LIN1LCS: Language, Culture & Society Questions Answers

by Audrey Brown January 10, 2017
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Linguistics Assignment Samples

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Question

1. Do all languages use (a) voicing, (b) places of articulation and (c) manners of articulation in the same way as what we see in English?

2. Discuss an example of allophonic variation in English, including an account of any phonetic conditioning of this variation.

3. Explain the following statement: the English word have is both a grammatical and lexical free morpheme. Can you think of another example that works this way in English?

4. McGregor (2009) states: “The structure of sentences is hierarchical. Words in a sentence go together to form groups of intermediate sizes – clauses and phrases – identified by criteria of movability, contractibility and ambiguity’. Explain this statement, and provide your own examples that illustrate the key points.

5. Give an example of a linguistic variable in a language you know (one that is different from the examples mentioned in the lecture slides), and explain how you would design a research project to investigate it. 9. How does language index identity?

6. What are some phonetic and grammatical features of non-standard varieties of Australian English spoken by non-Aboriginal Australians?

7. Discuss the following statement: The world’s languages exhibit both unity and diversity.

Solution

1. Do all languages use (a) voicing, (b) places of articulation and (c) manners of articulation in the same way as what we see in English?

Languages of the world use pulmonary and non-pulmonary consonants along with vowels to speak. A pulmonary consonant and vowel is what most speakers of the world are acquainted with and hence languages which use nonpulmonary consonants like clicks, ejectives and implosives sound different. This gives us an insight into the fact that all languages in the world use consonants and vowels. But as we go into the phonetic understanding of languages, we discern that consonants may or may not be voiced, depending on the amount of vibration and the aspiration force used in a phoneme. Languages may or may not have voiced at all. For example, a language using click or ejective consonant might not use voicing at all. We can reach the conclusion that languages of the world may or may not use voicing of the consonants.

2. Discuss an example of allophonic variation in English, including an account of any phonetic conditioning of this variation.

The English aspiration rule uses aspiration for voiceless plosives /p/, /t/, /k/ before vowels when they are in the initial position of a syllable. Plosives /p/, /t/ and /k/ are the same as plosives /pʰ/, /tʰ/ and /kʰ/. They are used in allophonic variation. Allophones are referred to varieties of one phoneme used in the same language in different places in different environments. Allophones are used in complementary distribution which means that if one variety of the phoneme is used in one environment another variety would not be used in the same place. If such a scenario arises, the phoneme variety is said to be in a free variation where all varieties can be used in all scenarios and environments.

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3. Explain the following statement: the English word have is both a grammatical and lexical free morpheme. Can you think of another example that works this way in English?

A morpheme can either be a free or a bound morpheme. Morphemes which cannot stand on their own in a language but need a root or a base or a stem to be attached to for having a meaning are called bound morphemes. Morphemes on the other hand which can stand on their own in a language and require no stem or root or base to make it stand are free morphemes. A grammatically free morpheme refers to a morpheme which has a grammatical function like a verb or an adverb has (because all parts of speech are made of either bound or unbound morphemes) and is a free morpheme. The word have can act as the main verb in a sentence and it means ‘to own something’. It requires no other morpheme to complete it. Hence it is a free morpheme and is a grammatical function as well with a meaning or a lexical function. We can conclude stating that have is an unbound or free grammatical morpheme as well as a free lexical morpheme.

5. Give an example of a linguistic variable in a language you know (one that is different from the examples mentioned in the lecture slides), and explain how you would design a research project to investigate it. 9. How does language index identity?

A linguistic variable refers to variables in a language, the values of which can be words or sentences and so on. These refer to parts of the language which can differ over time or place. A linguistic variable changes over time and under diachronic examination we discern that linguistic variables are aspects of language which change in lieu with the social factor in language. A linguistic variable is a sociolinguistic construct which includes all those parts in language which act as variables in a language. The article ‘The concept of a linguistic variable and its application to approximate reasoning—I’ by L.A. Zadeh (Zadeh, 1974)also gives us an insight into the mathematical basis of a linguistic variable. It has been stated that variables such as ‘young, not so young’ are linguistic variable as well as any terms which can be used in replacement for fixed terms (such as numbers for age in place of adjectives for approximate age). These linguistic variables use parts of the language to define a quantifiable term in a language format which lets the listener know about the quantifiable nature of the term being discussed.

7. Discuss the following statement: The world’s languages exhibit both unity and diversity.

Every language in the world use a few things which are common and there are yet other features which are dissimilar from language to language. Languages of the world have various parts of speech like nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs which are common. But the order in which languages use the subject of a sentence, the object of a sentence and the verb in a sentence are changed from language to language. Language universals is a concept mainly propagated by Joseph Greenberg (Greenberg, 2005) who made a comparative study of 30 languages and proposed a set of universal common features. Action words in all languages are denoted by verbs and naming words are called nouns in all languages.

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