Wednesday, October 2, 2013


English Language

English is a West Germanic language that was first spoken in early medieval England and is now the most widely used language in the world. It is spoken as a first language by the majority populations of several sovereign states, including the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, Australia, Ireland, New Zealand and a number of Caribbean nations. It is the third-most-common native language in the world, after Mandarin Chinese and Spanish.[5] It is widely learned as a second language and is an official language of the European Union, many Commonwealth countries and the United Nations, as well as in many world organizations.
English arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and what is now southeast Scotland.
Historically, English originated from the fusion of closely related dialects, now collectively termed Old English, which were brought to the eastern coast of Great Britain by Germanic settlers (Anglo-Saxons) by the 5th century – with the word English being derived from the name of the Angles, the name of a Germanic tribe.
Owing to the assimilation of words from many other languages throughout history, modern English contains a very large vocabulary, with complex and irregular spelling, particularly of vowels. Modern English has not only assimilated words from other European languages, but from all over the world. The Oxford English Dictionary lists over 250,000 distinct words, not including many technical, scientific, and slang terms.

A person's vocabulary is the set of words within a language that are familiar to that person. Vocabulary is commonly defined as "all the words known and used by a particular person". Knowing a word, however, is not as simple as simply being able to recognize or use it.
Within the receptive / productive distinction lies a range of abilities which are often referred to as degree of knowledge. This simply indicates that a word gradually enters a person's vocabulary over a period of time as more aspects of word knowledge are learnt. Roughly, these stages could be described as:
-        Never encountered the word.
-        Heard the word, but cannot define it.
-        Recognize the word due to context or tone of voice.
-        Able to use the word and understand the general and/or intended meaning, but cannot clearly explain it.
-        Fluent with the word – its use and definition.
Degree of knowledge one such framework includes nine facets:
-        orthography - written form
-        phonology - spoken form
-        reference - meaning
-        semantics - concept and reference
-        register - appropriacy of use
-        collocation - lexical neighbours (a collocation is a sequence of words or term)
-        word associations
-        syntax - grammatical function
-        morphology - word parts

An orthography is a standardized system for using a particular writing system (script) to write a particular language. It includes rules of spelling. Other elements of written language that are part of orthography include hyphenation, capitalization, word breaks, emphasis, and punctuation. The English word orthography dates from the 15th century. It derives from Greek ὀρθός orthós, "correct", and γράφειν gráphein, "to write".

Phonology is a branch of linguistics concerned with the systematic organization of sounds in languages. It has traditionally focused largely on study of the systems of phonemes in particular languages. The word phonology comes from Greek φωνή, phōnḗ, "voice, sound," and the suffix -logy (which is from Greek λόγος, lógos, "word, speech.

Morphology is the identification, analysis and description of the structure of a given language's morphemes and other linguistic units, such as root words, affixes, parts of speech, intonation/stress, or implied context.

Types of Vocabulary
Reading vocabulary
A literate person's reading vocabulary is all the words he or she can recognize when reading. This is generally the largest type of vocabulary simply because a reader tends to be exposed to more words by reading than by listening.
Listening vocabulary
A person's listening vocabulary is all the words he or she can recognize when listening to speech. This vocabulary is aided in size by context and tone of voice.
Speaking vocabulary
A person's speaking vocabulary is all the words he or she uses in speech. It is likely to be a subset of the listening vocabulary. Due to the spontaneous nature of speech, words are often misused. This misuse – though slight and unintentional – may be compensated by facial expressions, tone of voice, or hand gestures (a form of non-verbal communication in which visible bodily actions communicate particular messages, either in place of speech or together and in parallel with words. Gestures include movement of the hands, face, or other parts of he body.)
Writing vocabulary
Words used in various forms of writing from formal essays to Twitter feeds. Many written words do not commonly appear in speech. Writers generally use a limited set of words when communicating: for example
-        if there are a number of synonyms, a writer will have his own preference as to which of them to use.
-        he is unlikely to use technical vocabulary relating to a subject in which he has no knowledge or interest.
Focal vocabulary is a specialized set of terms and distinctions that is particularly important to a certain group: those with a particular focus of experience or activity. A lexicon, or vocabulary, is a language's dictionary: its set of names for things, events, and ideas.
Native-language vocabulary size
 Native speakers' vocabularies vary widely within a language, and are especially dependent on the level of the speaker's education. A 1995 study shows that junior-high students would be able to recognize the meanings of about 10,000-12,000 words, while for college students this number grows up to about 12,000-17,000 and for elderly adults up to about 17,000-21,000 or more.
Foreign-language vocabulary
 The knowledge of the words deriving from the 3000 most frequent English words provides a comprehension of 95% of word use, and knowledge of 5000 word families is necessary for 99.9% word coverage
 Although memorization can be seen as tedious or boring, associating one word in the native language with the corresponding word in the second language until memorized is considered one of the best methods of vocabulary acquisition. Although many argue that memorization does not typically require the complex cognitive processing that increases retention it does typically require a large amount of repetition, and spaced repetition with flashcards is an established method for memorization, particularly used for vocabulary acquisition in computer-assisted language learning. Other methods typically require more time and longer to recall. One useful method of building vocabulary in a second language is the keyword method. Several word lists have been developed to provide people with a limited vocabulary either for the purpose of rapid language proficiency or for effective communication. These include Basic English (850 words), Special English (1500 words) and Oxford 3000.

