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What's a 'word'?

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RE: What's a 'word'?

Postby Chris Hart » Sat 12.15.2007 12:00 pm

Yudan Taiteki wrote:
But sei is right that language is speech.


I must disagree. Language is how people express their ideas to others in their community. This can be done not only via speech, but also in writing, or with gestures. There are languages that have absolutely no spoken or written component to them. This happens to describe one of the most recent languages to develop in (near) isolation. See Nicaraguan Sign Language. Note there is some debate in the article surrounding at what point it could have been called a language, although none dispute that it is currently a language.



**Disclaimer: I do not claim to be a linguist. The points of view expressed are those of their original authors.
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RE: What's a 'word'?

Postby katafei » Sat 12.15.2007 12:37 pm

Yudan Taiteki wrote:
You have to have some distinction between a morpheme and a word.

But sei is right that language is speech..

I agree with Chris. Language has long ago surpassed the stage of being only speech. There is no way you can ignore written language in discussions like this. It is as much part of language as (ooops, I was going to say 'words'), well, the 'spoken word' then.

Yudan Taiteki wrote:
I don't think it's a matter about anyone or any theory being the right one.


I suppose that's true if you're willing to dismiss the entire field of linguistic study.

I am, always....^_^

Linguistics are very interesting, and although I am but a humble nurse, I do hold an MA in translation studies. But it's about 10 years ago I graduated and linguistic text books are no longer part of my daily life. And so, definitions like 'morpheme' and so on, aren't either.
But I will argue most of those definitions are still as arbitrary as any grammar assigned to a language. Tools to make an intangible matter like language manageable.
But they don't necessarily set the bounds for any discussion. On the contrary, it is way more interesting to explore beyond and define your own opnions.
That was more or less the point I'm trying to make.
Last edited by katafei on Sat 12.15.2007 2:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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RE: What's a 'word'?

Postby Yudan Taiteki » Sat 12.15.2007 12:41 pm

If you disagree that language is speech, it's hard to have any sort of linguistic discussion at all. The written form has no more effect on language than the printing presses used to print books, or the type of paper the books are written on.

Now, what I'm not sure about is whether "word" actually has a technical linguistic definition.

("language is speech" does not apply to deaf people using sign language, but the majority of the principles that apply to speech apply to signing as well. There are no natural languages that have only a written form, though.)
Last edited by Yudan Taiteki on Sat 12.15.2007 1:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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RE: What's a 'word'?

Postby bloodrose » Sat 12.15.2007 1:51 pm

words are made up of sounds and these sounds are given meaning. when the sounds are heard, the brain computes and meaning is found. to be able to determine what a word is in a particular language, it is important to know that language.
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RE: What's a 'word'?

Postby JaySee » Sat 12.15.2007 2:10 pm

Yudan Taiteki wrote:
The written form has no more effect on language than the printing presses used to print books, or the type of paper the books are written on.


That is not entirely true. In the case of English for example, there are numerous instances to be found where under the influence of universal education and such people encountred words that they had not heard pronounced before, which led to (incorrect) "spelling pronunciations", many of which have become standard pronunciations or at least accepted pronunciations now. A lot of these adjustments stem from the fact that people thought that the written form was the 'correct' form, so words should be pronounced accordingly.

Examples are: schedule/schism, used to be pronounced "sedule" and "sism" but was later under the influence of its spelling turned into "shedule" or "skedule" / "skism" - many h's were introduced under the influence of Latin in the spelling where these had not been pronounced before (but are now), like habit, harmony, heritage - everyday words like "often" and "clothes" used to be pronounced "offen" and "cloze" though pronouncing them with the "t" and "th" respectively has become accepted.
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RE: What's a 'word'?

Postby katafei » Sat 12.15.2007 2:16 pm

Yudan Taiteki wrote:
If you disagree that language is speech, it's hard to have any sort of linguistic discussion at all. The written form has no more effect on language than the printing presses used to print books, or the type of paper the books are written on.

Now, what I'm not sure about is whether "word" actually has a technical linguistic definition.

Ehm, I'm not sure if claiming language is more then speech is the same as disagreeing language is speech?
However, I do deny language is only speech.

I've been thinking about it a bit more just now, and this thought took form in my head:
In a way, in most languages (not Japanese, though, I have to admit), written language actually helps us point out what we apparently consider to be one word. Simply because we put spaces in between.


And interestingly enough (although probably obviously enough) these 'units' differ per language.

A random pick from my dictionary:
Dutch: 'kantkussen' one "word".
English: ' lace pillow' two "words".

Sorry, but I'm down with the flew, so I'm not going to spend time on finding a more down to earth example....but this particular difference between Dutch and English is actually very common.

(Oh, and as a PS, you studied language, didn't you? Then I'm sure you are aware how much influence the written language of Shakespeare has had on nowadays English.
I've recently visited the Globe Theatre in London. Unfortunately my pictures of the Shakespeare's quotations that are now an integrated part of daily speech failed miserably, but the amount was impressive.
So I'm not going to let you get away with the above statement ^_^)
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RE: What's a 'word'?

Postby Yudan Taiteki » Sat 12.15.2007 2:53 pm

JaySee wrote:
Yudan Taiteki wrote:
The written form has no more effect on language than the printing presses used to print books, or the type of paper the books are written on.


That is not entirely true. In the case of English for example, there are numerous instances to be found where under the influence of universal education and such people encountred words that they had not heard pronounced before, which led to (incorrect) "spelling pronunciations", many of which have become standard pronunciations or at least accepted pronunciations now. A lot of these adjustments stem from the fact that people thought that the written form was the 'correct' form, so words should be pronounced accordingly.


and katafei:
\Then I'm sure you are aware how much influence the written language of Shakespeare has had on nowadays English.


