Linguistics Valleys

Linguistics is the important part of language as it is a study of language. If you are interested in linguistics, you can find anything about it in this blog.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Theory of Teaching: Behaviorism and Cognitivism

The Difference between Behaviorist and Cognitivist

In teaching and learning process, we know that there's two theory of teaching, i. e. behaviorism and cognitivism. Those who follow the behaviorism called as behaviorists, and those who follow the cognitivism called as cognitivists. Both of them are a good way in teaching and learning process, but there are some differences between them which is very significant. The followings are the differences between them which taken from some aspects of those theories.

1. Control
Behaviorist: presentation of "scientifically" graded language items.
Cognitivist: grading, but not so "scientifically" controlled. Cognitive grading is also important, in terms of what the learner brings to the activity of learning.

2. Error
Behaviorist: should not be made
Cognitivist: can be made, since through errors one can learn.

3. Exposure
Behaviorist: necessary, but in a linguistically controlled way.
Cognitivist: plenty, necessary.

4. Grammar
Behaviorist: correct forms to be acquired.
Cognitivist: forms that invite the forming of generalisation for developing rule-governed behavior.

5. Practice
Behaviorist: drills, constant repetitoon necessary.
Cognitivist: is important, but rote learning and meaningless repetiton is out.

6. Role of the Learner
Behaviorist: a passive recipient of planned instruction.
Cognitivist: an active processor of learning. One whose internal data processing mechanism operate.

7. Role of the Teacher
Behaviorist: one who teches, plans, presents language items and exercises, makes students repeat drills and gives correct language forms.
Cognitivist: one who creates opportunities for learning to occur with the help of the learner's data processing mechanism.

8. The Language Syllabus
Behaviorist: based on the structures and vocabulary of language presented systematically.
Cognitivist: colud be less systematically presented structures and vocabulary, functions, notions, situations, cognitive functions, etc.

9. Grading of Items
Behaviorist: Strict, clear, step by step (lock-step method)
Cognitivist: not so definite, since the individual language learner is involved.


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Monday, November 20, 2006

Communicative Competence in Language Teaching

Strategic Competence in the Context of Cultural Awareness

Language and culture cannot be dissociated from each other. This makes the communicative process a crucial one, where teaching Strategic Сompetence plays a major part in Communicative Competence development.

Fruitful work on defining Сommunicative Сompetence was carried out by Michael Canale and Merrill Swain [3]. According to their theory four different components, or subcategories, make up the construct of Сommunicative Сompetence as follows:

Communicative Сompetence consists of:
1. Grammatical
2. Discourse
3. Sociolinguistic
4. Strategic

The first two sub-categories reflect the use of language itself. Thus Grammatical Competence includes “knowledge of lexical items and of rules of morphology, syntax, sentence-grammar semantics and phonology” [3]. The second sub-category is Discourse Competence – the ability to connect sentences in discourse and to form a meaningful whole out of a series of utterances. While Grammatical Competence focuses on sentence-level grammar, Discourse Competence is concerned with intersentential relationships.

The last two sub-categories define the most functional aspects of communication. Sociolinguistic Competence “requires an understanding of the social context in which language is used: the roles of the participants, the information they share and the function of the interaction” [8]. The fourth sub-category is Strategic Competence, a construct that is exceedingly complex. Canale and Swain [3] describe Strategic Competence as “the verbal and non-verbal communication strategies that may be called into action to compensate for breakdowns in communication due to performance variables or due to insufficient competence”.

In fact, Strategic Competence is the way we manipulate language in order to meet communicative goals. An eloquent speaker possesses and uses a sophisticated Strategic Competence. For example, a salesman utilizes certain strategies of communication to make a product seem irresistible. A teacher also uses some strategies of communication to make a student not only remember the material he or she teaches but also to teach him to study.

Canale and Swain’s definition of Communicative Competence has undergone some other modifications over the years. These newer views are best described in Lyle Bachman’s [1] schematization of what he simply calls Language Competence.

Canale and Swain’s Sociolinguistic Competence is now broken into two separate pragmatic categories: functional aspects of language and sociolinguistic aspects. In keeping with current waves of thought, Bachman adds that Strategic Competence is an entirely separate element of the Communicative Competence skill. Here, Strategic Competence serves as an “executive function of making the final ‘decision’, among many possible options, on wording, phrasing, and other productive and receptive means for negotiating meaning” [3].

