Plain language v legalese Essay

There is an ongoing debate over whether legal practitioners should use plain language in legal writing; or whether legal practitioners should carry on with tradition and write in a more lawyerly manner some call “legalese”. As with any debate, there are two opposing sides and a middle ground. Proponents of plain language believe that since legal documents are read by both legal professionals and laymen, they should be understandable to a wide audience.

Proponents of legalese believe that since legal documents are primarily written for an audience of other legal professionals, the traditional style of legal writing is perfectly understood by its intended audience.

There is a long history of traditional legal writing law that sounds very important and archaic to the modern ear. Words such as substantiate, elucidate, and notwithstanding are seldom found anywhere outside of a legal document.

There are also many phrases that are rarely used outside of a legal document, such as: “until such time as”; “render assistance”; “including but not limited to”; “owing to the fact that”; and “in the event that“.

The use of Latin phrases is common in traditional legal writing. The precise meaning of the phrases is obscure to readers who lack a knowledge of Latin. Latin phrases such as “habeas corpus”; “prima facie”; and “quantum meruit”; are likely widely understood only by legal professionals.

Other Latin phrases used in traditional legal writing, such as “ab initio”; “de facto”; and “ex post facto”; might be understood by a well educated audience as well as legal professionals. Boilerplate language is another convention of legal writing. So-called “boilerplate” language is a grouping of words, sentences, and sometimes lengthy paragraphs that may have meaning beyond their plain meaning. For example, clauses in a property deed for a house contain language that has been parsed, defined, and argued for decades. The precise meaning of each boilerplate clause is related to the definitions and arguments that accompany it.

Boilerplate language refers to any language that is always the same and is perceived as standard wording, such as “standard contract” clauses. The term boilerplate originated in the days of hot metal type. Publishers would use blocks of type that were made to be unchangeable, one sheet of metal printing plate with full paragraphs, clauses, or “standard” wording on it. These metal sheets resembled a plate on a boiler, and that is how the term came about. (Black’s 1991). Another convention of traditional legal writing is its repetitiveness.

Personal pronouns, such as he, she and they; are generally not used. Instead the person’s name is used each time. Or a person’s position in a cause of action, such as defendant, plaintiff, respondent, or petitioner; is used each time. Similarly, the word “it” is seldom used. Instead the word for the thing or the word for the idea is used each time. Descriptive phrases in traditional legal writing are also confined to the same descriptive phrase each time. For example, words used to describe a vehicle would always be the same words each time they appeared in the same legal document.

A red pickup truck would always be referred to as just that, “a red pickup truck”. The descriptive words would not be changed to “a Ford truck” even though the descriptive phrase could just as easily describe the same vehicle. “Plain language” is a phrase that defies definition. Like defining art or pornography, a prevalent attitude is that there is no encompassing definition, but we know it when we see it. Would it be fair to say that plain language is language that most people easily understand? That question begs for the next question, who is “most” people; and what is their level of understanding?

So, then when we speak of plain language in legal writing, does that mean at a reading level that all or most adults can comprehend? Does plain language in legal writing mean only college educated adults? According to the most recent National Adult Literacy Study: “The National Literacy Survey shows that the average adult in the U. S. reads at the 7th grade level, with nearly 50% below the 6th grade level and over 80% below the 10th grade level. ” (DuBay, 2004). So does that mean that plain language in legal writing should be written at a 7th grade reading level?

In 1969 Harry McLaughlin devised the SMOG readability formula and it is still commonly used today. To use McLaughlin’s formula “count the words of three or more syllables in three ten sentence samples, estimate the square root, and add three. ” The number generated is the readability score which corresponds to the reading grade level at which the paper could be read and understood. There is a deviation of plus or minus 1. 5. On his website, McLaughlin offers a readability calculator, just copy and paste any document into the box, and the calculator generates a readability score for that document.

I plugged in one page of this paper and a score of 17. 34 was given. Since my intended audience is my professor and my academic colleagues, I believe this is an appropriate level of writing. (McLaughlin, 2008). Plain language, most simply defined, has to be just that, readable for the widest possible audience. Plain language does not seem to rely on multi-syllabic words when a shorter word will do. Words such as substantiate, elucidate, and notwithstanding can be replaced with prove, despite and clarify, respectively. Some common phrases used in traditional legal writing have a concise plain language substitute. In the event that” translates easily to “if. “Until such time as” means “when”. Plain language in the context of legal writing means using a translation of the Latin word or phrase, rather than the more scholarly sounding Latin. Proponents of maintaining a traditional style of legal writing believe that continuing to use the traditional conventions, Latin phrases, and boilerplate language preserves legal culture. The use of Latin phrases adds a certain panache to writing, and some of the Latin does not translate very well. Few individuals outside of the legal profession will ever read a Supreme Court opinion.

The process of legal argument, legal reasoning and legal writing are so intertwined that it becomes impossible to express legal opinion except in traditional legalese. In fact, for attorneys the use of traditional legal writing is more efficient because it is most commonly used; therefore, most commonly understood; understood by attorneys that is. The conventions and tradition in legal writing are much more than meaningless archaic language. Legal documents are written for specific legal situations. Sometimes legal language is purposely broad and imprecise so that unknown and unforeseeable future circumstances may somehow be addressed.

Other wording is precise and well defined to clearly define the expectation of both parties, like the wording in a contract. A contract may have many clauses and if they can be simplified by using traditional standard language then all the better. It is after all, attorneys, communicating with attorneys. (Bast, 1995). Many attorneys choose to use published forms as the basis for contracts because they can easily be adapted to a specific client and situation. These attorneys believe that it is too time consuming for them and expensive for their clients to write a complete contract for each client and each situation.

For example, in a contract a saving clause, also called a severability clause, allows the contract to remain in effect even if one or more of the provisions of the contract is breached or is found to be unenforceable. (Bast, 1995). This clause may or may not be written in plain language, but the meaning is the same. Attorneys reading other attorneys’ contracts easily grasp the intent and meaning of contract clauses, whether the language is standard legalese or written for a mass audience as long as the wording is precise. If the legal language found in a contract is familiar and precise attorneys can save themselves time and effort.

And they can save their clients money, because they have no reason to analyze or parse out each word or clause, the meaning, to them is clear. Proponents of traditional legal writing style also assert that the repetitiveness in legal documents is necessary. While other types of writing demand variation of word choice to describe an object, person, or event, legal writing demands consistency in word choice. This consistency provides clarity and precision. There can be no question as to who “they” refers to in a legal document, when the word “they” does not ever appear at all.

Proponents of plain language in legal writing claim that much of so-called traditional legalese is nothing but gobbledygook. Legalese is jargon and is used to obscure meaning. Webster’s Dictionary defines jargon as “confused, unintelligible talk; the special speech or vocabulary of a class, as of technicians, artists, thieves. ” (Webster, 1987). In fact, the purpose of jargon among members of a group is to communicate among themselves without being understood by outsiders. Police and criminals each have their own jargon, hoping the other will not understand them.

The goal of jargon among legal professionals is so that the public will not understand the law. If the public cannot understand the law because the public cannot understand the legal terminology then the public has no choice but to seek legal advice to interpret every legal document. So, legalese is very important to attorneys as job security. The most compelling argument in favor of plain language in legal writing is that consumers often sign legal documents in the course of their everyday lives. Nearly every agreement that a consumer enters into is bound by a written contract.

If that contract is unintelligible, then the consumer’s rights are at risk. Consumers enter all types of contracts, including cell phone contracts, mortgages, and insurance. Laws and ordinances also have impact on people’s lives. It is popular to say that ignorance of the law is no excuse. However, laws are passed at a dizzying rate, and in truth most of us, including attorneys, are ignorant of many laws that might affect us. If we can comprehend the meaning of a law, we have a much better chance of following the law. And if we can understand a proposed law on the ballot we have a better chance of voting appropriately.

