Presentation Critique Essay

Presentation Critique Essay.

To analyze verbal and nonverbal techniques that will enhance oral communication with a business and/ or professional context in this paper, first let look as the verbal communication. Verbal communication happens through the use of words. It must be understood that communication has to depend on the language that has been designed, developed and propagated by humans. As a result, it suffers from a lot of limitation despite the fact that some languages of the world are very developed and command a vast vocabulary.

Non-Verbal communication uses signs, signals, gestures, expressions and sounds. In common parlance, nonverbal is also called body language. As a rule, it does not lie or mislead unless someone has mastered the art of deceit or camouflaging. With this basic of taught, verbal communication depends on the language that has been designed or develop, while nonverbal uses signs, signals, expression. Therefore, nonverbal does not lie or mislead.

To assess the strength and weakness in the student’s own oral communication and in the other oral communication you must: * Emphasize the practical importance of strong teamwork skill, i.

e the value of teamwork skill in (outside) the workplace by offering real-world example of how teams function and illustrating what can go wrong when teamwork skill are weak or strong.

* Establish ground rules, i.e. create ground rules for group behavior or ask student’s to do it themselves. Group ground rules can include things such as: return e-mail from group member within 24 to 48 hours, come to meetings on time and prepared, meet deadline, and listen to what your teammates have to say. To write clearly and concisely using proper writing mechanics, you must look at the context of the topic or what the topic ask you to write on. Also write for your audiences to understand. Therefore, do not use back to back words whenever you are write business letter.

Presentation Critique Essay

Discourse Analysis Essay

Discourse Analysis Essay.

Discourse analysis (DA), or discourse studies, is a general term for a number of approaches to analyzing written, vocal, or sign language use or any significant semiotic event. The objects of discourse analysis — discourse, writing, conversation, communicative event, etc. — are variously defined in terms of coherent sequences of sentences, propositions, speech acts or turns-at-talk. Contrary to much of traditional linguistics, discourse analysts not only study language use ‘beyond the sentence boundary’, but also prefer to analyze ‘naturally occurring’ language use, and not invented examples.

Text linguistics is related. The essential difference between discourse analysis and text linguistics is that it aims at revealing socio-psychological characteristics of a person/persons rather than text structure.[1] Discourse analysis has been taken up in a variety of social science disciplines, including linguistics, sociology, anthropology, social work, cognitive psychology, social psychology, international relations, human geography, communication studies, and translation studies, each of which is subject to its own assumptions, dimensions of analysis, and methodologies.

Topics of interest
Topics of discourse analysis include:

* The various levels or dimensions of discourse, such as sounds (intonation, etc.

), gestures, syntax, the lexicon, style, rhetoric, meanings, speech acts, moves, strategies, turnsand other aspects of interaction * Genres of discourse (various types of discourse in politics, the media, education, science, business, etc.) * The relations between discourse and the emergence of syntactic structure * The relations between text (discourse) and context

* The relations between discourse and power
* The relations between discourse and interaction
* The relations between discourse and cognition and memory

Discourse Analysis

Deborah Tannen

Discourse analysis is sometimes defined as the analysis of language ‘beyond the sentence’. This contrasts with types of analysis more typical of modern linguistics, which are chiefly concerned with the study of grammar: the study of smaller bits of language, such as sounds (phonetics and phonology), parts of words (morphology), meaning (semantics), and the order of words in sentences (syntax). Discourse analysts study larger chunks of language as they flow together. Some discourse analysts consider the larger discourse context in order to understand how it affects the meaning of the sentence.

For example, Charles Fillmore points out that two sentences taken together as a single discourse can have meanings different from each one taken separately. To illustrate, he asks you to imagine two independent signs at a swimming pool: “Please use the toilet, not the pool,” says one. The other announces, “Pool for members only.” If you regard each sign independently, they seem quite reasonable. But taking them together as a single discourse makes you go back and revise your interpretation of the first sentence after you’ve read the second.

Discourse and Frames

‘Reframing’ is a way to talk about going back and re-interpreting the meaning of the first sentence. Frame analysis is a type of discourse analysis that asks, What activity are speakers engaged in when they say this? What do they think they are doing by talking in this way at this time? Consider how hard it is to make sense of what you are hearing or reading if you don’t know who’s talking or what the general topic is. When you read a newspaper, you need to know whether you are reading a news story, an editorial, or an advertisement in order to properly interpret the text you are reading. Years ago, when Orson Welles’ radio play “The War of the Worlds” was broadcast, some listeners who tuned in late panicked, thinking they were hearing the actual end of the world. They mistook the frame for news instead of drama.


Conversation is an enterprise in which one person speaks, and another listens. Discourse analysts who study conversation note that speakers have systems for determining when one person’s turn is over and the next person’s turn begins. This exchange of turns or ‘floors’ is signaled by such linguistic means as intonation, pausing, and phrasing. Some people await a clear pause before beginning to speak, but others assume that ‘winding down’ is an invitation to someone else to take the floor. When speakers have different assumptions about how turn exchanges are signaled, they may inadvertently interrupt or feel interrupted. On the other hand, speakers also frequently take the floor even though they know the other speaker has not invited them to do so. Listenership too may be signaled in different ways.

Some people expect frequent nodding as well as listener feedback such as ‘mhm’, ‘uhuh’, and ‘yeah’. Less of this than you expect can create the impression that someone is not listening; more than you expect can give the impression that you are being rushed along. For some, eye contact is expected nearly continually; for others, it should only be intermittent. The type of listener response you get can change how you speak: If someone seems uninterested or uncomprehending (whether or not they truly are), you may slow down, repeat, or overexplain, giving the impression you are ‘talking down.’ Frederick Erickson has shown that this can occur in conversations between black and white speakers, because of different habits with regard to showing listenership.

Discourse Markers

‘Discourse markers’ is the term linguists give to the little words like ‘well’, ‘oh’, ‘but’, and ‘and’ that break our speech up into parts and show the relation between parts. ‘Oh’ prepares the hearer for a surprising or just-remembered item, and ‘but’ indicates that sentence to follow is in opposition to the one before. However, these markers don’t necessarily mean what the dictionary says they mean. Some people use ‘and’ just to start a new thought, and some people put ‘but’ at the end of their sentences, as a way of trailing off gently. Realizing that these words can function as discourse markers is important to prevent the frustration that can be experienced if you expect every word to have its dictionary meaning every time it’s used.

Speech Acts

Speech act analysis asks not what form the utterance takes but what it does. Saying “I now pronounce you man and wife” enacts a marriage. Studying speech acts such as complimenting allows discourse analysts to ask what counts as a compliment, who gives compliments to whom, and what other function they can serve. For example, linguists have observed that women are more likely both to give compliments and to get them. There are also cultural differences; in India, politeness requires that if someone compliments one of your possessions, you should offer to give the item as a gift, so complimenting can be a way of asking for things. An Indian woman who had just met her son’s American wife was shocked to hear her new daughter-in-law praise her beautiful saris. She commented, “What kind of girl did he marry? She wants everything!” By comparing how people in different cultures use language, discourse analysts hope to make a contribution to improving cross-cultural understanding.

How to do a discourse analysis

The first point to note is that in order to do a discourse analysis you need to have read a handful yourself first. By reading published articles that use the method, you will have a better understanding of (1) how to do an analysis and (2) some of the theoretical orientations that you will need to know to do your own analysis. Having identified a theory and a chosen item (text or recorded conversation) to analyse, you need to transcribe it in one of the accepted/published ways. The transcript must always appear in the appendices. There are many different forms of discourse analysis, so here we will focus on thematic analysis as an example.

