Study of Language: Module 4


Language is a human-specific faculty and language acquisition is a universal process. First language is the mother tongue or the language a child learns first. First language / L 1 acquisition takes place at a remarkable speed. By the time a child enters elementary school, he/she is an extremely sophisticated language-user, operating a communicative system which, not even the computer, can compete with. The speed of acquisition and the fact that all children acquire language without overt instruction, have led to the belief that there is an innate language-faculty in the human infant to acquire language. All normal children, of all cultures, develop language at approximately the same time and more or less along the same schedule. There are several stages in the acquisition process: — (a) the pre-language stage. The period from about three months to ten months is characterized by pre-linguistic sounds called ‘cooing’ and ‘babbling.’ The first recognizable sounds are described as cooing with /k/, /g/, / ɪ / and / ʊ/. By six months the child produces a no of different vowels and consonants and this stage is described as babbling; example ‘ma.’ Around ten months intonation patterns can be recognized. (b) one-word / holophrastic stage. Between twelve and eighteen months children begin to produce a variety of recognizable single unit utterances; example ‘milk’. (c) two-word stage. It begins around eighteen to twenty months. By the time the child is two years old, combinations like ‘baby chair’ will appear; at this stage the child will have a vocabulary of more than fifty words. (d) telegraphic speech. This stage is characterized by phrases like ‘cat drink milk’. (e) multiple-word utterances. When the child is three years old, its vocabulary grows to hundreds of words and pronunciation gets closer to that of adult language. No one gives the child any instruction on how to speak the language. From what is said to them, children actively construct possible ways of using the language.


        L 2/ Second language is the language children learn as an additional language after they have acquired their mother tongue. In L 2 acquisition the problems experienced are related to the fact that they are exposed to a second language during their teenage years or adult years, in a few hours each week at school (unlike the constant interaction experienced by a child when acquiring the mother tongue) and with an already known language available for most of their daily communicative requirements. So most of them cannot achieve native-like proficiency in using a second language. The learner factors in second language acquisition are the learner’s image and behaviour in a group, his/her age, attitude to the teacher, aptitude and motivation. There are a number of educational approaches that foster L2 acquisition.

(a) Grammar-translation method

      It is the most traditional approach which emphasizes the written language rather the spoken language. Long lists of words and a set of grammatical rules have to be memorized and the learner is ignorant of how the language is used.

(b) Direct method

       It recreates the exposure which young children have in language acquisition. Emphasis is on the spoken language; everything said in the classroom has to be expressed in L2.   

(c) Audio lingual method – drilling language patterns.

(d)  Communicative approach

       This approach is based on the functions of language rather than the forms of the language. It is characterized by lessons organized around concepts such as ‘asking for things’ in different social contexts rather than the forms of the past tense’.


      The Cybernetic Revolution has created implements which are extensions of the human mind. Computational linguistics is a discipline between linguistics and computer science. It is concerned with the computational aspects of the human language faculty. Computational linguistics is the scientific and engineering discipline concerned with understanding written and spoken language from a computational perspective. It belongs to the cognitive (connected with the mental processes of understanding) sciences and overlaps with the field of artificial intelligence (AL – the science of making machines do things that requires intelligence if done by men), a branch of computer science aimed at computational models of human cognition. To the extent that language is a mirror of the mind, a computational understanding of language also provides insight into thinking and intelligence. Since language is our most natural and most versatile means of communication, linguistically competent computers would greatly facilitate our interaction with machines and software of all sorts and put at our fingertips, in ways that truly meet our needs, the vast textual and other resources of the internet. Computational linguistics is the study of computer processing, comprehending and generating human languages. It is often regarded as a sub field of artificial intelligence. Techniques from computational linguistics are used in applications such as machine translation, speech recognition, information retrieval, intelligent web searching and intelligent spelling checking.


