- Explain the relationship between human language and culture.
- Identify the universal features of human languages and the design features that make them unique.
- Describe the structures of language: phonemes, morphemes, syntax, semantics, and pragmatics.
- Assess the relationship between language variations and ethnic or cultural identity.
- Explain how language is affected by social class, ethnicity, gender and other aspects of identity.
- Evaluate the reasons why languages change and efforts that can be made to preserve endangered languages.
- 4.2: THE BIOLOGICAL BASIS OF LANGUAGE
- The human anatomy that allowed the development of language emerged six to seven million years ago when the first human ancestors became bipedal—habitually walking on two feet. With the new upright bipedal position of pre-humans, the attachment to the spine moved toward the center of the base of the skull. This skeletal change in turn brought about changes in the shape and position of the mouth and throat anatomy.
- 4.4: DESCRIPTIVE LINGUISTICS - STRUCTURES OF LANGUAGE
- Descriptive linguists discover and describe the phonemes of a language, research called phonology. They study the lexicon (the vocabulary) of a language and how the morphemes are used to create new words, or morphology. They analyze the rules by which speakers create phrases and sentences, or the study of syntax. And they look at how these features all combine to convey meaning in certain social contexts, fields of study called semantics and pragmatics.
- 4.7: LANGUAGE CHANGE: HISTORICAL LINGUISTICS
- Recall the language universal stating that all languages change over time. In fact, it is not possible to keep them from doing so. How and why does this happen? The study of how languages change is known as historical linguistics. The processes, both historical and linguistic, that cause language change can affect all of its systems: phonological, morphological, lexical, syntactic, and semantic.
Thumbnail: Detail of the Rosetta Stone inscription. Major advances in the decoding were recognition that the stone offered three versions of the same text; that the demotic text used phonetic characters to spell foreign names; that the hieroglyphic text did so as well, and had pervasive similarities to the demotic; and that, in addition to being used for foreign names, phonetic characters were also used to spell native Egyptian words. Image used with permission (CC BY-SA 3.0; Kajk).