the sounds being transcribed. You need to be aware of their existence, so that if you encounter different methods of transcribing, you will not suppose that different sounds are necessarily represented.
The reasons for the differences belong to a more detailed study than is appropriate here. An Introduction to English Phonology. Pullum and Ladusaw. Phonetic Symbol Guide. English Phonetics and Phonology. Accents of English. Widmayer and Gray. Sounds of English. American Pronunciation Kenyon. American Pronunciation. Labov et al. Atlas of North American English. Pronouncing Dictionaries Jones.
English Pronouncing Dictionary. Upton, Kretzschmar, and Konopka. The Oxford Dictionary of Pronunciation. Longman Pronunciation Dictionary. Although talking is as old as humanity, writing is a product of comparatively recent times. With it, history begins; without it, we must depend on the archeologist. The entire period during which people have been making conventionalized markings on stone, wood, clay, metal, parchment, paper, or other surfaces to represent their speech is really no more than a moment in the vast period during which they have been combining vocal noises systematically for the purpose of communicating with each other.
The American Indians made many such drawings, using particular conventions to represent ideas. But such drawings, communicative as they may be once one understands their conventions, give no idea of actual words. Any identity of wording in two interpretations of the same drawing would be purely coincidental. No element even remotely suggests speech sounds or word order; hence such drawings tell us nothing about the language of those who made them.
When symbols come to stand for ideas corresponding to individual words and each word is represented by a separate symbol, the result is ideographic, or logographic, writing. In Chinese writing, for example, every word originally had a symbol based not on the sound of the word but on its meaning. Another method, fundamentally different, probably grew out of ideographic writing: the use of the phonogram, which represents sound rather than meaning.
Pictures came to be used as visual puns in what is called a rebus—for example, Such a method is the beginning of a syllabary, in which symbols become so conventionalized as to be unrecognizable as actual pictures and instead represent syllables. There were ways of indicating vowels, but such devices were used sparingly. Since Semitic had certain consonantal sounds not found in other languages, the symbols for these sounds were readily available for use as vowel symbols by the Greeks when they adopted Semitic writing, which they called Phoenician.
The fact that the Greeks used the Semitic names, which had no meaning for them, is powerful evidence that the Greeks did indeed acquire their writing from the Semites, as they freely acknowledged having done. The order of the letters and the similarity of Greek forms to Semitic ones are additional evidence of this fact.
The Semitic symbol corresponding to A indicated a glottal consonant that did not exist in Greek. Beth was somewhat modified in form to B by the Greeks. And from the Greek modifications of the Semitic names of these first two letters comes our word alphabet. In the early days, Greeks wrote from right to left, as the Semitic peoples usually did and as Hebrew and Arabic are still written. But sometimes the early Greeks would change direction in alternate lines, starting, for instance, at the right, then changing direction at the end of the line, so that the next line went instead from left to right, and continuing this change of direction in alternate lines.
The Greek Vowel and Consonant Symbols The brilliant Greek notion conceived about years ago of using as vowel symbols those Semitic letters for consonant sounds that did not exist in Greek gave the Greeks an alphabet in the modern sense of the word. Thus, Semitic yod became iota I and was used for the Greek vowel I; when the Greeks adopted that symbol, they had no need for the corresponding semivowel [y], with which the Semitic word yod began.
Upsilon was born of the need for a symbol for a vowel sound corresponding to the Semitic semivowel waw. The sound [w], which waw represented, was lost in Ionic, and in other dialects also. Practically all of the remaining Semitic symbols were used for the Greek consonants, with the Semitic values of their first elements for the most part unchanged. Their graphic forms were also recognizably the same after they had been adopted by the Greeks.
The early Greek alphabet ended with tau T. A good idea of the shapes of the letters and the slight modifications made by the early Greeks may be obtained from the charts provided by Ignace Gelb and Holger Pedersen Gelb also gives the Latin forms, and Pedersen the highly similar Indic ones. Indic writings from the third century B. Another symbol was thus needed for the [g] sound. Latin C was, however, sometimes used for both [g] and [k], a custom that survived in later times in such abbreviations as C.
