Friday, 26 April 2013

Introduction to Psycholinguistics.

Assalamualaikum WBT,

Hi, we are here again. Well, I am so sorry for not writing here, I have a lot of works needed to be done, so, since I have got the time, now I can write. In my uni life, I had a few subjects that I love learning, one of those subjects is Psycholinguistics. Yes, I love learning it.

They say, Psycholinguistics is not an easy subject to be learned. I do not know that, as long as we are interested in something, obviously, nothing could stop us right? *drama much? Please. Well, before we go any further, it is better for me to tell you a bit what psycholinguistics in brief. 

Language in general is important not only because it distinguishes human beings from all other animals on the earth but because, directly or indirectly, it makes possible the elaborate organisation of civilised society... and language in general is interesting because, although everyone knows and uses a specific language, few people understand what they know. Becoming self0-consiciously aware of what is known unself-consiciously carries a special brand of excitement. - George A. Miller

There are few main points that need to be in our minds are, 

1. Psycholinguistics is the study of how individuals comprehend, produce, and acquire language.

2. The study of psycholinguistics is part of the field of cognitive science. Cognitive science reflects the insights of psychology, linguists, and to a lesser extent, fields such as artificial intelligence, neuroscience, and philosophy.

3. Psycholinguistics stresses the knowledge of language and the cognitive processes involved on ordinary language use.

4. Psycholinguistics are also interested in the social rules involved in language use and the brain mechanism associated with language. 

5. Contemporary interest in psycholinguistics began in the 1950s, although important precursors existed in the 20th century.

The psychological study of language is called psycholinguistics. The diversity of how we use language is daunting for psychologists who wish to study language. How can something so widespread and far-reaching as language be examined psychologically? An important consideration is that although language is intrinsically  a social phenomenon, psychology is principally the study of individuals. They psychology of language deals with the mental processes that are involved in language use. There are three sets of processes needs to be remembered which are, language comprehension (how we perceive and understand speech and written language), language production ( how we construct an utterance for idea to completed sentence), and language acquisition (how children acquire language).

The Scope of Psycholinguistics.

Psycholinguistics is part of the emerging field of study called cognitive science. Cognitive science is an interdisciplinary venture that draws upon the insights of psychologists, linguists, computer scientist, neuroscientists , and philosophers to study the mind and mental processes. As the name implies, psycholinguistics, is principally a integration of the fields pf psychology and linguistics. Linguistics is the branch of science that studies the origin, structure, and use of language. Like most interdisciplinary fields, however, psycholinguistics has a rich heritage that includes contributions from diverse intellectual traditions. 

Language Processes and Linguistic Knowledge

There are two questions that need to be answered in psycholinguistics, one would be What knowledge of language is needed for us to use language? and other one is What cognitive processes are involved in the ordinary use of language?

In a usual sense, we know how to use a language but we are fully aware of this knowledge. A distinction may be drawn between tacit knowledge and explicit knowledge. Tacit knowledge refers to the knowledge of how to perform various acts, whereas, explicit knowledge refers to the knowledge of the processes or mechanism used in these acts. We may distinguish between knowing how to speak and knowing what process are involved in producing speech. Generally speaking, much of our linguistic knowledge is tacit rather then explicit. I could simply say that tacit is the surface and explicit is the deep under the sea type of knowledge. Meaning, explicit knowledge is where we need to look deep down to actually get the knowledge, we need to learn as much as we can to gain the knowledge. For example, we know how to smile, but we do not know how many muscles are needed to make us smile right? If you know how many muscles needed to make us smile than you obtain the explicit knowledge. Easy right?

The same information as my entry in here, there are four broad areas of language knowledge, which are, Semantics, Syntax, Phonology and Pragmatics. Let me give you the brief definition on this areas. Semantics deals with the meanings of sentences and words. Syntax involves the grammatical arrangements of words within the sentences. Phonology concerns the system of sound in a language and last but not least, Pragmatics, it entails the social rules involved in language use. It is not ordinarily productive to ask people explicitly what they know about these aspects of language. 

Well, I personally think that is quite enough to digest and I will write more on this introduction to Psycholinguistics. Love it. There are a few more topics need to be written here so, I will analyse it first then, I will write it. Okay? Wait for it eyh? Thank you.

Ref : Psychology of Language by David W. Carroll.

Assalamualaikum WBT

p/s: Need time to rest. Really. Ugh.

Friday, 19 April 2013

An Introduction to Language.

Assalamualaikum WBT,

How do you do? It has been awhile since my last entry eyh? Well, I am so sorry for writing late entry, I had to settle a few things. Well, for this entry, I would love to share with you my first year's subject, my first semester's subject, An Introduction to Language and it was taught by Dr Ee Chop Ler. 

Before I go any further, my first years was not that great actually, honestly, I did not know much about English language, but surely, I have big interest on English language. So, in order for me to catch everything up, I had to learn everything in the fast lane. Best method? Learning it from your besties who have the better English than yours and converse with them using proper English eyh?

