Qassim University University Uklat Al-Sokoor College of Sciences and Arts Dr Hany Ibrahim Mussa
Course Information Course Title: Introduction to linguistics Course Number: Eng 320 Credit Hours:3 Title: The Study of Language Author: George Yule Textbook
Topic one The Origins of language
The Study of Language: Language: is primarily a means of communicating thoughts from one person to another. The Origins of Language While it is sure is that - unsurprisingly - spoken language developed long before written language, no-one knows for certain how language originated.
There are, however, lots of speculations about the origin of human language. • The Divine Source • The Natural Sounds Source • The Oral-Gesture Source • Physiological Adaptation • Speech and Writing
The Divine Source According to one view, God created Adam and " whatsoever Adam called every living creature .In most religions there appears to be a divine source that provides humans with language. In attempts to rediscover this origin, However it seems that children with no access to human speech simply grow up with no language at all ,NO SPEECH = NO LANGUAGE.
The Natural Sounds Source Another speculation on the origin of language is that the first words were imitations of natural sounds. It is true that there are onomatopoeic words in every language, i.e. words that echo natural sounds, for example: CUCKOO, SPLASH, BANG قرع, RATTLE خشخشة, BUZZ أزيز, etc. Another idea is that the original sounds of language came from cries of emotion, i.e. pain, anger and joy, for example: OUCH! One more idea is that the "yo-heave-ho theory" places the development of human language in a social context and states that language originated in the need to coordinate physical effort.
The Oral-Gesture Source Many of our physical gestures, using body hands and face, are means of nonverbal communication and are used by humans nowadays, even with their developed linguistic skills. The "oral-gesture theory" proposes an extremely specific connection between physical and oral gesture involving a "specialized pantomime of the tongue and lips" (Sir Richard Page, 1930).
Physiological Adaptation Some of the physical aspects of humans that make the production of speech possible or easier are not shared with other creatures: Human teeth are upright and roughly even in height. Human lips have an intricate muscle interlacing. The human mouth is relatively small, can be opened and closed rapidly and contains a very flexible tongue. The human larynxحنجرة (or 'voice box') is special as well as the pharynx above the vocal cords can act as a resonator for any sounds produced. The human brain is lateralized and has specialized functions in each of the two hemispheres. The functions that are analytic, such as tool-using and language, are largely confined to the left hemisphere of the brain for most humans. All languages require the organizing and combining of sounds or signs in specific constructions.
Speech and Writing Many of the speculations on the origin of language deal with the question of how humans started to interact with each other. However there are two major functions of language use: The interaction functionhas to do with how humans use language to interact with each other socially or emotionally. The transactional functionhas to do with communicating knowledge, skills and information. This transactional function will have developed, in part, for the transfer of knowledge from one generation to the next. And while there are cultures that rely mainly on their oral tradition, in many cases, as speech by its nature is transient عابر, زائل, the desire for a more permanent record must have developed:
Topic two The Development of Writing
The Development of Writing In comparison to spoken language, writing is relatively new - it was invented for the first time by the Sumerians of Mesopotamia in about 3200 BCE. Indians of Mexico invented it independently around 600 BCE, and the rise of Egyptian and Chinese systems may have been independent s well. Writing was certainly a great boon هبةto memetic spread, greatly increasing the fidelityالدقة and the fecundityمبدع of the memes that took advantage of it. These issues have already been analyzed in Memetics and Society. In this section we will examine writing systems and how they might have developed
Memetics and Society The term "meme" (IPA: [miːm], not "mem"), coined in 1976 by Richard Dawkins, refers to a unit of cultural information that can be transmitted from one mind to another. Dawkins said, Examples of memes are tunes, catch-phrases, clothes fashions, ways of making pots or of building arches. A meme propagatesينشر itself as a unit of cultural evolutionanalogous in many ways to the gene (the unit of genetic information). Often memes propagate as more-or-less integrated cooperative sets or groups, referred to as memeplexes or meme-complexes
Writing and Memetic Selection It is certain that writing is a purely memetic adaptation - there are no genes "for" writing proficiency (though there are some that impair يتلفthis ability). Writing, of course, is a vast improvement upon speech in terms of memetic fecundity and fidelity. Writing a meme down greatly increases its likelihood of being read by potential adherentsالتحام, and the very fact of being written may encourage people to adopt certain memes, as in the cases in which people insist that something is true because they read it in the paper. Writing also improves on memetic fidelity by liberating memes from fallibleعرضة للخطأ human memory; memes that are written down are much less vulnerable to confusions or elaborations in retelling, and therefore have a much lower mutationتغير أساسى rate.