All of these rounded forms occurred earlier in Greek also, though the more familiar Greek literary forms are the angular ones. The rounded forms doubtless resulted from the use of pen and ink, whereas the angular forms reflect the use of a cutting tool on stone. Epsilon E was adopted without change. The sixth position was filled by F, the Greek digamma earlier waw , with the value [f] in Latin. Next came the modified gamma—G. H was used as a consonant, as in Semitic and also in Western Greek at the time the Romans adopted it.
The Roman gain in having a symbol for [h] was slight, for the aspirate was almost as unstable a sound in Latin as it is in Cockney English. Ultimately, Latin lost it completely.
History of the English Language and Literature
Among the Romance languages—those derived. The lengthened form of this letter, that is, j, did not appear until medieval times, when the minuscule form of writing developed, using small letters exclusively. In ancient writing only majuscules, that is, capital letters, were used. The majuscule form of this newly shaped i, that is, J, is a product of modern times. Kappa K was little used by the Romans, who, as we have seen, preferred C for the same sound.
M and N, from mu and nu, require no comment. The symbol Q koppa stood for a sound that had dropped out of Greek, though the symbol continued to be used as a numeral in that language. The Romans used it as a variant of C in one position only, preceding V; thus the sequence [kw] was written QV—the qu of printed texts. Sigma in its rounded form S was adopted unchanged. Tau T was likewise unchanged. The symbol Z Greek zeta , which had occupied seventh place in the early Roman alphabet but had become quite useless in Latin because the sound it represented was not a separate phoneme, was reintroduced and placed at the end of the alphabet in the time of Cicero, when a number of Greek words were coming to be used in Latin.
The Romans adopted the letter chi X with its Western Greek value [ks]. These were accurate enough representations of the Classical Greek sounds, which were similar to the aspirated initial sounds of English kin, tin, and pin. The Romans very sensibly used H to represent that aspiration, or breath puff, because the sounds represented by Latin C, T, and P apparently lacked aspiration, just as k, t, and p do in English when preceded by s—for example, in skin, sting, and spin.
Later Developments of the Roman and Greek Alphabets Even though it lacked a good many symbols for sounds in the modern languages of Europe, the Roman alphabet was taken over by various European peoples, though not by those Slavic peoples who in the ninth century got their alphabet directly from Greek. The Slavic alphabet is called Cyrillic from the Greek missionary leader. Greek missionaries, sent out from Byzantium, added a number of symbols for sounds that were not in Greek and modified the shapes and uses of some of the letters for the Russians, Bulgarians, and Serbs, who use this alphabet.
All those who adopted the Roman alphabet had to supplement it in various ways. The superposed pair of dots, called an umlaut or dieresis, is also used in many other languages to indicate vowel quality. The Use of Digraphs Digraphs pairs of letters representing single sounds , or even longer sequences like the German trigraph sch, have also been used to indicate un-Latin sounds, such as those that we spell sh, ch, th, and dg. The h of gh performs a similar useful function in Ghent to show that it is not pronounced like gent.
It serves no such purpose in ghastly and ghost, where it was introduced by the early printer William Caxton perhaps from Flemish gheest. Except in recent loanwords, English makes scant use of diacritical marks, preferring other devices, such as the aforementioned use of digraphs and of entirely different symbols. Additional Symbols Other symbols have sometimes been added to the Roman alphabet by those who adopted it. British English uses it in a few. American usage has simple e in such words.
This digraph also came from Latin, in which its earlier value illustrated in German Kaiser, from Caesar had shifted to a sound like the English one. In early Middle English times, the symbol went out of use. These Germanic invaders had little need to write, but on the few occasions when they did, they used twenty-four runes, derived from their relatives on the Continent, to which they added six new letters.
The order of the runic symbols is quite different from that of the Roman alphabet. The English runic alphabet is sometimes called futhorc from the first six of these. Despite the differences in the order of the runes, their close similarities to both Greek and Latin letters make it obvious that they are derived partly from the Roman alphabet, with which the Germanic peoples were certainly familiar, or from some other early Italic alphabet akin to the Roman. But Latin writing, as well as the Latin tongue, had all but disappeared in the Roman colony of Britannia, which the Romans had to abandon even before the arrival of the English.