What is thematic analysis?

Thematic analysis is about trying to identify meaningful categories or themes in a body of data. By looking at the text, the researcher asks whether a number of recurring themes can be abstracted about what is being said. For example, on one level you might find an inconsistency, an attempt to assign blame, an attempt to cite others to support one’s views, a regular interruption of other people, an attempt to make one’s account of some event sound more authentic, and so on. On another level, you might idenitify a regulalry occurring attribution of blame or the repeated reference to some specific cause of an event. The reference might take slightly different forms but refers to the same cause.

An example might be football fans blaming various aspects of a player’s motivation for the failure of their team (e.g., “he gets so much money, doesn’t need to try”, “he looked as though he wasn’t bothered”, “he didn’t want the ball”, and so on). In the results section of the report, the themes abstracted are collated and reported on. In doing so, it is usual to cite from the transcription examples of the points you are trying to make. A summary of the findings can be offered but also a critique of the author’s own interpretations – this refers to the concept of ‘reflexivity’, that the author’s is only one interpretation of the text.

Discourse Analysis Essay

The Scope of Applied Linguistics Essay

The Scope of Applied Linguistics Essay.

Applied linguistics it seems to be a not very easy concept to define, because many people would think different things when it comes to applied linguistics. Indeed, for many years those who carry out applied linguistics seem do not agree upon a universal definition. However, what it is true for all of them is the fact that there is a gap that needs to be filled in terms of defining applied linguistics. The definition of the problem is probably due to the lack of agreement on what is to be applied? There are people who claim for a dictionary definition which say that applied linguistics has a core, and they do not accept supposed definitions.

For example, Widdowson claims that applied linguistics has a core and he rejects the claim that says that applied linguistics is a mixture of many disciplines. On the other hand Widdowson and Cook believed that “the task of applied linguistics is to mediate between linguistics and language use”.

Another definition of applied linguistics by Guy Cook is “the academic discipline concerned with the relation of knowledge about language to decision making in that real world”. However, the scope of applied linguistics is still not very clear.

It is important to mention that the definitions of Applied Linguistics have been closely related with its scope, and most of the initial definitions were closely related with an educational branch, particularly because its scope was the researched pedagogy of language teaching. During the 1950s, the focus was on structural and functional linguistics, which could be applied to language teaching and literacy in first and second language. Years later, more and more focus where added, as language assessment, language policies and second language acquisition, all these, focused on learning rather than teaching.

Real world problems rather than theoretical explorations where also included, language assessment, second acquisition, literacy, multilingualism, language minority rights language planning and policy teacher training. Nevertheless, language teaching remains important. During the last two decades many subfields, beyond language teaching and language learning, have been incorporated: language assessment, language policy and planning, language use in professional settings, translation, and lexicography, multilingualism, language and technology and corpus inguistics.

So basically this means that applied linguistics has not been limited to language teaching only. In fact, according to Zoltan Dornyei (CUP 2009, 3) “it is a somewhat eclectic field that accommodates diverse theoretical approaches and its interdisciplinary scope includes linguistic, psychological and educational topics”. It is during the 1990s when Applied Linguistics finally assumes the incorporation of supporting disciplines, such as psychology, education, anthropology, sociology, political science, among other.

These incorporations help even more to make a difference between Linguistics and Applied Linguistics, as Juliane House (CUP 2009,5) states “Applied linguistics is not ‘linguistics applied’, because Applied Linguistics deals with many more issues than purely linguistic ones, and because disciplines such as psychology, sociology, ethnography, anthropology, educational research, communication and media studies also inform applied linguistic research. “

In other words ‘Linguistic applied’ is just the application of linguistic models, while Applied Linguistics studies the whole picture, including the analysis of many others disciplines like psychology, neuroscience, sociology, law, medicine, etc. and also models and theories. As these disciplines were included, the universe of language-related problems grew. So Guy Cook (2003:20) enlightened linguists pointing out that there is a systematic way to classify the kind of problems we are concerned with in order to solve them. In other words, we need to refer to specific instances to more general conceptual areas of study.

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The Scope of Applied Linguistics Essay

Structuralism in Linguistics Essay

Structuralism in Linguistics Essay.

Introduction It is not my purpose here to give a historical treatment of linguistic ideas, nor it to distinguish and analyze the various approaches and schools of thought generally subsumed under the heading of Structuralism. Rather, I propose to look at the general features characterizing structuralism as seen and treated by structuralists and further to see how it has come to be viewed by Chomsky and other transformationalists.

Structuralism in linguistics has come to be used to mean various things, from the capacity for abstraction in organizing a model for ‘the cataloguing of languages structures and … the comparing of structural types’ (Harris, 1951:3) to what the transformationalists have come to label as ‘taxonomic’ model with its ‘reliance on procedures of segmentation and classification, and on statements of syntagmatic and paradigmatic distribution’ (Chomsky, 1964: 11).

In a first step, it is useful to talk about the general features of structuralism rather than the details elaborated by various structuralist practitioners, for the latter ‘are talking about the same thing, and struggling toward the same goal’ (Haugen, 1951: 214).

Structure and system The idea of structure presupposes the reduction or breaking down of linguistic segments or features. Also, to speak of a structure presupposes a notion of unity existing above particular segments or features, of a whole above the composing and functioning elements.

The latter, connected with each other and their regular occurrences arranged on distributional grounds and relations, are ordered in a system. The notion of system here is to be contrasted with the idea of inventory – a non-ordered list of elements – that was important and prevalent at one stage in the development of linguistics (e. g. Neogrammarians, followers of Darwinian theory, or even in the introspective and normative approach so much in use in traditional linguistics during the Renaissance and after).

It is expedient, when speaking of structuralism, to assess de Saussure’s and Bloomfield’s views and conceptions, and then see the development from there to newer directions in modern linguistics. In fact, the origin of the tendency towards a scientific linguistics is frequently seen in ‘une double influence : celle de Saussure en Europe, celle de Bloomfield en Amerique. Les voies de leur influence respective sont d’ailleurs aussi differentes que les ? uvres dont elles procedent’ (Benveniste ; 1966 : 7).

De Saussure

De Saussure did not explicitly use the notion of “structure”; for him the essential notion was that of “system”. He was, however, a pioneer in making explicit some fundamental and indispensable dimensions in linguistic study. One important foundation is the double distinction ‘synchronic/diachronic’ and ‘langue/parole’. The first distinction points the necessity of studying linguistic phenomena either from the synchronic point of view (axis of simultaneities) or from the diachronic point of view (axis of successions).

Both studies can be said to be important and scientific but, de Saussure says, ‘the basic difference between successive and coexisting terms, between partial facts and facts that affect the system, precludes making both classes of fact the subject matter of a single science’ (De Saussure, 1959: 87). Thus, ‘the synchronic and diachronic “phenomenon” … have nothing in common. One is a relation between simultaneous elements, the other the substitution of one element for another in time, an event’ (De Saussure, 1959: 91).

The comment to make here is that this requirement need no longer be of necessity, or as one linguist explains, “that structural dialectology need not be restricted to historical problems … Consequences of partial differences between varieties can be synchronic as well as synchronic’ (Weinreich, 1954: 390). The second distinction is between “langue” – the whole set of linguistic signs and habits ‘deposited’ within each individual in form and determining the use of grammar, phonology and vocabulary -, and “parole:, seen as speech-utterances, i. e. , as the actualization of “langue” at a precise moment by a particular individual.

