ENG501 Assignment 1 Solution and Discussion
History of English Language (ENG 501)
Assignment No. 1
Total Marks: 20
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Q.1 (a) Language began when humans started naming objects, actions and phenomena after a recognizable sound associated with it in real life. The origin of language in the human species has been the topic of scholarly discussions for several centuries. Languages have been taking birth and some of them have been dying.
From the following table, select the languages as being dead or alive, mention the active speakers of the alive languages, and give the reason/s which caused the now dead languages to die. (10 Marks)
Sr. Language Names Dead Alive Active Members of Alive Languages Reason(s) for Cause of Death 1 Latin 2 Estonian 3 Hungarian 4 Sanskrit 5 Biblical Hebrew
Q.2 All languages are either synthetic or analytical. A synthetic language shows grammatical relationships through inflectional change in the words, whereas an analytical language represents the grammatical relationships through word order. English was once synthetic but over time has become an analytical language.
Keeping this in mind, discuss the use of gender (Masculine, Feminine, Neuter) in analytical languages (modern English) as well as in synthetic languages (like French or Urdu).
Q#1. Language is always changing, evolving, and adapting to the needs of its users. The fact that language is always changing doesn’t mean it’s getting worse; it’s just becoming different. Like everything else in nature, the English language is a work in progress. As English language will never stop changing so, what synchronic changes have been made in English over times to respond to the needs of the people who use it? Also, provide the definition of synchronic study.
Definition of synchronic study:
Synchronic language is study of language at a given point in given time. A synchronic approach considers a language at a moment in time without taking its history into account. The studies may either be the present or a particular point in past
Synchronic linguistics is the study of languages or dialects at one particular period usually the present. It is also known as descriptive linguistic or general linguistic.
A synchronic linguistic may focus on grammatical phenomena such as word order, negotiation etc. the time studied may be either present or past; synchronic analysis can also be made of dead languages such as Latin. . Analyzing the word order in a sentence in old English only would be study of synchronic linguistics.
Examples of synchronic study:
Synchronic linguistics are descriptive for example the study of how parts are combine to form words and phrases and how proper syntax gives a sentence meaning in the 20th century the search for universal grammar that which is instinctive in humans and gives them ability to pick up their native language as an infant is a synchronic area of study.
Synchronic changes in English:
A synchronic linguistic may focus on grammatical phenomena such as word order, negotiation and feature of clause linking. Someone may take specific interest in the mechanism by which change is introduced into the language system and diffused through communities of speakers.
There can be a cross-linguistic and typological comparison .This can involve a close investigation of specific grammatical phenomena in various languages with a view to identifying the precise details of where they differ or remain the same. It may focus on investigating the wider patterns of linguistics variation and language typology.
Australian English has the same inventory of phonemes as RP but nearly all vowels are realized differently. Different instances are given from Australian phonology for example /a /and /e/ are closer than in RP so to English ears Australian pen sounds pen. In the same way a comparison between BrE & AmE pronunciation is made for example the sound /r/ in GA and RP is compared in GA the letter “r” is pronounces in all positions but in RP it is only pronounced before vowels. This session also provides a list of cultural & ethnic American Eng. Varieties which includes the following
African American vernacular
Latino vernacular English
Chicano English Miami English
a list of regional and; local varieties is also provided which includes
Eastern New England
Southeast super regions
Q2 Researchers from Durham University explain that the unique expressive power of human language requires humans to create and use signals in a flexible way. Human language is unique because there are certain features of the language that distinguish it from other means of communication. Keeping this in mind, what do you understand by the term ‘language’? Also, enlist and explain any FOUR unique features of human language.
Definition of language:
Language mean system of sounds words and patterns used by humans to communicate thoughts and feelings .It is considered as more powerful, convenient and permanent mean and form of expressions. Language is a human so it differs from animal communication in several ways. There are more than 6000 living languages in the world however speech is common in all languages but writing is not therefore the number of written languages is much lower. It is estimated that that there are16 languages which are spoken by more than 50 million like Chinese English Italian French Bengali and Arabic. Language can play a vital role in learning.
Henry sweet an English phonetician and language scholar defines English as
” language is the expression of ideas by means of speech-sounds combined into words. Words are combines into sentences this combination answering to that of ideas into thoughts.
According to the Merriam-Webster
“The words their pronunciation and the method of combining them used and understand by a community”
Features of human language:
Charles Hackett an American linguistic lived from 1916 to 2000 proposed different features of human language that distinguish him from animal
- Displacement: Refers to the idea that human can talk about things that are not physically present or that do not even exist. Speakers can talk about past and future and can express hopes and dreams. A human speech is not limited. Displacement is one of the features that separate human language from other forms of primate communication.
- Traditional transmission: it is also called cultural transmission. While human are born with innate language capabilities. Language is learned after birth in a social settings. Children learns how to speak by interacting with experienced language users. Language and culture are woven together.
- Productivity: refers to idea that language users can create and understanding novel utterances. Human are able to produce an unlimited amount of utterances. Also related to productivity is the concept of grammatical patterns which facilitates the use and comprehension of language. Language is not stagnant but is changing constantly.
- Duality of patterning. Meaning full messages are made up of distinct smaller meaning full units which themselves are made up of distinct smaller, meaningless units.
Q1. Language is always changing, evolving, and adapting to the needs of its users. The fact
that language is always changing doesn’t mean it’s getting worse; it’s just becoming different.
Like everything else in nature, the English language is a work in progress. As English language
will never stop changing so, what synchronic changes have been made in English over times to
respond to the needs of the people who use it? Also, provide the definition of synchronic study.
Q2. Researchers from Durham University explain that the unique expressive power of human
language requires humans to create and use signals in a flexible way. Human language is unique
because there are certain features of the language that distinguish it from other means of
communication. Keeping this in mind, what do you understand by the term ‘language’? Also,
enlist and explain any FOUR unique features of human language.