      Todorov, the French structuralist, coined the term ‘narratology’ to refer to the study of narrative. It is the study of the forms, structures, media, function and evolution of narratives with special emphasis on story. Narratology seeks to discover:– (a) the basic components (forms) of stories; (b) the arrangement of these basic components that is the structure; (c) the various media used to create and deliver stories; (d) the function of stories; (e) the history and evolution of stories that ,is the way the stories and the meanings that stories express change over time and from place to place. In order to effectively analyse a narrative, a narratologist must have knowledge of linguistics, psychology, sociology, anthropology, history and the various media used to create stories. Story telling is an important factor that distinguishes us from other animals. It helps us to make sense of our lives and to make our lives more meaningful, than just a simple sequence of events. Narratology is thus the science that seeks greater clarity and deeper understanding of meanings as expressed in stories.


    Language is culture-preserving as well as culture-transmitting. Though there are other forms like music and painting that preserve culture, language is the most common and dynamic form in which culture is preserved and transmitted. Culture is the sum total of transmitted behaviour patterns, arts, beliefs, institutions and all other products of human work and thought characteristic of a community or population. These characteristics are transmitted by language. Culture and language are so tightly related that neither of them can exist without the other. Cultural changes occur along with changes in language.  

Cultural Diffusion – refers to the spread of culture and the factors that account for it such as migration, communication, trade and commerce. Immigrants take their cultural baggage with them when they move to a new country. They tend to retain their old customs and to speak their first language amid fellow immigrants even if all of them are comfortable in their new language. This is because the immigrants are eager to preserve their own heritage which includes language too besides customs and traditions. This results in the appearance of cultural traits or entire cultural communities in areas where they were not previously present. For example, New York is generally an English-speaking region. Nevertheless, there are significant cultural communities within New York in which Spanish, Japanese and Hindi are dominant. Each has come to characterize segments of New York as a result of cultural diffusion. Through communication elements of culture A enter culture B and become part of culture B thus creating cultural diffusion. Through cultural diffusion many languages, especially English, have borrowed words from other languages; but they maintain their identity by preserving their own grammatical structures. 

Discourse analysis – discourse is the use of language in speech and writing in order to produce meaning. The study of what the language-user intended to mean/convey is discourse analysis. The key element in the study of discourse is the effort to interpret and to know how it is accomplished. Certain factors are essential for this – (a) cohesion – the ties and connections that exist in texts; (b) coherence – the ability of people to make sense of what they read and hear; (c) speech events – debates, interviews, discussions etc.

Conversation – can be described as an activity where, for the most part, two or more people take turns at speaking. Generally participants wait until one speaker indicates that he/she has finished by signalling a completion point – asking a question or pausing. One of the most noticeable features is that conversational discourse is generally very co-operative. In most conversational exchanges the participants co-operate with each other. Background knowledge must be shared by the participants to interpret the conversational discourse. For example the conversation between Carol and Laura: Carol : Are you coming to the party tonight ? Laura: I’ve got an exam tomorrow. Laura’s statement is not an answer to Carol’s question. Yet with a background knowledge of exams, studying, parties Carol can work out that ‘exam tomorrow’ involves ‘study tonight’ and ‘study tonight’ precludes (prevents making something not possible ) ‘party tonight’ and infer that Laura’s answer is not simply a statement of tomorrow’s activities but that it contains an additional meaning.


Study of Language: Module 3


Saussure introduced the synchronic and diachronic approaches to the study of language. He used the terms to distinguish between the description of the stage of a language at a given point of time and the description of changes that take place in language during the passage of time. Synchronic study of language refers to the investigation of that language as it exists at a particular point of time. For example, a study of the English of Shakespeare’s time or of the present day is synchronic. The synchronic approach looks at a language as we find it at a given period in time, regardless of its past history or future blueprint. So it is called descriptive linguistics. Diachronic study of a language is concerned with the historical development or evolution of that language over a period of time. For example, a study of the history of the English language is diachronic. The diachronic approach looks at a language over a period of time along with the changes that occurred in it. So it is called historical linguistics.


