Introduction to Linguistics
  19.10.06 Introduction/ Organisation

19. 10. 06 Introduction and Organisation


  • The main issue -> Languages of the world

  • how many languages?

  • Language families


  • Participants, methods, media

  • portfolio

  • how to make a website

  • website – hypertext- text

  • properties of a text

Overview of topics

  • Language History

  • from Modern Englishes back to .... when?

  • Language in Society

  • Dialects, sociolects, registers, styles, ...

  • Learning language

  • Language and the Mind

  • processing language

  • Building Blocks of Language:

  • dialogues, texts, sentences, words, ...

  • Applying Linguistics

  • from teachers to computers


  • Why is a portfolio important?

    A portfolio is a collection of works to be used as a learner's diary and/ or a glossary. It is important to assess your learning outcome and to prepare for examinations.

  • What should a portfolio contain, and how are these components defined?

    A portfolio should contain a table of content, tasks and reports that you produce during the lecture or at home, brief summaries of the lectures and a glossary with all important technical terms.

  • Why should the portfolio be on a website?

    The portfolio should be on a website to have easier access and interaction than via paper or e-mail. In addition to that it helps you to become familiar with electronic media and provides a source of materials and tasks for the class. Further producing an online portfolio is a form of „Applied Linguistics“.

  • How do you make a website?

    There are various ways to create your own website. Firstly you can run your own web server, for example on a DSL line. Secondly you can use the university website. Thirdly you can use another web service provider or you can just use a blogging software and create your own web log.

  • What is a website?

    A website is an online hypertext document with embedded document objects as well as liked document objects and therefore a text.


  • What is a hypertext? Give examples!

    A hypertext document is a text either with conventional hierarchical parts or as a complex network of parts. Actually, every document in the world wide web is a hypertext.

    - electronic dictionaries like

    - blogs like

    - e- commerce sites like

    - Google



  • What is a text, what are its main properties?

    A text is a document, a novel as well as an advertisement, which consists of sentences or even only words.

    Its main properties are

    - appearance (the media (novel, newspaper, ...)

    - meaning (semantics, pragmatics)

    - structure (formulation)


  • Consequence for a linguistics theory of text?

    If you want to interpretate a text you do not only have to consider the appearance of a text but also the media and the structure.


  • How do these properties relate

    - to the mind

    In the world of the mind, the structure of a text depends on the sense and the semantic interpretation as well as the style and the media interpretation.


    - to the world

    In the shared world, semantics and pragmatics (the meaning of words and what you perform with them) produce a certain kind of media. In contrast to that, a text or the words in a text receive a certain meaning through the media they are used in.

Learner's diary

We started today's lecture with a short introduction of what we will be expected to get to know in the coming lectures. First of all we will speak about the history of language, then we will speak about language in society, further we will deal with language and the mind, applyed linguistics and building blocks of language. Further we were told what we will be expected to do for this class. We will have to make a portfolio containing a summary of every lecture and quizzes. The motivation of making an online portfolio rather than writing one by hand is simply that the teacher and the tutor have better access and making an online portfolio is also some kind of applyed text linguistics.

Talking about portfolios and websites and how actually to create them, the question was asked what actually a website is. As a website is actually a hypertext, we also had to define hypertext and of course the term text.

Moreover we spoke about the properties of a text, which are meaning, structure and appearance. The text model is divided into two parts, the world of the mind, which includes the text structure, and the the shared world, which includes the meaning and the appearance.   

As today's lecture was mainly about the organisation of this lecture, a short introduction of what I will expect in the coming semester and a repetition of what I already heard in my „How to make a dictionary“ class ( portfolio, homepage...) I cannot really say a lot about what I liked and what I disliked. I think our first topic, the history of English, seems quite interesting and I am curious to hear more about it next week. Some of the other topics Prof. Gibbon presented to us today seemed quite theoretical but well I have to wait and see what it will be like.


What are the following, and how old are they ?

  • Indo-European

    - first used before 15th century

    - Europe, South-, Central-, Southwestafrica, Asia

    - today one of the major language families

    - several hundred billion native speakers

    - -> English, Spanish, French, German, ...


  • Proto-Germanic

    - common ancestor of all Germanic languages (English, German, ...)

