Routledge

David Crystal's Introduction to Language

Glossary

This glossary contains the key language and linguistic terms used in the DVD lectures. You can test yourself on these terms using the flashcards.

A

abbreviation: A shortened form of a word

accent: A way of talking which signals where you come from. Also, a mark above a letter, showing its pronunciation

accommodation: Adjustments that people make to their speech influenced by the speech of those they are talking to

acoustic phonetics: The branch of phonetics that studies the physical properties of speech sounds

active vocabulary: The words that someone actually used in speech or writing; contrasts with passive vocabulary

active voice: A type of sentence in which the subject performs the action and the object receives the action, as in ‘The cat chased the mouse’; contrasts with passive voice

adjective: A word that identifies an attribute of a noun, such as ‘red’ in ‘the red chair’

adverb: A word whose main function is to specify the kind of action expressed by a verb, such as ‘quickly’ in ‘She ran quickly’

affix: A meaningful element, not itself a word, that is attached to another element to make a more complex word; see also prefixes and suffixes

agent: An word or phrase that expresses who or what is responsible for an action, such as ‘by the cat’ in ‘The mouse was chased by the cat’

alliteration: A set of words that all begin with the same sound

alphabet: A writing system in which a set of letters represent the individual sounds of a language

anatomy: The study of the parts of the body

anthroposemiotics: The study of human communication

antonym: A word that is opposite in meaning to another

applied linguistics: The application of linguistics to solve practical problems involving the use of language

appropriateness: The use of language that is considered acceptable in a social situation

articulatory phonetics: The branch of phonetics that studies the way speech sounds are produced by the vocal organs

ASL: American Sign Language — the deaf sign language used in the USA

auditory ossicles: The three small bones of the middle ear

auditory phonetics: The branch of phonetics that studies the way people perceive speech sound

auditory-vocal communication: The dimension of human communication which uses sound (as opposed to vision, touch, etc)

avoidance speech: A special speech style used in some languages to replace normal speech when talking to, or near, certain relatives

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B

babytalk: The distinctive speech used when talking to babies

bilingualism: The ability to use two languages

blend: The result of two elements fusing to form a new word or construction, such as ‘brunch’

body language: The use of facial expressions, gestures, and body movements to communicate meaning

borrowing: A word from one language that is introduced into another

BSL: British Sign Language — the deaf sign language used in the UK

by-agent: A phrase introduced by the word ‘by’ which expresses the actor in a passive sentence in English, such as ‘by the cat’ in ‘The mouse was chased by the cat’

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C

caretaker speech: The distinctive speech used by those who are taking care of others (adults or children) when addressing them

character: A sign used in a writing system, especially one that is not a letter of an alphabet, but expresses a meaning

cherology: The study of sign language

child-directed speech: The distinctive speech used by adults when talking to children

child language acquisition: The study of the way children learn their language(s)

clause: A unit of grammar that is smaller than a sentence but larger than a word or phrase

clause elements: The units which combine to make a clause, such as subject, verb, and object

clay tokens: Ancient objects made of clay showing marks that are thought to be a primitive form of writing

coherence: The logical connectedness of a use of language

collocation: The habitual co-occurrence of lexemes, such as the association of ‘green’ with ‘jealousy’

comment clause: A clause that adds a parenthetical remark to another clause, such as ‘you know’

communication: The sending and receiving of information

communication therapist: Someone who treats disorders of communication

comparative philology: The study of the historical relationships among languages

compound word: A word composed of elements that are themselves words, such as ‘flower-pot’

comprehension: The ability to understand and interpret language

computer-mediated communication: The kind of communication that results when computers are used in human interaction

connective: A form (such as ‘and’ or ‘however’) whose role is to link units of grammar

convergence: A process in which two kinds of speech influence each other by coming closer together

coordinating conjunction: A word whose function is to link two constructions, such as ‘and’

creole: A pidgin language that has developed to become the first language of a community