The linguistic signs have two important characteristics: they have an “arbitrary” nature and a “linear” nature. In another statement observed in structural linguistics, elements are seen as composing a network and are identified and know synchronically by their place in the ‘syntagmatic’ relation and in the ‘associative’ (paradigmatic) relation. To be more specific, and to quote de Saussure, ‘whereas a syntagm immediately suggests an order of succession and a fixed number of elements, terms in an associative family occur neither in fixed numbers nor in a definite order’ (De Saussure, 1959: 126).

(It should be noted here that the term “paradigmatic” was suggested by Hjelmslev (1936), and has become a current term for de Saussure’s term “associatif”). Bloomfield and Post-Bloomfieldians At this stage, and with respect to the issue of defining linguistic elements and categories and the relations that hold between them, it is expedient to talk about American structuralism.

Here, the name of Leonard Bloomfield must be mentioned although it is commonly held that American structuralism is more post-Bloomfieldian than Bloomfield per-se. the post Bloomfieldians (cf.Bloch, Harris, Hockett, and others) developed a system of mechanical procedures for the analysis of linguistic structures, and methodological statements (frameworks) with distribution as the criterion of relevance:

That was an attempt to get away from analytical operations that would have to refer to ‘meaning’ as was the case for Bloomfield, for whom ‘the study of speech-sounds without regard to meaning is an abstraction’ (1933: 139), and whose trouble was that ‘the statement of meaning is … the weak point in language study, and will remain so until human knowledge advances very far beyond its present state’ (1933: 140).

Phoneme, morpheme, and linguistic analysis Bloomfield used two fundamental units of linguistic description with which American structuralism became particularly associated: 1) the phoneme … ‘a minimum same of vocal feature … or distinctive sound’ as a unit of phonology, and 2) the morpheme … ‘a recurrent (meaningful) form which cannot in turn be analyzed into smaller recurrent (meaningful) forms’ as the unit of grammatical structure (Bloomfield, 1926: 156-157). Bloomfield later defined the morpheme (or ‘simple form’) as a ‘form which bears no partial phonetic-semantic resemblance to any other form’ (1933: 161).

Post-Bloomfieldians concentrated on both concepts and found fault with Bloomfield’s morpheme when applied to languages other than agglutinative languages like Japanese and Turkish. In fact, the latter are not complicated by much morphophonemic change at the easily established boundaries between bases and endings, which is neither the case for the highly inflectional (synthetic) languages like Latin nor for the uninflected (analytic) languages like Chinese.

Equally, ‘Bloomfield’s view of the phoneme as a feature present in the sounds or sound-waves has been shown to be untenable (cf.Twaddell’s On Defining the Phoneme, 1935) and is no longer widely accepted among descriptive linguists’ (Bloch, 1948: 4). However, many contributions have been made in morphology after Bloomfield, particularly in the 1950’s which saw developments in morphological studies just as the 1940’s saw a big interest in phonology. In 1954, Hockett, in his “Two Models of Grammatical Description”, distinguishes two ‘frame(s) of reference within which an analyst approaches the grammatical phase of a language and states the results of his investigation’ (p.386):

1) ‘Item and Arrangement’ (IA) whereby the inventory of morphemes is specified before the sequences and the clusterings they form. Thus, ‘the structure of the utterance is specified by stating the morphemes and the arrangement’ (387). This frame of reference is seen to be inadequate for fusional languages, thus not satisfying the criterion that ‘a model must be general: it must be applicable to any language, not just to languages of certain types (398).

2) ‘Item and Process’ (IP) gives priority to one form or item and derives others from it by means of a process represented by a ‘marker’ which ‘consists of the differences between the phonemic shape of a derived form and the phonemic shape(s) of the underlying form or forms’ (396). One criticism leveled against IP comes precisely from this: ‘How are we to tell under what conditions to interpret a derived form as involving two or more underlying forms and a binary or higher-order process, and under what conditions to interpret it as involving a single underlying form and a singular process’ (397).

We may, en passant, say that this criticism could also be leveled against transformational-generative grammar with its IP approach, and this despite the strange claim made by Postal that IA and IP ‘are equivalent; differing only terminologically with the term “process” replacing the term “construction”’ (Postal, 1967: 29), and despite his rejection of both IA and IP as Phrase-Structure Grammar (PSG) systems. 3) One important development in morphological studies was the revival of interest in ‘Word and Paradigm” (WP) – a third model mentioned but not explored by Hockett -, and its formalization later by Robins (1959).

In WP, the word is … ‘central unit, and the grammatical words (…) are the minimal elements in the study of syntax. At the same time, the intersecting categories form a framework or matrix within which the paradigm of a lexeme may be set out’ Matthews, 1974: 67).

The word then is taken and analysed as a whole, and its features and properties are neither morphemes in ‘arrangement’ nor requiring a ‘process’, but properties of the word as a whole. In structuralist studies, the morpheme came to be defined on distributional grounds (and similar treatment of the phoneme was to follow), for distribution is the criterion of relevance in linguistic description (cf. Harris, 1951, Methodological Preliminaries).

In phonology and looking back a little, bearing in mind the distinction between the notions of inventory and that of system, one may say that de Saussure’s Cours had all the prerequisites of a phonological theory but no phoneme theory. Daniel Jones’s theory itself – the phoneme as a group of speech-sounds established for practical purposes, namely phonetic transcription – proved inadequate for linguistic purposes, for it comprised an inventory (a non-ordered list) rather than a system with a network of relationships between the units concerned.

The same criticism will come to apply, although at a different level, to the Saussurean concept of “langue” as an inventory or a repository, or, to quote, as a ‘sum of impressions deposited in the brain of each member of the community, almost like a dictionary of which copies have been distributed to each individual’ (de Saussure, 1959: 19). Later, new directions in structural linguistics led in the area of phonology to the development of phonemic distinctiveness. This was a fundamental concept significantly elaborated by Trubetzkoy in his theory of the phoneme.

In this respect, his “Rules for the Determination of Phonemes” (1969, Part I) are important, and the whole work points to the idea of system (as opposed to Daniel Jones’s inventory, for example). Systems are viwed as psychological realities and analysed independently. In a single system, one looks for phonological symmetry, seen as a patterned exploitation of distinctive or “pertinent” features. Trubetzkoy asserts that ‘the phonemic inventory of a language is actually only a corollary of the system of distinctive oppositions.

… In phonology the major role is played, not by the phonemes, but by the distinctive oppositions. Each phoneme has a definable phonemic content only because the system of distinctive oppositions shows a definite order or structure’ (Trubetzkoy, 1969: 67). The phoneme thus became a theoretically fundamental element in linguistic description and analysis. In America, and following Bloomfield, phonemic analysis received careful attention and many valuable insights are found in Bloch’s (1948) important article.

However, like the morpheme, the phoneme is defined by distributional procedures (and we shall see some criticisms when dealing with ‘taxonomic phonemics’) IC analysis and PSG When attempting to define structuralism in linguistics, it is also necessary to talk about Immediate Constituents (IC’s for short) and, following this, Phrase Structure grammar. In IC analysis the sentence is to be divided into its constituent elements. This operation is carried out with the help of the concept of “substitution” or “expansion” so central in structural studies.