    - unwritten

    - 300 BC – 50 BC


  • Old English

    - Anglo- Saxon

    - parts of England, South Scotland

    - mid- fifth to mid- twelveth century

    - westgermanic language


  • Middle English

    - from 1066 (Norman Invasion) to mid- to late-15th century

    - England and South Scotland


  • Early Modern English

    - late half of 1400's to 1650

    - famous examples: - King James Bible

    - Shakespeare


  • Provide examples of similar words in each of these

Historic English text samples

[edit] Old English

Beowulf lines 1 to 11, approximately 900

Hwæt! Wē Gār-Dena

in geārdagum,


þrym gefrūnon,

hū ðā æþelingas

ellen fremedon.

Oft Scyld Scēfing

sceaþena þrēatum,

monegum mǣgþum,

meodosetla oftēah,

egsode eorlas.

Syððan ǣrest wearð

fēasceaft funden,

hē þæs frōfre gebād,

wēox under wolcnum,

weorðmyndum þāh,

oðþæt him ǣghwylc

þāra ymbsittendra

ofer hronrāde

hȳran scolde,

gomban gyldan.

þæt wæs gōd cyning!

Which can be translated as:

Lo, praise of the prowess of people-kings
of spear-armed Danes, in days long sped,
we have heard, and what honor the athelings won!
Oft Scyld the Scefing from squadroned foes,
from many a tribe, the mead-bench tore,
awing the earls. Since erst he lay
friendless, a foundling, fate repaid him:
for he waxed under welkin, in wealth he throve,
till before him the folk, both far and near,
who house by the whale-path, heard his mandate,
gave him gifts: a good king he!

(translation by Francis Gummere)

Here is a sample prose text, the beginning of The Voyages of Ohthere and Wulfstan. The full text is at Wikisource:Bright's Anglo-Saxon Reader/The Voyages of Ohthere and Wulfstan

Ōhthere sǣde his hlāforde, Ælfrēde cyninge, ðæt hē ealra Norðmonna norþmest būde. Hē cwæð þæt hē būde on þǣm lande norþweardum wiþ þā Westsǣ. Hē sǣde þēah þæt þæt land sīe swīþe lang norþ þonan; ac hit is eal wēste, būton on fēawum stōwum styccemǣlum wīciað Finnas, on huntoðe on wintra, ond on sumera on fiscaþe be þǣre sǣ. Hē sǣde þæt hē æt sumum cirre wolde fandian hū longe þæt land noþryhte lǣge, oþþe hwæðer ǣnig mon be norðan þǣm wēstenne būde. Þā fōr hē norþryhte be þǣm lande: lēt him ealne weg þæt wēste land on ðæt stēorbord, ond þā wīdsǣ on ðæt bæcbord þrīe dagas. Þā wæs hē swā feor norþ swā þā hwælhuntan firrest faraþ. Þā fōr hē þā giet norþryhte swā feor swā hē meahte on þǣm ōþrum þrīm dagum gesiglau. Þā bēag þæt land, þǣr ēastryhte, oþþe sēo sǣ in on ðæt lond, hē nysse hwæðer, būton hē wisse ðæt hē ðǣr bād westanwindes ond hwōn norþan, ond siglde ðā ēast be lande swā swā hē meahte on fēower dagum gesiglan. Þā sceolde hē ðǣr bīdan ryhtnorþanwindes, for ðǣm þæt land bēag þǣr sūþryhte, oþþe sēo sǣ in on ðæt land, hē nysse hwæþer. Þā siglde hē þonan sūðryhte be lande swā swā hē meahte on fīf dagum gesiglan. Ðā læg þǣr ān micel ēa ūp on þæt land. Ðā cirdon hīe ūp in on ðā ēa for þǣm hīe ne dorston forþ bī þǣre ēa siglan for unfriþe; for þǣm ðæt land wæs eall gebūn on ōþre healfe þǣre ēas. Ne mētte hē ǣr nān gebūn land, siþþan hē from his āgnum hām fōr; ac him wæs ealne weg wēste land on þæt stēorbord, būtan fiscerum ond fugelerum ond huntum, ond þæt wǣron eall Finnas; ond him wæs āwīdsǣ on þæt bæcbord. Þā Boermas heafdon sīþe wel gebūd hiraland: ac hīe ne dorston þǣr on cuman. Ac þāra Terfinna land wæs eal wēste, būton ðǣr huntan gewīcodon, oþþe fisceras, oþþe fugeleras.