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D

developmental psycholinguistics: The study of the acquisition of language in human beings

diacritic: A mark added to a written symbol to alter how it is pronounced

dialect: A variety of a language in which grammar and vocabulary identify the regional or social background of the user

dialectology: The study of the dialects of a language

dialogue: A use of spoken or written language between two people

discourse: A continuous stretch of spoken or written language larger than a sentence

divergence: A process in which two kinds of speech influence each other by becoming further apart

duality: The way language is structured into two levels: meaningless segments (sounds, letters) and meaningful units (e.g. words)

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E

educational linguistics: The application of linguistics to language teaching and learning in educational settings

electronically mediated communication: (EMC) The kind of communication that results when computers or other electronic devices are used in human interaction

EMC: The abbreviation for electronically mediated communication:

endangered language: A language which is at risk of extinction

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F

false friends: Words in different languages, or different periods of a language, that resemble each other in form but express dissimilar meanings

fatherese: The distinctive speech used by fathers when talking to young children

feedback: The reactions that people receive from those they are addressing which help them evaluate the efficiency of their communication

finger-spelling: A signing system in which each letter of the alphabet is given its own sign

forensic linguistics: The use of linguistics to investigate crimes in which language data form part of the evidence

forensic phonetics: The use of phonetics to investigate crimes in which speech data form part of the evidence

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G

general stylistics: The study of the socially distinctive features of any variety of a language

genre: An identifiable category of artistic composition, especially in literature

gobbledygook: Words and sentences that are so obscure or difficult that people find them impossible to understand

gradable opposite: A pair of words expressing an opposition that can be compared or intensified, such as ‘big’ versus ‘small’

grammar: The study of the way sentences and words are constructed in a language

graphetics: The study of the making, transmission, and perception of written marks on a surface

graphic design: The effective presentation of written language on a page or screen

graphology: The study of the writing system of languages

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H

haptic communication: The use of touch in communicating meaning

headword: The boldface item that introduces a dictionary entry

historical linguistics: The study of the development of language and languages over time

holophrase: An utterance that lacks grammatical structure, typical of the earliest stage of child language acquisition

hypertext link: or hyperlink: The item in an online text which, when clicked, takes the user to another online location

hyponymy: The relationship between specific and general words, where the former is included within the meaning of the latter, such as ‘dog’ is a kind of ‘animal’

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I

iambic pentameter: A line of poetry consisting of ten syllables organized into five units (‘feet’ ), each of which has a weak + strong rhythm

ideational function: The use of language to refer to the people, objects, events, ideas, etc that we want to talk about

ideogram: or ideograph: A symbol used in a writing system to refer to a concept

illiteracy: Inability to read or write

incompatibility: The relationship between a set of words of related meaning where the members exclude each other, such as Monday, Tuesday, etc

infant-directed speech: The distinctive speech used when talking to infants

infix: An affix inserted inside a word to change its meaning; not used as part of the grammar of English

inflection: An affix that signals a grammatical relationship, such as the plural ending ‘-s’ in English

intonation: The use of pitch to express meaning in language

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K

kinesics: The study of facial expression and bodily gesture or movement to communicate meaning

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L

language acquisition device: The innate capacity of the brain to learn language, proposed as an explanation of the efficiency of child language acquisition

language activism: The activities of the people in a community aimed at ensuring the survival of their language

language change: The changes that take place within a language over a period of time

level: A dimension of language structure capable of being studied in its own terms, such as phonetics or semantics

lexeme: or lexical item: A unit of meaning in a semantic system

lexicon: The vocabulary of a language

lingua franca: A medium of communication among people who speak different first languages

linguistics: The science of language

lip-rounding: Giving the lips a rounded shape in articulating a speech sound

literacy: The ability to read and write

literary stylistics: The study of the distinctive features of the way language is used in literature

loanword: A word from one language that is introduced into another

logogram: or logograph: A symbol that represents a whole word or meaningful word-element

logopedist : or logopaedist: The name in some countries for someone who treats disorders of language

lower-case letters: In printing, the term used for small letters, such as ‘a’ and ‘b’; opposed to upper-case letters: (usually called capital letters:), such as ‘A’ and ‘B’.