The approach is mechanical, a discovery procedure whose fundamental aim is to ‘analyse each utterance and each constitute into maximally independent sequences – sequences which, consistently preserving the same meaning, fit in the greatest number of environments and belong to focus-classes with the greatest possible variety of content’ (Wells, 1947: 190). Here, ‘the focus is any sequence … replaceable by other sequences; correlatively, the rest of the sentence is the environment of such a sequence’ (189). Phrase structure grammar, formalized by Chomsky (1957), is seen as based on IC analysis in its segmentation and parsing procedures.

However, it is more “powerful” than IC analysis, but it is still inadequate ‘as a means of describing English sentence structure’ (Chomsky, 1957: 35). It must be remembered nevertheless that formalized PSG plays a necessary part in transformational theory. Structuralist approach: a resume In resume then (and before looking at structuralism as seen by Chomsky), a structuralist approach in its general framework looks at the syntactic relations which are defined and exhibited in terms of operations. Substitution, or expansion, is a fundamental means of doing this.

To analyse the syntactic cohesion between elements, the concept of co-occurrence is exploited to form higher levels – constructions such as word and phrase. For this, two kinds of syntactic cohesion are generally (if not necessarily) sought and applied: syntactic dependence and paradigmatic reducibility. In other words, ‘the assignment of syntactic categories to the constituents of a sentence is determined by their syntactic potential, i. e. , by precisely the same syntagmatic and paradigmatic relations which characterize their groupings in sentential functions’ (Haas, 1972).

Incidentally, this fairly comparatively ‘recent’ formulation shows that, even way into the 1970’s, there still was some revival in the interest for analytical (operational) structuralism, ‘interrupted in its progress by the rise of generative transformational grammar’ (Haas, 1978: 304). ‘Taxonomic’ model Now, structuralism as seen by Chomsky is a fairly different picture. Chomsky and other transformationalists refer to structural linguistics as ‘taxonomic’. This means that structuralism is a procedure of classification, somehow an end in itself.

The important operations are based, as explained above, on paradigmatic and syntagmatic distribution. Also, the taxonomic model is seen as a contextfree formalization which, in its syntactic component for example, has an unordered set of rewrite rules (cf. rules as developed in Harris, 1946). For Chomsky, structural linguistics failed to consider the “creative” aspect of language. In dealing with “competence”, he would have one form basic and derive the others by rules which are ordered.

The syntactic component of a grammar ‘generates SD’s (structural descriptions), each of which consists of a surface structure and a deep structure’ (Chomsky, 1966: 16). In the argument concerning the goals of linguistic theory and the means of achieving them,, Chomsky says that structural linguistics is concerned with “observational adequacy”, thus achieving the “lowest level of success”. To put it differently, it is concerned with ‘that layer which is immediately apparent to the analyst. This … layer … constitutes surface grammar’ (Hockett, 1958: 249). In other words, Chomsky would say that the taxonomic model lacks a “deep structure”.

In the related area of phonology (‘taxonomic phonemics’), Chomsky finds that structuralists rely much on ‘procedures of segmentation and classification (identification of variants)’ (1964: 75). In this respect, and for example, the concept of bi-uniqueness – getting uniquely from phoneme to phonetics and uniquely from phonetics to phoneme – poses many problems; it is found, particularly, to be inconsistent with the principle of complementary distribution so central to taxonomic phonemics. In fact, Chomsky says, the principle of complementary distribution is ‘the principle of bi-uniqueness converted into a procedure’ (91).

Other conditions (in what Chomsky calls a “perceptual model”) like linearity and invariance are found to be limited. And when any fault was found in concepts or principles of taxonomic phonemics, there have been ‘ad hoc revisions of a basically inadequate notion’ (86). On parallel lines, taxonomic phonemics insists on the separation of levels of linguistic analysis as a methodological argument, which can be interpreted as ‘requiring that the level of systematic phonetic representation must be “rationalized” and converted to a level of taxonomic phonemic representation without reference to any morphological or syntactic information’ (100).

Conditions like this (in what Chomsky calls an “acquisition model”) and the attempt to define grammatical relations in terms of co-occurrence and, in general, ‘…the emphasis on elementary procedures of segmentation and classification’ (111) along with the conditions stated above in the “perceptual model”, have led both models to the failure ‘to come to grips with the “creative” aspect of language use, that is, the ability to form and understand previously unheard sentences’ (111). A concluding remark It may be noted that it is difficult to assess structuralism easily.

There are many conflicting views and dimensions which, as Chomsky himself notes, ‘illustrate a general ambivalence concerning goals, (and this) makes evaluation of modern taxonomic linguistics on its own terms rather difficult’ (1964: 98). It is also difficult to disparage structuralism as having totally failed in putting forward important and new ideas in the linguistic field, just as it would be absurd to claim that the transformationalists have created a totally original way of looking at language. The gains of both are important to linguistic theory.

It should be fair to say that ‘even the most radical innovations of the more recent past could not do otherwise than adopt the original achievements of structural linguistics and make them the basis for their new departures. Modern linguistics IS structural linguistics’ (Haas, 1978: 294). Chomsky has practically tried to reject structuralism (I should say model of structuralism) on the grounds that it is behaviouristic, atomistic, taxonomic, mechanical, etc. , and tried to build a theory ‘supported’ by connotatively converse labels to these.

However, and whatever the label, linguistics needs ‘in the near future more particular theories and less Theory’ (Bolinger, 1975: 553). This ‘adolescent science … has temporarily outgrown itself’ … (and) adolescence is noted for appropriating the past and repudiating any debt to it, for discovering loyalty, faith, love, and the verities as if they had never existed before’ (554). References & Bibliography The abbreviation RIL followed by figures at the end of an item corresponds to Readings in Linguistics, edited by M. Joos (1957).

The pagination used in the text will then refer to the pagination in RIL for that particular item. 1. Benveniste, E. (1966) Problemes de linguistique generale. Paris : Gallimard. 2. Bloch, B. (1948). ‘A set of postulates for phonemic analysis’. In: Language vol. 24, No 1, pp. 3-46. 3. Bloomfield, L. (1926) ‘A set of postulates for the science of language’. In: Language 2, pp. 153-164. 4. Bloomfield, L. (1933). Language. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston. 5. Bolinger, D. (1975). Aspects of Language. 2nd ed. New York: Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich.

6. Chomsky, N. (1957). Syntactic Structures. The Hague: Mouton. 7. Chomsky, N. (1964). Current Issues in Linguistic Theory. The Hague: Mouton. 8. Chomsky, N. (1966). Topics in the Theory of Generative Grammar. The Hague: Mouton 9. Haas, W. (1972). ‘What is surface structure’? In: Proceedings of the XIth International Congress of Linguists, Bologna. Haas, W. (1978). ‘Linguistics 1930-1980’. In: Journal of Linguistics, vol. 14, No 2, pp. 29310. 308. Harris, Z. S. (1946). ‘From morpheme to utterance’. In: Language 22, pp. 161-183 11.

12. Harris, Z. S. (1951). Methods in Structural Linguistics. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. (Reprinted as Structural Linguistics, 1960). 13. Haugen, E. (1951). ‘Directions in modern linguistics’. In: Language 27, pp. 211-222. 14. Hjelmslev, L. (1936). ‘An outline of glossematics’. Acts of the IVth International Congress of Linguists, Copenhagen, pp. 140-151. 15. Hockett, C. F. (1954). ‘Two models of grammatical description’. In: Word 10, pp. 210-234. (RIL, 386-399). 16. Hockett, C. F. (1958). A Course in Modern Linguistics.

