Monday, 21 November 2011

What is linguistics?

Since September, I have been studying Applied Linguistics at North Cotes College. Many of you may be aware of that, but really have no clue what linguistics really is. The reason I know that is that I myself sometimes have no clue what I am doing here… ;-)

So let me try to briefly explain linguistics as best as I can. Simply put, linguistics is the scientific study of a language. This is what would be necessary for learning an unwritten language and creating an alphabet for such a language. Among other things, linguistics involves the study of sounds (phonetics), sound systems (phonemics/phonology), structures of words (morphology), structures of sentences (syntax) and meanings (semantics).
We started in September with phonology and then moved on to advanced phonology in October where we studied such fascinating (or not!) subjects such as archiphonemes, portmanteau, bi-directional partial fusion and displaced contrast. Please don’t ask me to explain any of these – I just about made it through those by the skin of my teeth! ;-)

Now we are studying grammar (morphology) where we are making lovely little charts and “tagmemic formulas” such as this:

N = +
dual compl redup
pl high tone


I wonder how much more fun this can get...

See below for some more photos from my class and from my work ...

... and let me know if you spot some mistakes. :-)


rob said...

I took several linguistics courses in college as a language major - Historical/Comparative Linguistics and Descriptive Linguistics - but nothing as intense as what you're doing here! Eternal rewards for putting yourself through this casse-tête.... :-)

Michael Schmid said...

Yes, I remember taking those courses at BJU, too! And yes, nothing like what I am doing now! Certainly one of the most complex and confusing courses I have ever had! But there is a rhyme and reason to it all - or so they say... ;-)

jeremy brown said...

Michael, great to see you doing this. I remember when you visited us a few years back and were getting ready to head back to England to begin your training. I remember relating to you my own dabblings with linguistics during my seminary education. You have gone way past what I know about the subject matter! I'm excited to see and hear how God still burdens you to convey his Word in languages that do not possess it yet. Grace to you!

Anonymous said...

I am impressed by the complexity and difficulty of this stuff and the abilities and giftings the Lord has given you to do this. Even having taken one linguistics course, I could not figure out the puzzle (I think I got most of the nouns, conjunctions, proper names and pluralizers, but couldn't figure out which part of the verbs changed tense - what are they, out of curiosity?

Michael Schmid said...

I posted the solution to the quiz among the comments to that blog post...