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The 5 Rule Systems of Language

Language is ordered into five systems of rules: phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, and pragmatics.

Heather Goff

on 22 October 2012

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Transcript of The 5 Rule Systems of Language

Language is communication by means of speaking, writing, or signing with our hands and is based on a system of symbols. Language is greatly varied throughout the world, but all languages share a common set of rules to keep them in order. The five rule systems of language are explained below.

(We can think of language as an iceberg: we see only the tip of the ice, but there is much more below the surface.) LANGUAGE of Language Five Rule Systems Phonology Despite the varied origins and intricacies of languages across the globe, they are all comprised of basic sounds. The sound system of a language is called Phonology, which includes the sounds used in that language and how they can be combined. For example, some sounds appear in Mandarin Chinese that do not appear in English, and vice versa. Phonology can be broke down further into units known as phonemes--the basic unit of sound in a language. An example of a phoneme is the sound /k/, as in the c in "cat" or the k in "ski." Morphology The second rule system of language is Morphology, the system of how words are formed (or not formed) in a language. To understand morphology, we must know that a morpheme is the most minimal unit of meaning in a language. It is these units that work together to create meaning in our languages. Morphemes also indicate to us context and tense. Some morphemes we use often include prefixes, suffixes, and compound words. Individual languages determine what morphemes can be combined to create words and meaning, and have the ability to decide that some combinations do not make sense. Syntax If we know what grammar is, then we are comfortably familiar with Syntax. The rules of grammar in determining word order, word placement, and word combination are echoed in the language rule of syntax. For example, we would not state that "The textbook read I did." Syntax tells us that the textbook was not the object reading, and that straightening out our word order will give us the proper meaning intended. Proper syntax does vary from language to language however, and learners of other languages often have their work cut out for them learning a new rule of syntax. When we talk of the language rule system of Semantics, we are referring to the actual meaning of the words and sentences we are communicating. Each word in each of the languages has meaning associated with it, and that meaning determines how the word is used when communicated. Words can also have more than one semantic meaning, as with the words "man" and "boy." Both words denote the same gender of a person, and probably a few outward appearances. However, there are also semantic differences between the two words, including age. Semantics Pragmatics The fifth and final rule system of language is the use of Pragmatics. The other rule systems teach us how to create meaning through the use of phonemes, morphemes, word order, and word meaning; pragmatics takes us a step further to adjust our language to fit certain social contexts in our culture. Pragmatics go beyond the basics of communication and into the complex realm of consciously tailoring our communication to the people we are communicating with, using figurative language, and using idioms. An example of using pragmatics in our everyday communication is consciously formalizing our greeting and small talk when we approach our supervisor at work, compared with the informal speech we reserve for our co-workers. 1.) Based on the rule systems of Phonology and Morphology, list one additional phoneme and one morpheme found in the English language.

2.) Do you consider the phoneme and morpheme you listed to be easy to learn and master by a child? How about a child with a cognitive delay or difficulty? Why or why not?

3.) Considering the stages of Piaget's Theory of Development, in which stage do you think children begin to understand and master Syntax? Argue your case for choosing this stage in one paragraph.

4.) Our text gives an example of how a sentence can be syntactically correct, but grossly incorrect in regards to Semantics. Create a sentence of your own which also follows this pattern of being correct according to Syntax but wrong according to Semantics.

5.) Share an encounter you or someone you know has experienced where a child or adolescent has failed to use the rule of Pragmatics in conversation. The experience can include the young person misusing figures of speech, or not being aware of cultural cues when speaking with someone different from themselves. Please compose at least one paragraph to answer this question. Review Questions
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