New York: The Macmillan Company. 17. Joos, M. (1957). (Ed. ). Readings in Linguistics I (1925-56). Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press. 18. Matthews, P. H. (1974). Morphology: An Introduction to the Theory of Word-Structure. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 19. Postal, P. M. (1967). Constituent Structure: A Study of Contemporary Models of Syntactic Description. Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University. 20. Robins, R. H. (1959). ‘In defence of Word and Paradigm’. Transactions of the Philological Society, Oxford, pp. 116-144.

21. Robins, R. H. (1967). A Short History of Linguistics. London: Longmans. 22. Saussure (de), F. (1959). Course in General Linguistics. London: Fontana. 23. Trubetzkoy, N. (1969). Principles of Phonology. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press. 24. Twaddell, W. F. (1935). ‘On defining the phoneme’. Language Monograph No 16. 25. Weinreich, U. (1954). ‘Is a structural dialectology possible? ’ In: Word 10, pp. 388-400. 26. Wells, R. S. (1947). ‘Immediate constituents’. In: Language, vol. 23, No 2, pp. 81-117. (RIL, 186-207).

Structuralism in Linguistics Essay

Meaning from a Stylistic Point of View Essay

Meaning from a Stylistic Point of View Essay.

In stylistics meaning assumes prime importance. Because meaning is applied not only to words, word-combinations, sentences but also to the manner of expression. At certain moment meaning was excluded from observation in language science because it was considered an extra-linguistic category. The term “semantic invariant” was proposed as a substitute for meaning by R. Jakobson. The main problem of meaning which deals with is the interrelation between meaning and concept, meaning and sign, meaning and referent.

Contextual meaning is a meaning viewed as a category which is able to acquire meanings imposed on the words by context.

In stylistics is important discriminate shades and nuances of meaning, the components of which are called semes. Lexical meaning differs from grammatical meaning. Lexical meaning refers to some concrete concept, phenomenon or thing of the objective reality (real or imaginary). Grammatical meaning refers to relations between words or constructions. It is also called “structural meaning” Polysemanticism is a linguistic category .

We perceive meaning as a representation of a definite concept by means of a word.

But we state that the same concept may be expressed by different meanings that belong to the same word. Words have polysemantic meaning (several lexical meanings) . It becomes a crucial issue for stylistic studies to observe the multitude of meaning. And that is not limited in the dictionaries and no matter how rich in meaning a word may be leaves the door open for new shades and nuances and even for independent meanings. Semiotics is the science that deals with the general theory of signs.

A sign is a material object (phenomenon, action) appearing in the process of cognition and communication in the capacity of a substitute of another object(s) and used for receiving, storing, recasting and transforming information about the object. The signs are used in a system and that system is called a code. Sign’s conventional, arbitrary character is one of its most important features. The language system follows a certain distinctive features and they are : after been established it circulates for some period of time and it becomes resistant to substitutions.

The definition of a word is a unit of language functioning within the sentence by its sounds or graphic form expresses some notion. Words are capable of enriching its semantic structure by acquiring new meanings, or also could losing old meanings. The very nature of the word causes a difficulty to be explained the semantic structure. In stylistics a word has almost no limit for acquiring new meanings, whereas in lexicology is restricted.

And here comes the issue well-known contradiction between the scientific (abstract) perception of a phenomenon and the secondary artistic perception of the same phenomenon. Max Born, a physicist, has it somewhat differently : “The representatives of one group do not want to reject or to sacrifice the idea of the absolute and therefore remain faithful to everything subjective. They create a picture of the world which is not the result of a systemic method, but of the unexplained activity of religious, artistic or poetic expressions of other people.

Here reign religious zeal, aspirations to brotherhood, and often fanaticism, intolerance and the suppression of intellect…The representatives of opposing group, on the contrary, reject the idea of the absolute. They discover frequently with horror that inner feeling cannot be expressed in comprehensible forms. ” Adjectives are more abstract in meaning than nouns. Adverbs are considered to be more abstract than adjectives. Conjunctions and prepositions got higher degree of abstractness. Meanings could be divided into three types: logical, emotive and nominal.

Meaning from a Stylistic Point of View Essay

Cuneiform And Hieroglyphics Essay

Cuneiform And Hieroglyphics Essay.

The invention of writing was an important part of the development of Sumer and Egypt. There are many similarities and differences to the writings of each of these civilizations.

The Sumerians developed a writing called cuneiform. Cuneiform is the oldest written language in existence. Each picture represents a living or nonliving thing.

Cuneiform was written on clay tablets with a wedge-shaped instrument called a stylus. Henry Creswicke Rawlinson was the first person to decipher the meanings of cuneiform. He did so in 1846.

Cuneiform eventually spread throughout the region and was adopted by many other early civilizations.

The Egyptians developed a writing that they named hieroglyphics. The word hieroglyphic means ?sacred inscriptions? because they were often written on the walls of temples. Hieroglyphics were created about 5000 years ago. There are not any vowels, only consonants. There is also no punctuation.

In 1799, the Rosetta Stone was discovered. The Rosetta Stone was the secret to discovering the meanings of hieroglyphics. On the Rosetta Stone there were three sections of print, each saying the same thing but in different languages.

At the top, the paragraph was written in hieroglyphics. Second, it was written in Demotic. Lastly the paragraph was written in Ancient Greek. By reading the ancient Greek word and names, the other paragraphs could be deciphered. Twenty-three years after it?s discovery, Jean-FranVois Champollion figured out what the hieroglyphics meant. Hieroglyphics are pictures that represent a letter.

In both civilizations, mostly only scribes knew how to read and write. Being a scribe was a very honorable profession. People who were to become scribes went to school for many years starting at a young age. The profession of being a scribe was passed down through families; if a boy?s father was a scribe, he would become one also.

Because children needed to be taught to read and write when they were to become scribes, schools were created. Eventually, these schools became more than centers of just learning the art of reading and writing, but they also became centers of learning of botany, astronomy, medicine, and mathematics.

People becoming more literate and more knowledgeable helped greatly in the development of the civilizations. Both writings, cuneiform and hieroglyphics, were invented to improve the record keeping of the civilization. By having a written language, Egypt and Sumer could kept records, draw up contracts and official documents, record laws and legal judgments, and record sales. As time went on, being able to write also enabled people to write down formulas, procedures, legends, prayers, and hymns.

Even though there were many differences between cuneiform and hieroglyphics, there were many similarities. These similarities caused writing to be important in the growth of Sumer and Egypt.

Cuneiform And Hieroglyphics Essay

Presupposition in Semantics Essay

Presupposition in Semantics Essay.

IntroductionPresupposition is originated in the field of philosophy and it was proposed by German philosopher Ferge in 1892. In the 1960s, presupposition entered the area of linguistics and became a significant concept in semantics. Later in the 1970s, Keenan introduced presupposition to the pragmatics to describe a relation between a speaker and the appropriateness of a sentence in a context (Levinson: 177). Hence, presupposition can be distinguished into two categories: semantic presupposition and pragmatic presupposition. This thesis is mainly centered on the exploration of presupposition in semantics from the perspectives of features and problems of presupposition.

For the sake of searching for the solutions to the problems, the writer also brings two pragmatic theories of presupposition into discussion.

Part I. Two Approaches to PresuppositionIn the linguistics, two approaches to presupposition are semantic and pragmatic. Semantic presupposition views the sentence relations in terms of truth relations while pragmatic presupposition describes sentences as an interaction between individuals.

A.Semantic PresuppositionIn ordinary language, of course, to presuppose something means to assume it, and the narrower technical use in semantics is related to this (Saeed: 93).