Many states have gone so far as to legislate plain language in legal writing. In Florida, property insurance policies must be written in plain language. In California, they have legislated the use of plain language this way: Section 6215 of the California Government Code states: “Each department, commission, office or other administrative agency of state government shall write each document which it produces in plain, straightforward language, avoiding technical terms as much as possible, and using a coherent and easily readable style. ”

When it comes to personal safety, plain language is even more important. After a series of studies found that the improper use of child-safety seats was the leading risk factor in fatal injury to children in car accidents, two public health officials began to investigate. Dr. Mark Wegner and Deborah Girasek suspected that there might be a relationship between the improper use of the child-safety seats and the installation instructions. The pair analyzed the readability of the instructions of 107 different child-safety seats and published their findings in the medical journal “Pediatrics”.

The team found that the installation instructions that came along with most of the child-safety seats were written at the 10th grade level. Far higher than the national average reading level of 7th grade, and much higher than the 5th to 6th grade level recommended for health related writing for consumers. This type of safety instruction is not legal writing per se. However, product liability is strict liability. And, if the safety instructions on a product are unintelligible they might as well be non-existent.

Manufacturers risk substantial loss in tort actions if their product’s safety notifications are useless. In a letter to Senator Bob Bennett dated September 17, 2008, Ruth Anne Robbins, president of the Legal Writing Institute wrote: “Bureaucratic legal writing, including government writing, has long been difficult to read. It is convoluted and dense. Even those of us who are legal writing professors are challenged by it – and it is challenging for us to teach our law students how to properly read and interpret it.

The government would benefit from paying more concern to the efficacy and readability of its communications. We teach our students to be reader-friendly rather than writer-centered. Unfortunately, government documents are too often writer-oriented rather than reader-oriented. ” (Robbins, 2008). Since I believe that the purpose of writing is communication, not obfuscation, I support plain language in legal writing. The world today is a complicated place, and there is no reason to make it even more difficult to navigate than it needs to be.

Whenever possible precision should be chosen over vagueness. When crafting wording for legislation, lawmakers should be careful to choose words that as clearly as possible show the intent of each law. Judges at all levels should strive to write their court opinions clearly and concisely. Laws and court opinions will always be subjected to interpretation, and that is one of the things that makes our country great. But, the interpretation of laws should be directed towards applying laws and opinions to a changing world, rather than trying to understand the original intent of those laws and opinions.

There is no mention of the right to privacy anywhere in the U. S. Constitution. Justice William O. Douglas, in his landmark Supreme Court opinion , Griswold v Connecticut, (1965) wrote that our right to privacy is a constitutional right, and that right is included in the penumbra of rights emanating from the specific guarantees of the constitution. This type of expansion of personal freedoms is, in my opinion, the best and highest use of legal reasoning. The cumbersome challenge of interpreting obscure and arcane legalese is intellectual quicksand, and to be avoided at every opportunity.

Reading Body Language in Poker Essay

Body language is a part of nonverbal language. It includes things like stance, gestures, facial expressions, and even small things that are barely perceptible like a brief shrug of the shoulder or nod of the head. We frequently communicate both bodily and verbally and an estimated 70% of what we communicate may be nonverbal. There have been hundreds of books on body language but not many in poker. So this is a small attempt to put information that I have learnt while learning to read people at a poker table.

I started by straight away applying the basic body language reads to a poker table like when a person leans in; it is sign of confidence, hence it translated that the player most likely has good cards.

Another classic example is when a person rubs his hands after seeing his cards; this is sign that he is so excited to see the card that he can’t wait to play their cards.

In short, a poker table is much like real world scenarios like class room, office, college, etc. When a player at a poker table gives away body language information, it is called a tell. So reading a player for tells is crucial for poker player’s game. Below is the order in which I read people at a poker table:

1. Feet and Legs (Most reliable)
2. Arms and Hands
3. Mouth
4. Eyes
5. Pacifying Behaviours (Least Reliable)

Nice Legs!

This is the most honest part of the body and can give loads of information. Most people while reading a person start from the top and scan towards the bottom. But believe me the other way round works much better and is far more reliable. Most people go to great lengths to hide what is on their faces but rarely do they focus on their legs. Legs carry so much information that it is relied upon by most pros and ignored by most amateurs in poker. Below are some of the common tells that you can spot at a poker table: * If a person has pointed his feet forward and after he receives his cards turns it away, it is clear sign of disengagement and he no longer wants to be involved in the hand. * If a person is constantly wiggling and bouncing his legs and then suddenly stops and pays attention, this is a sign that the person is about to bluff.

* If a person’s feet go from flat to raised position – resting feet flat to raised heels/toes forward means that the person is ready to act. * When a person interlocks his feet, this is sign of nervousness. This means that the person is holding weak or marginal cards. * A variation of the above is after a person bets (a big bet) he wraps his legs around the legs of the chairs or table, it may suggest that he is bluffing. They are restraining themselves because they think other will detect his bluff. * When a player moves his feet positioned in front of his chair to under the chair indicates signs of weakness or bluffing.

Let’s Get Our Hands Dirty

Hands are an intimate part of poker. They are constantly moving and interacting with the chips and cards on the table, and sometimes even with players. Hands can reveal a lot of information. * Interlacing fingers behind the head is a very strong sign that the player is confident. So if you deciding to bluff don’t try it on this player. * When a player does a hand steeple, this is also another high confidence tell. * Interlacing of fingers and hand wringing is a sign of low confidence. * When a person looks at his cards and his hands tremble or reaching for chips and his hands are trembling, is a sign that he has great cards or as in poker we call it monsters. His hands got scared of the monster!

Lips Don’t Lie

Mouth are a great reading tool for tells in poker but as you come from the feet to the face, the tells get that much less reliable because players will be a lot more conscious of their tells when it comes to their face. The tells listed below are some of the classic tells in poker however one should tread cautiously when one is applying in a real game. * When a person smiles pulling his lips and there is no movement around his eyes is a classic tell of dishonesty (fake smile). Remember it is very difficult to pull off a full smile when you are unhappy so when you see a full smile with the corners of the eyes involved you can be sure he is honest about his representations on the table. * When a person presses his lips together is an indicator of high stress and low confidence.

* Nail biting is another sign of low confidence. * Lip biting is a good indicator of stress and concern. * A subtle tell of lips are lip withdrawal; they indicate that stress is settling in slowly. * Lip licking and biting of objects like pen or chips are signs of pacifying when there is concern. * Tongue jetting out is another tell which indicates that the player got away with something.

Eyes Are the Windows to the Soul

Eyes are very good barometer of our feelings because we have very little control over them. I rely on eyes as an indicator often in my game. Here are some fool proof tells that I have used before: * When a player blocks his eyes either by closing his lids or blocking it with his fingers or palm or object, it is a sign that he does not want to see what’s coming. * This tell might take some used to getting used to but watching the eyes for dilation or constriction is 100% method to get the information out of your opponent. Remember when we like something our eyes dilate and when we don’t like something it constricts. So if a player is dissatisfied with his cards, his pupils will constrict.

* Squinting of eyes indicate high concern.
* Lowering of eyebrows is a sign of low confidence.
* Arching of eyebrows is a good indication of positive feelings.

Pacifying Behaviours

These are the least reliable because most of the pacifying behaviours are just indicators of soothing oneself or discomfort at the maximum. Pacifying behaviours are done by players who are bluffing or players who are not. Hence, it must not be used in isolation and using them with other tells is the right way to go. * Touching the neck in the front and the back, exhaling through puffed cheeks and touching the face, forehead rubbing and earlobe pulling, air ventilating to the neck are good signs distress and pacifying.

* Women will check the dimple on the neck when they are highly stressed or are fearful. Playing with a necklace or any neck jewelry is indicative of the same. Men will adjust their tie knots.

Common Mistakes while Reading People
1. Not establishing baselines

This is the most common mistake people do while reading people. Baselines are crucial in the field of body language. A person who usually bites his nails or bites his lips on a poker table will probably do the same, hence, must not be mistaken for weak hand or stress setting or low confidence. Hence, before reading any person a baseline must be established.