With their conversion to Christianity, the English adopted the Roman alphabet though they continued to use runes for special purposes. The missionaries from Rome who spread the gospel among the heathen Anglo-Saxons must have used an Italian style of writing. Yet Old English manuscripts are in a script called the Insular hand, which was an Irish modification of the Roman alphabet.
The Irish, who had been converted to Christianity before the English came to Britain, taught their new neighbors how to write in their style. A development of the Insular hand is still used in writing Irish Gaelic. The Insular hand has rounded letters, each distinct and easy to recognize. To the ordinary letters of the Roman alphabet those we use minus j, v, and w , the Anglo-Saxon scribes added several others.
Several of the Roman letters, notably f, g, r, s, and t, had distinctive shapes. This particular variant of s was used until the end of the eighteenth century except in final position, because printers followed what was the general practice of the manuscripts. When the Normans conquered England in , they introduced a number of Norman-French customs, including their own style of writing, which replaced the Insular hand. The special letters used in the latter were lost, although several of them, notably thorn and the long s, continued for some time.
Other combinations with h also appeared and are still with us: gh, sh, and wh. Gradually the letters of the alphabet assumed their present number. J was originally a prolonged and curved variant of i used in final position when writing Latin words like filii that ended in double i.
Dover facts for kids
Since English scribes used y for i in final position compare marry with marries and married, holy day with holiday , the use of j in English was for a long time more or less confined to the representation of numerals— for instance, iij for three and vij for seven. The dot, incidentally, was not originally part of minuscule i, but is a development of the faint sloping line that came to be put above this insignificant letter to distinguish it from contiguous stroke letters such as m, n, and u, as well as to distinguish double i from u. It was later extended by analogy to j, where, because of the different shape of the letter, it performed no useful purpose.
The history of the curved and angular forms of u—that is, u and v—was similar to that of i and j. Latin consonantal and vocalic u came to represent quite different sounds early in the Christian era, when consonantal u, hitherto pronounced [w], became [v]. Nevertheless, the two forms u and v continued to be used more or less interchangeably for either vowel or consonant. As its name indicates, w was originally a double u, although it was the angular shape v that was actually doubled, a shape we now regard as a different letter.
The words cited to illustrate unusual spellings have been assembled not. Because speakers of English vary in their pronunciation, some of the following words will not illustrate the intended sounds for all speakers. For example, although hiccough usually ends in [p], being merely a respelling of hiccup, some speakers now pronounce it with final [f] under the influence of the spelling -cough.
Spellings other than with o, oo, and ou usually represent the sequence [yu] initially use, Europe, ewe and after labial and palatovelar consonants: [b] bureau, beauty , [p] pew, pure , [g] gules, gewgaw , [k] cue, queue, Kew , [v] view , [f] few, fuel, feud , [h] hue, hew, human; the spelling of the Scottish surname Home [hyum] is exceptional , and [m] music, mew.
This is to put the cart before the horse. A knowledge of spelling has been responsible for changing the pronunciation of some words. Other examples follow. The t in often became silent around the seventeenth century, as it did also in soften. But by the end of the eighteenth century, an awareness of the letter in the spelling of often caused many people to start pronouncing it again. The first part of the glossary consists of Arabic terms and the second part French terms. This is the first book-length treatment of Spoken Sudanese Arabic for English speakers since The book opens with a grammar sketch which describes sounds, word-building, phrase and sentence structure, and discourse in Sudanese Arabic.
Brustad, Kristen. This book is the first comparative study of the syntax of Arabic dialects, based on natural language data recorded in Morocco, Egypt, Syria, and Kuwait. Kristen E. Brustad has adopted an analytical approach that is both functional and descriptive, combining insights from discourse analysis, language typology, and pragmatics. Beirut: Al-Matbaah Al-Amirikiyyah, Chekayri, Abdellah. Since Moroccan Arabic is rarely written or used in formal communication, the strength of the book lies in training learners in speaking and listening skills that can be used in everyday situations.