ludic language: Playful language, as seen in puns, tongue-twisters, etc

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M

matched guise: An experimental technique in which someone presents a piece of language in two authentically sounding alternative accents (‘guises’ )

meronymy: The relationship between parts and wholes, such as ‘roof’ is part of a ‘house’

minority language: A language spoken by a relatively small group within a country

mode of transmission: A medium through which a message can be communicated

monologue: A continuous stretch of speech (or its representation in writing) by a single person

monosemy: A word that has a single meaning; opposed to polysemy:

morpheme: The smallest meaningful unit of grammar, such as boy, un-, -ness, plural-s

morphemics: The study of morphemes

morphology: The study of word structure

motherese: The distinctive speech used by mothers when talking to young children

mother-in-law language: A popular name for a language in which some relatives are considered taboo and have to be addressed in a variety different from that used elsewhere

multilingualism: The use of several languages within a community

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N

neurology: The study of the nervous system of the body

non-standard language: Usage that does not conform to the norms of the standard language, especially in grammar, spelling, or punctuation

non-segmental features: Features of speech or writing that extend beyond the individual vowel and consonant segments, such as intonation in speech or underlining in writing

non-verbal communication: Communication that makes no use of words, such as gestures and facial expressions

normal non-fluency: Speech characterized by hesitations and repetitions while children try to produce more advanced constructions

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O

object: The element in a clause that usually expresses the recipient of an action, such as ‘the mouse’ in ‘The cat chased the mouse’

occupational dialect: A variety of language used in a profession or job, such as journalese or legal language

orthography: A general term for the study of the writing system of a language

orthophoniste: The name in French-speaking countries for someone who treats disorders of language

ossicles: The three small bones of the middle ear

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P

paralanguage: Features of speech considered marginal to language in their meaning and use

parentese: The distinctive speech used by parents when talking to young children

passive vocabulary: The words that someone knows but does not use in speech or writing; contrasts with active vocabulary

passive voice:A type of sentence in which the subject receives the action and the performer of the action is represented by an agent, as in ‘The mouse was chased by the cat’ ; contrasts with active voice

personal variation: The distinctive language used by an individual

philology: The study of the historical relationships among languages

phonaesthetics: The study of the symbolic or aesthetic properties of sound

phoneme: The smallest contrastive unit in the sound system of a language

phonemics: The study of phonemes

phonetics: The science of speech sounds

phonology: The study of the sound system of languages

phrase: A group of words, smaller than a clause, functioning as a grammatical unit

physiology: The study of the functions of the different parts of the body

pidgin: A simplified language used to facilitate communication between people who have no common language

pitch: The auditory sensation of the height of a sound

plain language: The use of language which is intelligible to a general audience

political correctness: The use of language intended to avoid giving offence to groups within a community

polysemy: A word that has more than one meaning; opposed to monosemy

portmanteau:A word created by combining parts of two words, such as ‘ginormous’

pragmatics: The study of the factors that influence a person's choice of language and the effects that the choice conveys

prefix: A meaningful element, not itself a word, that is attached to the front of a word to make a more complex word, such as ‘un-’ in ‘unkind’

preposition: A word that precedes a noun phrase or pronoun and shows its relationship to other parts of the sentence, such as ‘on’ in ‘The book is on the table’

prescriptivism: An approach that claims to make authoritative statements about the correctness or incorrectness of a particular use of language

present continuous or progressive: A verb form that typically expresses the meaning of duration, such as ‘He is running’

productivity: The creative capacity of language users to produce and understand an indefinitely large number of words and sentences

prosody: The use of pitch, loudness, tempo, and rhythm in a language

proto-conversation: An early form of communication between a baby and a caretaker which has some similarities to a conversation (such as turn-taking)

proxemics: The study of touching and interpersonal distance in human communication

pun: A play on words

punctuation: A set of written marks that give clues about the structure of sentences and how they are to be pronounced

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Q

quotative: A use of language which has the function of a quotation, such as inverted commas