Cross-cultural research done by different linguists [2] has shown that there exist characteristics of culture that make one culture different from another, and it is cultural awareness that helps learners and teachers of a second language understand both cultural differences and the impact of culturally-induced behavior on language and communication. Cross-cultural awareness covers life and institutions, beliefs and values, everyday attitudes and feelings conveyed not only by language, but also by paralinguistic features such as dress, gesture, facial expression, stance and movement. The term “cultural awareness” from the standpoints of Barri Tomalin and Susan Stempleski [9, p.5] should include three qualities:

1. Awareness of one’s own culturally-induced behavior

2. Awareness of the culturally-induced behavior of others

3. Ability to explain one’s own cultural standpoint

Sociolinguistic Competence in the framework of pragmatics (the way in which language use is influenced by social context) includes the functional aspect of language. Pragmatic conventions of language are sometimes difficult to learn because of the disparity between language forms and functions. Linguistic studies in the field of pragmatics have heightened awareness of the degree to which cross-cultural communication is affected by culturally-related factors. Such factors include people’s expectations regarding the appropriate level of formality and degree of politeness in discourse.

The functional approach to describing language has its roots in the traditions of British linguist J. R. Firth, who viewed language as interactive and interpersonal, as a way of behaving and making others behave. Michael Halliday [4], who provided one of the best expositions of language functions, used the term “function” to mean the purposive nature of communication and outlined seven different functions of language: a) instrumental; b) regulatory; c) representational; d) interactional; e) personal; f) heuristic; g) imaginative.

Among these different functions Halliday outlined two functions which are of great importance from the view of Strategic Competence, namely: the interactional and personal functions of language. The interactional function serves to ensure social maintenance, that is such a communicative contact between and among human beings that simply allows them to establish social contact and to keep channels of communication open. Successful interactional communication requires knowledge of slang, jargon, jokes, folklore, cultural aspects, politeness and formality expectations, and other clues to social exchange. The personal function allows a speaker to express feelings, emotions, personality. A person’s individuality is usually characterized by his or her use of the personal function of communication. In the personal function, the nature of language, cognition and culture all interact. This can be covered by the “little c” (the culturally-influenced behavior) according to the theory proposed by G. Robinson, an expert in the area of cross-cultural education [7], who distinguishes “Big C” Culture (general information on Culture) from “little c” culture (culturally-influenced behavior, treated in an anecdotal, peripheral or supplementary way).

Of utmost importance has been the awareness of culturally-determined patterns of non-verbal communication (as an important part of Strategic Competence) such as gesture, posture, and facial expression. Studies have shown these non-verbal elements to be the most culturally-influenced part of behavior, for one thing because non-verbal signals acceptable in one culture may be completely unacceptable in another.

These seven different functions of language are neither discrete nor naturally exclusive. A single sentence or a conversation might incorporate many different functions simultaneously. Yet the problem is how to use these linguistic forms correctly. A learner might acquire correct word order, syntax, and lexical items but not understand how to achieve a desired and intended function through careful selection of words, structure, intonation, non-verbal signals, and perceptions of the context of a particular stretch of discourse.

The acquisition of styles and registers is a very important factor in Strategic Competence for second language learners. A major problem in cross-cultural variation is understanding cognitively and effectively what levels of formality are appropriate or inappropriate. The acquisition of verbal and non-verbal elements of Communicative Competence in the social cultural context leads to a proper Strategic Competence.


1. Bachman, L.F., (1990), Fundamental Consideration in Language Testing. New York: Oxford University Press.

2. Brown, H.D., (1994), Principles of Language Learning and Teaching. Prentice Hall Regents, Engwood Cliffs, New Jersey, 07632.

3. Canale, M. and Swain, M., (1980), Theoretical bases of communicative approaches to second language teaching and testing. Applied Linguistics 1:1-47.

4. Halliday, M., (1973), Explorations in the Function of Language. London: Edward Arnold.

5. Hymes, D., (1967), On communicative competence. Unpublished manuscript, University of Pennsylvania.

6. Hymes, D., (1972), On communicative competence. In Pride and Holmes 1972.

7. Robinson, G.L.N., (1985), Cross-cultural Understanding. New York: Prentice Hall.

8. Savignon, S.J., (1972), Communicative Competence: An Experiment in Foreign Language Teaching. Philadelphia: The Center for Curriculum Development, Inc.

9. Tomalin, B. and Stempleski, S., (1996), Cultural Awareness, Oxford University Press.

Courtesy: Alla Anisimova


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Sunday, February 26, 2006

Essay: Supra-segmental Features (Prosody)

Prosody (linguistics)
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
(Redirected from Suprasegmental)

In linguistics, prosody refers to intonation, rhythm, and vocal stress in speech. The prosodic features of a unit of speech, whether a syllable, word, phrase, or clause, are called suprasegmental features because they affect all the segments of the unit. These suprasegmental features are manifested, among other things, as syllable length, tone, and stress.

