Language & Communication

African-American Vernacular English (AAVE)
A form of English spoken by many African Americans, particularly among those of rural or urban working-class backgrounds. Also known as Ebonics.
allophones
Two or more different phones that can be used to make the same phoneme in a specific language.
bound morpheme
A unit of meaning that must be associated with another.
call system
The form of communication among nonhuman primates composed of a limited number of sounds that are tied to specific stimuli in the environment.
chronemics
The study of the different ways that cultures understand time and use it to communicate.
code switching
The ability of individuals who speak multiple languages to move seamlessly between them.
communication
The act of transmitting information.
comparative linguistics
The science of documenting the relationships between languages and grouping them into language families.
conventionality
The notion that, in human language, words are only arbitrarily or conventionally connected to the things for which they stand.
creole
A first language that is composed of elements of two or more different languages. (Compare with pidgin.)
descriptive or structural linguistics
The study and analysis of the structure and content of particular languages.
dialect
Grammatical constructions that deviate from those used by the socially dominant group in a society.
displacement
The capacity of all human languages to describe things not happening in the present.
Ebonics
A form of English spoken by many African Americans, particularly among those of rural or urban working-class backgrounds. Also known as African-American Vernacular English.
free morpheme
A unit of meaning that may stand alone as a word.
glottochronology
A statistical technique that linguists have developed to estimate the date of separation of related languages.
haptics
The analysis and study of touch.
International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA)
A system of writing designed to represent all the sounds used in the different languages of the world.
kinesics
The study of body position, movement, facial expressions, and gaze.
lexicon
The total stock of words in a language.
morpheme
The smallest unit of language that has a meaning.
morphology
A system for creating words from sounds.
phone
A sound made by humans and used in any language.
phoneme
The smallest significant unit of sound in a language. A phonemic system is the sound system of a language.
phonology
The sound system of a language.
pidgin
A language of contact and trade composed of features of the original languages of two or more societies. (Compare with creole.)
productivity
The idea that humans can combine words and sounds into new, meaningful utterances they have never before heard. Yield per person per unit of land.
proxemics
The study of the cultural use of interpersonal space.
Sapir-Whorf hypothesis
The hypothesis that perceptions and understandings of time, space, and matter are conditioned by the structure of a language.
semantics
The subsystem of a language that relates words to meaning.
sociolinguistics
A specialization within anthropological linguistics that focuses on speech performance.
speech community
A group of people who share a set of norms and rules for the use of language.
Standard Spoken American English (SSAE)
The form of English spoken by most of the American middle class.
syntax
The part of grammar that has to do with the arrangement of words to form phrases and sentences.
universal grammar
A basic set of principles, conditions, and rules that underlie all languages.
word
The smallest part of a sentence that can be said alone and still retain its meaning.
bound morpheme
A morpheme that is attached to a free morpheme to alter its meaning.
dialect
A regional or subcultural variant of a language.
free morpheme
A morpheme that can stand alone as a word.
grammar
The total system of linguistic knowledge that enables the speakers of a language to send meaningful messages and the hearers to understand them.
morpheme
A combination of phonemes that conveys a standardized meaning.
morphology
The study of the units of meaning in language.
phoneme
The smallest unit of sound that speakers unconsciously recognize as distinctive from other sounds; when one phoneme is substituted for another in a morpheme, the meaning of the morpheme changes.
phonology
The study of the sound system of a language.
Sapir-Whorf hypothesis
The idea that language profoundly shapes the perceptions and world view of its speakers.
semantic domain
A class of things or properties that are perceived as alike in some fundamental respect; hierarchically organized.
sociolinguistics
The subfield of cultural anthropology that studies how language is related to culture and the social uses of speech.
tone languages
Languages in which changing the voice pitch within a word alters the meaning of the word.
alphabet
A series of symbols representing the sounds of a language arranged in a traditional order.
code switching
Changing from one mode of speech to another as the situation demands, whether from one language to another or from one dialect of a language to another.
core vocabulary
The most basic and long-lasting words in any language-pronouns, lower numerals, and names for body parts and natural objects.
dialects
Varying forms of a language that reflect particular regions, occupations, or social classes and that are similar enough to be mutually intelligible.
displacement
Referring to things and events removed in time and space.
ethnolinguistics
A branch of linguistics that studies the relationships between language and culture and how they mutually influence and inform each other.
gendered speech
Distinct male and female speech patterns, which vary across social and cultural settings.
gesture
Facial expressions and body postures and motions that convey intended as well as subconscious messages.
glottochronology
In linguistics, a method for identifying the approximate time that languages branched off from a common ancestor; based on analyzing core vocabularies.
grammar
The entire formal structure of a language, including morphology and syntax.
kinesics
A system of notating and analyzing postures, facial expressions, and body motions that convey messages.
language
A system of communication using sounds or gestures that are put together in meaningful ways according to a set of rules.
language family
A group of languages descended from a single ancestral language.
linguistic determinism
The idea that language to some extent shapes the way in which we view and think about the world around us.
linguistic divergence
The development of different languages from a single ancestral language.
linguistic nationalism
The attempt by ethnic minorities and even countries to proclaim independence by purging their language of foreign terms.
linguistic relativity
The idea that distinctions encoded in one language are unique to that language.
linguistics
The modern scientific study of all aspects of language.