2. Reading tells in isolation

Another mistake people do reading tells in isolation. You cannot expect a tell to occur in a person nor can you read a tell in isolation like biting lips. It should be congruent with what’s happening on the table and in reaction to what others are doing. In other words, you must ask yourself what was the motivation behind him giving away a particular tell.

3. Reading is not an exact science

One of the essential skills in poker is reading your opponent but there are other aspects to the game like game theory, probability which has to be taken to account. Reading should always be used as one of your tools in making your decisions at a poker table.

1. Body Language: How to Read Others Thoughts by Their Gestures. Allan
Pease. 1988. Sheldon Press 2.
3. Body Language. Julius Fast (1971). Pocket Books.
4. Unmasking the Face: A Guide to recognizing emotions from Facial Expressions. Paul Ekman and Wallace V. Freisen (2003). 5. Secret of No Limit Holdem: An ultimate guide to all-in texas hold’em poker. Howard Lederer. 6. Read’em and Reap: A Career FBI Agent’s Guide to Decoding Poker Tells. Joe Navarro and Marvin Karlins.

Explain the problems of religious language Essay

Explain the problems of religious language. (30) Some words used within religious language may be viewed as contradictory to our inherent beliefs and logical view as human beings one example of this would be the story of the ‘virgin Mary’ as there is no logical explanation to how she gave birth. Many of the words used in religious language are also metaphysical and have no physical representation therefore it is very hard for us as humans to fully comprehend the ideas they are expressing.

An example of this is ‘God is timeless’ as we as humans live in a world where time is very much present so humans’ attempting to understand the phrase causes problems as it is outside of our past experiences. Many of the metaphysical questions within religious language can be problematic as it can not be answered through science or our logic for example ‘why were we created? ’ or ‘how did we get here? ’. Some scholars argue that our human language is not enough to describe religion thus we are doing God an injustice by attempting to explain it in human language, and that we should not expect that applying worldly language to religion to be adequate for our understanding of it.

Similarly some argue that we should not even attempt to understand language hence why synagogues have no pictures of God. It may be argued that by giving God human-esk characteristics we are athromorphising god. Another key factor to religious language causing problems is that it is very difficult to interpret whether something should be taken literally or non-literally one example of this is God turning water into wine some interpreters may view it in its literal form whilst others may state that he turned a simple resource into something much more complex.

Even if somebodies interpretation is completely correct there is still no real way of proving this. Something else which also causes confusion within religious language is the same words having different contexts for example ‘spirit’ one context is alcohol the other is God (the holy SPIRIT) these are to very different things and would cause great confusion if interpreted incorrectly.

Another inherent problem of religious language is the argument that Russell put forward when he stated we should not believe a statement which has no evidence to back itself up with and religious texts offer very little of this evidence. Ayer also stated that ‘if it is not analytical and cannot be tested, then best to call it cognitively meaningfulness’ this ideology would be problematic for religious believers as religion cannot be tested.

Language Acquisition Essay

Refer the theories of language acquisition (Behaviorist theories, nativist theories and interactionist theories) and write an evaluation of them.Consider the stages of language acquisition in the evaluation of these theories.

Human language development is a huge debate between Nature Vs Nurture within theorists of various fields in psychology.There are three major schools of thought that will be mainly focused on; behaviourist, nativist (rationalist) and interactionist(cognitive and social). The cognitive approach and social context of language development is known as interactionist approach as the language depends upon the child having interaction with its physical and social world.

The Behaviorist approach to language acquisition:

The behaviorist theory was developed in the early twentieth century. The theory was developed as a protest against introspection. This theory suggests that everything that is capable of learning without a much of effort is not innate, but learned through conditioning – which is frequent association of stimuli in the mind.

Language acquisition theory of B.F. Skinner.

Skinner’s theory of language (1957) explained language acquisition is related to operant conditioning. He stated that behavior is learned through reinforcement. Rewarding children when they speak the correct way could help the child to gradually learn an approximate correct desired speech, this is called shaping. In 1957, skinner published his book, Verbal behavior, in which he attempted to apply his form of operant conditioning to language learning. Skinner also stated that for instance when the child sees a “car” he / she interprets and utters the word “car” to the carer.

The carer reinforces the child, excepting that it is a car. This is referred to as Tact. This means understanding the relationship between the word and the object. Skinner also referred to echoic responses. This occurs when children imitate sounds heard from others and get immediate approval. He believes that accents and dialects were unconsciously modeled.

“A sentence is merely a part of a behavior chain, each element of which provides a conditional stimulus for the production of the succeeding element” (Fodor,Bever & Garret,p25) Skinner argued that adults are responsible in shaping, by reinforcing babbling of infants that mostly sound as words (Skinner, 1957, as cited in sheffer et al 2002) Behaviorist theory emphasize that language acquisition could be explained by the principles of learning such as classical conditioning, operant conditioning and observational learning.

Also Bandura stated that using the processes of observation and imitation behavior, language learning could be acquired. Accounts of language development which emphasize that language acquisition can be explained using the principles of learning such as classical conditioning, operant and observational learning.Bandura argued that language learning takes place by the process of observation and imitation.


Simple cases were used to explain this theory. Our natural verbal behavior is not only in the form of mands or tacts,instead , it is the form of inter-verbal responses.(Skinner. p.676) Skinner did not show much interest to children’s creativity and novel mouses, he goed, he seed… Skinners conditioning model mostly depends on the role of parents for the child’s speech. Conditioning approach doesn’t explain a complex process of language acquisition. Evidence shows when it was tape recorded mothers talking to their children, shows only little shaping to their children’s grammar. (Brown et al,1969)

Reinforcement theory predicts that children would grow up and speak the truth, yet will be using incorrect grammatical errors. (M Eyesenck,1993) It’s not simply possible for parents to reinforce or punish all the possible utterances a child will use. Studies of parent-child interaction show that parents reward grammatically incorrect utterances that are truthful. The language that children hear contains too few examples for them to learn the correct rules. In behaviorist theory it is believed that infants do learn the language through imitation, rewards and practice through other role models. (Cooter & Reutzel, 2004)

Nativist theory/ Rationalist Approach:

Rationalism is the opposing view of behaviorism. Just like birds do fly and fishes swim, the capability to learn and use language is also genetically innate. Chomsky is one of the leading rationalist linguist. Noam Chomsky’s theory of language acquisition. (1957; 1965) He suggests that language acquisition is an innate faculty. Chomsky’s approach incorporates that children use an inherited hypothetical blueprint known as Language acquisition Device (LAD) (1968). Chomsky believes that people are born with a set of rules about language, which is called “Universal Grammar”. When a child begins to listen to his parents speaking, H/ she will unconsciously recognize which kind of language the child is dealing with, and setting the grammar to the correct language is known as “Setting the Parameters” Chomsky’s theory attempts to explain the competence acquired in language.

Evidence shows the existence of LAD, which comes from the speed of language learned. Without LAD it will not be as easy to acquire a language, although it depends on the environment enormously in which the child was bought up. Lenneberg (1967) supports Chomsky that, there is a critical period for language learning, also suggesting that language is difficult to achieve after a certain period of time. Just as the case study of Genie (Curtiss, 1977). Chomsky’s theory was also admired by McNeill (1966). He observed the grammatical relationships in the telegraphic speech in children. Sometimes the rules were over generalized.


Although the theory was supported by research findings, it was criticized that language doesn’t mean only grammatical rules. Some psychologists have argued that children’s speech development arises not so much from innate LAD, but from the child’s prelinguistic knowledge. Chomsky relies on people’s intuition.

Grammar is acquired often from social circumstances. Chomsky reduces language to grammar. He disregards the situation in which a child requires first language. Language cannot be bdeveloped as quickly as nativist theorists believe. The LAD contains of knowledge of grammatical rules common to all languages (Shaffer et al,2002)

Interactionist Approach:

Cognitive Theory of Language;

Interactionist theory is concerned with the interference between environmental and biological factors, in the process of acquiring language. One of the most influential theorist of this approach is Jean Piaget.He believed the development of language depends on the cognitive process during childhood. Language is a part of the maturational development. This theory assumes that “Language acquisition is influenced by the interaction of a number of factors – Physical, Linguistic, Cognitive and Social” (Cooter & Reutzel, 2004).

