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English 211, Introduction to Linguistics > Module 1, Week 2 > Flashcards

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Linguistic Competence

Linguistic competence refers to the unconscious knowledge of grammar that allows a speaker to use and understand a language. Also known as grammatical competence or I-language. Contrast with linguistic performance.

Linguistic competence is not an evaluative term. Rather, it refers to the innate linguistic knowledge that allows a person to match sounds and meanings.


Linguistic Performance

inguistic competence is the system of linguistic knowledge possessed by native speakers of a language. It is distinguished from linguistic performance, which is the way a language system is used in communication.


performance error

Researchers in the field of applied linguistics usually distinguish between two types of errors: performance errors and
competence errors. Performance errors are those errors made
by learners when they are tired or hurried. Normally, this type
of error is not serious and can be overcome with little effort
by the learner. Competence errors, on the other hand, are
more serious than performance errors since competence
errors reflect inadequate learning. In this connection, it is
important to note that researchers (cf. Gefen 1979) distinguish
between mistakes which are lapses in performance and errors
which reflect inadequate competence.


speech communication chain

The Speech Chain is a simple model of spoken communication that highlights the transformation of an intention in the mind of the speaker to an understanding of that intention in the mind of the listener through processes that involve the Grammatical Code, the Phonological Code, articulation, sound, hearing and perception.


Speech Communication Chain Steps

1. Intention
2. Meaning
3. Utterance
4. Articulary Plan
5. Articulation
6. Sound
7. Auditory Response
8. Word Sequence
9. Meaning
10. Understanding



Linguistic noise is the variation among users of language. This can take place through shifts in spelling, grammar, or other aspects of language. For example, people in one area may have a different way of saying a phrase that has the same sense as a phrase that people in another area use.

Forms of communication noise include psychological noise, physical noise, physiological and semantic noise.



A lexicon is the knowledge that a native speaker has about a language. This includes information about

-the form and meanings of words and phrases
-lexical categorization (Words belong to lexical categories, which are also called parts of speech. Lexical categories are classes of words (e.g., noun, verb, preposition), which differ in how other words can be constructed out of them. For example, if a word belongs to a lexical category verb, other words can be constructed by adding the suffixes -ing and -able to it to generate other words.)
-the appropriate usage of words and phrases
-relationships between words and phrases, and
-categories of words and phrases.
-Phonological and grammatical rules are not considered part of the lexicon.


Mental Grammar

Mental grammar is the generative grammar stored in the brain that allows a speaker to produce language that other speakers can understand. ... It contrasts with linguistic performance, which is the correctness of actual language use according to a language's prescribed rules.


Language Variation

The term linguistic variation (or simply variation) refers to regional, social, or contextual differences in the ways that a particular language is used. ... All aspects of language (including phonemes, morphemes, syntactic structures, and meanings) are subject to variation.


Descriptive Grammar

A descriptive grammar is a set of rules about language based on how it is actually used. In a descriptive grammar there is no right or wrong language. It can be compared with a prescriptive grammar, which is a set of rules based on how people think language should be used.

A descriptive grammar is a study of a language, its structure, and its rules as they are used in daily life by its speakers from all walks of life, including standard and nonstandard varieties. A prescriptive grammar, on the other hand, specifies how a language and its grammar rules should be used.


Evidence that writing and language are not the same (4 reasons)

Age-Speech goes back to human beginnings, perhaps a million years ago. Writing is relatively recent.
Universal- Humans everywhere can speak.There are many nonliterate groups and nonliterate individuals.
Aquisition-People everywhere start speaking during the first two years of life. Learning to write typically builds on learning to speak.
Standardization-Spoken languages have dialects—forms varying across geographical areas and social groups. But in complex societies that use writing, the needs of communication encourage moves toward a single written norm, codified by governmental, educational, and literary institutions. The prestige of the written standard is then likely to influence speech as well.


List reasons some people believe writing to be superior to speech (3 reasons)

1-When we speak, we’re less likely to use correct grammar and often include partial sentences. Speech is generally more spontaneous than writing and more likely to stray from the subject under discussion.While verbal speech tends to be full of unstructured phrases and even random thoughts, the written word is generally more structured and focused.

2-Speech includes such features as directness or indirectness, pacing and pausing, word choice, and the use of such elements as jokes, figures of speech, stories, questions, and apologies. In other words, linguistic style is a set of culturally learned signals by which we not only communicate what we mean but also interpret others’ meaning and evaluate one another as people.

3-Speaking is harder in many ways than writing because it is performance, you have to do it live. Performance means there is no undo and no revision.


