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The Influence Envrionment Has On Linguistics

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The underlying goal of a linguist theorist is to discover the universals of language. Linguistics focuses more so on describing and explaining rather than the prescriptive rules of language. Language has evolved over thousands of years as a "tool for communicating symbolic meaning; becoming a cross-cultural tool for expression." Today, there are infinite numbers of various dialects, modes of pronunciation, and unique individual styles of language use in our world today. Being that the field of linguistics consists of various perspectives, theories, and ideas, it was necessary to narrow down this research paper to a specific research. This term paper will discuss how an individual's environment can influence linguistics in regards to four factors; subject matter, vocabulary, its phonetic system, and its grammatical form.

In the past, researchers have analyzed populations by a society's physical and social environment. The geographical features that comprise an area are referred to as physical environments. In New York State alone we have a diverse geography which includes rugged mountains, valleys and coastal plains just to name a few. A "social environment is the religion, ethical standards, political organization, and arts of a population of people." One might ask themselves how a social or physical environment relates to linguistics. Imagine a person who lives in rural upstate New York on a farm and then compare their lifestyle to an individual who is a businessman living in an

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apartment in New York City. One would imagine it would be drastically different. Now think of it from a language perspective. Would there be a contrast in dialect and pronunciation? Can an individual's environment significantly influence their linguistic performance?

The subject of a given sentence or conversation permits the hearer to know who is doing what to whom. "The subject matter of linguistics is language, not particular language, but language as a human activity." It is not a question whether existing subject-matter knowledge influences subsequent learning, such an influence is assumed. However, it is a question on how "additional factors in the learner or the learning environment mediate the effects of the knowledge." In the English language, children must learn aspects of grammar from a specific linguistic environment. Our curriculum teaches young children that the subject comes first and that the verb precedes the object. "According to the innateness hypothesis the child extracts from the linguistic environment those rules of grammar that are specific," such as word order and movement rules. The process of language acquisition in young children is crucial. Children do not only obtain information in the school environment. They learn a lot about what behaviors and structures are "normal and acceptable" from the adults they

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encounter in their community. Adults serve as role models for what young people can aspire to learn. Through actions, words, and communicative values children understand the subject matter of conversation and language in general.

One's environment plays a major role in the subject matter of their language. In the United States many children born to Spanish-speaking parents in the New York metropolitan area continue to use Spanish at home but are "exposed to varying amounts of English from television and through increased contact with teachers and peers in the school setting." As mentioned before in a school setting children are taught that the subject comes first and that the verb precedes the object. However, this is not the case in Spanish. All verbs are comprised into three categories and are either regular or irregular. Unlike our language where we would say "I rode my bike today", when you conjugate a Spanish sentence it is reversed. The same sentence in Spanish would read, "I bike rode my today. When the sentence is verbalized it is the same meaning as English, however the context changes once it is conjugated.

In general we are not aware of the phonetic properties or features that distinguish the phonemes of our language. Speakers of a language generally perceive the different allophones or different phonemes as the same sound or phone. "An allophone is a predictable realization of a phoneme and are allophones of the phoneme /p/ in

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English." Many phonologists believe that phonological rules exist to ensure that the surface or phonetic forms of words are not in violation of photactic constraints. At young ages children are able to recognize phonemes without even being taught. It is universal that the /p/ sound is a phoneme in English because it contrasts words like /p/ in pam and the /p/ in lip. In our language there is only one /p/ phoneme, however, it has more than one allophone. If a non-English speaking individual were to analyze English would they recognize the /p/ the same as we do? "The phonetic features that are predictable are non-distinctive and redundant." The nasality of vowels in English is an example of a redundant feature being that all the vowels are nasalized before nasal consonants. Typically, nasality is distinctive for English consonants and non-distinctive for English vowels. Would the phonemes of our language be similar to those of a true English phonetic system found in England?

Originally there were many similarities between the two systems. However, as time progressed and more dialects became apparent the system was reconstructed. In our language we tend to differentiate words and phrases by stress. In Japan, Finland, Italy and many other countries the vowel length and the consonant length are the features they emphasize. Being that our nation consists of millions of dialects and varieties of language this exists even in the United States.

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Similar to the phonetic system, the grammatical form of a language can be greatly influenced by the environment. The way we use the word "grammar" differs from most common usages. Every human being who speaks a language knows its grammar; "meaning the grammar of the language that exists in the mind of the speakers." The common parts of grammar make it possible for us to communicate through language. Being that there are so many components of grammar it is within reason to say it is complex. Grammar deviates from rules in different ways and is logical and capable of



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