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Social Sci LibreTexts

1.2: Mental Grammar

  • Page ID
    9621
  • Linguistics is part of the broad field of cognitive science, which studies the human mind. Linguistics focus specifically on the mental grammar: the system that all speakers of a language have in their minds, which allows them to understand each other. The mental grammar of every language includes phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, and semantics.
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    Check Yourself

    1. Newspaper headlines occasionally have unexpectedly funny interpretations.  One example is: Two cars were reported stolen by the police yesterday. Which part of your mental grammar leads to the possibility that the police could have done the stealing or the reporting in this headline?

    • Phonetics.
    • Phonology.
    • Morphology.
    • Syntax.
    • Semantics.

    2. Newfoundland English has some characteristic differences to standard Canadian English.  The following sentences are grammatical in Newfoundland English: I eats toast for breakfast every day. You knows the answer to that question. What part of the mental grammar of Newfoundland English is different to Canadian English in these examples?

    • Phonetics.
    • Phonology.
    • Morphology.
    • Syntax.
    • Semantics.

    3. When speakers of Hawaiian pronounce the English phrase, “Merry Christmas”, it sounds like: mele kalikimaka. What part of the mental grammar of Hawaiian is responsible for how the English phrase gets pronounced?

    • Phonetics.
    • Phonology.
    • Morphology.
    • Syntax.
    • Semantics.