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R

Received Pronunciation: (RP) The regionally neutral, prestige accent of British English

reduplication: A word containing a repeated element, such as ‘bow-wow’ or ‘helter-skelter’

regional variation: The use of language to show geographical identity — which part of a country someone is from

rhythm: The perceived regularity of prominent units (beats) in speech

RP: The abbreviation for Received Pronunciation, the regionally neutral, prestige accent of British English

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S

segmental features: The basic units into which speech and writing can be analysed, usually described in terms of vowels and consonants

semantic field: An area of meaning identified by a set of words that define each other, such as colour or furniture

semantics: The study of meaning in language

semiotics: The study of patterned human communication in all its modes.

senescence: The normal process of change in old age

sense relations: The way the words in a semantic field relate in meaning, such as by showing sameness or oppositeness of meaning

sentence: A grammatical construction whose use is not dependent on any other structure

sign language: A system of manual communication, especially as used by the deaf

social role: A conventional mode of behaviour that a person has to adopt when holding a particular status, such as being a supervisor in a workplace

social status: The position a person holds in the social structure of a community, such as an official or a husband

social variation: The use of language to show social identity — which part of society someone is from

sociolinguistics: The study of the relationship between language and society

sound symbolism: A direct association between the sounds of a language and the properties of the world, as heard in ‘splash’ or ‘plop’

speech pathologist: Someone who treats disorders of spoken language

speech science: The study of all the factors involved in the production, transmission, and reception of speech

speech therapist: Someone who treats disorders of spoken language; also sometimes called a speech and language therapist:

split infinitive: The insertion of a word between ‘to’ and the infinitive form of the verb in English, such as ‘to boldly go’

standard language: The prestige written variety of a language, used as an educated norm by a community; language which does not conform to this norm is called non-standard:

stress-timed rhythm: A type of rhythm in which the stresses (or beats) fall at roughly regular intervals in the stream of speech

structure: The way in which a language is constructed, chiefly consisting of sounds, grammar, and vocabulary

style: The distinctive pattern of language use that characterizes an individual or a social group

stylistics: The study of variation in language use that is characteristic of individuals or social groups

subject: The element of a clause about which something is stated, such as ‘the cat’ in ‘the cat chased the mouse’ or ‘the book’ in ‘the book is on the table’

suffix: A meaningful element, not itself a word, that is attached to the end of a word to make a more complex word, such as ‘-ness’ in ‘goodness’

suprasegmental features: Features of speech that extend beyond the individual vowel and consonant segments, such as intonation

syllabary: A writing system in which the symbols represent syllables

syllable: An element of speech that acts as a unit of rhythm, usually consisting of a vowel or a vowel with accompanying consonants

syllable-timed rhythm: A type of rhythm in which there is a stress (or beat) on each syllable in the stream of speech

synonym: A word that has the same meaning as some other word

syntax: The study of sentence structure

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T

taboo words: Words whose use is avoided or criticized within a society

tempo: Speed of speech

temporal variation: The use of language to show chronological identity — the age someone is, or the period someone belongs to

terms of address: The forms in a language which people use to identify each other, such as names, titles, and pronouns

textlinguistics: The study of the linguistic structure and function of pieces of language that have a stateable communicative function, such as a road sign, poem, or sports commentary

tone: The distinctive pitch level of a syllable

tone of voice: A manner of pronunciation which conveys a specific meaning, such as sarcasm or puzzlement

topic sentence: The sentence in a paragraph which most closely identifies what the paragraph is about

turn: A single contribution of a speaker to a conversation

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U

ungradable opposite: A pair of words expressing an opposition that cannot be compared or intensified, such as ‘single’ versus ‘married’

upper-case letters: In printing, the term used for large (capital:) letters, such as ‘C’ and ‘D’; opposed to small or lower-case letters:, such as ‘c’ and ‘d’.

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V

variety: A distinctive use of language that identifies a particular situation, such as legal, religious, or scientific varieties

vocabulary: All the words in a language

vocal organs: The parts of the body involved in the production of sounds

voiceprinting: An acoustic display of a person's voice

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W

word formation: The process of creating words

word-order: The way words are arranged within sentences in a language

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Z

zoösemiotics: The study of animal communication

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