Language is a socio-cultural-geographical phenomenon. It is basic to social interactions, affecting them and being affected by them. It is in society that man acquires and uses language and so there is a deep relationship between language and society. Sociolinguistics is the study of the relation between language and society and of the way people with different social identities speak and how their speech changes in different social situations. Sociolinguistics is based on the fact that language is not a single homogeneous entity, but has different forms in different situations. The changes in language occur because of changes in social conditions — social class, gender, regional and cultural groups. For example, English is not a single language but has several varieties. One variety of English is RP (Received Pronunciation) which is particularly associated with the universities of Oxford and Cambridge and the BBC. It is used by educated people and is universally accepted as the standard form of English. But there are other varieties of English such as the English spoken in Scotland (Scottish English), Wales (Welsh English), Yorkshire (Yorkshire English) etc. There is also Cockney English which is spoken by the working class in London. Moreover, there are the varieties of English spoken by people of different countries – American English, Indian English and Australian English.

Sociolinguistics examines the characteristics of the varieties of language which are labelled as accent, dialect, register and slang. Accent is a distinct way of pronouncing a language. It can identify the locality in which its speakers live (regional accent); it can also indicate the socio-economic status of its speakers and their social class. Accents differ in the quality of voice, pronunciation of vowels and consonants, stress and pitch. Varieties of a language that are formed in different geographical regions are characterized by a change in the pronunciation as well as in the vocabulary and grammar. These changes bring about a distinctly different variety of the language known as dialect. All languages consist of dialects and everyone speaks at least one dialect. Dialect differences are usually minor and dialects of a language are usually mutually intelligible. There are two kinds of dialect – regional dialect and social dialect. The dialect spoken in a particular geographical area is called a regional dialect. For example in the case of Malayalam we have Trivandrum dialect, Kottayam dialect, Thrissur dialect, Kannur dialect etc. Social dialects / sociolects are the variations within a regional dialect based on factors such as education, occupation, socio-economic status, income and cultural background.

Varieties in language are also due to the specific area of human activity in which language is used. The variety of language characterized by its use in different fields like law, medicine, science etc is known as register. Thus we have legal register (‘I am much obliged, if your lordship pleases.’), medical register (Zanoxyn is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug) and so on. Jargon is one of the defining features of a register. It is special technical vocabulary associated with a specific area of work or interest. Thus we have medical jargon (BP= blood pressure, FX= bone fracture), business jargon (‘chief cook and bottle-washer’ = a person who holds many responsibilities, ‘bang for the buck’ = to get the most for your money), military jargon (AWOL = absent without leave, PCS = permanent change of station), political jargon (‘getting a soapbox’ = making a speech in public, ‘left-wing’ = progressive viewpoint) and Internet jargon (CYA – see you around, BFF= best friends forever). 

There are ‘levels of formality’ in the language of individuals. On some occasions people talk formally and technically and on other occasions they talk formally but non- technically. Sometimes they become informal but technical or informal and non-technical :– formal technical – ‘We obtained some sodium chloride’ ; formal non-technical – ‘we obtained some salt’; informal technical – ‘we got some sodium chloride’; informal non-technical == ‘we got some salt.’ Slang is informal, non-standard language. It is the creation of people who disregard conventions and hanker after novelties of expression. For example, ‘barmy’ meaning crazy, ‘knackered’ meaning extremely tired and ‘to kick the bucket’ meaning to die. Many respectable words in modern English originated as slang – chap, coax, kidnap, pluck, pinch etc.


The English language crossed the Atlantic from England along with the Pilgrim Fathers in 1623 and developed in America as American English. British English and American English have diverged since the first settlements and there are marked differences between the two. Since these two are the foremost varieties of English, a study of American English entails a comparative study of British English and American English.

     The difference between British English and American English is felt mainly in four areas: (a) vocabulary; (b) spelling; (c) pronunciation and (d) grammar.