Teacher's Toolkit. Lesson and activity guides allow educators to help students created personalized textbooks called daftars, a process that encourages them to take ownership of their own learning. Darwish, Mahmoud. The Butterfly's Burden Arabic Edition. Copper Canyon Press, Dickins, James. Standard Arabic: An Advanced Course. This comprehensive course is designed for intermediate to advanced students of Arabic at upper undergraduate level.
It uses authentic materials and a wide variety of techniques to develop the four basic language skills of reading, writing, speaking and listening. Dickinson, Eerik. Spoken Libyan Arabic. The aim of this book with cassette tape or CD is to aid the student possessing a background in Modern Standard Arabic to comprehend the spoken Libyan dialect, or, more precisely, the two main urban dialects, that of Tripoli in the west and Benghazi in the East. The two speakers in the dialogues are from Tripoli and from the countryside surrounding Benghazi. Doniach, N. Nearly 40, entries providing English headwords with multiple meanings and their nearest Arabic equivalent.
Elgibali, Alaa. Media Arabic introduces the language of the newspapers, magazines, and Internet news sites to intermediate and advanced-level students of Modern Standard Arabic. Using this textbook, students will be able to master core vocabulary and structures typical of front-page news, recognize various modes of coverage, distinguish fact from opinion, detect bias, and read critically in Arabic. Elihay, J. Minerva Publishing House, The Speaking Arabic series of books and recordings 4 books, 5 CDs is designed to help English speakers acquire a working knowledge of colloquial Palestinian Arabic.
The course is intended for students who, rather than contenting themselves with a superficial acquaintance with the language, strive to attain fluency and a high level of comprehension. Erwin, Wallace M. A comprehensive introduction to Iraqi Arabic for beginners with Iraqi-English and English-Iraqi glossaries this is the language spoken by Muslim Baghdad residents, transcribed and not in Arabic script. It does not assume prior knowledge of Arabic.
Faruqi's Law Dictionary, English-Arabic. Beirut: Librairie Du Liban, Feghali, Habaka J. This book is divided into three parts. Part One is devoted to a brief grammar that outlines the essential linguistic features and dialectal peculiarities of the Kuwaiti, Bahraini, Qatari, UAE, and Omani dialects. Part Two consists of 50 selections, vocabulary, and notes. Part Three of this book is a glossary containing about 2, items. The book begins with a brief grammar that outlines the dialectical peculiarities of Riyadh and the Eastern Saudi dialects.
The 45 reading selections, which are the heart of this study, are based on spontaneous and unrehearsed recordings made by native speakers of the Saudi dialects. A composite glossary of some 2, terms is provided at the end of the book. Haddad, Yousif. Simple Arabic: A Comprehensive Course.
Saqi Books, Assuming little or no previous knowledge of the language, Simple Arabic aims to make learning Arabic easy and enjoyable. Harrell, Richard S. This classic volume presents the core vocabulary of everyday life in Morocco -- from the kitchen to the mosque, from the hardware store to the natural world of plants and animals. It contains myriad examples of usage, including formulaic phrases and idiomatic expressions. Understandable throughout the nation, it is based primarily on the standard dialect of Moroccans from the cities of Fez, Rabat, and Casablanca.
Henni, Mustapha. Beyrouth: Librairie Du Liban, Holes, Clive. Colloquial Arabic of the Gulf Colloquial Series. Routledge, Specially written by an expert for self-study and classroom use, the course offers you a step-by-step approach to spoken Arabic of the Gulf, together with an introduction to reading signs, business cards, advertisements and other realia. No prior knowledge of the language is required.
Husni, Ronak. Designed as a reader for intermediate students of Arabic and those who may wish to broaden their appreciation of leading Middle Eastern writers, this collection features stories in both Arabic and English translation. Prefaced by an author biography plus notes on context and background, each story is followed by a glossary and discussion of problematic language points. Isleem, Nasser M.
