Glossary
Chapter 1
alphabet A writing system in which, ideally, each graphic sign represents a distinctive sound (i.e., a *phoneme) of the language.
communicative competence See *competence.
competence The ability to produce and assign meaning to grammatical sentences is called grammatical competence; the ability to produce and interpret utterances appropriate to their context of use is called communicative competence.
context One of three main elements (besides *expression and *meaning) in a speech situation. Context typically refers to those aspects of a speech situation that affect the expression and enable an interpretation.
corpus A representative collection of texts, usually in machine-readable form and including information about the situation in which each text originated, such as the speaker or author, addressee, or audience.
corpus linguistics The activities involved in compiling and using a *corpus to investigate natural language use.
cuneiform A written sign developed by the Sumerians and Akkadians in the Middle East around 3000 b.c.; characterized by the wedgelike shape that results from its being written on wet clay with a stylus.
dialect A language *variety characteristic of a particular social group; dialects can be characteristic of regional, ethnic, socioeconomic, or gender groups.
displacement The characteristic of languages whereby speakers are able to refer to events that are not temporally or spatially present in the *speech situation.
expression Any bit of spoken, written, or signed language; the audible or visible aspect of language use that conveys particular content in a given *context.
grammatical competence See *competence.
iconic sign See *representational sign.
infinitive The basic form of a verb, expressed in English sometimes with the particle to, as in to see.
logographic writing Writing in which each sign represents a word. Examples: <8> ‘eight’ and <$> ‘dollar’ are logographic signs, as are Chinese characters and Japanese kanji.
meaning The term covers *linguistic meaning, *social meaning, and *affective meaning.
modes Channels of linguistic expression: speaking, writing, and signing.
pictogram A symbolic drawing that represents an object or idea independently of the word that refers to that object or idea, such as highway signs that pictorially indicate dangerous curves or merging traffic without the use of words.
productivity The ability to generate and comprehend an infinite number of sentences by relying on a language’s ability to combine and recombine a relatively small number of structures into sentences.
recursion The property of incorporating linguistic structures within other linguistic structures, as with embedding a *clause within another clause; saying She said [she wanted one] instead of She said [something].
representational sign A sign that is basically arbitrary but nevertheless bears some resemblance to its referent or some feature of its referent. Example: III ‘three’; trickle, meow.
sign An indicator of something else, for example of an object or event, as smoke is a sign of fire and <8> is a sign of the number ‘eight.’ See also *representational sign.
standard variety The language *variety that has been recorded in dictionaries and grammars and serves a speech community especially in its written and public functions.
syllabic writing Writing in which each graphic *sign represents a *syllable rather than a word or a sound.
text A unitary stretch of *expression created in a real-world social situation; usually but not always longer than a sentence (Smoking Not Permitted; Closed; Gesundheit); more commonly used in written than in spoken or signed expression but applicable to any mode; sometimes used for a piece of text rather than an entire text. Examples: a novel, a personal letter, a classified advertisement, a screenplay, song lyrics, a scholarly or scientific article.
variety Any language, *dialect, or *register.