      The greatest difference between American and the British English is in their vocabulary. Expanding across a new continent with new flora and fauna and different natural features and faced with the needs of building a new society, the Americans were forced to adopt old words or coin new ones to meet their many needs.  A large part of the specifically American vocabulary was borrowed from other languages especially the language of the American Indians. The words borrowed from American Indians include moose, raccoon, skunk, sweet potato, wigwam and totem. Names of places and rivers were also adopted from the American Indians e.g. Mississippi which means ‘big river’ and Chicago which means a place of ‘wild onions’.


notice board                                   bulletin board

time table                                       schedule

railway station                               railway depot

car                                                  automobile

petrol                                              gas         

boot of a  car                                  trunk of a car

flat                                                  apartment

biscuit                                             cookie

dustbin                                            trash can

autumn                                            fall

lorry                                                truck

underground train                           subway     

letterbox                                          mailbox              

rubber                                              eraser      

ground floor                                    first floor   

punctured                                       flat

petrol station                                filling station  

native town                                  hometown

lawyer                                          attorney

postmortem                                  autopsy

ring up                                         call

coffee room                                 coffee shop      

season ticket                                commutation ticket                 

maize                                           corn

entrance fee                                 initiation fee

interval                                        intermission                 

no                                                nope             

     Certain slang expressions with ‘banana’ in them are peculiar to American;‘banana –head’ refer  to ‘ a stupid person’ ; ‘banana a oil’ means ‘nonsense’; ‘go bananas’ means ‘crazy’ or ‘enthusiastic.’


     There are two types of spelling differences between British English and American English .If the difference is systematic it affects a large number of words and in the case of a  non- systematic change only one word or a small group of words are affected.

The change of ‘our’ into ‘or’ is an important feature


colour                                          color

labour                                          labor

humour                                        humor

favour                                          favor

neighbour                                    neighbor

vigour                                         vigor

The change of the consonant ‘c’ to‘s’ is another feature

 Defence                          defense

So also the change of‘re’ to ‘er’

centre                             center

theatre                            theater

In the place of the double consonant in British English, American English has only one consonant.

traveller                            traveler

programme                      program

waggon                           wagon


     In pronunciation there are marked differences between Received Pronunciation and American English.

(a) instead of /a:/ in words like fast, bath, half, castle e.t.c in Received Pronunciation, American English has / æ / sound. So /f ɑ: st/, /b  ɑ: θ / /h ɑ: f/  and /k ɑ: s l / in Received Pronunciation but /f æ st/,/b æθ /, /h æ f/ and/k æ s l / in American English.

(b) / i:/ instead of / aɪ / in ‘neither’ and either

 Received Pronunciation / n aɪ  ð  ə  /               

American English        /n i:  ð ə /                          

(c) the use of the ‘r’ sound when it is followed by a consonant. In Received Pronunciation the ‘r’ is silent.

E.g. The car has arrived.

R.P                 / ð ə   k a:  h ə s  ə r aɪ v d /                          

Am Eng        / ð ə   k a: r  h ə s  ə r aɪ v d /  

There are differences in stress and intonation too. In general, the English use more violent stress contrast and a wider range of pitch than the Americans. There is a nasal twang and a drawl in American English which is not heard in R.P.


     In grammar and syntax, the difference between British and American usage is not very great. An American can say, ‘’do you have the time?’’ while an Englishman says, ‘’ have you got the time?’’ No Englishman will say, ‘’I have gotten.’’ Americans use an impersonal ‘one’ and continue with ‘he’ and ‘his’ as in : ‘’if one loses his temper, he should apologize’’ ; while Englishmen replace ‘his’ and ‘he’ by ‘one’s’ and ‘one.’ ‘’Meeting with a person’’ already known and ‘’meeting a person’’ for the first time are American distinctions. Prepositions too are sometimes different. An Englishman lives in Oxford Street, an American lives on Oxford Street. The Englishman caters for someone, an American caters to someone.

     G.B. Shaw has rightly observed that Great Britain and the United States of America are ‘’two countries separated by the same language.’’                        

General Indian English (GIE)

English is the associate official language of India and is one of the languages of the ‘three language formula’ proposed in the 1960s for educational purposes — state language, Hindi and English. It is used in the legal system, pan-Indian and regional administration, the armed forces, national business and the media. English and Hindi are the link languages in the complex, multilingual Indian society in which English is both a literary language and a library language. GIE is distinct in its phonology, pronunciation, vocabulary and grammar.

