Monday, June 11, 2007

Components of Language

I. Language can be divided into 3 components
o Form (syntax, morphology, phonology)
- Syntax contains the rules that dictate the acceptable sequence, combination and function of words in a sentence
- Morphology indicates how morphemes are combined to form words
- Phonology is the study of the sound system of a language
o Content (semantics or meaning)
- Includes the relations between language, thought and behavior
o Use (pragmatics or function)
- Set of rules governing the use of language in context
- The way language is used to communicate

II. Morphemes
o Morphemes are the smallest grammatical unit that contains meaning.
o Free Morphemes
- Independent and can stand alone to form words or parts of words (e.g. boy)
o Bound Morphemes
- Grammatical tags or markers that cannot stand alone (e.g. plural -ls, -est, -ly)

III. Formalist versus Functionalist Model
o The formalist model views the 5 aspects of language (syntax, morphology, phonology, semantics and pragmatics as being equally important
o The functionalist model states that language is heavily influenced by context and that a need to communicate exists prior to the selection of content and form.