Learner's Diary



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Learner's Diary 28.11.2007

Summary: Unfortunately, I was not able to attend the lecture.


Find at least 20 simple words:
-dog, cat, tree, man, woman, boy, girl, thing, road, free, luck, plan, paper, chair, table, sand, beach, water, room, class

Find at least 20 complex words:
-girlfriend, boyfriend, roommate, classroom, teacher, boys, girls, structural, phonology, morphology, government, determination, cell-phone, infiltration, humanity, freedom, lampshade, bathroom, timetable, reading

Which of them are similar?
girlfriend, boyfriend: both are compound nouns
girls, boys: both underwent the same kind of inflection
phonology, morphology: both underwent the same kind of derivation
classroom, bathroom: both are compound nouns

Can you find a relation between some of your simple words and some of your complex words?
Some complex words consist of two of the simple words (thus, they are compound nouns, like classroom, for instance), others consist of one of the simple words and an additional affix (girls, boys).

Make a list of 20 free morphemes:
-tree, fish, lamp, door, kitchen, piano, dish, tall, pig, ball, radio, mouth, lip, shirt, skirt, saw, mother, father, hole, answer, talk

Find bound morphemes:
-ing, -ed, -s, -ish, -ly, -ness, -ize, un-, de- dis-, in-, ir-, re-

Find other compounds in English with a head that is a
-noun: football, timetable, road-trip
-verb: heart-broken, lip-reading, highlight
-adjective: ice-cold, reloaded, misleading

Find other compounds in English with a modifier that is a
-noun: heart-breaking, God-given, shock therapy
-verb: drive-through, drive-in, lead singer
-adjective: good-looking, far-reached, wide-open
-preposition: outbreak, income, upstairs

Select of the following parts of speech 3 of each:
-verbs: talk, sleep, watch
-nouns: girl, book, man
-adjectives: dark, cold, low

Derive as many words as possible from them!
watch: watch (noun), watches (plural noun + 3rd person singular simple present), watched, watching
talk: the talk (zero-morpheme), talks (plural noun + 3rd person singular simple present), talking, talked, talker, talkable, talkability
sleep: sleep (noun), slept, sleepful, sleeplike, asleep, sleeps, sleeping, sleepy
girl: girls, girlfriend, girlhood, girly, girlish, girlishness,
book: books, bookish, bookless, booklike, booking, bookshelf, booker
man: manly, unmanly, manhood, manless, manlessly, manlessness, manness, manned, manning, mankind
dark: darken, darker, darkest, darkish, darkly, darkness, darkened
cold: cold (noun), colder, coldest, coldish, coldly, coldness
low: lower, lowest, lowish, lowness

Evaluation: Unfortunately, I was not able to attend this lecture.

8.12.07 23:06

Learner's Diary 05.12.2007


Today we talked about the structure of language and about syntax.

We learned that the constitutive relations of the structure of language are structural relations, semiotic relations and the different ranks.
Syntagmatic and paradigmatic relations form the structural relations. Syntagmatic relations are combinatory relations, building bigger units (signs) from smaller units (also signs), while paradigmatic relations are classificatory of similarity and difference between signs.
Semantic relations on the other hand are concerned with the realisation and interpretation of signs.

We have discussed especially the fact that syntagmatic and paradigmatic relations occur in all kinds of ranks (positions in the hierarchy of signs), including for instance phonology, morphology and syntax. One example are the structure and the syntagmatic relations of syllables, which consist of an onset (the front part of the syllable), and a nucleus and a coda, forming the rhyme.

Moreover, we focused on the above mentioned sign hierarchy. The positions in this hierarchy are referred to as ranks, the main ranks being dialogue, monologue / text, sentence, word, morpheme and phoneme All signs at each of these ranks have an internal and external structure, as well as semiotic relations (acoustic representation, meaning,… ) .

In addition to this, we discussed the topic syntax. There are nine categories that form the different parts of speech These are: nouny categories (determiners, adjectives, nouns, pronouns), verby categories (verbs and adverbs) and glue categories (prepositions, conjunctions and interjections).

Identify the syntagmatic relations in the following constructions:

-/frIdZ/, /streIts/, / prE@r /

onset nucleus coda

f         rI        dZ
str      eI        ts
p        rE        @r

– “three people saw a woman and her dog in the shop”

subject : three (quantifier) people
verbal: saw
object: a woman
conjunction: and
object: her dog
localizing adverb: in the shop

Identify the paradigmatic relations in the following sets (describe similarities and differences):

– {/p/, /t/, /k/}
-all are voiceless plosives, but with different places of articulation (/p/ is bilabial, /t/ alveolar and /k/ is velar).

– {“object”, “furniture”, “chair”, “table”}
“chair” and “table” are hyponyms of “furniture”, which is a hyponym of “object”

– {“walk”, “drive”, “run”, “ride”}
-all words connotate movement at different speed Moreover, “walk” and “run” are antonyms.