Phrases and clauses are grammatical concepts, but they may have prosodic equivalents, commonly called prosodic units, intonation units, or declination units, which are the actual phonetic spurts or chunks of speech, and which may exist as a hierarchy of levels. Such units are characterized by several phonetic cues, such as a coherent pitch contour, and the gradual decline in pitch and lengthening of vowels over the duration of the unit, until the pitch and speed are reset to begin the next unit. Breathing, both inhalation and exhalation, only seems to occur at these boundaries.

Note that prosodic units do not need to correspond to grammatical units, although both may reflect how the brain processes speech.

Different schools of linguistics describe somewhat different prosodic units. One common distinction is between continuing prosody, which in English orthography we might mark with a comma, and final prosody, which we might mark with a period (full stop). This is the common usage of the IPA symbols for "minor" and "major" prosodic breaks (American English pronunciation):

Jack, preparing the way, went on.
[ˈdʒæk pɹəˌpɛəɹɪŋ ðə ˈweɪ wɛnt ˈɒn ‖ ]
Jacques, préparant le sol, tomba.
[ˈʒak pʁepaʁɑ̃ lɵ ˈsɔl tɔ̃ˈba ‖ ]
Note that the last syllable with a full vowel in a French prosodic unit is stressed, and that the last stressed syllable in an English prosodic unit has primary stress. This shows that stress is not phonemic in French, and that the difference between primary and secondary stress is not phonemic in English; they are both elements of prosody rather than inherent in the words.

The pipe symbols are phonetic, and so will often disagree with English punctuation, which only partially correlates with prosody.

However, the pipes may also be used for metrical breaks, with the pipe being used to mark metrical feet, and the double pipe being used for both continuing and final prosody, as their alternate names "foot group" and "intonation group" suggest. In such usage, each foot group would include one and only one heavy syllable. In English, this would mean one and only one stressed syllable:

Jack, preparing the way, went on.
[ˈdʒæk ‖ pɹəˌpɛəɹɪŋ ðə ˈweɪ ‖ wɛnt ˈɒn ‖ ]
In many tone languages with downdrift, such as Hausa, [ ] is often used to represent a minor prosodic break that does not interrupt the overall decline in pitch of the utterance, while [ ‖ ] marks either continuing or final prosody that creates a pitch reset. In such cases, some linguists use only the single pipe, with continuing and final prosody marked by a comma and period, respectively.

In transcriptions of non-tonal languages, the three symbols pipe, comma, and period may also be used, with the pipe representing a break more minor than the comma, the so-called list prosody often used to separate items when reading lists, spelling words, or giving out telephone numbers.

A contrastive pitch of syllables in which conveys part of meaning of a word. In languages such as Mandarin, the pronunciation of two words may be the same except the pitch difference. For example, [ma] pronounced with a high-level tone means "mother", and with a high falling tone means "scold". In Cantonese, [ma] produced with a high-level tone means "mother" too, but with a low-mid to mid rising tone means "a horse". Click here to see more Cantonese tone example.

Intonation (linguistics)
Intonation, in linguistics, is the variation of pitch when speaking. Intonation and stress are two main elements of linguistic prosody.

Many languages use pitch syntactically, for instance to convey surprise and irony or to change a statement to a question. Such languages are called intonation languages. English and French are well-known examples. Some languages use pitch to distinguish words; these are known as tonal languages. Thai and Hausa are examples. An intermediate position is occupied by languages with tonal word accent, for instance Norwegian or Japanese.

The use of varying pitch to convey meaning. If the same utterences are produced with different intonation, the meaning conveyed will be different. For example, in English, the utterence it is a cat will be regarded as a statement when there is a fall in pitch, and the utterence will be regarded as a question if the pitch rises.

It is a cat. (pitch falls)

It is a cat? (pitch rises)

Rising intonation means the pitch of the voice increases over time; falling intonation means that the pitch decreases with time. A dipping intonation falls and then rises, whereas a peaking intonation rises and then falls.

The classic example of intonation is the question/statement distinction. For example, northeastern American English, like very many languages (Hirst & DiCristo, eds. 1998), has a rising intonation for echo or declarative questions (He found it on the street?), and a falling intonation for wh- questions (Where did he find it?) and statements (He found it on the street.). Yes/no questions (Did he find it on the street?) often have a rising end, but not always. The Chickasaw language has the opposite pattern, rising for statements and falling with questions.