In semantics, the meaning of a sentence is based on the sentence itself instead of something constructed by the participants. The semantic presupposition is only concerned about the truth value of the statements. For instance,a)John managed to stop in time.

b)John tried to stop in time. (Suo: 130)In the example, sentence a) presupposes sentence b), that is to say, if it is true that John managed to stop in time, it must be true that John tried to stop in time. Meanwhile, if this proposition is false, the presupposition that John tried to stop in time still exists. However, only the truth of sentence b) doesn’t tell anything concerning the result whether he stopped in time or not. Based on the analysis, we can draw a truth table for this presupposition:a bT → TF → TT or F ← TThis table is an overt description of the truth relations between sentence a) and b). If sentence a) is true, then its presupposition b) is also true. If sentence a) is false, then the truth of b) still survives. While if sentence b) is true, sentence a) can be either true or false. The interpretation of presupposition in semantics is on the basis of truth relations.

B.Pragmatic PresuppositionCompared with semantic presupposition- a truth-relation approach, pragmatic presupposition is an interactional approach in interpreting the sentence relations.

Stalnaker argues that presupposition is essentially a pragmatic phenomenon: part of the set of assumptions is made by participants in a conversation, which he terms the common ground (Saeed: 101). This common ground is the mutual knowledge shared by both speaker and hearer. For example, “I am afraid my car broke down.” The presupposition of this utterance is that the speaker has a car, which is known to the hearer. However, if the hearer originally doesn’t know the fact, on hearing the utterance, s/he can take it as a common ground for a further conversation. By virtue of context, appropriate presupposition will help the hearer understand the utterance of the speaker. During the conversation, both speaker and hearer are doing the turn-taking and they can depend on the former utterances to conduct a smooth communication.

By comparison of semantic presupposition and pragmatic presupposition, we can gain a better understanding of this notion applied in the linguistics. However, the focus of this thesis is on the presupposition in the semantics. Thus, the following parts will be concentrated on the semantic presupposition.

Part II. Features of Semantic PresuppositionIn semantics, presupposition possesses unique features: being different from entailment, presupposition is stable under negation. It is produced not only by the definite description, but also by presupposition triggers.

A.StabilitySemantic presupposition relies on the meaning of words and grammatical structures to describe the truth relations between sentences and these aspects don’t vary too much from context to context. Hence, presupposition is relatively stable and it remains constant under negation of the main sentence. This feature of semantic presupposition makes a distinction between entailment and presupposition. For example,a)I borrowed my friend’s bike today.

b)I borrowed something today.

If sentence a) is true, it guarantees the truth of sentence b), to be more specific, a) entails b). However, if we negate a) to form a’) then it no longer entails b), repeated as follows:a’) I didn’t borrow my friend’s bike today.

b’) I borrowed something today.

If it is false that I borrowed my friend’s bike today, it can not tell whether I borrowed something today or not. It might be true that I borrowed something instead of my friend’s bike, but we just don’t know.

In contrast, the presupposing sentence is constant even under negation, for instance,

c)My sister got married last year.

d)I have a sister.

The pre-condition of sentence c) is d), if c) is true then d) must be taken as a fact. In other words, sentence c) has the presupposition in d) and the truth of c) makes sure the truth of d) as well. If negating c) as “My sister didn’t get married last year.” The presupposition that “I have a sister” also survives.

This is the difference between entailment and presupposition, namely, the negation of an entailing sentence leads to the failure of the entailment while negating a presupposing sentence allows the presupposition to survive.

B.Presupposition TriggersOn the one hand, the existence of presupposition can derive from the use of a name or definite description. On the other hand, it can be produced by particular words or sentence constructions, which are called presupposition triggers. Karttunen has collected thirty-one kinds of triggers but in the following section the writer will mainly focus on four types of these triggers: factive verbs, change of state verbs, temporal clauses and cleft sentences.

To begin with, verbs like “regret,” “deplore,” “know” and “agree” are under the category of factive verbs, for they presuppose the truth of the complement clause. For instance,a)Martha regrets/ doesn’t regret drinking John’s home brew.

b)Martha drank John’s home brew. (Suo: 131)Whether Martha regrets drinking John’s home brew or not, it is a known fact that Martha drank John’s home brew. The sentence a) has the presupposition in b). By contrast, no such presupposition exists with the non-factive verb like “think.” For example,c)Tom thought that John was late.

d)John was late.

Sentence c) indicates that it is only Tom’ personal opinion of John’s being late. Actually, John might not be late and the truth doesn’t reveal from the sentence itself. Therefore, sentence c) doesn’t have the presupposition in d) due to the non-factive verb “think.”Secondly, the employments of verbs like “stop,” “start,” “begin” and “finish” imply the change of state. Hence, these lexical triggers are regarded as change of state verbs, which describe the new state and presuppose the former state as well. For instance,a)John stopped/ didn’t stop beating his wife.

b)John had been beating his wife. (Suo: 131)The verb “stop” means making something end and here if John stopped beating his wife, which means that he makes the action of beating his wife end. But if he didn’t stop, the occasion of beating will continue to happen in the future. No matter what the situation is, sentence a) presupposes the fact b) that John had been beating his wife as the former state.

What’s more, not only the lexical words trigger the presupposition, but also clauses like temporal clauses may produce presupposition. For example,a)Linda went to the supermarket before she met her friends.

b)Linda met her friends.

The temporal clause marked by the conjunction “before” shows that Linda went to the supermarket first and then went to meet her friends. In effect, sentence a) states the fact that Linda really met her friends. It is this temporal clause that ensures the truth of sentence b) and also triggers the presupposition in b).

Last but not least, syntactic structure such as cleft sentence can also act as a trigger for the production of certain types of presupposition. For example,a)It was the noise that annoyed me.

b)What annoyed me was the noise.

c)Something annoyed me.

In the example, the cleft construction in a) and the pseudo-cleft in b) share the presupposition in c). No matter how the sentence structure changes, the essence of the sentence remains unchanged. What sentence a) and b) intend to stress is that there is something annoyed me.

By means of the features like stability and presupposition triggers, the real intention of the utterances can be investigated. If the speaker changes the predicate “has” to “hasn’t,” or “does” to “doesn’t,” the presupposition for the utterance is the same, for presupposition is of stability. Presupposition triggers can be used as a tool to present the essence of the sentence, no matter what lexical words and constructions are applied.

Part III. Problems of Semantic PresuppositionIn semantics, this truth-based approach gives rise to problems for the presupposition, such as, presupposition failure, the defeasibility of presupposition and the projection problem.

A.Presupposition FailureOn the basis of truth condition, it has been taken for granted that a name or definite description being used refers to the existent entity in the field of semantics. However, if the named or described entity doesn’t exist, it causes problem for this truth-relation approach, which is known as presupposition failure. The following example is by now the most discussed one in this literature:a)The King of France is bald.

b)There is a King of France. (Saeed: 96)According to the criterion of truth relation, no doubt sentence a) presupposes sentence b), if it is true that there is a King of France. But if there is no King of France, that is to say, the sentence b) is false, the problem is aroused, for it is uncertain whether this presupposition survives or not. Are the sentences like a) true or false, or just in a gray area, neither true nor false? This dubious situation for truth-based approach results in the truth value gap.

