Is “language isolate” a misnomer?
If you really think about it languages cannot be an isolate, that is, unless at the creation of the language it developed out of a population that had no language. It is now accepted that about 70,000 years ago our species spread from Africa into Europe and Asia. As these populations migrated they some settled.…
Language Acquisition Device or shared common reality?
There are three claims that Chomsky makes about the existence of Language Acquisition Device (LAD). The first claim is that children can understand all kinds of sentences without having to have heard or learn them before. To this we can say the same thing about adults as well. In fact, every time I open a…
The linguistic sign
Saussure pointed to that language is mistakenly thought of as a matching of a thing to a name. To him the link is between a concept (signified) and a sound pattern (signifier). The signified is its meaning and the signifier is the “container”. The two together makes the linguistic sign. The linguistic sign has two characteristics.…
In any English sentence there are either zero, one, two or three actants. Actants are the “participants” of the sentence. They are either people or things. In (1) below the action of “to rain” itself is the “zero” actant. (1) It is raining. “It” is the dummy subject. In (2) and (3) the subjects “Peter” and…
In praise of lexicogrammar
Lexicogrammar is not a word you hear much but those of a certain following – cognitive linguists, functional grammarians, etc – use this word to describe what is traditionally call vocabulary and grammar as one system rather than being two separate systems. As a researcher in prepositions this is a big deal. It means I…
Form and meaning in linguistics
Form in linguistics and language refers to the symbols used to represent meaning. Each form has a particular meaning in a particular context. This cannot be stressed enough. It implies that a form can have different meanings in different contexts. However, the range of meanings for a form is usually limited to a prototype or…
Grammar or experience?
What is wrong with the idea of “universal” in the Universal Grammar of Chomsky? It is that what is taken as being universal is wrong. It is not the grammar in the brain that is universal, but rather it is the human experience that is universal. We all have the same set of senses and…
International Phonetic Alphabet symbols online keyboard
Did you know you can type phonetic symbols without needing to install fonts onto your computer’s operating system or word processor? Simply go to ipa.typeit.org and enter the symbols you cannot get normally. Have fun. ;)
Maths and Reading Ability Same DNA Link Shown
So now that math and reading (and presumably language) are shown to be linked to the same group DNA how do we apply this knowledge to the teaching of language? Does developing math skills then improve language skills or vice versa? What implication does this have on content and language integrated learning (CLIL), content-base instruction…
My doubts about formal grammar
There is something very similar to the chicken-or-the-egg question about formal grammar in which meaning is ignored and only the formal properties of the string is discussed. But would that string exist without production of meaning, without the communicative desire to impart something in an instance of existence? This is also like asking what is…