Stress is to produce a syllable with relatively greater length, loudness, and/or higher pitch in which extra respiratory energy is needed. In languages such as English, stress may involve in linguistic function and cause difference in syntactic category such as noun or verb. Here shows some examples:

Word - Verb - Noun
object - ob'ject - 'object
subject - sub'ject - 'subject
record - re'cord - 'record
digest - di'gest - 'digest
abstract - ab'stract - 'abstract
segment - seg'ment - 'segment
survey - sur'vey - 'survey


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Friday, January 20, 2006

Essay: Airstream Mechanism

What does it mean by airstream mechanism?

Airstream mechanisms are the methods of lung air movement in which airflow from the lungs or mouth facilitates speech sounds. It is one of the basic components of speech production. Generally, there are three types of airstreams including pulmonic which is initiated by the respiratory muscles of the lungs, glottalic which is initiated by the upward or downward movements of the glottis; and velaric which is initiated by the backward and downward movement of the tongue to the velum.

There are two types of airflow directions: egressive (air is pushed out of the mouth thorugh the vocal tract) and ingressive (air is sucked into the vocal tract through the mouth during part of the articulation). The principle airstream mechanisms are listed in the following:

1. Pulmonic
Airstream: Pulmonic
Direction: egressive
Brief description: lung air pushed out under control of the respiratory muscles
Specific name for stop consonant: plosive
Examples: p,t,k,b,d,g
Vocal cords: voiceless (p,t,k) or voiced (b,d,g)

2. Glottalic
Airstream: Glottalic
Direction: egressive
Brief description: pharynx air compressed by the upward movement of the closed glottis
Specific name for stop consonant: ejective
Examples: p't'k'
Vocal cords: voiceless

3. Glottalic ingressive
Airstream: Glottalic
Direction: ingressive
Brief description: downward movement of the vibrating glottis; pulmonic egressive airstream may also involved
Specific name for stop consonant: implosive
Vocal cords: usually voiced by pulmonic airstream

4. Velaric
Airstream: Velaric
Direction: ingressive
Brief description: mouth air rarefied by backward and downward movement of the tongue
Specific name for stop consonant: click
Vocal cords: combine with pulmonic airstream

Source: Ladefoged, P. (1993). A course in phonetics. USA: Harcourt Brace.


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Essay: Phonology and its content

What is Phonology?
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Phonology is one of branches of linguistics which concerns about the sound system in particular language. It derives from the Greek 'phone' and 'logos'. 'Phone' means sounds or voices, while 'logos' means words or speech. It is a subfield of linguistics closely associated with phonetics. Whereas phonetics is about the physical production and perception of sounds of speech, phonology describes the way sounds function - within a given language or across languages. For example, /p/ and /b/ in English are distinctive units of sound, (i.e., phonemes.) We can tell this from minimal pairs such as "pin" and "bin", which mean different things, but differ only in one sound. On the other hand, /p/ is often pronounced differently depending on its placement relative to other sounds or its position within a word, yet these different pronunciations are still considered to be the same phoneme.

In addition to the minimal meaningful sounds—the phonemes—phonology is concerned with how sounds alternate, as well as issues like syllable structure, stress, accent, and intonation. One example of what a phonologist might study is how the /t/ sounds in the words tub, stub, but, and butter are all pronounced differently, yet are all perceived as "the same sound."

The principles of phonological theory have also been applied to the analysis of signed languages, with gestures and their relationships as the object of study.

Phonemes and spelling

The writing systems of some languages are based on the phonemic principle of having one letter (or combination of letters) per phoneme and vice-versa. Ideally, speakers can correctly write whatever they can say, and can correctly read anything that is written. (In practice, this ideal is never realized.) However in English, different phonemes can be spelled the same way (e.g., good and food have different vowel sounds), and the same letter (or combination of letters) can represent different sounds (e.g., the "th" consonant sounds of thin and this are different). In order to avoid this confusion based on orthography, phonologists represent phonemes by writing them between two slashes: " / / " (but without the quotes). On the other hand, the actual sounds are enclosed by square brackets: " [ ] " (again, without quotes). While the letters between slashes may be based on spelling conventions, the letters between square brackets are usually the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) or some other phonetic transcription system

Looking for minimal pairs forms part of the research in studying the phoneme inventory of a language. However, with this method it is often not possible to detect all phonemes, so other approaches are used as well. A minimal pair is a pair of words, both from the same language, that differ by only a single phoneme, and that are recognized by speakers as being two different words.

