Introduction to Linguistics
(Notes on 2008 Summer Intensive taught by Justin Nuger)

Summary of intensive 10-day Linguistics class:
Day 1; Day 2; Day 3; Day 4; Day 5; Day 6; Day 7; Day 8; Day 9; Day 10.
Timeline of English Language.
Possible Cause of the Great Vowel Shift.

Day 1 (of 10): "A language is a dialect with an army and a navy."

Linguistics includes:


Sound is produced in the vocal tract, with adaptation of parts used for other purposes (breathing, eating, etc.).


Likewise with sentences:

Grammar: "the mental system that allows human beings to form and interpret the sounds, words, and sentences of their language". Properties:

Language samples in this session from:

Day 2 (of 10): Phonetics

Day 3 (of 10): Phonology

Day 4 (of 10): Phonology

Day 5 (of 10): Morphology

Day 6 (of 10): Morphology

Day 7 (of 10): Syntax

Completing morphology:


Midterm Review (Phonetics, Phonology, Morphology).

Day 8 (of 10): Syntax


Emphasis on Syntax:

Day 9 (of 10): Semantics

Day 10 (of 10)

Final Project Due; Final Project Presentations;



Acoustic phonetics.
An approach to phonetics that studies the physical properties of spoken sounds. Contrast articulatory phonetics.

A new word formed from the first letter(s) of a sequence of existing words; pronounced as a word (not a sequence of letters). Contrast with alphabetic abbreviation. [AA]

A bound morpheme that is attached to a stem in order to modify its meaning (such as the number of a noun or tense of a verb). [AA]

A single-consonant sound comprising a stop followed by a secondary fricative release at the same place of articulation. [AA]

Allophone. Also called 'phone'.
A positional variation or a free variation of a phoneme. [AA]
Physical event studied in phonology.
Compare with phoneme.

Alphabetic abbreviation.
A new word formed from the first letter(s) of a sequence of existing words, but where the new word is pronounced as a sequence of letters. Contrast with acronym. [AA]

Formed by using the tongue tip (or blade) against the (alveolar) ridge behind the upper teeth; this constricts (or blocks) airflow.
e.g. at the start of lie or now or see or too. [AA]

Formed by using the tongue tip (or blade) against mouth roof (palate) just behind the (alveolar) ridge; this constricts (or blocks) airflow.
e.g. at the start of chip or ship. [AA]

A phoneme formed at the alveolar ridge or in front of it. [AA]

Impairment in communication; results from brain damage. [AA]

Influence of a sound by neighbor(s) to become more similar to the neighbor(s).

Articulatory phonetics.
An approach to phonetics that studies the physiological mechanisms of speech production. properties of those sounds, and how they are interpreted. Contrast acoustic phonetics.

Articulation manner.
Way that airflow is modified in the vocal tract in order to make a particular sound.

Articulation point.
Places where airflow is modified in the vocal tract in order to make a particular sound. These are the main types of sound heard in English (Received Pronunciation and Amglish (USA American):

A puff of air that can follow a stop consonant. e.g. In pill. [AA]


Description of vowel formed by placing the tongue behind its resting position.
e.g. vowels in (English) boat and boot. [AA]
Contrast front.

Bound morpheme.
A morpheme that is not an independent word but must be bound with others. Includes affixes and stems. [AA]

Broca's area.
Part of the frontal lobe in the brain's left hemisphere. If damaged, one's speech lacks fluency. [AA]


Complementary distribution.
Two speech sounds occur in one or more positions where the other never does. If two such sounds are phonetically similar, they are usually allophones of the same phoneme. [AA]

Sound made with momentarily blocked or extremely narrowed vocal tract. May be voiced or unvoiced.

Content morpheme.

Conversational maxims.
Grice's principles of: that are followed in cooperative verbal exchanges. [AA]

A language; developed from a pidgin by expanding vocabulary and complexity of grammar. Has native speakers. [AA]


Deep structure (d-structure).
"The tree, formed by phrase structure rules, into which words are plugged, in such a way as to satisfy the demands of the words regarding their neighboring phrases. ... not the same as Universal Grammar, the meaning of a sentence, or the abstract grammatical relationships underlying a sentence." [SP]
Contrast Surface structure (s-structure).


Formed by a constriction due to the tongue tip (or blade) at the upper teeth. [AA]

  1. In morphology the process by which affixes combine with stems or words. Compare inflection.
  2. In syntax a stage in the generation of a sentence that results from applying a grammar's rules.

Also see zero derivation.

Vowel of two parts: a vowel plus a (quieter) glide.

Influence of a sound by neighbor(s) to become more different from the neighbor(s).


Insertion of a segment into a string of segments.


A consonant formed by a quick tap of the tongue against the roof of the mouth.
More common in American than British English, e.g. t in better. [AA]

Description of vowel formed by placing the tongue forward from its resting position.
e.g. vowels in (English) beet and bet. [AA]
Contrast back.

free morpheme.
A morpheme that is also an independent word. [AA]

Free variation.
A relation between two speech sounds such that either can occur at a particular position; the substitution of one for the other does not alter the meaning of the word. Two sounds in free variation are allophones of the same phoneme. [AA]

A consonant sound where air is channeled though a narrowed vocal tract, and becomes turbulent. [AA]

function morpheme.


