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This paper endeavors to answer a number of applied linguistics questions on phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, discourse, contrastive/error analysis, language functions and the IPA phonetic alphabet in this assignment. All of the questions will use a refrain from a famous children’s poem “Old Lady Who Swallowed the Fly” 1. Phoneme: A phoneme is a family of similar sounds which a language treats as being “the same”. (University of Manitoba, 2006). For example, the words “through” and “blue”, which are spelt in completely different ways both end with the same sound.

This can also include a sound which is made up of one word in one instance and two words in the other. An example of this from the poem “Old Lady Who Swallowed the Fly” would be the words “spider”, and “inside her” – these are similar sounding words which are not spelt the same but can be used in a rhyme. 2. Morpheme: A morpheme is the smallest unit of meaning. (UsingEnglish. com, 2006). An example from the word “swallowed” would be the term “swallow”, which is a word on its own and has meaning.

On the contrary, a word such as “enormous” cannot be broken down into morphemes as there are no sections within it that would have meaning if left to stand on their own. 3. Syntax: The term “syntax” refers to the grammatical arrangement of words in a sentence. (Princeton, 2006). This means that a sentence cannot be put together in a way which is ungrammatical or incorrect. So by the rules of syntax the sentence “she swallowed the spider to catch the fly” is correct, and by the same rules, putting it as “The spider she swallowed the fly to catch” is incorrect. It is grammatically wrong and is also confusing.

One is not sure of the meaning (who swallowed? The spider or the woman? Who is being caught? ) 4. Semantics: “Semantics”, according to a definition given by Answers. com (2006), is the study or science of meaning in language. In a practical sense it means that we must choose our words carefully in order to ensure that we are conveying the meaning we intend to convey by what we say or write. For example, one can’t say “I am going to wear red today”, when what one actually means is “I am going to wear green today”, and then expect the person who is listening to understand that one going to wear green today.

We have to say what we mean in order for the message to get through accurately. In addition, what we say should make sense. The sentence “The spider drove the old lady to the mall in a new sports car” does not make any sense since we all know that a spider cannot drive. 5. Discourse: According to “The Free Dictionary. com” (2006), discourse is defined as “to speak or write formally and at length”. It also lists it as to “narrate or discuss”, and “a formal, lengthy discussion of a subject, either written or spoken”.

Whichever we subscribe to, a discourse is a verbal exchange, apparently for the most part on the lengthy, specific and detailed side. It could refer to a well researched, detailed and informative speech being delivered by an expert. A person asking “Do you mean the old lady down the street or the one next door? ” after hearing “She swallowed the spider to catch the fly”, is asking for a discourse on the subject – he is asking for further detail and more accurate information. This could lead to further inquiries and research being conducted on the subject. 6.

Contrastive Analysis: Contrastive analysis is an inductive investigative approach based on the distinctive elements in a language. There are intralingual and cross linguistic kinds of this. (LinguaLinks. com, 2006). There is a hypothesis behind this: “It is possible to contrast the system of one language (the grammar, phonology and lexicon) with the system of a second language in order to predict the difficulties which a speaker of the second language will have in learning the first language, and to construct reading materials to help her learn that language.

” (Bowland, 2005). So if we look at the sentence “Dere was an ord rady who swarrowed a suhpider. ” (as it might be said by a Chinese speaker), it is not so difficult to understand why it might be said in this incorrect manner – the system and alphabet of the Chinese language is different to the English one. Certain sounds which appear in English do not appear in Chinese – th and l being two of these. It is therefore very understandable why a Chinese speaker might get the sentence wrong.

This is not to say that a Chinese person cannot be trained to say it in the right way, a sentiment which leads us onto the subject covered by the next question: Error analysis and correction. 7. Error Analysis: According to Bernd Spillner, in his book “Error Analysis: A Comprehensive Bibliography” (1991) in linguistic terms, errors are information. In contrastive linguistics, they are thought to be caused by unconscious transfer of mother tongue structures to the system of the target language and give information about both systems.

In the interlanguage hypothesis of second language acquisition, errors are indicative of the different intermediate learning levels and are useful pedagogical feedback. In both cases error analysis is an essential methodological tool for diagnosis and evaluation of the language acquisition process. Errors, too, give information in psychoanalysis (e. g. , the Freudian slip), in language universal research, and in other fields of linguistics, such as linguistic change. So error analysis is in essence information analysis.

If, six months after saying “Dere was an ord rady who swarrowed a suhpider”, the same Chinese speaker was to say “There was an old lady who swarrowed a spider”, we would be able to see that the speaker has developed in a number of ways but still would have a little bit further to go. The initial errors in the pronunciation of l and r would indicate that the Chinese language system lacks these sounds, and the improvement six months later of the same speaker would indicate good use of materials which are available to learn the language with.

Although the speaker now would have picked up the correct way of saying “th”, (There), and has correctly pronounced l in both old and lady, and in addition has lost the “uh” that initially followed s in spider, he still cannot manage the two ls in the middle of swallow and needs to find language learning resources that will help him accomplish this. 8. Language Functions: Loosely, Halliday’s functions of language are a framework that identifies functions or purposes for language use.

This framework recognizes the importance of language in the development of a child as a social being and serves as a guide to integrate language arts and social studies curricula. Halliday built on the works of Malinowski, who posed that language is multi-functional and is a response to society’s demand; Firth, who believed there was a multiplicity of languages within a total language; and Whorf, who demonstrated a relationship between language and culture as well as the need for categories of language. (Fry, Phillips, Nobaugh and Ladole, 1996)

By following Halliday’s framework, teachers can analyze how much class time they devote to certain language functions. For example, a lecture-oriented and/or textbook-reading approach to social studies teaching typically emphasizes regulatory language and informative language but does not emphasize personal and imaginative language uses. A teacher’s over reliance on strategies that require an informative language capacity debilitates children because this language function is the last one they develop (Fry, Phillips, Nobaugh and Ladole 1996).

So what language functions what language functions are being employed by an ESOL student when she says the following: “I think the “Old Lady Who Swallowed the Fly” poem is very gross! I don’t eat spiders! Yuck! ”? Halliday has identified three major functions of language: the ideational, the textual, and the interpersonal. Two of these, the ideational and interpersonal, have particular relevance to a discussion of how the spoken language is used. It is the ideational that the speaker is using.

Halliday s second component of language, the ideational, corresponds to a function of language quite different from its use for social relations. This is the use of language to express content and to communicate information. It is an essential aspect of most real-life situations, whether in study or in business, professional, or most other work contexts. The management and organization of activities depends on the efficient and accurate expression and transfer of the right information in the right ways.

(Hawe and Thomas, 1994) Where the focus is on the transfer of information rather than the maintenance of social relations, language is used to get things done, to produce a result in real-life terms. The speaker may communicate information to a listener who needs it for a particular purpose, as when giving instructions on how to operate a piece of equipment. Or the speaker may need to give information to a listener in order that the listener can respond in appropriate ways. (Hawe and Thomas, 1994)

In conclusion, this paper answered a number of applied linguistics questions on phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, discourse, contrastive/error analysis, language functions and the IPA phonetic alphabet in this assignment. All of the questions used a refrain from a famous children’s poem “Old Lady Who Swallowed the Fly”


Answers. com (2006) retrieved 27 Sept 2006 from the website www. answers. com. Bowland (2005) retrieved 27 Sept 2006 from the website http://bowland-files. lancs. ac. uk/chimp/langac/LECTURE10/10cont. htm Free Dictionary. com retrieved 27 Sept 2006 from the website http://www.thefreedictionary.com/discourse

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