This may be translated as:

Ohthere said to his lord, King Alfred, that he of all Norsemen lived north-most. He quoth that he lived in the land northward along the North Sea. He said though that the land was very long from there, but it is all wasteland, except that in a few places here and there Finns [perhaps Sami] encamp, hunting in winter and in summer fishing by the sea. He said that at some time he wanted to find out how long the land lay northward or whether any man lived north of the wasteland. Then he traveled north by the land. All the way he kept the waste land on his starboard and the wide sea on his port three days. Then he was as far north as whale hunters furthest travel. Then he traveled still north as far as he might sail in another three days. Then the land bowed east (or the sea into the land— he didn’t know which). But he knew that he waited there for west winds (and somewhat north), and sailed east by the land so as he might sail in four days. Then he had to wait due-north winds, because the land bowed south (or the sea into the land—he didn’t know which). Then he sailed from there south by the land so as he might sail in three days. Then a large river lay there up into the land. Then they turned up into the river, because they dared not sail forth past the river for hostility, because the land was all settled on the other side of the river. He hadn’t encountered earlier any settled land since he traveled from his own home; but all the way waste land was on his starboard (except fishers, fowlers and hunters, who were all Finns). And the wide sea was always on his port. The Bjarmians have cultivated their land very well, but they did not dare go in there. But the Terfinn’s land was all waste except where hunters encamped, or fishers or fowlers.

[edit] Middle English

From The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer, 14th century

Here bygynneth the Book of the Tales of Caunterbury

Whan that Aprill, with his shoures soote
The droghte of March hath perced to the roote
And bathed every veyne in swich licour,
Of which vertu engendred is the flour;
Whan Zephirus eek with his sweete breeth
Inspired hath in every holt and heeth
The tendre croppes, and the yonge sonne
Hath in the Ram his halfe cours yronne,
And smale foweles maken melodye,
That slepen al the nyght with open eye
(So priketh hem Nature in hir corages);
Thanne longen folk to goon on pilgrimages


  • soote: sweet

  • swich licour: such liquid

  • Zephirus: the west wind (Zephyrus)

  • eek: also

  • holt: wood

  • the Ram: Aries, the first sign of the Zodiac

  • yronne: run

  • priketh hem Nature: Nature pricks them

  • hir corages: their hearts

[edit] Early Modern English

From Paradise Lost by John Milton, 1667

 Of man's disobedience, and the fruit
 of that forbidden tree, whose mortal taste
 Brought death into the world, and all our woe,
 With loss of Eden, till one greater Man
 Restore us, and regain the blissful seat,
 Sing, Heavenly Muse, that on the secret top
 Of Oreb, or of Sinai, didst ispire
 That shepherd, who first taught the chosen seed,
 In the beginning how the Heavens and Earth
 Rose out of chaos: or if Sion hill
 Delight thee more, and Siloa's brook that flowed
 Fast by the oracle of God, I thence
 Invoke thy aid to my adventures song,
 That with no middle Flight intends to soar
 Above the Aonian mount, whyle it pursues
 Things unattempted yet in prose of rhyme.

[edit] Modern English

Taken from Oliver Twist, 1838, by Charles Dickens

The evening arrived; the boys took their places.  The master, in
his cook's uniform, stationed himself at the copper; his pauper
assistants ranged themselves behind him; the gruel was served
out; and a long grace was said over the short commons.  The gruel
disappeared; the boys whispered each other, and winked at Oliver;
while his next neighbors nudged him.  Child as he was, he was
desperate with hunger, and reckless with misery.  He rose from
the table; and advancing to the master, basin and spoon in hand,
said: somewhat alarmed at his own temerity:

'Please, sir, I want some more.'

The master was a fat, healthy man; but he turned very pale. He
gazed in stupefied astonishment on the small rebel for some
seconds, and then clung for support to the copper.  The
assistants were paralysed with wonder; the boys with fear.

'What!' said the master at length, in a faint voice.

'Please, sir,' replied Oliver, 'I want some more.'

The master aimed a blow at Oliver's head with the ladle; pinioned
him in his arm; and shrieked aloud for the beadle.

  • What are the main differences between English and German?

    - sentence structure

    - use of present perfect



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