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
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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