Piaget’s Theory of Language Acquisition.

According to piaget, the first two years of a child goes through sensory motor stage. Children at this stage develop object permanence. Piaget explains language simply by means of representing the environment. As intellectual abilities involve the development of schemas, similar principles were applied for language too. Piaget proposed two stages of language acquisition, which are Egocentric speech and Social speech. Egocentric speech is used extensively in the preconceptual stage of age between 2-4 years. Children of this age are unable to explain in the perspective of another (Piaget & Inhelder, 1969). Social speech becomes dominant between the ages of 5-7 years.


Piaget underestimated children’s linguistic abilities. Piaget saw language as having a superior status to intellectual development. It is observed that use of linguistic skills can extend children’s intellectual abilities.

Social Interactionist Approach:

This approach explains the child’s social communication experience. Even during babyhood there is a communication that develops between the carer and the child. Cross culturally, similar patterns are used by mothers to communicate with their infants in order to indicate approval, disapproval, encouragement, discouragement (Ferhald, 1985). Vygotsky’s work is placed in this theory because he showed the importance of social interaction and learning language. Parents provide their children a language acquisition support system (LASS) in order facilitate their children’s acquisition of language. (Bruner, 1983). According to social interactionists, baby talk helps in the influence of language learning (Ferhald & Kuhl, 1987).


De Villiers & De Villiers (2000) believes that parents rarely offer direct feedback on their children’s grammar. Linguistic and social practices differ from different cultures.

Studying the English language in an English-Speaking country Essay

Studying a language is a great advantage for our lives. If we can learn language like English, it is better to learn in a country such as Britain, Australia etc., but there are another ways to learn English. Hence, Studying English in a native speaking country is better, but it is not only way to learn English.

In native English speaking countries, they have been organizing their all academic activities in English. Therefore, they have a chance to learn grammatical patterns, habits etc.

, during their primary, secondary and higher studies. Furthermore, they have experiences, about their societies and culture. When I was doing my masters in Britain, I met lots of British friends and families, then I got valuable experience of handling my English language. Also, they have high slandered language proficiency, than non-English speakers.

On the other hand, around the world, many English language programs are conducting. The higher learning programs are conducted in English, such as foundation , undergraduate and pot graduates.

Now days,many countries in the world, conducting their primary and secondary education in English. Hence, there are many other ways to learn English with good slandered. These non-native English speakers, conduct the international recognized exams, which evaluate the English language such as IELTS, TOFEL, and ESOL etc.,

In conclusion, it is important to visit English speaking country, then we could learn English language in a higher standard , but that is not the only way to learn English. If someone need to study English from non-English speaking country, there are many ways to study English such as exams, academic programs etc ( This sentence vague). Then they can improve their language proficiency for their future prospect.

You may also be interested in the following: write about an english speaking country

English Language Advertisement Essay


1. Advertising is one of the most prominent and powerful uses of language.
2. The Features of Advertising.
3. Is advertising language normal language? Does advertising language sometimes break the rules of normal language?
4. References.

1. Advertising is one of the most prominent and powerful uses of language. Advertising is one of the most prominent, powerful, and ubiquitous contemporary uses of language. Its seductive and controversial quality has attracted consistent and intense attention across a range of academic disciplines including linguistics, media studies, politics, semiotics, and sociology.

The reasons for this academic interest are far from superficial. The study of advertising brings together many of the key social and political issues of our time: the new capitalism; globalization; overconsumption and the environment; cultural and individual identities; and the communications revolution. It provides insight into the ideologies and values of contemporary societies.

Advertising’s creative use of language makes it a particularly rich site for language and discourse analysis. Operating in all media and exploiting the interaction between word, sound, and image, it provides a key location for studies of multimodal communication.

Simultaneously poetic and commercial, it raises questions about the nature of creativity and art. Ever since the intensification of advertising in the 1950s, leading scholars have analyzed its use of language. This new four-volume Routledge Major Work brings together for the first time the most seminal and controversial works, allowing users to obtain a wide and inclusive view of this rewarding topic. It will be welcomed by scholars and other researchers in the field as an invaluable ‘mini library’ on the language of advertising.

2. The Features of Advertising

Advertising Language is characterized by the following features. In any given advertisement these features may appear or be largely absent, such is the great variety of advertising copy found on promo products such as promotional tote bags and T-shirts. However these features may be said to be typical of advertising in general. Even advertisements which do not use the traditional features to attract inform and persuade may be described as being incontrast to the traditional features. Some modern advertisements appear to be almost dissuading consumers from their product – but this is a technique used as a determined way of not conforming to tradition. See Benetton, Marmite. Hyperbole – exaggeration, often by use of adjectives and adverbs. Frequent use of adjectives and adverbs.

A limited range of evaluative adjectives includes new, clean, white, real, fresh, right, natural, big, great, slim, soft, wholesome, improved… Neologisms may have novelty impact, e.g. Beanz, Meanz Heinz, Cookability, Schweppervescence, Tangoed, Wonderfuel… Long noun phrases, frequent use of pre and post modifiers for descriptions. Short sentences for impact on the reader. This impact is especially clear at the beginning of a text, often using bold or large type for the “Headline” or “slogan” to capture the attention of the reader. Ambiguity is common.

This may make a phrase memorable and re-readable. Ambiguity may be syntactic (the grammatical structure) or semantic (puns for example). Weasel words are often used. These are words which suggest a meaning without actually being specific. One type is the open comparative: “Brown’s Boots Are Better” (posing the question “better than what?”); another type is the bogus superlative: “Brown’s Boots are Best” (posing the question “rated alongside what?”)

Euphemisms :”Clean Round the Bend” for a toilet cleaner avoids comment on “unpleasant” things. The classic exampe is “B.O” for “body odour” (in itself a euphemism for “smelly person”). Avoidance of negatives (advertising normally emphasises the positive side of a product – though see Marmite, Tango, Benetton, for whom it seems that all publicity is good). Simple and Colloquial language: “It ain’t half good” to appeal to ordinary people, though it is in fact often complex and deliberately ambiguous. Familiar language: use of second person pronouns to address an audience and suggest a friendly attitude.

Present tense is used most commonly, though nostalgia is summoned by the simple past Simple vocabulary is most common, my mate Marmite, with the exception of technical vocabulary to emphasise the scientific aspects of a product (computers medicines and cars but also hair and cleaning products) which often comes as a complex noun phrase, the new four wheel servo-assisted disc brakes. Repetition of the brand name and the slogan, both of which are usually memorable by virtue of alliteration (the best four by four by far); rhyme (the cleanest clean it’s ever been); rhythm (drinka pinta milka day); syntactic parallelism (stay dry, stay happy); association (fresh as a mountain stream).

Humour. This can be verbal or visual, but aims to show the product positively. Verbal Puns wonderfuel and graphic positions are common. Glamorisation is probably the most common technique of all. “Old” houses become charming, characterful, olde, worlde or unique. “Small” houses become compact, bijou, snug or manageable.

Houses on a busy road become convenient for transport. A café with a pavement table becomes a trattoria, moving up market aspires to be a restaurant, too cramped it becomes a bistro. Not enough room to serve it becomes a fast food servery. If the menu is English food it is likely to be traditional, home-baked or home made; if the menu is French the cake will be gateau, the potted meat paté, bits of toast in your soup will be croutons. The decor will be probably chic, possibly Provençal. Finally, potency.

Vance Packard (1960) memorably said:
“The cosmetic manufacturers are not selling lanolin, they are selling hope … we no longer buy oranges, and we buy vitality. We do not just buy an auto, we buy prestige.”

3. Is advertising language normal language? Does advertising language sometimes break the rules of normal language? These questions relate to the place of advertising language in the context of the readers’ general knowledge of language (we will presume that the language is English). In order to answer them, we must have some conception of what is meant by “normal language”. The English language has evolved to have many different kinds of functionality, each of which correspond to different situations and styles of use. From an analytic point of view, it seems to make most sense to understand “normal language” to include the variety of styles of English that mature speakers and readers control. This will form the backdrop of everyday language in its many functions, against which we can view advertising language.

