Linguistic Tutorial #1 Introduction and Overview

Terminology Explained

–          Mental Grammar = internal linguistic knowledge, is subconscious and is not a result of any teaching.

–          Linguistic Etiquette = ‘proper’ or ‘best’ structures to be used in a language (prescriptive grammar). A few examples of prescriptive grammar are= do not split the infinitve, say it ‘was’ good instead of ‘were’ good.

–          The Structure of Expressions = involves the study and analysis of the structures found in a language, usually with the aim of establishing a description of the grammar of English (descriptive grammar).

–          Lexeme = can be realised through many different word forms. For example ‘try’ is a lexeme but it can take several forms such as ‘tries’, ‘tried’ and ‘trying’.

–          Count noun = if the word is ‘a…’, ‘the…’, plural. E.g. cat (because you can have A cat, THE cat and catS).

–          Non count noun = if the word only appears in one group shown above for example ‘information’ – you can have THE information but you can’t say A information or informationS.

–          Inflection = a change in the form of a word to express grammatical functions for example cat+S= cats. The inflection is the –s.

–          A stem = this is the portion of the word which does not change regardless of tense or agreement so as shown above it would be the ‘cat’ in ‘cats’.

–          A free morpheme = can stand alone e.g. move, nation, low.

–          A bound morpheme = cannot stand alone e.g. –ment, -al, –ly.

–          A gradable adjective = shows that something has different degrees e.g. VERY cold, A BIT cold.

–          A non- gradable adjective = ‘married’ because you cannot be ‘very married’.

Descriptive Grammars

–          Descriptive grammars attempt to model the intuitions we have about the structure of our native language.

–          Native speakers know how to order words to make sentences.

–          Intuitions about structure are not based on a knowledge of which words follow others nut on a tacit knowledge that words belong to different syntactic or grammatical categories (e.g. noun, pronoun, adjective, verb, adverb, preposition, determiner, conjunction).

–          To account for how we intuitively know which words belong to which syntactic categories, linguists use criteria that arise from the study of word-formation (morphology) and from the study of sentences (syntax).


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