Language, Grammar & Linguistics: Terminology

Language, Grammar & Linguistics: Terminology

Language, Grammar & Linguistics: Terminology

Language, Grammar & Linguistics

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

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

Linguistics
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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