Okay, in An Introduction of Language, I learned about the language itself. Meaning, learning how we could know and utter the words but we do not learn it. Yes, we are all intimately familiar with at least one language, right? Our own language. Yet few of us ever stop to consider what we know when we know a language. No book contains, or could possible contain, the English or Russian or Zulu language. Yes, when we learn second language we usually have the guide and the A-Z about the particular language,but when we learn our own mother tongue, sometimes, we best acquired it from the surroundings, the environments, that is for sure, indeed. Not all words from certain language can be listed in a dictionary. Speaker use a finite set of rules to produce and understand an infinite set of possible sentences.

These rules are part of the grammar of a language, which develops when you acquire the language and includes the sound system (phonology), the structure and properties of words (the morphology and lexicon), how words may be combined into phrases and sentences (the syntax), and the ways in which sounds and meanings are related (the semantics). The sounds and meanings of individual words are related in an arbitrary fashion.  Arbitrary means, when you know the language, you know the system.

Well, more explanation on arbitrary is, as far as I am concerned, the concept of arbitrary would be, when you know something, let say, a dining table. You would be able to recall the concept of dining table. It does not mean that we have the same thing on our mind but as long as it is dining table, the concept is already there, that the arbitrariness is understood. Another example, if people draw you an symbol of 'hand', then they asked you to answer it in five different languages, Malay, English, Japan, Spanish and Arabic. When you are able to answer the question, you already possessed the concept of arbitrariness. Why? Because, you know the word of 'hand' in five different language, no one could argue with you because you know the language already. Is that okay?

In all languages in the world, there will be Grammar rules. Grammar rules actually prevent from the language to extinct and also prevent the speakers of the language to be more creative in using the language without damaging the language. 

I told my lecturer about influences on language. I told her that I could easily influenced by songs both the melody and the lyrics. This actually interrelated with Sapir-Whorf hypothesis which hold that the particular language we speak determines or influences our thoughts and perceptions of the world. Let say, I am using English to speak the entire time, my way of thinking would be different. Who knows right? 

Well, to be honest, this is just the surface of the An Introduction to Language but I will write more about this. This is just a small portion on An Introduction to Language and this is just under that first chapter, 'What is Language?', so, I have a lot more to write here.

Assalamualaikum WBT

p/s: Keep on learning.
p/s: For this entry, I was using An Introduction to Language by Victoria Fromkin, Robert Rodman and Nina Hyams, the Eight Edition.

Monday, 15 April 2013

The Contribution of Christianity towards English Language.

Assalamualaikum WBT,

I stopped at this in the last entry. So, I would like to continue on how English was influenced by Christian in terms of words absorbing. 

In year 597, Roman came back with a cross, meaning, they were doing missionaries to England. It was started in Kent. As we all know, Roman, Christian were using words from Latin and Greek and because of English language has this amazing talent of absorbing  and its appetite for layering had begun with what are called "loan words." 

Words such "angel", "mass","bishop", "altar", "minster", "abbess", "monk", "nun", "verse", there were a few Greek words slipped in English via Latin such as "alms","psalm","apostle","pope" and "school".

Christianity did not just bring new words added to the base of  English, but along with it, it brought arts. Hymns were written to give men and women the attractions that they need to trust and believe the belief. Faith is the main element here, and hymns were created to inspire and attract people. As wrote by Caedmon in his artwork.

" Nu scylun hergan hefaericaes uard, metudes maecti end his modgidanc...."

" Now we shall praise the Keeper of the Heavenly Kingdom, The power of the Lord of Destiny, and his imagination..."

This was the Northumbrian version from eighth-century manuscript. Language is important too, but another aspect that is far more important than the language is that, the faith that the Angles, Saxons, Jutes have in Christian. 

Because of English was the language that very understandable and absorb so many other words from other language that it encountered, somehow, English language become stronger and stronger. English language was used in Christianity and English would never be expelled or ignored again. 

Old English had found its home. It had fought bravely its way to pre-eminence in a new, rich and diverse country. The adventure was under way. 

Next time, I will share with you a few more. I will write this History of English only on Monday. Okay? Tomorrow would be on different topic, okay?

Assalamualaikum WBT

ref: Melvyn Bragg.

Sunday, 14 April 2013

The History of English Language.

Assalamualaikum WBT,

When we want to learn something, we have to know about the history of that something right? So, when we want to learn English language, we have to know where the language came from? When? Where and how?

According to Melvyn Bragg, 

"As far as England is concerned, the language that became English arrived in the fifth century with Germanic warrior tribes from across the sea. They were first invited over as mercenaries to shore up the ruins of the departed Roman Empire, stayed so share the spoils and then dug in. The natives, the Celts or Britons, were, the invaders asserted in their own triumphalist chronicles in an entry dated 449, "worthless" and the "richness of the land" was irresistible. This may have been written later, but the point is clear enough ; the place was ripe for plucking. The Anglo-Saxon historian Bede reports of "the groans of the Britons" in a letter to the Roman Consul Aetius. The groans came from those Britons who had suffered at the hands of these Germanic tribes. "The Barbarians," they called them, who "drive us to the sea. The sea drives us back towards the barbarians - we are either slain or drowned."
As you can read above, England was not a peaceful place like the present. The language particularly had undergone very tough years. It would take two to three hundred years for English become more than first among equals. Because of the capacity of English language to absorb other languages, it survived and emerge as the common tongue. 

