Monthly Archives: September 2014

First Meeting and Introductory Lecture (Aaron Szabo, 9/17/14)

We kicked off a wonderful year of linguistics with a brief introductory lecture by Aaron Szabo covering the basics of linguistics. There were also cookies, courtesy of our official Linguistics Club Baker Alison Reynolds. Lecture slides are up here.
Lecture notes:


  • Phones – Speech sounds
  • Consonants
  •         Produced as air from the lungs is pushed through the glottis (opening                     between the vocal cords) and out the mouth.
  •         Classification: voicing, aspiration, nasal/oral sounds, places of articulation,             and manners of articulation
  • Vowels
  •         Produced by a continuous airstream and all are voiced.
  •         Classification: height of the tongue, part of the tongue involved, and position           of the lips.


  • Describes the way sounds function within a given language and operates at the level of sound systems and abstract sound units.
  • Need to know more than the sounds of a language: dime -> time
  • Contrasting sounds – distinguishing sounds between two words
  • Phonemes – families of phones regard as a single sound
  •         Are abstract mental representations of the phonological units of a language
  •         Made up of phones
  • Allophones – the different phones that are the realization of a phoneme


Generative Grammar

  • Hypothesis: Language is a structure of the human mind
  • Goal: make a complete model of this inner language (i-language)
  • Pioneered by Noam Chomsky

Categorical Grammar

  • Attributes syntactic structure not to rules of grammar but to the properties of the syntactic categories themselves

Dependency Grammar

  • Syntactic units are arranged according to the dependency relation, opposed to the constituency relation of phrase structure
  • Verb is structural center of all clause structures, all other units directly or indirectly depend on the verb

Stochastic/Probabilistic Grammars/Network Theories

  • Theoretical approach based upon probability theory

Functionalist Grammars

  • Focused upon form, but driven by explanation based upon the function of a sentence


  • Lexical Semantics – the meanings of words and the meaning of relationships among words
  • Phrasal Semantics – the meaning of syntactic units larger than the word
  • Homonyms: different words that are pronounced the same, but may or may not be spelled the same (to, two, and too)
  • Polysemous: word that has multiple meanings that are related conceptually or historically (bear can mean to tolerate or to carry or to support)
  • Homograph: different words that are spelled identically and possibly pronounced the same; if they are pronounced the same, they are also homonyms (pen can mean writing utensil or cage)
  • Heteronym: homographs that are pronounced differently (dove the bird and dove the past tense of dive)
  • Synonym: words that mean the same but sound different (couch and sofa)
  • Antonym: words that are opposite in meaning
  •          Complementary pairs: alive and dead
  •          Gradable pairs: big and small (no absolute scale)
  • Hyponym: set of related words (red, white, yellow, blue are all hyponyms of “color”)
  • Metonym: word used in place of another to convey the same meaning (jock used for athlete, Washington used for American government, crown used for monarcy)
  • Retronym: expressions that are no longer redundant (silent movie used to be redundant because a long time ago, all movies were silent, but this is no longer true or redundant)
  • Thematic roles – the semantic relationships between verbs and noun phrases of sentences
  • Presuppositions – implicit assumptions required to make a sentence meaningful.

Areas of Research

  • Historical Linguistics: Study of the history of a specific language and how languages change over time
  • Sociolinguistics: Study of how language is shaped by social factors
  • Developmental Linguistics: Study of the development of linguistic ability in individuals, particularly language acquisition in childhood
  • Neurolingusitics: Study of the structures in the human brain that underlie grammar and communication