Form and meaning in linguistics

Form in linguistics and language refers to the symbols used to represent meaning. Each form has a particular meaning in a particular context. This cannot be stressed enough. It implies that a form can have different meanings in different contexts. However, the range of meanings for a form is usually limited to a prototype or…More

Sometimes the adverb is obligatory and unmovable

Consider this sentence: (1) He put the bag down. The parts of the sentence are He (S) / put (V) / the bag (O) / down (A). The removal of A (adverbial) would render the sentence incomplete. In other words, the A is obligatory. Some teachers call this sentence SVO but that would make “the…More

Finding the subject of a sentence

Perhaps the biggest problem with understanding long sentences is that they seem to be a lot longer than the basic syntax unit. Today we accept that there are seven basic sentence pattern types, where the possible number of obligatory units is between 2 and 4 (SVOC, SVOO and SVOA). Yet a sentence with, for example,…More

Let it be – words are meant to be “lost”

Charles Darwin would have made a great linguist. In his thinking of life and evolution it is not someone who decides on what survives and what dies. It the larger mechanism of existence that “decides” so. Similarly, words should survive if there is a need for it to do so, not to be forced so…More

One

1. There is something to be said about linguistic determinism, and in particular¬†relativity. Linguistic relativity says that the form or structure of a language influences the way people think, or world-view. The often quoted example is the Inuit people and the words for “snow”. Whereas in English we have¬†snow (and perhaps sleet and slush) the…More

Grammar or experience?

What is wrong with the idea of “universal” in the Universal Grammar of Chomsky? It is that what is taken as being universal is wrong. It is not the grammar in the brain that is universal, but rather it is the human experience that is universal. We all have the same set of senses and…More

heaviness of rain

more than white noise the drone continues through the night in dark sleep the overflow gutters my one exposed ear until light reveals the heaviness of the rain frogs frolic wetly green suits shining and birds shelter in the eaves leaving reluctantly  at my presence as warnings come over the air wavesMore

midnight

peak of darkness the largest hour the sun is at its lowest hidden beneath the earth seemingly under ground the stars pinhole the sky wall the half-moon noticeably crawls across the black and the air falls upon me – my ominous blanket that keeps me coldMore

Why syntax over morphology

Over the years of teaching and writing I have noticed how much more emphasis had been given to words (morphology) over sentences (syntax). Perhaps it is because sentences are mistakenly thought of as so much harder to pin down. When people see a sentence of twenty words they think of twenty things. Rarely do they…More

Beyond dialogue

With post-Periscope here we now have what can be considered not dialogue but what I shall call plura-logue.  Conversations no longer static or deferred but dynamic and immediate. It is also dialogue with one and many simultaneously. More