In 1786, Sir William Jones, a British judge and amateur linguist on  service in India, after a close study of Sanskrit, which had been in existence since at least 2000 BC in the Vedic hymns, wrote; "Both Gothik and the Celtik, though blended with a very different idiom, have the same origin with Sanskrit. According to the analysis done by William, Proto Indo-European is the mother of us all and Sanskrit is certainly one of the older attested  members of the family of languages of which come all the languages of Europe (save Basque, Estonians, Finnish and Hungarian) and many in Asia. Germanic formed a subgroup of the Western Indo-European family - as did Celtic and Hellenic. Germanic further divided itself into three smaller groups East Germanic (extinct); North Germanic - the Scandinavian language, Old Norse in sum; and West Germanic - Dutch, German, Frisian and English. Frisian and English were closely connected to each other. 

Lets take a look at the examples given, by seeking similarities of these two words, we could find that the similarities are amazing. The languages somehow can be understood without knowing the languages. Lets see here. In Sanskrit, the word for father is "pitar"; in Greek and Latin it is "pater"; in German, "Vater"; in English , "father". "Brother is English, the Dutch is "broeder," in German "Bruder," in Sanskrit is "bhratar."

Even though English language was slowly came up through the hardness and toughness of the era, English received a little mark from Celtic language. As we all know, Celtic language is an old language which happens to be extinct but, there are a few of Celtic words that made a serious grip to the English language. For example, "tor" and "pen", meaning hill and hill-top.There is also "luh" or "lough" for the word lake and the two symbolic and significant English towns, Dover and London, bear Celtic names. Less than three percent of Old English, the bedrock vocabulary, is loan words from other languages.

Here is one amazing fact, the "-ing" ending in modern place names means "the people of" and "-ing" is all about the people - Ealing, Dorking, Worthing, Reading, Hastings, or as famously uttered by the fictional characters in Lord of the Ring, "Earthlings". While, "-ton" means enclosure of village , as in Wigton, Wilton, Taunton, Ashton, Burton, Luton, Crediton, Downton ; "-ham" means farm, as in Birmingham, Grantham, Fulham, Tottentham, Nottingham. There are hundreds of examples, check you village's name, it might be in these three categories. These "-ing", "-ton" and "-ham"  were straightforward territorial claims. The language clearly shout: We are here to stay, we name and we own this. 

In modern English, our conversation is still founded on and funded by Old English. These are the foundation of our modern English, is, you, man, son, daughter, friend, house, drink, here, there, the, in, on, into, by, from, come, go, sheep, shepherd, ox, earth, home, horse, ground, plough, swine, mouse, dog, wood, field,work, eyes, ears, mouth, nose, broth, fish, fowl, herring, love, lust, like, sing, glee, mirth, laughter, night, day, sun, word. There are three from Old Norse, "they", "their" and "them" and the first French-derived word is "number.

English had also dug into family, friendship, land, loyalty, war, numbers, pleasure, celebration, animals, the bread of life, the salt of the earth. Somehow, English as if knew exactly what it was doing; building slowly but building to last, testing itself among competing tribes as in centuries to come it would be tested among the competing nations, getting ready for as difficult a fight as was needed, branding the tongue. 

Churchill, 1940 was using Old English, except for the word "surrender" in "we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender". 

I am using Melvyn Bragg's book The Adventure of English, The Biography of A Language for this entry. His book was my primary reference on my first semester in Bachelor of English with Communication in the year 2008 in Universiti Sultan Zainal Abidin, Terengganu. There is another book in my possession that somehow very related to Bragg's writing, it is The Origin of Language by Merritt Ruhlen. She actually explained the origin of the language more then Bragg. So, these two books really help me in understand the adventures and the origin of the language especially English language. 

I will stop here but then, I will continue writing on the same topic. The sub topic would be the Influence of Christianity on English language. Again, I will be using Bragg's book for the source.

Until then, keep on learning.

Assalamualaikum WBT

Introductory Entry. Assalamualaikum.

Assalamualaikum WBT,

Good day everyone, this is my new blog and I am so very excited to write this blog with my amazing journey of learning English language.

I would love to tell you about my journey during those days. For this blog, I am going to write full English language and this considered a medium to let my English language alive. Is that okay? I will write about my previous subject which I have learned in university but now, with a little bit more thoughts put in it. 

Those days, I did not know that the each and every subjects are important and they actually related to each other. They have special connection that made them special. For sure.

So, for this entry of introduction, I am not going to tell you my name yet, but surely, later I will, but for this entry, I just want to tell you how much I appreciate and want to learn English language. Even though my formal English language learning is over, still, my informal English language learning is not going to over, ever. 

Therefore, I will share with you my subjects of learning during those days and I am going to share all the journey, experiences and sad and happy times learning English language. Hope this will be one of your references and hope we could create a happy yet informative environment in learning English language eyh?

Assalamualaikum WBT

p/s: Under one code we unite, Through language we provide.