Alucen Learning, Colloquial Palestinian Arabic is designed to provide students with the tools they need to succeed in learning the spoken dialect of Palestine and the surrounding region. Designed specifically for non-native speakers, this unique book provides an essential foundation in spoken Arabic by focusing on the structure, pronunciation, vocabulary, culture, grammar, and daily use of the language.
Jalajel, David Solomon. University of the Western Cape, This first-of-its-kind textbook, now in its 2nd edition, is designed as a resource for teachers and students alike, to facilitate the understanding of how grammatical analysis is presented in the Arabic language. It has a double aim: 1 to enable students to correctly follow the discussions of grammatical concepts found in Arabic texts, and 2 to empower students to express these concepts on their own.
Before now, no one has ever formally codified the method for expressing Arabic grammatical concepts. Jones, Alan. The Islamic Texts Society, Designed to enhance the understanding of the Qur'an and its vocabulary that has infiltrated the whole of Arabic and Islamic literature, this workbook provides 40 easy-to-follow lessons for learning Qur'anic rather than modern Arabic. Al-Manar; an English-Arabic Dictionary. Kashgari, Badia. This is a bilingual anthology of the poetry of Badia Kashgari.
These are the poems of a strong and sensual soul, suffused with the rich light of the Arab-Islamic culture she not only inherits, but furthers, as a living tradition through her work. Kendall, Elisabeth. Media Arabic -- the language of printed or broadcast news items -- emphasizes contemporary terms like multiculturalism or globalization that are not covered by most Arabic dictionaries.
A Complete Guide to Arabic Grammar. Jakarta, Indonesia: WCM, New method to understand Arabic Grammar using graphics and schematics. Mansouri Ph. Tuttle Publishing, Making Out in Arabic is a fun, accessible and thorough guide to Arabic as it's really spoken. This is an excellent phrase book of modern colloquial Arabic for use in everyday, informal interactions--giving access to the sort of wonderful and catchy expressions not covered in traditional language materials.
Omar, Margaret K. Audio-Forum, Parkinson, Dilworth. Using Arabic Synonyms. Cambridge University Press, Designed for those who have already developed a basic competence in Arabic, this comprehensive synonyms guide aims to broaden and improve the learner's vocabulary by helping them find the right word for the right context. Penrice, John. A Dictionary and Glossary of the Koran. Dover Publications, A Dictionary and Glossary of the Koran, first published in , is a reference guide for anyone wishing to better understand the grammar and language of the Muslim holy book.
It contains detailed entries on parts of speech and the meanings of words, much of which was hard to decipher because, as the author points out, the Koran was originally written without vowel points. The author also emphasizes that rather than grammar rules being applied to this authoritative text, it in fact influenced Arabic grammar rules.
Rice, Frank A. Written in transcription using the Roman alphabet, the "Levantine" Arabic, or Jerusalem dialect, is a central Middle Eastern dialect and is recognized by Arabs virtually anywhere -- in large part due to the Palestinian diaspora -- and a good choice for anyone wishing to learn a base Arabic dialect.
- Speaking of Cats.
- Cake Mixes in Jars!
- Voltaire (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy).
- Fun for the crippled in Paris and other stories.
Rowland, Howard D. Let's Read the Arabic Newspapers. International Book Centre, Inc. Designed to be used either as supplementary reading material in a university-level Arabic course or as self-teaching material, The book is divided into two parts: the first half contains Arabic articles, the second half contains full English translations of each article. Ryding, Karin C. Designed to provide beginners in Arabic with maximum linguistic and cultural exposure in a short period about hours of contact time , this book consists of sixteen lessons with dialogs and exercises dealing with day-to-day scenarios: greeting people, getting a taxi, making phone calls, asking directions, discussing the weather, and effectively communicating with police and duty officers.
Sakulich, Aaron. Educational Resources Series, Finally, a straight-forward and easy to use primer for learning Moroccan Arabic - and now, new and improved in this 2nd edition. It incorporates reader suggestions and features more details on the transliteration system, additional words, new word lists, and the text has been completely revised and re-edited.
Scheindlin, Raymond P.