Analyse the components of the following item into units of
different ranks:

-her step-mother bought her a pre-paid phone card

sentence: her step-mother bought her a pre-paid phone card
word: her, step-mother, bought, her, a, pre-paid, phone card
morphemes: her, step, mother, bought, her, a, pre, paid, phone, card
phonemes: /h/ + /@/, /s/ + /t/ + /e/ + /p/, /m/ + /a/ + /D/
+ /@//, /b/ + /O/ + /t/, /h/ + /@/, /@/, /p/ + /r/ + /i/, /p/ + /e/
+ /I/ + /d/, /f/ + /o/ + /U/ + /n/, /k/ + /a/ + /r/ + /d/

Today's lecture was easy to follow, and the topics were very interesting. So far, I only had the opportunity discuss syntagmatic and paradigmatic relations within literature classes, thus, it was fascinating to hear in how far these relations are applied to syntax specifically.

9.12.07 13:52

Learner's Diary 12.12.2007


In the first part of this lecture, we revised paradimatic and syntagmatic relations, as well as syntax. In second part, we began to discuss semantics.

At the beginning, the tutors stated that some students apparently did not comprehend the connection between paradigmatic and syntagmatic relations. Thus, Mr. Gibbon explained to us again the basic facts concerning these topics, taking the transport system as an example: Cars, bicycles, trams and trains are all classes of vehicles; they only have different kinds of engines, but there functions still remain the same. Hence, the relations between these vehicles are paradigmatic. On the other hand, the syntagmatic relations between these items are the particular relations between roads, traffic lights, i.e. the whole structure of the transport system, showing that the syntagmatic relations are larger structures composed of smaller items.

Then, Mr Gibbon ran quickly through syntax again, explaining to us some facts about glue categories such as conjunctions or interjections. While interjections put different parts of dialogues together (“Du wolltest es ja wohl doch machen” ), conjunctions such as “and” brings two items of the same category together.

Moreover, we talked about the dual category, which English used to have. However, there are only a few words distinguishing dual and plural number, such as “both” or “either”, for instance.
In the second part of the lecture, we discussed semantics. In terms of semantics, we have to distinguish between the sense (Sinn) of a word and the reference (Bedeutung)/ denotation of a word. The term sense describes the meaning of the word in the context itself, or what it means when we hear the word. The term reference, on the other hand, describes the word referring to something real. Mr. Gibbon in this context gave the example of the planet Venus: there are several other terms for Venus, including for instance “evening star”, “evening star” or “second planet from the sun”. While the senses of these expressions are different, the reference is the same.

The first person making the distinction between sense and meaning was the German mathematician and philosopher Gottlob Frege in the late 19th century. Ludwig Wittgenstein later on, staring 1915 until just before 1940, developed precise notions of meaning.

The best-known contemporary linguist, Noam Chomsky, worked on semantics, too. He distinguishes the between intern and extern language, i.e. between competence (implicit knowledge of a language) and performance (actual use of a language in concrete situations).

Finally, we talked about the three semantic sign types that were introduced by Charles S. Pierce: According to him, sign types can be divided into indices (signs with a relationship of physical proximity with their meaning), icons (sign with a relationship of similarity with their meaning) and symbols (signs with an arbitrary relationship with their meaning).


Analyse these signs:

1)      border -shares paradigmatic relations with the sign
2)      background – also shares paradigmatic relations with the sign
3)      the word “keep” : symbol - no similarity to meaning
4)      the word “right” : symbol - no similarity to meaning
5)      arrow: index – relation of physical proximity of the sign and a particular arrow going into that direction

1)      border
2)      background
3)      picture: icon – shows a similarity, which is related to the meaning

1)      border
2)      background
3)      T: symbol

1)      border
2)      background
3)      P: symbolic

1)      border
2)      background
3)      the word “STOP”: symbol

1)      border
2)      background
3)      arrow: index

1)      border
2)      background
3)      white line: symbol

1)      border
2)      background
3)      reindeer: icon

1)      border
2)      background
3)      arrow: index, but since it also gives you a certain shape, it also has iconic properties

1)      border
2)      background
3)      the word “right”: symbol
4)      the word “turn”: symbol
5)      the word “only”: symbol

1)      border
2)      background
3)      arrow: index, but since it also gives you a certain shape, it also has iconic properties

1)      border
2)      background
3)      the word “Yield”: symbol

1)      border
2)      background
3)      bicycle: icon
4)      the word “bike”: symbol
5)      the word “route”: symbol
6)      arrow: index


Today's lecture gave us a good overview about semantics and the different theories and approaches concerning semantics (Chomsky's or de Saussure's approaches, for example). Moreover, it was good that Dr. Gibbon revised the basic facts concerning syntagmatic and pragmatic relations again, because sometimes it was rather difficult to state whether a relation was syntagmatic or paradigmatic. Unfortunately, today's homework was also very difficult, since it was not easy to state if a sign was an icon, a symbol or an index.

18.12.07 19:18

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