If one looks around in literature on advertising, or searches on the WWW, it is not uncommon to find claims to the effect that advertising breaks the rules of normal language and language use. However, from the perspective of a professional linguist, few of these claims really seem to be supportable. Now, with the exception of linguists, few people have any reason to pay close attention to the way that language is actually used in its speech community, for a wide range of communicative functions. Like many aspects of human being and human behavior, our unconscious knowledge of language is much greater than our conscious knowledge of it, so the facts about language that are immediately accessible to the average person only cover part of what the language is and how it is used. Collect some text from advertisements that you have found. Can you find any examples of words, phrases or constructions that are truly different from the various varieties that you encounter on a regular basis?

These varieties may include informal spoken language between close friends to technical and scientific descriptions (more likely to be written), and everything in between. Doubtless, not all of the text you find will be standard English, but is any of it not English at all? In doing this exercise, it may be that you will learn more about what creative possibilities your language allows, rather than how much advertising goes beyond the boundaries of that language. In a recent short article in the journal Nature, Pullum and Scholz (2001) point out that, at every level, language has a level of creativity that allows it to be ever-expanding, ever-changing. Even the idea that there is a stock of words which constitute the English language cannot be upheld, because it is always possible to invent new words, and new names in particular. Thus, “Here is my new invention; I call it “X” ” is a strategy in everyday English which advertisers can take advantage of, when they state “Introducing the all-new “Y” “.

In an interesting coincidence which illustrates the point very clearly, the Dreamweaver® program which we have used to construct this website has the command “Indent” to indent a paragraph, and we used it to format the quote below from McQuarrie and Micks. In the command menu, the command after this one is “Outdent”, which makes a paragraph wider. Neither of us had seen this word before, yet we understood its meaning, and certainly did not reject it as “non-English”. This is not to say that any random new word can be generated for the author’s purposes in any context. The “Outdent” example above is presented in a very clear context, which makes apprehending its usage and meaning quite clear. We generally find that novel words presented in an advertisement have the same supporting context; they may be new, but they are not “out of the blue”.

The work of McQuarrie and Mick (1996) is highly relevant in this context. They place advertising language in the context of the study of rhetoric, and observe: “A rhetorical figure has traditionally been defined as an artful deviation (Corbett 1990). More formally, a rhetorical figure occurs when an expression deviates from expectation, the expression is not rejected as nonsensical or faulty, the deviation occurs at the level of form rather than content, and the deviation conforms to a template that is invariant across a variety of content and contexts.

This definition supplies the standard against which deviation is to be measured (i.e., expectations), sets a limit on the amount and kind of deviation (i.e., short of a mistake), locates the deviation at the level of the formal structure of a text, and imposes a grouping requirement (i.e., there are a limited number of templates, each with distinct characteristics).” The unusual aspects of language that we sometimes find in advertising can be fruitfully considered to be examples of “artful deviations”. 36.3 VW ad (Rolling Stone, May 23, 2002): Heck, it’s been re-everything-ed.

This new verb is coined on the basis of a very robust feature of English, which allows nouns to be used as verbs (see Clark and Clark (1979)). In this case, the new verb is also prefixed and suffixed. Out of the blue, “to re-everything” would be hard to interpret, but in the context provided by the advertisement, its meaning is clear. In the summer of 2002 the pop group No Doubt had a hit song called “Hella Good”; some of the lyrics are shown here: Hella Good (G. Stefani/ T. Dumont/ P. Williams/ C. Hugo/ T. Kanal) You got me feeling hella good

So let’s just keep on dancing
You hold me like you should
So I’m gonna keep on dancing
(Keep on dancing)

“Hella good” is not advertising language, and it is not standard English, but it is certainly “pop music English”, and it is the kind of phrase that anyone could produce in conversation. In 48 Cointreau (InStyle, August 2002) we find an example of a blend, “Be Cointreauversial”.

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How Language Transformed Humanity Essay

The evolutionary biologist Mark Pagel states, in his speech, that language is the most powerful, risky and revolutionary characteristic of the human being ever evolved. The purpose of the speaker is to inform about the great and potent features of this trait. Pagel explains to us that when we talk, we are able to transfer thoughts in someone else’s mind and vice-versa using such a form of telemetry. In other words this process is similar to what happens between TV remote control and television.

According to this biologist language is one of the most subversive means that we can use to express ourselves. One very representative example is the censorship and the awareness that we have to pay attention to when we say or write anything. Going on, Mr Pagel poses two important questions: he asks the reason why language evolves itself, and why it evolved in our species and not in others. The answer is that only human beings have a special feature named “social learning”, which lets us improve ourselves by watching and copying the actions that someone else did.

Such a revolutionary characteristic could also prevent us from making the same mistakes and allows us to do the same action better than before. So we make progresses, whereas the smarter animals remain doing some activities over and over again, without big advancements. As a result of the social learning or, as anthropologists call it, cumulative cultural adaptation we can make stuff, and all the things that surround us are consequences of this process. Now we are moving towards a critical point, which is: “Why do we have language? ”.

First, Mr. Pagel states that social learning is visual theft. We can learn stealing ideas and benefit from the best qualities of someone else, without working on something or persevering on it. Secondly he reveals us that when human beings discovered this aspect of social learning (thousands of years ago) arose a dilemma: “How can we preserve our best ideas and avoid that others steal them? ”. Our ancestors could have behaved in the following ways: concentrating themselves in small groups so as to bequeath the acquired information to offspring.

But the result would have been isolation and a slight improvement. Or they could have created a system of communication to start cooperating with one another and share everything useful. Obviously they had chosen the second option and in this way language was born. So the solution to the previous dilemma is communication. Then Mr. Pagel points out how peculiar the fact is that we have 8000 different languages spoken on Earth. More surprising is that the greatest density is located in the smallest areas such as islands.

This is related to the tendency of people to isolate in small groups in order to protect identities and cultures. On the other side nowadays we communicate a lot more than in the past. But our modern world founded on connectivity and cooperation is limited by the variety of languages. This raises the question: “is it possible in our globalized and standardized world to have all these different languages? ”. Mr. Pagel has no answer but it seems inevitable that our destiny might be a one language world.

Bilingual Person Essay

Decades ago, being bilingual was an aspect of an individual that made them stand out from the others and be different. What if I tell you that in this modern society, being bilingual is just being one of the many thousands? A bilingual person is one who has the knowledge or intelligence of knowing two or more languages. However, there are different levels and stages of bilingualism. There is individual bilingualism which is when a person knows his/her mother tongue and another language that is used in society, as well as elective bilingualism which is a person who chooses to learn a new language.

There also is circumstantial bilingualism which describes a person that learns another language in order to survive, and many others. Even though, bilingualism has a variety of degrees and aspects; it simply describes those persons who can speak two or more languages.

In today’s society, bilingualism is being misunderstood since people think that a person who is bilingual is a rare phenomenon.

In fact, studies have shown that more than half of the world’s population is currently bilingual. For example, I am currently living in Venezuela (Spanish speaking country) from which I am now blogging in English. Nevertheless, this doesn’t mean that being bilingual isn’t a quality that people have acquired, in my point of view, I call it a gift. An interesting fact of bilingualism is that it is currently found in all parts of the world and it isn’t stereotypical of any culture or society. In fact, bilingualism can be found at all levels of ethnic groups or society and in all age groups.

Being a bilingual myself, I can speak from personal experience that becoming bilingual isn’t the hardest barrier that one will have to cross through life. It is indeed a smooth ride to another culture and dialect that will be helpful whenever it isn’t expected. Bilingualism doesn’t make you stand out. However, you feel excited and confident just like a little boy with a new toy to be able to communicate with several people from different parts of the world. It makes you feel intelligent and important. I believe that those people who are bilingual are more confident and secure of themselves when they have to travel to an unknown place. This is because those who are bilingual have the ability to defend themselves in different languages which one could speak in that unknown place.

