Language, Grammar & Linguistics: Terminology

Language, Grammar & Linguistics: Terminology

Language, Grammar & Linguistics: Terminology

Language, Grammar & Linguistics

A system of human communication utilizing arbitrary vocal symbols (sounds) for the exchange of information (meaning).

A system, or knowledge, stored in the left hemisphere of the brain that specifies the relationship between sound and meaning in language.

The discipline which studies grammar as defined above.

Basic structure of grammar 

A system of elements and rules

    • the characteristic sounds of a given language
    • rules for putting sounds together into minimal, basic sound-meaning pairs (“words”)
    • rules for putting minimal sound-meaning pairs into larger structures (phrases, sentences)

The elements and rules about the specific aspects of a language define the different modules of grammar:

    • the phonological module contains knowledge of the sound system of a language – the sounds the grammar uses, how they may be put together, and how they are pronounced
    • the morphological module contains the inventory of words in a language, its dictionary, and all information related to the structure, meaning, and usage of words
    • the syntactic module describes the form of grammatical phrases and sentences, the rules for putting words into larger structures (phrases, sentences)
    • the semantic module accounts for the meaning of phrases and sentences — how they are used

Descriptive vs. Prescriptive grammar

Descriptive grammar: an objective description, or model, of the grammar of a natural spoken language; it is the product of linguistic analysis and describes how people actually speak.

Prescriptive grammar: rules of grammar regarding how people should speak (or write) in order to be considered “correct” or “educated”; these rules give social prescriptions for how language should be used, rather than how it is used.

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