For such a problem, Russell offers a famous solution to make an analysis of this definite description as three expressions as follows:The King of France is bald is true if and only if:a)at least one thing is the kingb)at most one thing is the kingc)whatever is the king is bald. (Saeed: 97)From the Russell’s analysis, we know that if there is no King of France, it leads to the falsity of this proposition that the King of France is bald. Thus, there is no gray area between true or false, no truth value gap. However, it seems to be too complex to employ these preconditions for the explanation of one name and it may cost great efforts to analyze the preconditions whenever meet with such kind of statements.

In comparison with truth relation approach, it may be less problematic for an interactional approach. During the communication between the individuals, whenever an unfamiliar name or definite description occurs, the hearer can interrupt the speaker so as to signal the failure of the conversation. For instance, the speaker says to someone, “Mr. Hong will invite us to dinner next Friday.” If the hearer doesn’t know Mr. Hong, it may cause confusion. As the conversation continues, the hearer can ask the speaker who Mr. Hong is. As for the speaker, s/he can take an immediate response to clear up the misunderstanding.

The presupposition failure in semantics results from the narrow question of the truth value of statements about non-existent entities, while in pragmatics, the attention is paid to the more general question of what conventions license a speaker’s referring use of name or definite description.

B.DefeasibilityOne of the peculiar things about presupposition is that it is sensitive to context, either immediate linguistic context or the less immediate discourse context, or in circumstances where contrary assumptions are made. In particular context, the presupposition is cancelled and this phenomenon is known as defeasibility. Two factors result in presupposition cancellation: one is the linguistic context and the other one is background assumption about the world.

One kind of presupposition defeasibility arises in certain types of linguistic context. For example,You say that someone in this room loves Mary. Well maybe so. But it certainly isn’t Fred who loves Mary. And it certainly isn’t John . . . (We continue in this way until we have enumerated all the people in the room). Therefore no one in this room loves Mary. (Suo: 135)In the example, each of the cleft sentences (it certainly isn’t Fred, etc.) are supposed to presuppose that there is someone in this room who loves Mary, for presupposition is constant under negation. However, the speaker intends to persuade the hearer that there is no one in this room who loves Mary by ruling out the possibilities. Therefore, the presupposition that someone in this room loves Mary is defeated in this counterfactual assumption.

Here is another example of the same kind:a)John didn’t manage to pass his exams.

b)John tried to pass his exams.

c)John didn’t manage to pass his exams. In fact he didn’t even try.

Sentence a) has the presupposition in b), but if put a) into such a statement as c), the prior presupposition is abandoned. Without knowing the real fact, if someone makes the utterance that John didn’t manage to pass his exams, it may leave the hearer an impression that at least once he tried to pass his exams. On hearing the fact the hearer will know John’s failure for the exams is due to his lack of efforts in his study. Thus, the presupposition can be cancelled within certain contexts.

The other kind of presupposition defeasibility is caused by our general knowledge of the world. For instance,a)She cried before she finished her thesis.

b)She finished her thesis. (Saeed: 187)As mentioned above, the temporal clause functions as a trigger for the presupposition. Sentence a) with before-clause presupposes that indeed she finished her thesis. However, if the verb in the main clause is changed to “die,” the situation will be totally different. For instance,c)She died before she finished her thesis.

d)She finished her thesis. (Saeed: 187)Since her death preceded the event of finishing her thesis, it is certain that she never finished the thesis. It is common sense that people do not conduct things after they die. Even if sentence c) is expressed with before-clause, it doesn’t have the presupposition in d). As a result of background belief in the real world, the previous presupposition that she finished her thesis is blocked in this context.

C.Projection ProblemLangendoen and Savin suggest that the set of presuppositions of the complex whole is the simple sum of the presuppositions of the parts, i.e. if S0 is a complex sentence containing sentences S1, S2, . . . Sn as constituents, then the presuppositions of S0 = the presuppositions of S1 + the presuppositions of S2 . . . + the presuppositions of Sn (Levinson: 191). For example,S0: John stopped accusing Mary of beating her husband.

S1: John accused Mary of beating her husband.

S1′: John judged that it was bad for Mary to beat her husband.

S2: John stopped doing it.

S2′: Before time T, John did it. (Suo: 136)In the example, sentence S0 is the complex sentence including two parts S1 and S2, to be more specific, from the statement that John stopped accusing Mary of beating her husband, two meanings can be interpreted: one is that John accused Mary of beating her husband and the other one is that John stopped doing it. The presupposition of S1 is S1′, namely, S1 presupposes that John judged that it was bad for Mary to beat her husband. While S2 has the presupposition in S2′, that is to say, S2 presupposes that before time T, John did it. Thus, the presuppositions of S0 are the presupposition of S1 plus the presupposition of S2.

As a matter of fact, this simple solution to the presuppositions of complex sentences is far from correct and it turns out to be impossible to take it as a formula. By using this solution, it is difficult to predict exactly which presuppositions of the parts survive in the whole presupposition of the complex sentences. This compositional problem is called the projection problem for the presuppositions.

The projection problem in the presuppositions has two aspects: on the one hand, presuppositions remain in the linguistic context while entailments disappear. On the other hand, presuppositions are cancelled in certain contexts where entailments survive.

The first aspect of the projection problem is the survival of presuppositions and cancellation of entailments in the same context. As mentioned above, negation is a typical example for the distinction between presupposition and entailment, for presupposition is stable under negation while entailment isn’t. However, there are other situations in which presupposition remains and entailment disappears. For instance,a)Mr. Brown bought four books.

b)There is a Mr. Brown.

c)Mr. Brown bought three books.

d)It is possible that Mr. Brown bought four books.

e)Mr. Brown could have bought four books.

In this example, sentence a) presupposes sentence b) and entails sentence c). If it is true that Mr. Brown bought four books, the precondition for this proposition that there is a Mr. Brown must also be true. And if he already bought four books, he is supposed to have bought three books. However, when the modal operators or modal verbs are embedded in the original statement, the entailment of a) disappears while the presupposition b) still exists. Because modal operators like “possible,” “probable” and modal verbs like “could,” “should” are considered to be a kind of conjecture. The employments of them reveal speaker’s uncertainty about his utterances.

Another situation of the same kind is the compound sentences formed by the connectives “and,” “or,” “if . . . then” and what not. For instance,a)The two students handed in the homework late again this Monday.

b)A student handed in the homework late this Monday.

c)The two students handed in the homework late before.

d)If the two students handed in the homework late again this Monday, their teacher will get angry.

The adverb “again” applied in the sentence a) presupposes that the two students handed in the homework late before. If two students handed in the homework late, it must entail that one of them handed in the homework late. Thus, sentence a) presupposes c) and also entails b). However, if sentence a) is embedded in a complex sentence like d), the utterance a) can only be regarded as an assumption in the complex whole. Hence, the former entailment is abandoned in the new compound sentence but the presupposition that they did before still survives.

The other aspect of the projection problem is that presupposition is blocked while entailment still exists in certain contexts. If the predicates of the utterances are the verbs of propositional attitude such as “want,” “believe,” “imagine,” “dream” and the like, the blocking of presupposition appears to take place. For instance,a)Tom believes he’s the president of America.

b)There is a present president of America.

In this example, sentence a) entails that Tom believes something, but it doesn’t have the presupposition that there is a present president of America. The verb like “believe” is only a non-factive verb, which doesn’t ensure the truth of its complement. Moreover, the employment of it will leave the hearer an impression that what the speaker says is just a personal opinion. Thus, the presupposition is blocked because of the verb “believe.”Another example is given as follows:a)I dreamed that I was a German and that I regretted being a German.

b)I was a German.