morphemes
The smallest units of sound that carry a meaning in language. They are distinct from phonemes, which can alter meaning but have no meaning by themselves.
morphology
The study of the patterns or rules of word formation in a language (including such things as rules concerning verb tense, pluralization, and compound words).
paralanguage
Voice effects that accompany language and convey meaning. These include vocalizations such as giggling, groaning, or sighing, as well as voice qualities such as pitch and tempo.
phonemes
The smallest units of sound that make a difference in meaning in a language.
phonetics
The systematic identification and description of distinctive speech sounds in a language.
phonology
The study of language sounds.
proxemics
The cross-cultural study of people's perception and use of space.
signal
An instinctive sound or gesture that has a natural or self-evident meaning.
sociolinguistics
The study of the relationship between language and society through examining how social categories (such as age, gender, ethnicity, religion, occupation, and class) influence the use and significance of distinctive styles of speech.
syntax
The patterns or rules by which words are arranged into phrases and sentences.
tonal language
A language in which the sound pitch of a spoken word is an essential part of its pronunciation and meaning.
whistled speech
An exchange of whistled words using a phonetic emulation of the sounds produced in spoken voice; also known as whistled language.
writing system
A set of visible or tactile signs used to represent units of language in a systematic way.
arbitrary nature of language
The meanings attached to words in any language are not based on a logical or rational system but rather are arbitrary.
bound morpheme
A morpheme that can convey meaning only when combined with another morpheme.
closed system of communication
Communication in which the user cannot create new sounds or words by combining two or more existing sounds or words.
code switching
The practice of adapting one’s language depending on the social situation.
cultural emphasis of a language
The idea that the vocabulary in any language tends to emphasize words that are adaptively important in that culture.
cultural linguistics
The study of the relationship between language and culture.
descriptive linguistics
The branch of anthropological linguistics that studies how languages are structured.
diachronic analysis
The analysis of sociocultural data through time, rather than at a single point in time.
dialects
Regional or class variations of a language that are sufficiently similar to be mutually intelligible.
diglossia
The situation in which two forms of the same language are spoken by people in the same language community at different times and places.
displacement
The ability to talk about things that are remote in time and space.
doublespeak
The use of euphemisms to confuse or deceive.
free morpheme
A morpheme that can convey meaning while standing alone without being attached to other morphemes.
grammar
The systematic rules by which sounds are combined in a language to enable users to send and receive meaningful utterances.
historical linguistics
The branch of anthropological linguistics that studies how languages emerge and change over time.
language family
A grouping of related languages.
morphemes
The smallest linguistic forms (usually words) that convey meaning.
morphology
The study of the rules governing how morphemes are formed into words.
nonverbal communication
The various means by which humans send and receive messages without using words (for example, gestures, facial expressions, and touching).
open system of communication
Communication in which the user can create new sounds or words by combining two or more existing sounds or words.
phonemes
The smallest units of sound in a language that distinguish meaning.
phonology
The study of a language’s sound system.
Sapir-Whorf hypothesis
The notion that a person’s language shapes her or his perceptions and view of the world.
synchronic analysis
The analysis of cultural data at a single point in time, rather than through time.
syntax
The linguistic rules, found in all languages, that determine how phrases and sentences are constructed.
agglutinating language
a language that allows a great number of morphemes per word and has highly regular rules for combining morphemes
allophone
two or more different phones that can be used to make the same phoneme in a specific language
artifacts (in communications studies)
communication by clothing, jewelry, tattoos, piercings, and other visible body modifications
bound morpheme
a unit of meaning that must be associated with another
call system
the form of communication among nonhuman primates composed of a limited number of sounds that are tied to specific stimuli in the environment
chronemics
the study of the different ways that cultures understand time and use it to communicate
comparative linguistics
the science of documenting the relationships between languages and grouping them into language families
conventionality
the notion that, in human language, words are only arbitrarily or conventionally connected to the things for which they stand
core vocabulary
a list of 100 or 200 terms that designate things, actions, and activities likely to be named in all the world’s languages
displacement
the capacity of all human languages to describe things not happening in the present
free morpheme
a unit of meaning that may stand alone as a word
glottochronology
a statistical technique that linguists have developed to estimate the date of separation of related languages
great vowel shift
a change in the pronunciation of English language that took place between 1200 and 1600
haptics
the analysis and study of touch
isolating language
a language with relatively few morphemes per word and fairly simple rules for combining them
kinesics
the study of body position, movement, facial expressions, and gaze
lexicon
the total stock of words in a language
morpheme
the smallest unit of language that has a meaning
morphology
a system for creating words from sounds
phone
a sound made by humans and used in any language
phoneme
the smallest significant unit of sound in a language
phonology
the sound system of a language
productivity (linguistics)
the idea that humans can combine words and sounds into new, meaningful utterances they have never before heard
proxemics
the study of the cultural use of interpersonal space
Sapir Whorf hypothesis
the hypothesis that perceptions and understandings of time, space, and matter are conditioned by the structure of a language
semantics
the subsystem of a language that relates words to meaning
sociolinguistics
the study of the relationship between language and culture and the ways language is used in varying social contexts
symbol
something that stands for something else. Central to culture.
syntax
a system of rules for combining words into meaningful sentences
universal grammar
a basic set of principles, conditions, and rules that form the foundation of all languages