ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Of Sounds, Words and Sentences

The dynamics of sounds, words and sentences embellish our language. Recursion and structure dependency along with various other factors affect our language. The article goes into the nitty-gritties of the uniqueness of language, adding new words to language and its usage.

The author would like to thank Ayesha Kidwai, Aditi Mukherjee and Abdur Rasheed.

There is one thing about language you may not have noticed before. The sentence that you read just now or the one you are reading now may not be repeated in the books, newspapers or magazines you saw today. In fact, you may have never heard or spoken or written exactly these sentences ever before; there is no likelihood of your repeating exactly these sentences anytime in the future. Language has this remarkable property of producing an infinite number of novel sentences endlessly. There are indeed constraints on how you can combine different constituents of a sentence but there is no limit to the variety or the length of sentences so long you honour those constraints. For example, in an English noun phrase constituent, you are expected in general to put the determiners and modifiers before the noun. “A tall dark boy” thus is good but not—“Boy dark tall a.” There are indeed a large number of frozen expressions which are repeated ad infinitum day ­after day; consider, for example, the case of phatic communion (bonding through language) such as “How are you?” or “Hi” being regularly responded to as “How are you?” Or “Hi.” There are various kinds of formulaic expressions, including idioms and proverbs, that do not witness any change for generations. Except for these, all our sentences are new.

Duality of Patterning

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Updated On : 11th May, 2021
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