In the sentence a), the speaker doesn’t shoulder the responsibility of uttering it by employing the verb “dream.” The application of “dream” indicates that this utterance can not be taken seriously as a fact. However, sentence a) still entails that “I dreamed something,” but doesn’t presuppose that “I was a German.” In such a situation, the complex sentences with certain verbs of propositional attitude block their presuppositions but maintain the entailments.

By means of analyzing the problems of presupposition in the field of semantics, we can draw a conclusion that this truth relation approach is far from adequate to describe the relationships between presupposing and presupposed sentences. Admittedly, the issue of presupposition is not only being discussed in semantics but also in the pragmatics.

Part IV. Pragmatic Theories of PresuppositionAs for pragmatic presupposition, various theories have been put forward by linguists such as Stalnaker, Gazdar and what not. Among these theories, two of them are the most developed theories that deal with the defeasibility and the projection problems. Both theories assume that presuppositions are part of the conventional meaning of expressions, instead of semantic inference.

The first theory has been developed by Karttunen and Peters, which is expressed in the framework of Montague grammar. In the Montague grammar, clauses are built up from their constituents from the bottom up rather than from the top down as in transformational generative grammar (Levinson: 207). The basic idea in this theory is that sentences are built up from their components and the meanings conveyed in these sentences are subject to the words, clauses and so on, but in the presuppositions, meanings are associated with these triggers. According to Karttunen and Peters’ theory, presuppositions are actually non-cancellable.

The meaning expressions that capture the presuppositional content of each presupposition-triggering item will be related with each constituent a heritage expression. If there is a predicate like propositional attitude verb, it will have a heritage expression that blocks the presuppositions ascending to be presupposition of the whole sentence. In such circumstances, presupposition isn’t in fact cancelled, but it is blocked during the process of derivation by the heritage expression. For example,a)Bush thinks that Kerry’s attitude about terrorism is dangerous.

b)Kerry has an attitude about terrorism.

The subordinate clause of sentence a) presupposes that Kerry has an attitude about terrorism. However, the verb “think” has the heritage expression which prevents this presupposition from being the presupposition of the whole.

The other theory is proposed by Gazdar, in which presuppositions are actually cancelled. At the early stage of derivation, the presuppositions of any complex sentence will consist of all the potential presuppositions of the parts. Then a canceling mechanism will begin to work and it only selects these presuppositions which are consistent with all the propositions already in the context. In this theory, the generations of presuppositions adhere to a special order: first the entailments of what are said are added to the context, then the conversational implicatures, and only finally the presupposition (Levinson: 213). In each step, these presuppositions that contradict the former propositions will be eliminated through selection and only the ones being consistent with them will survive. For example,a)If there is a King of France, the King of France doesn’t any longer live in Versaills.

b)The speaker knows that there exists a King of France.

c)It is consistent with all the speaker knows that there is not a King of France. (Suo: 143)In the sentence a), the clause that “the King of France doesn’t any longer live in Versaills” has the potential presupposition in b). However, the conditional sentence a) entails that there is not a King of France. Based on the special order in Gazdar’s theory, this entailment enters into the context before the potential presupposition. Hence, this potential presupposition is cancelled without entering into the context.

Although the two theories are opposing to each other, both of them offer an explanation for the defeasibility of presupposition and projection problem. However, even in the field of pragmatics, adequate solution to the presupposition is not obtained, which needs further developments.

ConclusionIn the field of linguistics, we can probe into the presupposition from two perspectives, namely, semantic presupposition and pragmatic presupposition. This thesis mainly focuses on the interpretation of presupposition in semantics. The writer introduces the features of semantic presupposition like stability under negation and presupposition triggers and then makes an analysis of the problems aroused by this truth-based theory such as presupposition failure, defeasibility and projection problem. To solve these problems, two theories concerning the pragmatic presupposition are discussed. Although both of them offer the explanations for the problems of presupposition, they are not considered to be adequate solutions. The further developments of presupposition rely on the complex interactions between semantics and pragmatics.


Levinson, Stephen C. Pragmtics. Beijing: Foreign Language Teaching and Researching Press, 2005.

Saeed, John I. Semantics. Beijing: Foreign Language Teaching and Researching Press, 2005.

Presupposition in Semantics Essay

We Grow Accustomed to the Dark Analysis Essay

We Grow Accustomed to the Dark Analysis Essay.

In the poem We Grow Accustomed to the Dark, by Emily Dickinson, a loss is described in detail using a metaphor of darkness and light. Dickinson uses metaphors, strong imagery, and the way the poem is written in order to describe the loss of a loved one in her life. The poem is written in a first person, and Dickinson uses the words “we” in the first line and the title in order to show that the poem is meant to be interpreted not only by herself, but also by others whom have lost something important in their life, and whom now must try and live in the darkness.

Dickinson uses many dashes in her poem, sometimes more than one on each line. The dashes are meant to represent pauses and increased difficulties in her life. By using the dashes, Dickinson shows how now that there is darkness everything in her life must be considered, and each step is riddled with pauses and contemplations about her life.

The dashes force the reader to pause in their mind, and absorb what has happened so far, and let the meaning of the previous line or so sink in. The dashes are used to effectively and deliberately make the reader reflect on the darkness.

We Grow Accustomed to the Dark uses many strong images in order to paint a picture of the darkness now encompassing her life. In the first stanza, she writes, “As when the Neighbor holds the Lamp/ To witness her Goodbye-“. These two lines use imagery of a silhouette of a person, lit by a fading light in their back. The person is leaving, and the person represents the light. The Lamp is illuminating the departure, and with the disappearance of the woman, the light also disappears. This image is made to grab hold of the reader right from the start, and effectively draws them into the rest of the poem.

In the second stanza, Dickinson writes, “And meet the Road–erect–“. This invokes in the readers’ mind and image of a stout yet stalwart victim, alone at the end of a long, dark, perilous road. This imagery is successfully used to show a picture of the author, or even the reader, as they are standing and trying for their new life, in the darkness, in the absence of light.

The poem is written in five distinct stanzas, each comprising of four lines. There is nothing special, unique, or fancy about the way the poem is organized on the page, and this is done in order to symbolize the very regularity of the fact that sometimes, things or people you love are lost. With the loss of something important, the world does not stop and arrange your life for you. It will continue on in the same unerringly normal way it always has, but now there will just be not light in your life.

In the third stanza, Dickinson writes about “The Bravest” and how they attempt to cope with the loss of light and the newfound darkness in their lives. She brutally and honestly shows how the bravest are stopped by a meager tree in their groping towards a better life. Dickinson uses the word “grope”, which has a slight negative connotation to describe the actions of the bravest in this new world of dark. By using the word grope, which sounds similar too and has a similar structure to “grotesque”, Dickinson throws the victims of the loss of light into a negative mood and relates them with very shady people, almost like crooks. Still, even as they attempt to make it in the new world, a tree comes and smacks them in the forehead. Yet another obstacle, which is barring their path, and this tree, adds much insult to injury.

The poem concludes by relating the darkness to ones perception of their surroundings, and presents the idea that in order to make it in the new world without light, one must change their perception of what really constitutes lightness in their life. If they are unable to change their opinions on their perception of light, then to get on in their life something in the darkness itself must alter, such as a new object situation restoring some of the light. Finally, the poem ends with “And light steps almost straight”. This line uses the word “almost” to completely effect the overall conclusion of the poem. Dickinson illustrates that by coming to terms with the darkness, one can get their life back on track, but it will never be as straight as it was before. Life will always be “almost” regular.

We Grow Accustomed to the Dark Analysis Essay