Flashcards for Language and Culture
Topics 3-4:  Analysis of Language and Learning Language
(17 cards)

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Copyright © 2004 by Dennis O'Neil. All rights reserved.

The part of language analysis that is concerned with the sounds of a language.


The part of language analysis that is concerned with how the sounds are used to make sense. It consists of morphology and syntax.


The smallest unit of sound that can be altered to change the meaning of a word. These units of sound do not have meaning by themselves. The initial sound in the words bit, kit, sit, and pit are examples.


The number of phonemes that English usually uses.


The kinds of verbal sounds that the San languages of southwest Africa use that are not found in English or most other languages elsewhere. (Hint: the language of the Ju/'hoansi people uses these sounds.)

click sounds used as consonants

The study of how sounds are combined by language into larger units called morphemes.


The general term for a standardized set of rules that determine how words should be combined to make sense to speakers of a language. Grammar consists of these rules and morphology.


The smallest combination of sounds that have meaning and cannot be broken into smaller meaningful units. The English words “cow” and “boy” are examples. Words can be one or more of these units.


The general term for a morpheme that has meaning but can not stand alone. The prefix “dis” in the English word “disable” is an example.

bound morpheme

The primary way in which Latin derived languages, such as Spanish, French, and Italian change the meaning of a sentence.

by changing the endings of words (i.e., suffixes).

The primary way in which the meaning of a sentence is changed in English.

by changing the word order

The primary way in which the meaning of a sentence is changed in Mandarin Chinese.

by changing the tone of syllables in words

The number of languages in which speakers must memorize all possible sentences that can be created. In other words, simply learning the rules for creating sentences is not adequate to be able to speak and understand other people using these languages.


The way most linguists believe that children learn their native language.

primarily by listening to and trying to communicate with adult speakers

The age at which most children have learned to use about three words consisting of single morphemes, such as “eat”, “mom”, and “more”.


The kind of syntax error that young children learning English as their native language often make with the past tense of verbs (e.g., “give” becomes “gived”, “take” becomes “taked”, “eat” becomes “eated”).

over regularize the common rule (i.e., inappropriately apply it to irregular words)

The term for what happens when learning a second language can be affected by the patterns of the first language (e.g., blending of phonemes from the different languages).

linguistic interference