RP has two back vowels /ɒ/ and /ɔ:/ ; GIE has only one — /ɒ/. In GIE there is no distinction between ‘cot’ and ‘caught’. RP has eight diphthongs while GIE has only six; RP /eɪ/ is replaced by /e :/and /əu/ by  /o:/. In GIE voiceless plosives are un aspirated in all positions but in RP they are aspirated in initial positions. Most Indians tend to prolong the consonant in words with medial double consonant letters as in pepper, summer. GIE is rhotic,  / r / is pronounced in all positions.There is no distinction between / v/ and /w/. Gujaratis use /  ʤ / for /   z /:– zero / z ɪə rəu /  >   / ʤ ɪə rəu /. Malayalis use voiced plosives after nasals :– /tembl/ for temple. In GIE stative verbs are given progressive forms – ‘she is having two books’; ‘you must be knowing my cousin, Ram’. Reduplication gives added emphasis as in ‘I bought some small small things’; and ‘Yes No’ questions are used as question tags – ‘he is coming, yes ? GIE makes use of hybrid usages like ‘brahminhood’ in which one component is from English and one from a local language. GIE also uses more or less archaic words in British English – dicky for the boot of a car.  

Australian English (AusE)

After the circumnavigation of Australia by James Cook in 1770, Britain established its first penal colony in Sydney in order to relieve the pressure on the overcrowded prisons in England. At the same time ‘free’ settlers also began to enter the country and as years went by their number grew. The fact that the British Isles provided the main source of settlers justifies the main influence on the language. Many of the convicts came from London and Ireland and features of the Cockney dialect of London and the brogue accent of Irish English can be traced in the speech patterns heard in Australia today. It also features many expressions from Aboriginal languages, and in recent years the influence of American English and of a growing number of immigrant groups has given the country a mixed linguistic character.

AusE pronunciation

The most noticeable aspect of AusE is its pronunciation. The Australian accent is different from that of Britain and America in that it is homogenous. Regional differences in accent are almost absent but there are significant social differences. Thus AusE pronunciation is classified into three: Cultivated Australian (closest to RP, spoken by the least number of people), General Australian (typical Australian accent, spoken by the majority) and Broad Australian (exhibits extreme regional features).


Like BrE, but unlike AmE, AusE is non-rhotic (excludes /r/ sound before a consonant). Carpet is articulated as /kɑ:pɪt/ in BrE and AusE while it is pronounced /kɑ:rpɪt/ in AmE. Like AmE, AusE too has the tendency to flap and voice intervocalic /t/ (between two vowel sounds). Thus butter (/bʌtə/) and metal (/metl/) are pronounced /bʌdə/ and /medl/.


Vowels are in general closer and more frontal than in BrE. The pure vowels /i:/ and /u:/ are diphthongised to /əɪ/ and /əu/ respectively. /ə/ frequently replaces /ɪ/ in unstressed positions nullifying the difference between words like boxes and boxers. Some diphthongs shift, RP /eɪ/ towards /ʌɪ/, as in Australia, mate, etc. and /ɑɪ/ towards /ɒɪ/, as in wide, I’ll etc.

                                      BrE (RP)                    AusE

Tea                                  /ti:/                             /təɪ/

Who                                /hu:/                           /həu/

Market                            /mɑ:kɪt/                      /mɑ:kət/

Day                                 /deɪ/                            /dʌɪ/

High                                /hɑɪ/                            /hɒɪ/

Goat                                /gəut/                          /gʌut/

AusE Intonation

AusE speech pattern, especially among young people, is characterised by what is known as Australian Question Intonation (AQI). It is peculiar in that even declarative sentences are uttered with a rising intonation. It is part of the turn-taking mechanism where the speaker seeks verification of comprehension. It helps in keeping the users attentive and also evokes responses.

AusE Vocabulary

AusE has quite a large number of distinct words and phrases in their vocabulary but only a few are internationally accepted. AusE vocabulary has borrowed words extensively from aboriginal languages primarily to describe the flora and fauna which are unique to the continent. Words like Kangaroo, Koala (a bear), Kookaburra (a Kingfisher bird), boomerang, wallaby (small kangaroo) etc. are Australian in origin but accepted throughout the English speaking world. AusE has borrowed words from both BrE and AmE as well. Given below are examples of borrowing as well as that of typical AusE words.

