FACTOID # 21: 15% of Army recruits from South Dakota are Native American, which is roughly the same percentage for female Army recruits in the state.
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Encyclopedia > Linguistic universal

A linguistic universal is a statement that is true for all natural languages. For example, All languages have nouns and verbs. or All spoken languages have consonants and vowels (but not sign languages, to which phonological universals have no relevance). Research in this area of linguistics is closely tied to linguistic typology, and intends to reveal information about how the human brain processes language. A noun, or noun substantive, is a word or phrase that refers to a person, place, thing, event, substance or quality. ... A verb is a part of speech that usually denotes action (bring, read), occurrence (to decompose (itself), to glitter), or a state of being (exist, live, soak, stand). Depending on the language, a verb may vary in form according to many factors, possibly including its tense, aspect, mood and voice. ... A consonant is a sound in spoken language that is characterized by a closure or stricture sufficient to cause audible turbulence, at one or more points along the vocal tract. ... Note: This page contains IPA phonetic symbols in Unicode. ... A sign language (also signed language) is a language which uses manual communication instead of sound to convey meaning - simultaneously combining handshapes, orientation and movement of the hands, arms or body, and facial expressions to fluidly express a speakers thoughts. ... Phonology (Greek phone = voice/sound and logos = word/speech), or phonemics, is a subfield of grammar (see also linguistics). ... Broadly conceived, linguistics is the scientific study of human language, and a linguist is someone who engages in this study. ... The linguistic typology is the typology that classifies languages by their features. ... Picture of a human brain generated from MRI data Sagittal slice from a fMRI scan of a human brain. ...

The field was largely pioneered by the linguist Joseph Greenberg, who from a set of some thirty languages derived a set of basic universals, mostly dealing with syntax. Joseph Greenberg may refer to one of The linguist Joseph H. Greenberg The director of Yiddish-language films, better known as Joseph Green This is a disambiguation page — a navigational aid which lists other pages that might otherwise share the same title. ... In linguistics, syntax is the study of the rules, or patterned relations, that govern the way the words in a sentence come together. ...

Linguists distinguish between two kinds of universals: absolute and implicational. Absolute universals apply to every known language and are quite few in number; an example would be All languages have pronouns. An implicational universal applies to languages which have a particular feature that is always accompanied by another feature, such as If a language has trial grammatical number, it also must have dual grammatical number. In linguistics and grammar, a pronoun is a pro-form that substitutes a noun or noun phrase with or without a determiner, such as you and they in English. ... In linguistics, the trial grammatical number is a grammatical number referring to three things, as opposed to singular and plural. Trial linguistic structures do not exist in English, nor do dual numbers. ... Dual is the grammatical number used for two referents. ...

Also in contrast to absolute universals are tendencies, statements that may not be true for all languages, but nevertheless are far too common to be the result of chance. They also have implicational and non-implicational forms. An example of the latter would be The vast majority of languages have nasal consonants. However, most tendencies, like their universal counterparts, are implicational. For example, With overwhelmingly greater than chance frequency, languages with normal SOV order are postpositional. Strictly speaking, a tendency is not a kind of universal, but exceptions to most statements called universals can be found. For example, Latin is an SOV language with prepositions. Often it turns out that these exceptional languages are undergoing a shift from one type of language to another. In the case of Latin, its descendant Romance languages switched to SVO, which is a much more common order among prepositional languages. A nasal consonant is produced when the velum—that fleshy part of the palate near the back—is lowered, allowing air to escape freely through the nose. ... In linguistic typology, Subject Object Verb (SOV) is the general order of words in a languages sentences: Sam oranges ate. The SOV type is the most common type found in natural languages. ... A postposition is a type of adposition, a grammatical particle that expresses some sort of relationship between a noun phrase (its object) and another part of the sentence; an adpositional phrase functions as an adjective or adverb. ... Latin is the language originally spoken in the region around Rome called Latium. ... In grammar, a preposition is a type of adposition, a grammatical particle that establishes a relationship between an object (usually a noun phrase) and some other part of the sentence, often expressing a location in place or time. ... The Romance languages, also called Romanic languages or New Latin Languages, are a subset of the Italic languages, specifically the descendants of the Latin dialects spoken by the common people in what is known as Latin Europe (Italian/Portuguese/Spanish Europa latina, French Europe latine) and Romania as Vulgar Latin... In linguistic typology, subject-verb-object (SVO) is the sequence subject verb object in neutral expressions: Sam ate oranges. ...

Linguistic universals are sometimes held up as evidence for universal grammar (though epistemological arguments are more common). Other explanations for linguistic universals have been proposed, for example that linguistic universals tend to be properties of language which aid communication. If a language were to lack one of these properties, it has been argued, it would probably soon evolve into a language having that property. Universal grammar is a theory of linguistics postulating principles of grammar shared by all languages, thought to be innate to humans. ... Epistemology, from the Greek words episteme (knowledge) and logos (word/speech) is the branch of philosophy that deals with the nature, origin and scope of knowledge. ...

External link

  • Some Universals of Grammar with Particular Reference to the Order of Meaningful Elements (http://angli02.kgw.tu-berlin.de/Korean/Artikel02/) by Joseph H. Greenberg
  • Penn state University course page on Linguistic universal (http://www.ling.upenn.edu/courses/Spring_2004/ling001/14a.html)



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