Anthropology of language and communication


I.  Phones:

  • Select a sentence in your family/ancestral language, whether it is English or any other language. The sentence should be at least five words long.
  • Identify each of the sounds (phones) in the sentence. Place a number above each of the separate sounds. How many sounds comprise this sentence? Example:

1  2

1 2 3 4

1 2 3 4 5 6

1  2

1  2

1  2  3

th e

b i r d

l a n d e d

o n

th e

r oo f

  • Select two words in your sentence. Spell out the sounds for this word using the International Phonetic Alphabet. Remember, each sound has its own symbol. Only one symbol is used for each sound. Example:

[b][ɜ][ɹ][d]                           [ɹ] [ʌ]  [f]

 b  i  r  d                               r  oo  f

II. Phonemes:

  • From your identified language, select two words that are the same except for one sound. This is a minimal pair. Identify the two phonemes for this language and note how these sounds make a difference in meaning.
  • Example:  In English:  /d/o/g/; and /d/i/g/   Dog and Dig are two different words in English, even though only one sound is different. These are minimal pairs. The contrasting sounds tell us the /o/ and /i/ are phonemes in English. These are sounds that make a difference in English. There and Dare are also minimal pairs, even though they are spelled differently. /th/ a/ r/  and  /d/a/ r/ (Because the /e/ is silent, it is not a sound.) The minimal pair tell us that /th/ and /d/ are phonemes in English and their use makes a difference in meaning.

III.  Syntax:

  • Look at the word order of the sentence you have written. Change the words around. To what extent does the meaning change? 
  • If your sentence is in a language other than English, how does the word order compare to English sentence structure?
  • In your discussion, please incorporate the learning resource about sentence structures and word order (such as SVO, VSO, etc.). 
  • For this part of the assignment, you need to review the following resource from week Three: Crash Course. (2020, September 25). Syntax 1 – Morphosyntax: Crash Course Linguistics #3 [Video]. YouTube.

Write a brief statement of one or two paragraphs summarizing what you have learned. What phonemes may exist in your ancestral language or dialect that may be different from standard English? What can you say about the rules of syntax in your selected language? 

Please submit your work into your Assignments Folder by the end of Week 6.