Prescriptive Grammar

The term prescriptive grammar refers to a set of norms or rules governing how a language should or should not be used rather than describing the ways in which a language is actually used. Contrast with descriptive grammar. Also called normative grammar and prescriptivism.



The act of teaching language or prescriptive grammar. Teaching what language rules should be followed.


Charles Hockett's nine design features

Hockett's Design Features are a set of features that characterize human language and set it apart from animal communication. They were defined by linguistic anthropologist Charles F. Hockett in the 1960s. He called these characteristics the design features of language. Hockett originally believed there to be 13 design features. While primate communication utilizes the first 9 features, the final 4 features (displacement, productivity, cultural transmission, and duality) are reserved for humans.
1- Mode of Communication-A communication system should be able to send and receive messages
2-Semanticity -A property that requires all signals to have a meaning and a function in a communication system
3-Pragmatic function-Every communication system should be used for a purpose.
4-Interchangeability-The ability of individuals to both transmit and receive messages; and comprehend them.
5-Cultural Transmission-Aspects of language that cannot be acquired only through communicative interaction.
6-Arbitrariness-The pairing between sound and meaning is conventional or arbitrary.
7-Discreteness-Discreteness in language describes the fact that human language is composed of sets of distinct sounds. One sound on its own may convey one meaning, multiple sounds combined in a particular order convey a different meaning.
8- Displacement-The ability of a language to communicate about things, actions, and ideas that are not present in space or time while speakers are communicating. Animal communication is designed for here and now.
9-Productivity-This refers to the human ability to combine limited linguistic signs to produce new sentences and expressions.Language users manipulate their linguistic resources to produce new expressions and new sentences. This property of human language is known as productivity or creativity. It is an aspect of language which is linked to the fact that the potential number of utterances in any human language is infinite.


Mode of Communication

The medium or channel through which communicative intent is expressed. Typical communication modes include natural speech, facial expression and gesture. Exceptional communication modes include the use of graphic symbols or synthetic speech.



Semanticity is referred to the representation of ideas, objects, or events withsymbols. In simpler terms, semanticity in human language, however, refers to the unique relationship between an arbitrary symbol and something in the real world. For example, the color red describes STOP. Semanticity helps explain an action with just a symbol or item.


Pragmatic Function

'Pragmatic function' is is the meaning a speaker wishes to convey to the person they are speaking to. Now usually the meaning of the individual words will give the addressee the meaning that the speaker wants to give, but NOT always. In more simple terms, pragmatic language is the use of appropriate communication in social situations (knowing what to
say, how to say it, and when to say it). Pragmatic language involves three major skills:Using language for different purposes, Changing language according to the listener or the situation, and following rules for conversation.



Humans can transmit and receive identical linguistic signals, and so reproduce any linguistic message they understand. We can repeat any messages.


Cultural Transmission

Cultural transmission is the process whereby a language is passed on from one generation to the next in a community. It is also known as cultural learning and socio/cultural transmission.



Arbitrariness is the absence of any natural or necessary connection between a word's meaning and its sound or form. Arbitrariness is one of the characteristics shared between all languages..


Linguistic Sign

Any unit of language (morpheme, word, phrase, or sentence) used to designate objects or phenomena. Linguistic signs are bilateral; they consist of a signifier, made up of speech sounds (more precisely, phonemes), and a signified, created by the linguistic sign’s sense content. The relationship between the aspects of a sign is an arbitrary one, since the selection of a sound form does not usually depend on the properties of the designated object.



A rule or behavior or an expected way of doing things. Examples are spelling and grammar.


Non Arbitrariness

Non-arbitrary signs have a direct, usually causal relationship to the things that they indicate. For example, smoke is a non-arbitrary sign of fire. Clouds are a non-arbitrary sign of impending rain.



An iconic sign is one whose form resembles its meaning in some way. The opposite of iconicity is arbitrariness. In an arbitrary sign, the association between form and meaning is based solely on convention; there is nothing in the form of the sign that resembles aspects of its meaning.



The formation of a word from a sound associated with what is named.Machine noises—honk, beep, vroom, clang, zap, boing.
Animal names—cuckoo, whip-poor-will, whooping crane, chickadee.
Impact sounds—boom, crash, whack, thump, bang.
Sounds of the voice—shush, giggle, growl, whine, murmur, blurt, whisper, hiss.



Words have arbitrary meanings that are not based on natural relationships like onomatopoeias.


Sound Symbolism

Is the term for a hypothesized systematic relationship between sound and meaning. Guessing at a meaning of a word you don't know by listening to its sounds.



Discreteness in language describes the fact that human language is composed of sets of distinct sounds.



The characteristic of language that allows users to talk about things and events other than those occurring in the here and now