Generative grammar.
"A set of rules that determines the form and meaning of words and sentences in a particular language as it is spoken in a community." [SP]

Generative linguistics.
"The school of linguistics, associated with Noam Chomsky, that tries to discover the generative grammars of language and the universal grammar underlying them." [SP]

Vowel-like in articulation, but is consonant-like in being unable to form the core of a syllable. It precedes or follows a true vowel.
E.g.: Initial glide in yet and final glide in now.

Formed by constricting the vocal cords. [AA]

Great Vowel Shift.
Sound changes in English long (tense) vowels in the fifteenth century.

Grimm's Laws.
Sound changes in Proto-Germanic: [AA]








Manner of articulation.
The type of constriction of the mouth, throat, or larynx used in the production of speech sounds.
Contrast with place of articulation. [AA]

Reorders a sequence of segments.

A part of a word that cannot be broken down further into a meaningful part. The smallest unit of language that carries information about meaning or function. It can be free (a word) or bound. Types are:
  1. free morpheme.
  2. bound morpheme.
  3. content morpheme.
  4. function morpheme.

The first two are orthogonal to the second two, resulting in:

Arrangement and interrelationship of morphemes in words; the study of such.




Phase structure.
"The information about the syntactic categories of the words in a sentence, how the words are grouped into phrases, and how the phrases are grouped into larger phrases; usually diagrammed as a tree." [SP]

Phase structure grammar.
"A generative grammar consisting only of rules that define phase structure." [SP]

Allophone. A speech sound.

Abstract idea studied in phonology. Compare with allophones.

The study of the production of sounds of speech, the properties of those sounds, and how they are interpreted. Studied through:
  1. acoustic phonetics
  2. articulatory phonetics

The study of the distribution of sounds of speech in a language and how those sounds are organized and interact. Studies the value of sounds as phonemes and allophones.

A simplified version of some language or combination of languages; usually developed as a language of trade. [AA]

Place of articulation.
The part of the mouth, throat, or larynx where the airflow experiences the greatest constriction in the production of speech sounds.
Contrast with manner of articulation. [AA]

Positional variant.
A phonetic form that occurs in a specific environment.
e.g. The aspirated [ph] occurs predictably in syllable-initial position (in English) is a positional variant of the phoneme /p/. [AA]

"A scientist, usually a psychologist by training, who studies how people understand, produce, or learn language." [SP]



All or part of a word is copied as a separate morpheme associated with additional meaning.
e.g. In Marshallese (Marshall Islands), the final C-V-C of a noun is copied to the end of a noun, forming a verb:
[takin] "sock" -> [takinkin] "to wear a sock"
Reduplication can use a prefix, suffix, or infix.
The morpheme, shown by /RED/ (for Reduplication), can have hundreds and hundreds of classes, but it does not have a basic sound component (and in this aspect it has a similarity to zero derivation).


The study of the meaning of forms of speech, including the development and changes of meaning in words and word groups.

A morpheme that can serve as a base for forming new words by the addition of affixes. [AA]

A consonant sound made by the complete and temporary blocking of the airflow.
e.g. the start of pin. [AA]

Surface structure (s-structure).
"The phase structure tree formed when movement transformations are applied to a Deep structure. Thanks to traces, it contains all the information necessary to determining the meaning of the sentence. Aside from certain minor adjustments (executed by 'stylistic' and phonological rules), it corresponds to the actual order of words that a person utters." [SP]
Contrast Deep structure (d-structure).

Usually its core is a vowel, sonorous, and produced with a relatively open vocal tract. It is bounded by less quieter sounds, usually consonant, produced with a narrowed or closed vocal tract.

The rules for the arrangement of words into phrases and sentences in a language.


"A silent or 'understood' element in a sentence, corresponding to the deep-structure position of a moved phrase. What did he put (TRACE) in the garage? (the trace corresponds to what." [SP]


Universal Grammar.
"The basic design ... [claimed to underlie] the grammars of all human languages; also refers to the circuitry of children's brains that allows them to learn the grammar of their parents language." [SP]
Not the same as Deep structure (d-structure).

Compare with voiced.


Sound made with very little obstruction of the tract. Usually voiced.

Compare with unvoiced.


The smallest free form found in language.




Zero Derivation.
Process of using a Zero Morpheme

Zero Morpheme.
A morpheme (represented by 0) without a phonological form. It's effect is to alter a part of speech, such as, for the Calvin and Hobbs sentence:
"Verbing weirds language"
changing the noun "verb" to the verb "verb" (which then receives the suffix -ing to make the gerund "verbing")
or changing the adjective "weird" to the verb "weird".
It does not have a basic sound component (and in this aspect its use has a similarity to Reduplication).

References for Glossary

AA: Where noted by [AA], glossary entries are based in part on those in Linguistics: An Introduction to Language and Communication by Adrian Akmajian et al.

SP: Where noted by [SP], glossary entries are based in part on those in The Language Instinct: How the Mind Creates Language by Steven Pinker. This book was recommended additional reading for (summer intensive) Linguistics Course:
"Anyone contemplating studying linguistics should also read Pinker (1995; Harper/Perennial) The Language Instinct [ISBN: 0061336467]: it really gives one an idea of what linguistics is all about" (Justin Nuger, personal communication, 2008).