22 May 2017

Linguistics- The new dimensions of language.

Written by admin

We, at Future for Sure believe not only in promoting new courses but also having our students get well equipped with the new course and the subsequent career options for the same.

Linguistics is one such steam. It not only plays a significant role presently, but will also enhance the scope of one’s professional life.

Linguistics aims to understand how the language faculty of the mind works and to describe how language itself works. Linguists observe patterns within a language and across language in order to understand what principles drive our brains’ comprehension and production of language.

There’s a quote by Lynne Murphy that “asking a linguist how many languages s/he speaks is like asking a doctor how many diseases s/he has had”. As linguists, languages (and language) are our objects of study. We learn to look at languages as data and recognize their patterns, just as doctors learn to recognize signs and symptoms of diseases. Whether they have had the disease before or not is irrelevant. Many people come to linguistics from other areas: math, computer science, philosophy, anthropology, psychology, and cognitive science, just to name a few popular related fields.

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Linguistics spans a large number of subfields, dealing with a different part of the language faculty.

Phonetics

A phonetician might, for example, look at how stress manifests in a language.

In English, the stressed word in a normal sentence is louder and higher pitched: “ANna likes bananas.” If we ask a question though, it’s pronounced with a lower pitch: “ANna likes bananas?”

Phonology

For example, in English, there are many examples of t’s in the middle of words that sound quite different from t’s at the beginning or end of words. Listen to the t’s in “toted” and you’ll hear that they don’t sound the same. The first t is pronounced with a puff of air (put your hand in front of your mouth to check this) but the second is not and it sounds like the d in “coded.” This sound is called a tap because your tongue taps the roof of your mouth briefly and it is very similar to the tapped r sound in languages like Spanish or Japanese (this leads to misperceptions of the English middle t as an r for speakers of these languages).

Psycholinguistics

Psycholinguists carry out experiments to observe the reaction of the brain’s different areas to different stimuli, and they’ll try to relate the findings to the more abstract linguistic theories.

An example is tracking people’s eye movements when they read the sentence “The old man the boat.” This is known as a garden path sentence, because readers are led down a “false path.” The reader does a double take once she/he reaches “the”, having expected a verb to appear. The second time around, the reader realizes that “man” is a verb and then parses the sentence correctly. These garden path sentences provide insight into how sentence parsing occurs in the brain.

Sociolinguistics

Sociolinguists might look at attitudes toward different linguistic features and its relation to class, race, sex, etc. For example, one of the fathers of sociolinguistics, William Labov, carried out an experiment in New York City in which he visited three department stores–a low end one (S. Klein), a mid-end one (Macy’s), and a high-end one (Saks Fifth Avenue)–and inquired where a department was in order to prompt the answer “fourth floor.”

The higher end the store, the more likely the “r” was pronounced, and when asked to repeat, it was only Saks Fifth Avenue and Macy’s where the “r” became much more likely to be pronounced the second time around. The study also had implications for the ability in different communities to code switch to a prestige dialect.

However, due to the lack of proper knowledge and exposure it is difficult for students to actually be well equipped with the information leading to professional opportunities.