“The linguistic facts of life” (Lippi-Green):
How do linguists approach language?
Linguists concerned with the relationship between structured variation in language and social identity chide both syntacticians and cognitive grammarians for what they see as unreasonable abstractions and lack of reproducible results.
Phoneticians go about their business of understanding and theorizing the way humans produce and perceive sound
Historical linguists concern themselves with the written data of lost language communities and write complex formulas for the reconstruction of sounds that might have been heard around the early Roman explorations of central Europe
What kind of language does not change?
Only unused, dead languages are static
What point does Lippi-Green make by comparing Toni Morrison’s language use with Shakespeare’s?
That it is not conceivable that anyone would care to argue that because Toni does not write or talk like Shakespeare did, that her English is bad, less efficient, less capable of carrying out the functions for which it is needed.
In what way are all spoken languages “equal”?
Equal in expressing a full range of ideas and experiences, and of developing to meet new needs as they arise.
Explain in your own words the argument about distinctions made in verb mood in some varieties of German (p. 12).
That just because the German language has these different moods for certain situations, doesn’t make it more effective or systematic than any other languages. All languages lack in some areas and propel in others, it’s the way of life.
What differences are there between written and spoken language?
Writing and speaking are not just alternative ways of doing the same things; rather, they are ways of doing different things.
About how many vowel sounds are there in English? (Hint: look at the diagram on p. 26 in the article.)
“Language bosses” (Lakoff):
What is a "language boss"?
Anyone who finds it necessary to tell others how to talk; feels some words, pronunciations, or constructions are bad, ungrammatical, degenerate, illogical, or corrupt; and fears that the prevalence of such error presages not only a decline in the culture’s linguistic prowess, but also its cognitive ability and probably its political freedom.
What does Latin have to do with prescriptivism in English?
It serves as a comforting model for language bosses because it has stayed stable and invariable for so many years.
What is hypercorrection?
The pressure of formality or correctness of how to say or write something and someone uses the unused version regardless of its correctness. Otherwise known as the other side of the prescriptive coin.
According to Lakoff, why are some people language bosses?
From the fear that if things go on as they have been going, we risk communicative chaos: mutual unintelligibility, obfuscation (to make obscure/muddle), failure to understand one another, inability to speak logically or think clearly.
Fear of outside takeover/fear of change itself
Language change and the history of English
Understand the general principle of how language change results in language variation.
Certain regions will use one pronunciation and it will become acceptable in that part and possibly a few other areas, but this causes variation with that pronunciation.
"Old English" and "Middle English" (Crystal):
What is linguistically significant about the year 449? (What was spoken in Britain before then?)
Invasion of Britain by warlike tribes from north-west Europe (Saxons, Angles, and Jutes)
If you wanted to learn to read Old English, which area do you think would require the most work: spelling, vocabulary, or grammar? Why?
Grammar, because getting used to the word endings is the main problem facing anyone wanting to learn Old English grammar. It’s necessary to learn the different forms taken by the verbs, nouns, pronouns, adjectives, and the definite article.