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Реферат на тему:

 

The Subject of Linguistics. Language and Other Communication Systems

 

The nature of language

 

Widdowson H.G. Linguistics. – Oxford

 

University Press, 1996. – pp. 3-5.

 

Linguistics is the name given to the discipline which studies human

language. Two questions come immediately to mind. Firstly, what is human

language? How, in general terms, can it be characterized? Secondly, what

does its study involve? What is it that defines linguistics as a

discipline?

 

Clearly, the two questions cannot be kept completely separate. Whenever

you decide to study anything, you have already to some degree defined it

for your own indents and purposes. Nevertheless, there are a number of

very general observations about the nature of language that can be made,

and which will be the concern of this first chapter. These will then

lead us into more specific issues in linguistics which will be taken up

in subsequent chapters.

 

In the beginning...

 

According to the Bible: 'In the beginning was the Word'. According to

the Talmud: 'God created the world by a Word, instantaneously, without

toil or pains'. Whatever more mystical meaning these pieces of scripture

might have, they both point to the primacy of language in the way human

beings conceive of the world.

 

Language certainly figures centrally in our lives. We discover our

identity as individuals and social beings when we acquire it during

childhood. It serves as a means of cognition and communication: it

enables us to think for ourselves and to cooperate with other people in

our community. It provides for present needs and future plans, and at

the same time carries with it the impression of things past.

 

Language seems to be a feature of our essential humanity which

enables us to rise above the condition of mere brutish beings, real or

imagined. Shakespeare's Caliban in The Tempest 'gabbles like a thing

most brutish' until Prospero teaches him language. In the play he is

referred to as a monster, but that is better than being an ogre, who,

according to W. H. Auden, is quite incapable of speech:

 

The Ogre does what ogres can,

 

Deeds quite impossible for Man,

 

But one prize is beyond his reach,

 

The Ogre cannot master speech.

 

About a subjugated plain,

 

Among its desperate and slain,

 

The Ogre stalks with hands on hips,

 

And drivel gushes from his lips.

 

We might note in passing, incidentally, that it is speech that the ogre

cannot master. Whether this necessarily implies that language is also

beyond his reach is another matter, for language does not depend on

speech as the only physical medium for its expression. Auden may not

imply such a distinction in these lines, but it is one which, as we

shall see presently, it is important to recognize.

 

It has been suggested that language is so uniquely human,

distinguishes us so clearly from ogres and other animals, that our

species might be more appropriately named homo loquens than homo

sapiens. But although language is clearly essential to humankind and has

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