For those people who are bilingual and feel alienated because of their insufficient language ability, you must re-establish that thought and raise your confidence. I have had the opportunity to travel to many different places in the world. This has allowed me to utilize my quality to the world and thus aiding myself in various scenarios. I have used my English skills to communicate in France, England, China my Spanish in Angola, United States and even in Italy. The point is that in today’s society bilinguals are being misinterpreted due to their lack of confidence. That quality of being bilingual is being lost throughout the years due to people’s negative characteristics and personalities such as discrimination.

There is a phenomenon known as code-switching which bilinguals tend to suffer from. I find very interesting how some bilinguals are often code-switching from one language to another. Code-switching is a verbal skill that requires an extensive degree of linguistic competence in more than one language, rather than a defect arising from insufficient knowledge of one or the other. Even though code-switching goes beyond that imperfection of linguistic competence and inadequate knowledge, it is commonly used in that sense. I have been several times in those situations that I have had to use another language in order to express myself. As stated before, this is caused because of the insufficient knowledge of one language.

I clearly remember this instance I code-switched in France. I was at a restaurant, and I wanted to ask the waitress what was the meaning of a word in the menu but my English just didn’t come out. I remember I started speaking in Spanish then I switched to Portuguese until I finally spoke in English and found out what I needed to know about the menu. It was a very embarrassing moment that I will always remember. However, I did feel embarrassed but, luckily I am a bilingual and I was able to go through this experience.

You consider yourself one of the other millions or billions? Don’t, you must be proud of what you know and of what you have improved throughout the years. Yes, you are a well-rounded bilingual! If you feel indifferent or just one more in the world, imagine what those people who aren’t bilingual think of their selves. Are they chipmunks? Are they cannibals? No, they are normal people that unfortunately don’t have the extraordinary quality that you have which is being bilingual.

In other words bilingualism is a gift, a personal enrichment and a passport to other cultures. One never regrets knowing several languages but one can certainly regret not knowing enough. That is why if you have struggled or worked your way in order to learn a new language, be proud of yourself and embrace the world with your quality.

Endangered Languages Essay

Languages that are threatened with the loss of natural generational transmission are referred to as endangered languages. Language endangerment generally occurs in the later stages of language shift, that is, when a speech community moves away from their earlier variety, dialect, or language to a new one or new set thereof (Fishman, 1991).

While the processes of endangerment and extinction have likely been constant throughout the history of human language, the scale and the pace of this loss—whose cumulative effect is the reduction of linguistic diversity—in the modern era appears to be uniquely intense, with up to half or more of the currently estimated 5,000–6,000 languages spoken today expected to be lost within a century or so (Hale et al.

, 1992). Both the nature of this loss and its consequences are complex and involve deep psychosocial factors as much as purely linguistic ones.

Two common reactions to language endangerment include language revitalization and linguistic documentation, both of which present extensive challenges and opportunities for applied linguistics.

The sources of language endangerment are not uniform, but do generally present recurrent themes on both the broader external social/political/economic and the narrower community-internal and individual scales, corresponding in broad strokes to what Grenoble and Whaley (1998) refer to as macro- and micro-factors.

From the macro-factor perspective, language shift can occur from sheer population loss of a speech community, due to war, disease, famine, or rather commonly, economically motivated outmigration, that is, dispersal into a diaspora that makes daily use of a given language no longer practical or meaningful/effective. Demographically stable communities, however, experience language endangerment just as readily when they are induced to shift for other reasons.

Loss of prestige is a very common factor: It can be introduced through schooling, often reinforced by physical or social/emotional punishment of young speakers, or simply as a social contempt expressed in adult society by speakers of the dominant to the minority. As dominant languages are typically those spoken by the socioeconomically dominant, language shift is very often rationalized—both on the part of the speech community itself, or by outsiders—via ideological narratives of economic practicality, or homogeneous national identity.

Hence, while there are exceptions, language endangerment is most typically experienced by minority and socioeconomically marginalized populations. In addition to psychological internalization of the above factors, the internal or microfactor side of language loss has as a primary component the local disruption of the social spaces in which the language has normally been used, and the shrinking of the range of such spaces. As most endangered languages have a primarily oral tradition (or no written tradition at all), full acquisition and rich ? uency depends entirely on personal experience with other speakers.

Reduction of the range of domains in which an individual can be exposed to the language commonly results in a feedback effect: otherwise ? uent speakers who have knowledge or performance gaps are judged as imperfect speakers by more broadly experienced speakers (typically though not exclusively elders), leading the former to avoid situations of language use even more, and so intensify the process of contraction. As the factors affecting transmission are very ? uid, languages can shift from stable to endangered extremely quickly, often within the space of one generation.

For the same reason, endangerment is often not salient even as it happens, as since three coexisting generations of grandparent, parent, and child can represent complete ? uency, intermediate competence, and complete non-speaker status. One still-living full generation of ? uent speakers can and often does give the illusion that the language is not seriously threatened; even more so if the majority of the community are ambivalent or antipathetic with regard to maintaining the language. Language loss is not uniform, either.

During the process of language shift, competence in the language can range from various degrees of ? ency, to “remembered” speaker (full ? uency from childhood but fallen into disuse), to rusty speaker (substantial but limited competence due to an early shift from the threatened language to another), to semi-speaker (characterized by imperfect acquisition of the complete earlier form of the language, due to limited exposure) (Sasse, 1992). From this can also emerge “young people’s languages”: complete but markedly distinct variants of the source language used by younger generations that have been substantially altered by these sorts of incomplete transmission processes (Schmidt, 1985).

Even after a speech community is reduced beyond even one notional native speaker, a language or features thereof can persist: in more or less full lexicogrammatical form as a liturgical or literary language, or both (as in the case of Hebrew, Latin, and Classical Greek, among others), or as a set of rote-memorized ceremonial phraseology, or as features in? uencing the variety of the replacing language(s) now spoken by descendants of the former speech community. The lexical, phonological, and syntactic in? ence of Irish Gaelic on varieties of English now spoken monolingually in Ireland is a frequently cited example. Semantic and pragmatic features of the earlier language too may cross over. Mixed languages may also persist after a community has shifted away from an original contributory language. Michif and Media Lengua—results of contact between French and Cree, and Spanish and Quechua, respectively—for example, have replaced the indigenous source language in some communities; such mixed languages can and do also exist alongside populations continuing to speak their source languages.

Complete language loss itself can be problematicized. The notion of dormant or “sleeping” language has been developed for languages that have experienced complete disruption of natural generation-to-generation transmission, but that persist in substantial enough recorded form to permit the possibility of revival as a useable linguistic instrument (Leonard, 2007).

Wampanoag and Miami represent two (Algonquian) languages currently being actively revived by descendants of the original speech communities, to the extent that children are being raised with the revived language as one of their ? st languages. Israeli Hebrew is perhaps the most famous case of a sleeping language subsequently revived as a full-? edged daily use language. Zuckerman (2009) and Leonard (2007) offer thorough discussions of the relationship between such revived languages and their source(s), particularly the ? rst languages of their revivers. Finally, the application of the terms endangered and extinct have both been called into question as inherently stigmatizing and, particularly when the latter is applied to dormant languages, inaccurate, and disenfranchising (Rinehart, 2006).

The current intensity of language loss can be attributed both to essentially technological factors such as increased mobility (physical, social, and economic), telecommunications, popular media, education, and also to ideological and political factors such as the spread of the notionally homogeneous nation-state and cultural imperialisms of various kinds. Language endangerment is thus strongly connected to other types of sociocultural dislocation. With the loss of a given language also ripple out a host of ancillary losses.

While loss of traditional language need not entail complete loss of traditional culture, language loss is more often than not accompanied by loss of bodies of knowledge traditionally passed on via the language, ranging from the ceremonial/religious, historical, literary/rhetorical, technological, medical, and so on (Harrison, 2007; Evans, 2010); it is often observed that the loss of a language results in the loss of a whole unique worldview implicitly and explicitly encoded in language-speci? c form and usage.

