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[Elt] the Linguistics of Contrastive

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The linguistics of contrastive analysis
  • The Linguistics of CA Session 3

  • Overview




    Macro and Micro


    Contrastive analysis







  • Contrastive analysis

    Contrastive Analysis Goal: The examination of L2 Learning related to the field of


    Means: The description of languages related to the field of linguistics

  • Microlinguistics vs. Macrolinguistics

    According to the microlinguistic view, languages should be analyzed for their own sake and without reference to their social function, to the manner in which they are acquired by children, to the psychological mechanisms that underlie the production and reception of speech, to the literary and the aesthetic or communicative function of language, and so on.

    In contrast, macrolinguistics embraces all of these aspects of language. Various areas within macrolinguistics have been given terminological recognition: psycholinguistics, sociolinguistics, anthropological linguistics, dialectology, mathematical and computational linguistics, and stylistics.

  • Macrolinguistics

    Semantics: the study of meaning, changes in meaning and the principles that govern the relation ship between sentences or words and their meanings.

    Sociolinguistics: a descriptive study of the effects of any and all aspects of society on the way language is used and the effects of language used on society.

    Ethnomethodology: It refers to the analysis and interpretation of every spoken interaction

    Discourse Analysis: It is concerned with how we build up meaning in the larger communicative rather than grammatical units, meaning in a text, paragraph, conversation, etc rather than a single sentence.

    Speech-act Theory: an approach to the meaning of language which stresses the use made of language, rather than the literal meaning of the combined words. Emphasis what we do with language rather than what we say.

  • Focus of CA

    Originally, the main emphasis of CA was on grammar and phonology for the obvious reason that the close systems of grammar and phonology lend themselves better to systematic CA then the more elusive areas of lexis and culture, but the general absence of contrastive lexical and cultural studies also reflected where the emphasis lay in linguistics in the old days.

  • Framework


    Levels Phonology



    Categories Unit




    Models Structural or Taxonomic

    Transformational generative

    Contrastive generative


  • Levels of Language

    Levels of Language Level of phonology

    Level of lexis

    Level of morphology

    Level of syntax

    Procedure for description of levels Phonology, then morphology, and then syntax

    Mixing Levels Nowadays mixing is sometimes necessary to account for some fact of


    Slow cars held up.

  • Steps in CA

    1. Description

    2. Juxtaposition for comparison

    Interlingual level shift State where a lexical distinction in one language is expressed through

    another, say grammatical level in another language.

    Poems vs.

    I agree vs.

    I am agree with you

  • Categories of grammar

    There are four categories : unit, structure, class and system.

    They are universal , that is they are necessary and sufficient as a basis for the description of any language.

  • Unit

    The Units of grammar are: 1. Sentence

    2. Clause

    3. Phrase

    4. Words

    5. Morphemes

    In CA a single sentence in L1 correspond on a one-to-one basis with a single sentence in L2.

    CA is concerned with the possibilities of maintaining 1:1 correspondence of units at ranks below sentence

  • Example

    We can never go back again, that is certain

    Sentence Clause Phrase Words Morpheme

    English 1 2 2 9 9

    Persian 1 3 2 9 13

  • Structure

    A structure is an arrangement of elements ordered in places (Halliday)

    He turned off the TV subj + verb + indirect object

    Object + prep. + verb + subj.

  • Class

    There are restrictions on which units can operate at given places in structures

    These comprise shifts from one part of speech to another.

    An example is carelessly at first where the English verb changed into a noun in Farsi (

  • Structure

    Each language allows its speaker choices from sets of elements which are not determined by the place which the element occupies in the structure.

    CHOICE: The selection of one particular term at one particular place on the chain in preference to another term or other terms which are also possible at that place

    Systems operate over the domains of units: systems of sentences, of clauses, of groups, of words and of morphemes.

  • Structure

    These are shifts that take place when the SL and TL possess approximately corresponding systems but where the translation involves selection of a non-corresponding term in the TL system (Catford, 2000, p. 146).

    An example is the English histories where the Farsi translation is .

  • Microlinguistics - Comparing elements of language systems

    Systemic contrasting implies : Contrasting units

    Contrasting classes

    Contrasting structures

    Contrasting systems

  • Contrasting units

    Absolute correspondence [m], [n], etc. : these phonemes exist in both English and Persian


    Partial correspondence there can be no partial correspondence at the units level: either the

    language possesses a unit, or not

    Zero correspondence [K] in English exists at the unit level it is a phoneme of the English

    language , whereas [X] exists as a phoneme in Persian but not in English

  • Contrasting classes

    Absolute correspondence in word classes Common nouns


    Partial correspondence Faux amis

    Arabic: literature; Persian: politeness, good upbringing, for literature we say

    Arabic: university; Persian: society

    Zero correspondence : article system in English/Persian

  • Structures - Absolute correspondence

    I sat on a chair


  • Partial correspondence

    I sat on a chair


  • Zero correspondence

    Zero correspondence of branching diagrams is very rare in languages (confirms the universality thesis)

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