Language, Typology and universals

From Vototo

Version ID# 2565 by 198.51.100.18
Press the "Improve" button to call for a new round of election and submit a challenging revision.
Jump to: navigation, search

Summary

Language is the human capacity for acquiring and using complex systems of communication, and a language is any specific example of such a system. The scientific study of language is called linguistics.

Details

Languages can be classified in relation to their grammatical types. Languages that belong to different families nonetheless often have features in common, and these shared features tend to correlate.

For example, languages can be classified on the basis of their basic word order, the relative order of the verb, and its constituents in a normal indicative sentence. In English, the basic order is SVO: "The snake(S) bit(V) the man(O)", whereas for example, the corresponding sentence in the Australian language Gamilaraay would be d̪uyugu n̪ama d̪ayn yiːy (Snake Man Bit), SOV. Word order type is relevant as a typological parameter, because basic word order type corresponds with other syntactic parameters, such as the relative order of nouns and adjectives, or of the use of prepositions or postpositions. Such correlations are called implicational universals. For example, most (but not all) languages that are of the SOV type have postpositions rather than prepositions, and have adjectives before nouns.

All languages structure sentences into Subject, Verb, and Object, but languages differ in the way they classify the relations between actors and actions. English uses the nominative-accusative word typology; in English transitive clauses, the subject of both intransitive sentences ("I run") and transitive sentences ("I love you") are treated in the same way, shown here by the nominative pronoun I. Some languages called ergative, Gamilaraay among them, distinguish instead between Agents and Patients. In ergative languages, the single participant in an intransitive sentence, such as "I run", is treated the same as the patient in a transitive sentence, giving the equivalent of "me run" and "you love me". Only in transitive sentences would the equivalent of the pronoun "I" be used. In this way the semantic roles can map onto the grammatical relations in different ways, grouping an intransitive subject either with Agents (accusative type) or Patients (ergative type) or even making each of the three roles differently, which is called the tripartite type.

The shared features of languages which belong to the same typological class type may have arisen completely independently. Their co-occurrence might be due to the universal laws governing the structure of natural languages, "language universals", or they might be the result of languages evolving convergent solutions to the recurring communicative problems that humans use language to solve.

Copyright: Attribute—Share Alike

External Links

  • WikipediaWorld Atlas of Language Structures: a large database of structural (phonological, grammatical, lexical) properties of languagesEthnologue: Languages of the WorldThe Linguistic Diversity of the Planet

Space reserved for Vototo Advertising Program

Content specific ad placement

Voicing the ONLY opinion that counts

System Design by Penpegraphy Tool+Die — Silicon Valley U.S.A.

Reserved for Vototo Advertising Program

(in planning)

Personal tools