For discussion of how language loss affects and re? cts the broader questions of biocultural/intellectual diversity, see Fishman (1982), Maf? (2001), and Dalby (2003), as well as Harrison (2007) and Evans (2010). Often generational transmission of social norms and values is affected when languages are lost; as is coherent community identity. A traditional language frequently functions as a pervasive and potent marker of membership therein: both emotional and intellectual connections to previous/ancestral generations can be rendered much more tenuous with its loss.

Sheer grief (and at times even shame) at the loss of a cherished part of personal, familial, and community heritage is a situation-speci? c but very common experience, salient and wrenching to its affectees, even as it can be missed or underplayed by strictly materialistic/utilitarian approaches to the role of language in human life. For linguistics and related cognitive sciences, what is lost is the opportunity to investigate the full diversity of human linguistic potential.

This is particularly crucial in the testing of universal claims about possible versus impossible human linguistic systems. Currently endangered and recently extinct languages have all offered unique contributions to the understanding of human language and by extension, human cognition. Damin, an auxiliary language traditionally used among the Lardil of Wellesley Island, North Queensland, Australia, for example, uses several phonetic mechanisms not found in any other known languages (and the only known click systems outside of southern Africa).

It also exhibits an unparalleled intellectual creation: a carefully semantically abstracted lexicon of approximately 200 elements that can express the full range of the everyday Lardil language’s much richer system (Hale, 1998). Many other features of human language which are evidently quite common as possible grammatical options remain under-researched and poorly understood because they are, by historical accident, chie? y only found in languages that are currently endangered/threatened: among others, these include polysynthesis, switch reference, and complex evidential contrasts.

At present there are two frequent active responses to language endangerment (i. e. , beyond simple acceptance): language revitalization and language documentation. Both pose interesting challenges for applied linguistics. At the time of this writing, there is an emergent consensus (though see Newman, 1998, for an alternative view) that it is incumbent upon linguists (and policymakers) to support language revitalization, namely, active efforts to recover and restore an endangered language to active daily use in a speech community (Hinton & Hale, 2001; for introductory handbooks, see Hinton, 2002, and Grenoble & Whaley, 2006).

Simultaneously, an effort has emerged to document as many features of endangered languages as possible before their potential or even likely disappearance. Currently several institutions have been established that speci? cally support language documentation (see Online Resources). While language documentation of course can contribute substantially to language revitalization, the priorities of each do not necessarily overlap completely.

Since unambiguous examples of thoroughly successful language revitalization efforts are still quite rare, focusing on documentation rather than revitalization can, particularly in academic circles, be seen as a more realistic use of limited resources to address language loss (see Bowern & James, 2010, for a challenge to this view). That said, documentation and revitalization efforts more often than not go hand in hand, particularly because endangered language speech communities typically expect documentation (still most often done by outsiders) to contribute substantially to revitalization efforts.

Vowels: Cardinal Vowel Essay

4.3. English Vowels. The description and distribution of Englishmonophthongs and diphthongs Having established the vowel chart as a basic system of reference we can now proceed to a brief description of the vowel phonemes of English and of their distribution in a manner similar to that used in the case of consonants. A. The English simple (“pure”) vowels or monophthongs. a. English front vowels. There are four front vowel phonemes in English: [i:], [ı], [e] and [æ] 1. [i:] is a close (high), long, tense, unrounded vowel.

The duration of [i:] can be compared to that of the Romanian vowel in plural nouns like genii and the sound is roughly similar to the French vowel of the French word précise, though not so close. The vowel is distributed in all three basic positions: word-initial: east; word-medial: dean and word-final: sea. As already mentioned, it is longer if it occurs in syllable final position and shorter if it is followed by a voiced sound, the shortest variants being those followed by a voiceless obstruent.

If followed by a nasal stop it is nasalized: e.g. bean, beam. It is spelt e: economy, remark, or ee: eel, see, feet, or ea each, seal, plea. Other possible spellings are ie: fiend, ei: seizing, i: machine, or, exceptionally: ey: key; ay: quay [ki:], eo: people, oe: Oedipus or eau: Beauchamp [bi:±cm]

[2]. This is a more retracted front vowel, and its degree of openness is close to that of the cardinal half-close position. [2] is a short, lax, unrounded vowel, its length varying, as in the case of the preceding vowel, according to the nature of the following consonant. The length decreases if the following sound is voiceless. It is distributed in all three basic positions: initial, medial and final: ink, kill, aptly. After the schwa, it is the commonest English vowel in unstressed positions. The vowel is spelt i (e.g. ill, tick) or y; syntax, party. Other spellings are possible as well, as in the exceptional examples minute [mınıt] (NB. The adjective having the same spelling is read [maınju:t], private [praıvıt], women [wımın]. As it commonly represents a reduced unstressed vowel, other spellings are also possible – for instance day [deı] is reduced to [dı] in the names of the days of the week: Friday [fraıdı]

3. [e] This is a short, lax, unrounded vowel whose degree of openness is intermediate between cardinal half-close and half-open. It is a common vowel in English, distributed in initial position: end, or medial position: tell. It never occurs in word-final position as it is normally reduced to [ı] or [c] if it is unstressed or diphthongizes to [eı] in loan words like attaché, fiancé or café if it is stressed. It can occur, nevertheless, in syllable-final position, under stress, as in telegraph [telıgraf], peril [perıl]. The vowel is spelt either e in words like elf, fell, or ea in lead (n. = plumb), head or bread. It can be exceptionally spelt a in ate (the past tense of eat), many, any, Thames or Pall Mall. 4. [æ] is the lowest front vowel of English. It is a short, lax, unrounded vowel, a little higher than the cardinal vowel [a]. It is a very common vowel in English and, contrary to the perception of many foreign learners of English, it is a short, not a long vowel.

In fact, the basic difference between this vowel and the preceding one is the degree of openness, [æ] being lower. Romanian speakers of English find it particularly difficult to make the difference between the two vowels (which is a contrastive, phonemic one) simply because Romanian does not recognize this contrast between front low vowels as being a functional one. Constant training can, however, lead to a correct pronunciation of the English sound. The vowel is distributed in syllable-initial, medial and final position (e.g. ant [ænt], cat [kæt], rapid [ræpıd]), but not in word-final position. It is usually spelt a: act, fat, and only exceptionally ai: plait [plæt], plaid [plæd]. b. English back vowels. There are five back vowel pho-nemes in standard English: [Y:], []], []:], [υ] and [u:] 1. [Y:] in RP does not coincide with cardinal vowel 5 [a] It is a more

advanced, low, long, tense, unrounded vowel. It is distributed in all three basic positions: are, cart, far. It is normally spelt by the letter a followed by a silent r in syllable or word-final position: jar, carpet. It is often followed by a silent l in words like palm, calm, balm. Sometimes f or ff can follow: after, staff; or ss: pass, class, or s or n followed by another consonant: past, demand; or th in word-final position: path, bath or, exceptionally, other letters: aunt [Y:nt], Berkeley [bY:klı], hearth [hY:θ], father [fY:ðc], sergeant [sY:®cnt], memoir [memwY:], barrage [bærY:¥]. 2 []] is a genuine back vowel in RP. It is short, lax, open and slightly rounded. It is only distributed in initial and medial position: on, pot, and never in final position. In some accents of English the vowel is pronounced pretty close to the cardinal vowel 5 [a]. In some varieties of American English it is still open and a little bit fronted, coming very close to [Y:] so that it is often difficult to distinguish pot from part, for instance. The vowel is usually spelt o. Other spellings are possible; ou, a and au in rare cases like cough, want, or laurel.

3. []:] is closer and longer than []]. It is a long, tense vowel, more rounded than []], the degree of aperture being between open and half-open. The vowel is distributed in all three basic positions: awful, caught, flaw. It is usually spelt either aw or au: awl, drawn, thaw, august, taught. The sequence or is also read []:] if it occurs in final position or is followed by either a consonant or a silent e: for, sore, port. The sound is exceptionally spelt oo in floor, door, oa in board, broad, coarse and hoard, ough in (n)ought, sought, wrought, and a in water or wrath and ou in course, source. 4. [υ] is a short, lax, rounded vowel which is considerably closer than []:] its degree of aperture being a little bit higher than the cardinal half-close.

