Faculty of Arts and Humanities, Kairouan

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    Rahma Sboui Gueddah

    Number of posts : 270
    Age : 33
    Localisation : kairouan,Tunisia
    Registration date : 2006-12-09

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    Post by Rahma Sboui Gueddah on Sat Dec 09, 2006 2:35 am


    History of linguistics:

    Linguistics as a study endeavors to describe and explain the human faculty of language and has been of scholarly interest throughout recorded history. Contemporary linguistics is the result of a continuous European intellectual tradition[1] originating in ancient Greece that was later influenced by the ancient Indian tradition of linguistics due to the study of Sanskrit grammar by European linguists from the 18th century. China and the Middle East have also independently produced native schools of linguistic thought.
    At various stages in history, linguistics as a discipline has been in close contact with such disciplines as philosophy, anthropology and philology. In some cultures linguistic analysis has been applied in the service of religion, particularly for the determination of the religiously preferred spoken and written forms of sacred texts in Hebrew, Sanskrit and Arabic. Contemporary Western linguistics is close to philosophy and cognitive science.

    Generative linguistics:
    Generative linguistics is a school of thought within linguistics that makes use of the concept of a generative grammar. The term "generative grammar" is used in different ways by different people, and the term "generative linguistics" therefore has a range of different, though overlapping, meanings.
    Formally, a generative grammar is defined as one that is fully explicit. It is a finite set of rules that can be applied to generate exactly those sentences (often, but not necessarily, infinite in number) that are grammatical in a given language (or, of course, particular dialect or otherwise sociolinguistically defined way of using a language), and no others. This is the definition that is offered by Noam Chomsky, who popularised the term, and by most dictionaries of linguistics. It is important to note that generate is being used as a technical term with a slightly obscure sense. To say that a grammar generates a sentence means that the grammar "assigns a structural description" to the sentence.
    More popularly, but somewhat to the apparent distaste of certain professional linguists including Chomsky, the term is used to define the approach to linguistics taken by Chomsky and his followers. Chomsky's approach is characterised by the use of transformational grammar - a theory that has changed greatly since it was first promulgated by Chomsky in his 1957 book Syntactic Structures - and by the assertion of a strong linguistic nativism (and therefore an assertion that some set of fundamental characteristics of all human languages must be the same). The term "generative linguistics" is often applied to the earliest version of Chomsky's transformational grammar, which was associated with a distinction between "Deep Structure" and "Surface Structure" of sentences.
    Chomsky also launched his approach to linguistics with a virulent attack on alternative approaches, in particular the behaviorist view then popular, in the form in which it had been put forward by B. F. Skinner in a book also published in 1957, Verbal Behavior. A final, and still looser, meaning of "generative linguistics", therefore, might be summarised as "anti-Skinnerian linguistics" - or just generalised anti-behaviorism.
    Psycholinguistics, which in the early 1960s was developing rapidly as part of the general movement towards cognitive psychology, found this anti-behaviorist emphasis congenial, and rapidly absorbed many Chomskian ideas including the notion of generative grammar. However, as both cognitive psychology and psycholinguistics have matured, they have found less and less use for generative linguistics, not least because Chomsky has repeatedly emphasised that he never intended to specify the mental processes by which people actually generate sentences, or parse sentences that they hear or read.
    Cognitive linguistics emerged in the latter years of the twentieth century as an alternative linguistic paradigm to generative linguistics. Cognitive linguistics seeks to unify the understanding of language with the understanding of how specific neural structures function biologically. This is more a difference in practical research strategy than in philosophy: in principle, neurological evidence has always been considered relevant by generative linguists, but in practice it has usually been regarded as too inconclusive and open to interpretation to be of much use. However, some researchers within generative linguistics (e.g. Alec Marantz) publish in neurolinguistics.
    Cognitive linguistics:
    In linguistics and cognitive science, cognitive linguistics (CL) refers to the school of linguistics that views language as based in evolutionarily-developed and speciated faculties, and seeks explanations that advance or fit well into the current understandings of the human mind.
    The guiding principle behind this area of linguistics is that language creation, learning, and usage are explained by reference to human cognition in general —the basic underlying mental processes that apply not only to language, but to all other areas of human intelligence.
    Cognitive linguistics argues that language is both embodied and situated in a specific bioregion. This can be considered a more developed form of the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, in that not only are language and cognition mutually influential, but also embodied experience and environmental factors of the bioregion.
    Descriptive linguistics:
    Descriptive linguistics is the work of analyzing and describing how language is spoken (or how it was spoken in the past) by a group of people in a speech community.
    The priorities of descriptive linguistics are essentially incongruous with those of prescriptive grammar, which is concerned not with describing how a language is actually spoken, but rather with pronouncing, in the form of normative statements or rules, how language users ought to properly speak or write a language. Accurate description of real speech is a difficult problem, and linguists have often been reduced to grossly inaccurate approximations. Almost all linguistic theory has its origin in practical problems of descriptive linguistics. Phonology (and its theoretical developments, such as the phoneme) deals with how native speakers pronounce their languages. Syntax has developed to describe what happens when phonetics has reduced spoken language to a normalized control level. Lexicography collects "words" and their derivations and transformations: it has not given rise to much generalized theory.
    An extreme "mentalist" viewpoint denies that the linguistic description of a language can be done by anyone but a competent speaker. Such a speaker has internalized something called "linguistic competence", which gives them the ability to extrapolate correctly from their experience new but correct expressions, and to reject unacceptable expressions.
    There are tens of thousands of linguistic descriptions of thousands of languages that were prepared by people without adequate linguistic training. With a few honorable exceptions, all linguistic descriptions done before ca. 1900 are amateur productions.
    A linguistic description is considered descriptively adequate if it achieves one or more of the following goals of descriptive linguistics:
    1. A description of the phonology of the language in question.
    2. A description of the morphology of words belonging to that language.
    3. A description of the syntax of well-formed sentences of that language.
    4. A description of lexical derivations.
    5. A documentation of the vocabulary, including at least one thousand entries.
    6. A reproduction of a few genuine texts.
    There are some bonus topics that might also be included, like an analysis of discourse and historical reconstructions.
    Currently the most controversial topics are usually morphology and syntax. English has a very meager morphology and an over-emphasized syntax, but in the study of other languages, morphology has revived as an active field of study.
    The purpose of linguistic theory, so far as a practical linguist is concerned, is to make descriptions of morphology and syntax comprehensible. It is easy to see that the same data can often be described in different ways. For a while there was an active desire to find some measure which would allow some one description to be called the best. Today that goal seems to have been given up as chimerical.

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