A dictionary (also called a wordstock, word reference, wordbook, lexicon, or vocabulary) is a collection of words in one or more specific languages, often listed alphabetically, with usage information, definitions, etymologies, phonetics, pronunciations, and other information; or a book of words in one language with their equivalents in another, also known as a lexicon.
In 1806, American Noah Webster published his first dictionary, A Compendious Dictionary of the English Language. In 1807 Webster began compiling an expanded and fully comprehensive dictionary, An American Dictionary of the English Language; it took twenty-seven years to complete. To evaluate the etymology of words, Webster learned twenty-six languages, including Old English (Anglo-Saxon), German, Greek, Latin, Italian, Spanish, French, Hebrew, Arabic, and Sanskrit.
Webster completed his dictionary during his year abroad in 1825 in Paris, France, and at the University of Cambridge. His book contained seventy thousand words, of which twelve thousand had never appeared in a published dictionary before. As a spelling reformer, Webster believed that English spelling rules were unnecessarily complex, so his dictionary introduced American English spellings, replacing "colour" with "color", substituting "wagon" for "waggon", and printing "center" instead of "centre". He also added American words, like "skunk" and "squash", that did not appear in British dictionaries. At the age of seventy, Webster published his dictionary in 1828; it sold 2500 copies.

A glossary, also known as a vocabulary, is an alphabetical list of terms in a particular domain of knowledge with the definitions for those terms. Traditionally, a glossary appears at the end of a book and includes terms within that book that are either newly introduced, uncommon, or specialized. While glossaries are most-commonly associated with non-fiction books, in some cases, fiction novels may come with a glossary for unfamiliar terms.

Lexicology is the study of lexis or stock of words in a language. We will also use the word vocabulary interchangeably with lexis. Take note that lexis and vocabulary are non-count nouns. The term first appeared in the 1820s. The word "lexicology" derives from the Greek, the study of words or speech.
In modern, Computational lexicology is concerned with the use of computers in the study of lexicon. An allied science to lexicology is lexicography, which also studies words, but primarily in relation with dictionaries.
In most theories of linguistics, human languages are thought to consist of two parts: a lexicon, essentially a catalogue of a given language's words (its wordstock), and a grammar, a system of rules which allow for the combination of those words into meaningful sentences.
Compound words and certain classes of idiomatic expressions and other collocations are also considered to be part of the lexicon. Dictionaries represent attempts at listing, in alphabetical order, the lexicon of a given language.
The definitions suggest that we should be concerned about:
morphology (structure, form)
etymology and history (etymology is to do with word derivation and source)
semantics (meaning)

A syllable is a unit of organization for a sequence of speech sounds. For example, the word water is composed of two syllables: wa and ter. A syllable is typically made up of a syllable nucleus (most often a vowel) with optional initial and final margins (typically, consonants).
Syllables are often considered the phonological "building blocks" of words. They can influence the rhythm of a language, its prosody (pronunciation of syllable") is the rhythm, stress, and intonation of speech.), its poetic meter and its stress patterns.
Syllabic writing began several hundred years before the first letters. The earliest recorded syllables are on tablets written around 2800 BC in the Sumerian city of Ur, an ancient city in Iraq. This shift from pictograms to syllables has been called "the most important advance in the history of writing". An ideogram or ideograph (from Greek “idea", "to write") is a graphic symbol that represents an idea or concept
A word that consists of a single syllable (like English dog) is called a monosyllable (and is said to be monosyllabic). Similar terms include disyllable (and disyllabic) for a word of two syllables; trisyllable (and trisyllabic) for a word of three syllables; and polysyllable (and polysyllabic), which may refer either to a word of more than three syllables or to any word of more than one syllable.

In linguistics, stress is the relative emphasis that may be given to certain syllables in a word, or to certain words in a phrase or sentence. The term is also used for similar patterns of phonetic prominence inside syllables. The word "accent" is often used with this sense, but it may be used for other kinds of prominence; stress specifically may thus be called stress accent or dynamic accent.
The stress placed on syllables within words is called word stress or lexical stress. The stress placed on words within sentences is called sentence stress or prosodic stress. The latter is one of the three components of prosody, along with rhythm and intonation.

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