Writing probably actually developed through memetic competition, in which slightly different systems competed and those that were most successful were adopted. Writing probably began as an accounting system of marks on clayطين tablets or other media. As such, it was probably not very standardized; each merchant or accountant could in theory have his own slightly different system of marking his tablets. Major conventions such as direction and orientation of markings may have been established in most languages due primarily to historical contingencyاحتمال, but the specifics of structuring the marks probably came about via memetic selection.
Each person who used the marks used them in a slightly different way; some ways were easier to remember, easier to write, or easier to read than others, and so these memes got copied, Eventually, this process produced better and better writing systems.
Types of Writing There are three basic forms of writing systems: logographic systems, which use symbols to represent whole words; syllabary systems, which use symbols to represent syllables; and alphabetic systems, which use symbols to represent units of sound. Logographic systems are the most intuitive from the perspective of a society on the cusp نقطة التقاءof developing writing, and thus they tended to be the first to arise. They also are most logical next step from the marking system used by merchants and accountants. (Incidentally, the fact that Chinese is a logographic system is one piece of evidence for its independent invention .
Logographic systems, while being highly intuitive at first, quickly become extremely cumbersomeمتعب . They are difficult to learn and give relatively few pronunciation cuesشائكة- صعبة. Moreover, they require the invention of a new syllable every time a new word is needed, and they make compound words and complicated syntax much more difficult to write. Finally, the complicated pictorial symbols must be rendered almost perfectly in order to be legible, which makes writing a time- and energy-consuming process.
The second system, the syllabary, is much rarer, since it is an intuitive system only for a few languages. It is used in one variant of Japanese and was developed by an extremely intelligent Cherokee, Sequoyah, for use in writing and recording his native language. His system, based very loosely on English (at most he borrowed a few forms), became so successful that the formerly illiterate Cherokee tribe began publishing newspapers and books in their own language.
The third system of writing, the alphabetic system, is the most difficult to invent and the easiest to use. Many linguists believe it was invented only once, by the Phoenicians, and then spread or adapted to other languages. The system seems counterintuitive at first, since its most basic units do not correspond to anything meaningful in speech, but rather to an isolated sound. However, the system uses the power of infinite combination to achieve its success; whereas Chinese characters might take years to learn, the standard Roman alphabet often takes only a few months for children to memorize. Moreover, when each letter represents a certain sound, pronunciation is more easily inferred from the structure of a word (though English pronunciation sometimes leaves speakers confused). Finally, markers such as umlauts serve to increase the power of a system by more carefully delineating the pronunciation of certain letters.
In general, when logographic, syllabary , and alphabetic systems compete, the alphabetic system will tend to dominate because it can express the most thoughts most efficiently. Languages such as Japanese and Chinese will probably eventually be outcompeted because English - or another language based on an alphabet, most likely the Roman one - is so much easier to use. (This is not to say that English is easy, only that the alphabetic system is most efficient.)
Spelling and Writing One of the pitfalls of an alphabetic system is the proper spelling of each word. Regional variations in pronunciation affect how different speakers try to render their spoken words into writing. Consequently, speakers of the same language may find it impossible to communicate via writing because of differences in spelling.
The solution to this problem, of course, is to standardize spelling whenever possible. This is another example of the influences of memes: those spellings that are easiest to remember are most likely to become standard. Of course, plenty of modern English spelling is due primarily to now-obsolete historical facts, but these spellings were most likely quite logical to the English-speakers that originally standardized spelling. Moreover, sometimes illogical or difficult-to-remember spellings (and grammatical rules) are retained for other memetic reasons: they may confer prestige on those who observe them, serve as a mark of education, or indicate a formal tone (compare through and thru).
Early "creative spelling" in English has given way to standardized spellings for the vast majority of words, recorded in dictionaries and, more recently, in computerized spell-checkers. Though some variation in spelling remains, this primarily reflects distinct dialects, rather than multiple accepted spellings in a single dialect. For example, American and British English vary systematically in the spellings of certain words (American color and British colour) and suffixes (American -ize and British -ise).