BrE                                      AmE                                   AusE

Railway                                Railroad                             Railway

Goods train                          Freight train                       Goods train

Lorry                                    Truck                                 Truck

Pavement                              Sidewalk                           Footpath

Petrol station                        Gas station                        Service station (servo)

Pickup                                   Pickup truck                     Ute (from ‘utility’)

AusE is more liberal than BrE when it comes to admitting colloquial constructions. The line between formal and informal usage is less rigidly drawn in Australia than elsewhere. Thus the suffixes (endings) –ie, -y and -o are freely added to words mostly to reduce their length.

Australian         Aussie   /ɒzi:/

Mosquito          Mozzie

Afternoon         Arvo      /ɑ:vʌu/

Breakfast         Brekky

The convict legacy of Australia influenced the extensive use of certain law-and-order words, but applied, mostly, in a sense different to that of BrE. A mob (flock) of sheep is mustered (rounded up) by a jackaroo (a trainee) and is led along the paddocks (fields) towards the station (farm). 

Australians are known for their notorious use of slang words and phrases. Thus a bludger (a lazy person) will be stoked (really happy) if he is gifted an esky (portable freezer) since he need not walk, every now and then, to the refrigerator to get the drinks he purchased from the bottle-o (liquor shop).

AusE Grammar and Spelling

In terms of grammar and spelling there is not much difference between standard AusE and BrE although in certain cases AmE spellings are preferred. While BrE spellings are used for words like analyse, anaesthetic, install, colour etc., AmE spelling is followed for words like enroll, program, encyclopedia etc.

Users of the Broad Australian dialect tend to use me and my interchangeably as in the sentences – They arrested me boy and He was angry at my scoring a goal. Other differences include usage of double negative – I never said nothing to them cops – omission of the auxiliary ‘have’ – I got to go – using ‘don’t’ in place of ‘doesn’t’ – He don’t visit us these days – ending sentences with ‘but’ – Yes, know her. Her I’m not going to invite but – using ‘–ing’ as a progressive indicator of something – I am enjoying my yoga classes, etc.

Study of Language: Module 2

NEUROLINGUISTICS : Neurolinguistics is the study of the relationship between language and the brain. It is a specialized area within psycholinguistics that studies the neural (nerve) mechanisms in the human brain that control the comprehension, production and acquisition of language. The brain has two basic parts – the left hemisphere / Broca’s area which deals with producing speech and the right hemisphere / Wernicke’s Area which deals with comprehension. Neurolinguistics examines the physiological basis of language and language disorders such as aphasia (loss of the ability to understand or produce speech due to brain damage), loss of memory etc.

ORGANS OF SPEECH :  The organs involved in modifying the air stream expelled from the lungs are called the ‘organs of speech.’ The lungs, the muscles of the chest, the windpipe (trachea), the larynx, the vocal cords/folds, the pharynx, the mouth and the nose are the organs of speech. These organs have originally developed to enable other human activities like breathing and eating; later they were adapted to the production of speech. The lungs serve as the basic source of air. The walls of the lungs contract by the action of the chest muscles and air from the lungs is pushed out. This air passes out through the windpipe and the larynx. The larynx is at the top of the windpipe and is commonly called ‘Adam’s apple.’ The lip-like structures in the larynx are called the vocal cords/folds. They are placed horizontally from front to back. They are attached in front and can be separated at the back. The vocal cords can be held close together or be wide apart. The space between the vocal cords is called the glottis.

Voiceless / breathed sounds

In the articulation of certain speech sounds the vocal cords are wide apart and the glottis is open. Then the air passes out through it freely without any friction producing the sound called ‘breath.’ The speech sounds produced in this manner are called voiceless / breathed sounds; example — / p /, / t /, / k /, / ʧ /, / θ /,/ f /, / s /,  / ʃ / and / h /.