The vowel never occurs in initial position and only exceptionally in final position, in the weak, unstressed form of the preposition to, the verb do or the pronoun who. We can then say that its distribution is restricted to medial position. The usual spelling for [υ] is the letter u in words like push, cushion, pull, put. The letter o can also represent the sound after w: wolf, Worcester. In quite a few words double oo is the spelling for the sound, followed by k: look, book; by t: foot, soot, by d: wood, stood; by the lateral l: wool, or a nasal: room, broom, groom; ou appears as the spelling of the sound in verbal forms like would, could, should. 5. [u:] is the highest back vowel of English. It is a long, tense, rounded vowel. It occurs in all three basic positions, though pretty infrequently in initial position: oom, oomph, ooze, ugh, uhlan; rude, baboon, crew, chew, tatoo. Romanian speakers of English should remember that the vowel is closer and tenser than the preceding sound for which it must not be mistaken.

The sound is usually spelt u or oo: rule, root, taboo. O can be the spelling of [u:] in final position in the stressed forms of to, who, etc, and in the noun ado. In words like route, through, routine, soup, douche, the sound is spelt ou. In shoe, canoe, manoeuvre it is rendered by oe. The sound is often preceded by the palatal [j] which is optionally inserted in words like suit [su:t/sju:t] or fruit [fru:t/frju:t], and obligatorily in beauty and its derivatives, in feud, music, mutiny, deluge, etc. We can easily notice that all English front vowels are unrounded, while the back ones, with the exception of [a:] which is not, strictly speaking, a back vowel, since its pronunciation in standard English is a little more advanced than that of cardinal vowel 5 [a] – display different degrees of roundness. This means that only the primary cardinal vowel chart is relevant for English, as there are no front rounded vowels or back unrounded vowels in this language (at least in RP) c. English central vowels. There are three central vowel phonemes in English: [∧], [c] and [f:].

1. [∧] (N.B. For technical reasons, I have followed Daniel Jones and the majority of phonetic transcriptions in use in choosing this symbol to represent the vowel of the English word cut; however, strictly speaking, this symbol is used in the IPA alphabet to represent secondary cardinal vowel 14, the unrounded counterpart of primary cardinal vowel 6 []] – see above) is a central half-open, short, lax, unrounded vowel. It is the lowest standard English vowel and is distributed in word-initial and medial position: utter, subtle. It never occurs in word or syllable-final position. It is usually spelt either u: under, but, or o: come, front, honey; in a number of words it is spelt ou: courage, southern, rough, tough, and exceptionally oo in blood and flood and oe in does.

Many Romanian speakers of English find it difficult to acquire the correct pronunciation of [∧] mistaking it for some variant of a or o. 2 [c] is the commonest English vowel. It is a central, mid, lax, unrounded vowel – the schwa mentioned before – for the pronunciation of which the tongue adopts the neutral position in relation to which all the other articulatory positions can be described. The vowel freely occurs in all basic positions, but only in unstressed syllables: aside, collide, rather. Its pronunciation doesn’t normally raise any problem for a Romanian speaker of English. It should be noted, however, that one of the most difficult to acquire of the phonological features of English is the change of the vowel quality with the stress shift (in a way comparable to Russian). Thus, most

English vowels, if unstressed, will be reduced to schwa only to resume their basic value if the stress shifts back on them: cf. Satan [se2tcn], Satanic [sctæn2k], Satanism [se2tcnızm] or fatal [fe2tcl], [fctæl2t2], fatalism [fe2tclızm]. It would be superfluous to list all the possible spellings of [sc], since the vowel can be, as I have said, the reduced form of any simple vowel or even diphthong (see fatality, above) in English and can consequently be rendered in writing by any vowel letter with the exception of y which only represents the semivowel j or the vowel i. 3. [f:] is a central, mid, long, tense central vowel. It is the tense counterpart of the schwa and since it only occurs in stressed syllables, in complementary distribution with the preceding vowel, some phoneticians, including Daniel Jones, argue that the two sounds are positional variants of the same mid central vowel phoneme. It is distributed in all three basic positions, very often in monosyllabic words: err, first, curtain, fur, refer.

It is commonly spelt ir, ur, er, or yr in final position or followed by a consonant or ear when followed by a consonant: bird, burn, fern, myrtle, learn. Other spellings include our in words like courtesy, journal, journey, scourge, and, exceptionally, o in colonel. Here are the English simple vowels or monophthongs distributed contrastively in the same context: a. the front vowels: eat [bi:t], bit [bıt], bet [bet], bat [bæt] b. the central vowels: Burt [bf:t], but [bct] – the weak, unstressed form, butt [b∧t] c. the back vowels: boot [bu:t], butch [bυ±], bought [b]:t], bot [b]t], Bart [ba:t]. We can now summarize the information we have on the English simple vowels (monophthongs) and include it in the following table: Front Tense High/close Mid Low/open i: 2 e æ f: c ∧ Lax Tense Central Lax Tense u: ]: Y: ] Back Lax υ

B. The English diphthongs. Diphthongs have already been described as sequences of two vowels pronounced together, the two vocalic elements being members of the same syllable. We have shown that it is often difficult to distinguish a genuine diphthong from a sequence of a vowel and a semivowel, that we can often pronounce diphthongs and even long vowels as such sequences and it is often the shorter duration of the less prominent vowel in the diphthong that transforms it into a semivocalic element. There is, for instance, a difference, both in quantity and quality between the second vocalic element in the English diphthong [aı] – that occurs, say, in the word buy, and the semivowel [j] in the Spanish interjection ay! [aj].

According to the position of the more prominent element in the diphthong we have already divided diphthongs into falling diphthongs – if the prominant element comes first – and rising diphthongs – if the less prominent element comes first. All English diphthongs belong to the first category, as it has already been pointed out. Diphthongs can then be opening diphthongs if the degree of aperture increases with the glide or closing diphthongs if the less prominent vowel is closer than the first. We can also differentiate between wide diphthongs – those in which the glide implies a more radical movement of the speech organs (e.g. [a2]) and narrow diphthongs – if the two vocalic elements occupy neighbouring positions (e.g. [e2]) on the vowel chart.

There are also centring diphthongs – if the glide is from a marginal vowel in the vowel chart – either back or front – to a central vowel. (See the three English diphthongs gliding towards schwa; [2c] in dear, [ec] in chair and [υc] in moor – to which we should add []c], no longer met in present-day standard English). A. The centring diphthongs: [2c], [ec], [υc], []c] a. [2c] is a centring, falling, narrow, opening diphthong that starts at about the position of the short, lax [2] and glides towards schwa. The diphthong is distributed in all three basic positions: ear, deer, tier. If the first element of the diphthong does not have the normal prominence and length, it can be reduced to a glide and the diphthong is changed into [jc]. There are several possible spellings for the diphthong: eer as in deer, peer or career; ea(r) as in ear, weary, idea, tear (n. “lacrimă”), beard, eir as in weird, ier as in fierce or pierce, ere as in here or mere.

Exceptionally we can have ia as in media(l), labia(l), genial, eu as in museum, iu as in delirium; eo as in theory and theology; e as in hero or in the diphthongized version of [i:]: serious, serial. b. [ec] is a centring, falling, narrow, in most cases opening diphthong. The degree of openness of the first element varies, in some dialects of English the sound being quite close to [ae]. In the more conservative pronunciations, closer to RP, the articulation of the diphthong starts somewhere in the vicinity of cardinal vowel 2 [e]. Then follows a glide towards a variant of the schwa. There are dialects where the glide to [c] is very short and sometimes the diphthong is changed into a monophthong, a long, tense vowel [e:]. The diphthong is distributed in all three basic positions: air, scarce, fare. It can be spelt air: air, fair, chair, dairy, fairy;