Shakespeare's plays were originally oral, of course. I don't consider the addition of vocabulary (or a change in pronunciation of words) to be a major change in a language, so I wasn't really thinking of something like that. And in any case, for the Shakespeare example, it's not that the written form *exclusively* had an important effect, it's just that the plays became widespread in their written form after Shakespeare's death. It's sort of like the printing press again -- it's not that the printing press itself had an effect on language, it's what was done with the printing press. Printing presses and writing systems are ways to transmit and preserve language, but they are not language in themselves.

It's true that looking at something like spaces can reveal how we think of words, but in this case it's not that the spaces on the page are affecting the way that people process the concept of "word" in their brain, it's that the way spaces are used can indicate (but doesn't necessarily have to) the way we already process things.
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RE: What's a 'word'?

Postby two_heads_talking » Mon 12.17.2007 10:23 am

Yudan Taiteki wrote:


Now, what I'm not sure about is whether "word" actually has a technical linguistic definition.


that's the angle I am coming from. it's a question as simple yet as complicated as which came first, the chicken or the egg? and how can a linguist dismiss the meaning of a word in a dictionary?

I see that over time, it seems there are students who try hard to impress their professors by coming up with definitions that overcomplicate or overemphasize the nature of the definition.

but like any other linguistical control, if a "word" from Japanese is adopted into English. the "word" becomes English, so if someone really wants to say howdydo? is one word, let them. we all know that at it's basic core it is comprised of 4 words how do you do? after that, it's just rules lawyering to make a term fit your definition and is that really hard to do? dunno, which did come first?
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RE: What's a 'word'?

Postby inuinu » Mon 12.17.2007 4:45 pm

http://iwatam-server.dyndns.org/software/giron/giron/x552.html
↑このページの「9.4」の項目を読むと、この議論の論点がどこにあるのかのヒントになると思います。
http://iwatam-server.dyndns.org/software/giron/giron/x255.html
↑この「5.3」にあるような、「相対主義」を選択することが最善だと私は思います。
two_heads_talkingさんの最初のポストも、
この「相対主義」に近い考えなのではないかなと推測しています。
そこで、上記URLの「5.10」にある「メタ議論」をするためにも、「どういうものを【言葉/単語】と呼ぶか」を考えるヒントとして、ひとつの例を挙げてみたいと思います。

「赤ん坊」の声の場合はどうでしょうか。
「あ〜、あ〜、う〜、う〜」と、本来なら「言葉」とは認識されないような「音声」も
その赤ん坊の母親にとっては「おなかがへった」「ねむい」などの、
違った意味として聞き分けているということもあるかも知れませんね。
これを「言葉」と呼ぶのはおかしいでしょうか?

そして、はじめて「ま〜ま」と言ったとしましょう。
これは母親が自分のことを指さして「ほら、私がママですよ〜。ま〜ま、ま〜ま」
と繰り返し言っているのを、ただ真似して言っただけなことは明らかです。
赤ん坊にとって、目の前にいるその人物そのものを「ママ」と認識して言っているかを問題にしないで、それでもそれを「言葉」と呼ぶでしょうか?
赤ん坊自身は「おなかがへった」という意味で発しているだけの声かも知れません。
ですが、少なくとも両親は「いま、私達の赤ちゃんが言葉をしゃべった!」と言って喜ぶでしょうね。
こういう場面はTVや映画などで、よく見ると思いますが、それでも
「それは言葉ではない!間違っている!」と言えるでしょうか。

まあ、つまり私の意見としては・・・私の最初のポストでも似たことを書きましたが
やはり言葉というのは「受け取る側」の定義によって意味が決まるのであるから、
その「橋」と「箸」も、また「言葉」という言葉も、
「人によって、同じひとつの言葉であり、違うふたつの言葉でもありうる」ということですね。
それでもどうしても相手が納得せず、白黒つけたいというなら、
http://iwatam-server.dyndns.org/software/giron/giron/x550.html
↑の「9.3」のように、「私が今まで「言葉」と呼んでいた概念は、この場では「アンパン」と呼ぶことにします。そして「橋」と「箸」は同じひとつの「言葉」ですが、違うふたつの「アンパン」なんですよ」とでも
言ってあげればいいんです。
なんかこういう風な言い方のほうがカッコイイと思いません? ;)
(あぁ、またまた長々と書いてしまいました。ゴメンナサイ・・・m(__)m)
Last edited by inuinu on Mon 12.17.2007 4:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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RE: What's a 'word'?

Postby Gan » Mon 12.17.2007 7:31 pm

A word is a word is a word. There deffinition given, move along.
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RE: What's a 'word'?

Postby Chris Hart » Mon 12.17.2007 9:18 pm

theshadowtaker wrote:
A word is a word is a word. There deffinition given, move along.

You can't define something as itself.
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RE: What's a 'word'?

Postby Kuri » Sun 12.23.2007 10:08 pm

Word

noun 1 a single distinct meaningful element of speech or writing, used to form sentences with others. 2 a remark or statement. 3 (a word) even the smallest amount of something spoken or written: don’t believe a word. 4 (words) angry talk. 5 (the word) a command, slogan, or signal. 6 (one’s word) a person’s account of the truth, especially when it differs from that of another person. 7 (one’s word) a promise or assurance. 8 news.

単語
 文法上の意味・機狽?烽ツ,最小言語単位.

Seems a common consensus is that a word is "the smallest part of speech that has meaning or function"

So "oof" is a word, "Florida" is a word, even "encyclopedic" is a word. Although things like 蘭h接種 are at least two words.... it gets hard when individual characters have meaning. Does that mean よぼうせっしゅ is fewer words than 蘭h接種 w?
Hey, so like I\'m not good at formal stuff. Gimme a break, okay
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