Voiced sounds

During the production of certain sounds the vocal cords are loosely held together; as the air from the lungs is pushed out, they vibrate producing the sound called voice. The sounds thus produced with the vibration of the vocal cords are called voiced sounds. The vowels and diphthongs and the consonants  / b /, / d /, / g /,  / ʤ /,  / ð /,  / v /,  / z /, / ʒ /, / m /, / n /,  / ŋ /, / l /,  / r /,  / w / and  / j /  are voiced sounds.

Pharynx —  is a cavity between the larynx and the mouth; it is one of the resonance cavities. The air from the lungs passes through the larynx into the pharynx and then out, through the oral or the nasal passage.

The oral cavity / mouth

The roof of the mouth comprises the teeth-ridge, the hard palate, the soft palate and the uvula. The hard convex part immediately behind the upper front teeth is called the teeth-ridge / the alveolar ridge / the alveolus. The hard concave area behind the teeth-ridge is called the hard palate. The roof of the mouth then becomes soft and fleshy; this soft portion is called the soft palate / the velum. It separates the oral and nasal cavity. At the extreme end of the soft palate is the fleshy finger-like structure called the uvula. When it is lowered, the nasal sounds are produced. When it is raised, the air passes out through the oral cavity and the oral sounds are produced.

The tongue

The tongue is an important speech organ. It does not have any physical divisions like the roof of the mouth. Nevertheless, it can be divided into three main parts corresponding to the divisions of the roof of the mouth. The part of the tongue that lies opposite the teeth-ridge when the tongue is in a position of rest, is called the blade of the tongue. The extreme tip of the blade is called the tip of the tongue. The part of the tongue which lies opposite the hard palate is called the front of the tongue. The part of the tongue which lies opposite the soft palate is the back of the tongue.

The lips – the position of the lips affects the quality of vowels.


The production of speech sounds is a three-step process.

Articulatory phonetics – is the study of the production of speech sounds by the organs of speech.

Acoustic phonetics – is the study of the physical properties of the sounds produced in speech.

Auditory phonetics – is the study of the perception of speech sounds.

SPEECH  MECHANISM : The energy required for the production of speech sounds is provided by an air-stream mechanism. The air-stream expelled from the lungs (ie the air we breathe out) is modified to form speech sounds. This air-stream which involves lung-air is called pulmonic air-stream. The air stream that is pushed out is called egressive and that which is drawn in is called ingressive. A pulmonic egressive air-stream mechanism is used for the production of speech sounds of most languages in the world. All the sounds of English and of most Indian languages are produced with a pulmonic egressive air-stream mechanism. The air expelled from the lungs undergoes modification. Various organs in our body are involved in modifying it into speech sounds and they are called the organs of speech. Velaric and glottalic are two other sir-stream mechanisms. In the velaric air-stream mechanism the velum (the back of the tongue) sets in motion the air in the mouth. In the case of the glottalic air-stream mechanism the closed glottis acts as the initiator of the air in the pharynx. 

PSYCHOLINGUISTICS :              Psycholinguistics is a branch of study which combines the disciplines of psychology and linguistics. Language is a mental phenomenon; it is mental processes that are articulated in language behaviour. Psycholinguistics studies these mental processes – processes of thought and concept formation and their articulation in language. Cognitive psychology explores how meanings are understood by the human brain, how syntax and memory are linked, how messages are ‘decoded’ and stored. Psycholinguistics also studies the influence of psychological factors such as intelligence, motivation and anxiety on the kind of language that is understood and produced. So psycholinguistics can offer insights and corrective measures for mental disabilities like dyslexia (mistaking one letter for another). Psycholinguistics is concerned with the learning of language at various stages : — the early acquisition of a first language by children and later stages in acquisition of first and other languages. Three primary processes are investigated in psycholinguistics – language comprehension, language production and language acquisition. Language comprehension means understanding what people say and write. Language comprehension is a complex process that occurs easily and effortlessly in human beings. Language production is the production of spoken/written language. Language acquisition is the process by which human beings acquire the capacity to perceive and comprehend language as well as to produce and use words and sentences to communicate. Psycholinguistics as a separate branch of study emerged in the late 1950s and 1960s as a result of the ideas presented by Noam Chomsky.