When there is a minimal pair, then those two sounds constitute separate phonemes, otherwise they are called allophones of the same underlying phoneme. For instance, voiceless stops (/p/, /t/, /k/) can be aspirated. In English, word initial voiceless stops are aspirated, whereas non word-initial voiceless stops are not aspirated (This can be seen by putting your fingers right in front of your lips and notice the difference in breathiness as you say 'pin' and 'spin'). There is no English word 'pin' that starts with an unaspirated p, therefore in English, aspirated [pʰ] (the [ʰ] means aspirated) and unaspirated [p] are allophones of an underlying phoneme /p/.

Syllable structure
The general structure of a syllable consists of the following segments:

Onset (obligatory in some languages, optional in others)
Nucleus (obligatory in all languages)
Coda (optional in some languages, highly restricted or prohibited in others)

In some theories of phonology, these syllable structures are displayed as tree diagrams (similar to the trees found in some types of syntax).

The syllable nucleus is typically a sonorant, usually a vowel sound, in the form of a monophthong, diphthong, or triphthong, but sometimes including consonants like [l] and [r]. The syllable onset is the sound(s) occurring before the nucleus, and the syllable coda is the sound(s) occurring after the nucleus. A rime consists of a nucleus and a coda.

Generally, every syllable requires a nucleus. A coda-less syllable of the form V, CV, CCV, etc. (i.e. a sequence of any number of consonants + a syllabic sonorant, usually a vowel) is called an open syllable, while a syllable that has a coda (VC, CVC, CVCC, etc.) is called a closed syllable (or checked syllable). All languages allow syllables with empty codas (open syllables).

A heavy syllable is one with a branching rime or a branching nucleus. In some languages, heavy syllables include both CVV (branching nucleus) and CVC (branching rime) syllables. In other languages, only CVV syllables (ones with a long vowel or diphthong) are heavy, while CVC and CV syllables are light syllables. In moraic theory, heavy syllables are said to have two moras, while light syllables are said to have one.

In some languages, including English, a consonant may be analyzed as acting simultaneously as the coda of one syllable and the onset of the next, a phenomenon known as ambisyllabicity.


In linguistics, stress is the relative emphasis given to certain syllables in a word.

The ways stress manifests itself in the speech stream is highly language dependent. In some languages, stressed syllables have a higher or lower pitch than non-stressed syllables — so-called pitch accent (or musical accent). There are also dynamic accent (loudness), quantitative accent (full vowels), and qualitative accent (length, known in music theory as agogic accent). Stress may be characterized by more than one of these characteristics. For instance, stressed syllables in English have higher pitch, longer duration, and typically fuller vowels than unstressed syllables, as well as being dynamically louder. Stressed syllables in Russian are broadly similar, but have lower rather than higher pitch. Contrasting with these, stressed and unstressed vowels in Spanish share the same quality, and the language has no reduced vowels like English or Russian.

The possibilities for stress in tone languages is an area of ongoing research.

Stressed syllables are often perceived as being more forceful than non-stressed syllables. Research has shown, however, that although dynamic stress is accompanied by greater respiratory force, it does not mean a more forceful articulation in the vocal tract.

Intonation (linguistics)

Intonation, in linguistics, is the variation of pitch when speaking. Intonation and stress are two main elements of linguistic prosody.

Many languages use pitch syntactically, for instance to convey surprise and irony or to change a statement to a question. Such languages are called intonation languages. English is a well-known example. Some languages use pitch to distinguish words; these are known as tonal languages. Thai is an example. An intermediate position is occupied by languages with tonal word accent, for instance Norwegian.

Rising intonation means the pitch of the voice increases over time; falling intonation means that the pitch decreases with time. A dipping intonation falls and then rises, whereas a peaking intonation rises and then falls.

The classic example of intonation is the question/statement distinction. For example, northeastern American English has a rising intonation for echo or declarative questions (He found it on the street?), and a falling intonation for wh- questions and statements. Yes/no questions often have a rising end, but not always. The Chickasaw has the opposite pattern, rising for statements and falling with questions.

Dialects of British and Irish English vary substantially (Grabe 2004,[1]), with rises on many statements in urban Belfast, and falls on most questions in urban Leeds.


In the International Phonetic Alphabet, "global" (that is, clause-level) rising and falling intonation are marked with the arrows [↗] and [↘]:

He found it on the street?
[hi faʊnd ɪt ɑn ðə stɹit↗ ‖ ]
Yes, he found it on the street.
[jɛs↘ ‖ hi faʊnd ɪt ɑn ðə stɹit↘ ‖ ]


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