Study Guide: Linguistics
Moderator: Marguerite Mahler

61.901 Language Structure: Phonetics and Morphology
61.902 Language Structure: Syntax, Semantics, and Pragmatics
61.966 Seminar in Applied Linguistics

It is imperative for the ELL teacher to have a good grasp of the structure of English and of the structure of languages in general. A solid foundation in linguistics help identify and assess learners’ language problems.
The following terms and concepts need to be defined and developed within the context of your responses to your written or oral comprehensive exam. Click here for brief descriptions of phonetics, morphology, semantics, pragmatics, syntax, and their subcomponents.

the organization of the sound chart
place of articulation
manner of articulation
role of tongue, lips, velum, glottis in sound production
differences between consonants, vowels, and glides
phonemes and allophones
role of minimal pairs
the schwa
voicing - aspiration - flapping - glottalization
syllable structure
consonant clusters
syllable tree
word stress
stress-timed rhythm
syllable-timed rhythm

content words
function words
morphemes and allomorphs
free morpheme
bound morpheme
affix - prefix - suffix

Lexical semantics

Sentence semantics
mental images
meaning relationships
structural ambiguity

speech acts
maxims of conversation

Heads and Complements
word order
Syntactic Phrases: NP, VP, PP, AP, AdvP
Verbs: transitive, ditransitive, intransitive, copulative, complex transitive, prepositional
tense - mood - aspect
English auxiliary
movement rules
interrogative formation
relative formation
passive formation
finite clauses
nonfinite clauses

Language and languages
components of language
sound inventories
universal syllable structure
SOV vs. VSO languages
tonal languages
synthetic vs. analytical languages
morphological types: isolative - agglutinative - inflectional - fusional - polysynthetic languages

Sample situations

1. Describe the English consonant and vowel chart and provide explanations as to why sounds are classified in this fashion.

2. Explain the role of the following features in speech production:[+ voiced / -voiced]; [+aspirated/ -aspirated]; [+high, -high]; [+low/ -low].

3. Make sure you can read words written in the International Phonetic Alphabet.

4. Describe English morphology in terms of word formation processes, the nature o morphemes, derivations and inflections, and affixes.

5. Can you explain what is structurally wrong with the following sentences:

*They say always the same thing.
*He gave her it.
*Peter answered his friend the phone.
*This happens, does this not?
*He wanted to know whether did Peter go.
*it is eager to please John.

6. Can you explain the structural differences in the following pairs:

John played the piano with the broken key.
John played the piano with great skill.

They found the children guilty.
They found the guilty children.

The students who studied succeeded.
The students, who studied, succeeded.

Paul is sure to win.
Paul is sure of winning

7. Knowing the meaning of a sentence involves knowing the conditions under which it would be true, so explaining the meanng of a sentence can be done in part by explaining its truth conditions. (Language Files, p. 223, #5)

8. A special kind of speech act is known as "performative verbs" Explain speech action and give examples. (Language Files, chapter 8.2)

9. Using examples from the world's languagesdiscuss either the universality of language or the unicity of language.