The glamour of grammar Richard Hudson @ Westminster School, January 2013
Etymology • A link between glamour and grammar? • or between the words glamour and grammar. • a historical link • so part of etymology • the study of word origins
So what? • Language is full of surprises. • Language has its experts and facts. • Language is all about connections. • words connected to each other • words connected to meanings and forms • And that's why linguistics is fun • including etymology
But hold on … • How did r change to l 'by corruption'? • Everything needs an explanation • 'magic' won't do! • How about: • glance, glare, glass, glaze, gleam, glee, glimmer, glimpse,glint, glisten, glitter,gloss, glow • but also: gloomy, glum • So maybe that's why r changed to l.
So what? • Meanings connect to sounds in different ways. • e.g. cat means 'cat' • but also gl… means 'light', 'vision' • Language is a window on culture and thought. • e.g. writing is magical
Linguistics • the study of language, including: • language structure • e.g. how sounds and meanings connect • language and culture • e.g. how cultural links extend meanings • But linguistics is challenging.
Hard grammar amn't? aren't?
Why not I amn't? • Everyone agrees that I amn't is wrong in standard English • though some dialects do allow I amn't. • But nobody knows why it's wrong. • Definitely not because schools ban it. • Nor do we learn simply by not hearing it. • Whatever the answer, it's psychological.
Different languages - different messages manner of movement direction of movement Translate into French (or Spanish): He walked into the room: • Not: Il a marché dans la chambre. • But: Il est entré dans la chambre (en marchant). manner of movement direction of movement
So what? • English puts manner into the verb • direction is optional • French puts direction into the verb • manner is optional • The language doesn't just code the message • Different languages allow different messages.
What about German? Er ist in die Kammer hinein/herein gelaufen. He is into the room hither/thither in run/walked. • like English: • manner in verb • but basic contrast = with/without vehicle • direction optional • but basic contrast = from/to here
So what? • A language is a view of the world • for communicating. • Even familiar European languages differ profoundly. • Less familiar languages can differ even more profoundly • in the code • but also in the message
The challenge of analysis • Welcome to UKLO • the UK Linguistics Olympiad • Meet our patron • Christine Ohuruogu, MBE • and BA (Linguistics)
honourable mention UKLO @ Westminster bronze Winners from Westminster: • 2010 • Round 2 and IOL: Younus Porteous, Carl Rietschel • 2011 • Round 2 and IOL: Jessica Hao • Round 2: Sacha Mehta • 2012 • Round 2: Matthew Bannatyne, Theo Tindall
A puzzle for Indiana Jones uklo.org
Where is Cleopatra? uklo.org o l p Ptolemy t t e c l e o p r a a Cleopatra • Spot the pattern!
Manam Island, Papua New Guinea uklo.org The sentences below tell us where Onkau, Kulu, Mombwa, Tola, Sulung, Sala, Pita and Butokang live. Can you work out who lives where? Tola 1. 4. 2. 3. Sulung auta = North ilau = South ata = West awa = East Sala DEAD END! THINK AGAIN! 5.
Where's North in Manam? Is the sun always in the North? • Until recently, there were • no maps • no compasses
What are they like in Manam? They're like us. They enjoy a day at the seaside. And they don't know where North is.
What's where in Manam Island? uklo.org New idea: When relating two places, imagine standing between them facing uphill! The sentences below tell us where Onkau, Kulu, Mombwa, Tola, Sulung, Sala, Pita and Butokang live. Can you work out who lives where? Pita 8. 6. Butokang Sulung 4. Tola 7. 1. 4. 3. Sulung 2. auta = up ilau = down Sala 5. ata = left awa = right
So what? • Different languages, different world views. • Analysing language can be very hard. • e.g. explaining *I amn't • understanding the Manam system • Don't take grammar for granted. • If you read it, someone has discovered it… • … or invented it!
Truth and uncertainty in grammar • As in any science, disagreements exist • but they can be debated • and eventually resolved. • But language is complicated • maybe the most complex pattern in the universe? • so don't expect easy answers.
Some questions • How many words in John's tired? • … and in John's hat? • Why Him and me did it? • Why I've an idea but not I've a bath every day? • How many tenses in English? • Do all languages have tense?
and … • How do we learn grammar? • Can other animals learn grammar? • Is grammar inborn? • Why do different languages have different grammars?
Thanks • and enjoy the glamour of grammar! • These slides are stored at: www.phon.ucl.ac.uk/home/dick/talks.htm