Relationship between language meaning and context

relationship between language meaning and context

A prior context gives meaning to what is being said, and what is said prompts As we start with a story, the language itself (the speech of the. focusing especially on the relations between context and discourse structures. . of his approach to language study, his definition of this context is fairly succinct. In addition, the systematic relationship existing between language and context and its clinical implications are explored. Conclusions: Language as information .

Linguistic context Linguistic context or verbal context refers to the linguistic environment in which a word is used within a text. In other words, to determine the meaning of an item, it is necessary to know whether the item is a noun, a verb, an adjective or an adverb, functioning as a subject, a predicate or a complement.

This information gives important clues to the meaning of the text. But it is not sufficient to provide a full understanding of utterances. Colorless green ideas sleep furiously. Meaning involves more than the grammatical description and goes beyond the scope of grammar to an understanding of the situational context that involves individual beliefs and knowledge of the world. Pragmatic or situational context Part of the pragmatic context is what makes it coherent, those elements that tell us who and what we are talking about.

This is achieved by using features such as the use of deictic, anaphoric and cataphoric elements as well as other information implied in the text. Meaning can be inferred from the linguistic elements surrounding a word. By the same token, a sentence like the following: When she arrived home, Nancy watched TV involves a cataphoric use of the pronoun she.

Without a the presence of the subsequent linguistic elements of the sentence one would be unable to know that she refers to Nancy. There are of course other pragmatic elements that contribute to the meaning of sentences. The meaning of these expressions is fixed but what they denote depends on the time and place where the utterance is used. In the following sentence here is deictic referring to the place where the speaker lives: Meaning can also be related to social variables involved in language use.

relationship between language meaning and context

Notions of politeness, shared beliefs, cultural features and social organization play an important role in the interpretation of meaning. For example the participants in the following conversations have different social status which is reflected in their utterances: Buckingham, but can I talk to you for a minute? Hey Bucky, got a minute? The speakers are using markers that show social distance and power relationships. We observe the way that people use language differently and try to explain why this is.

relationship between language meaning and context

This explaining is not always easy. Social context asks a what variations are there in a language and b why do they come about?

Social context is, interesting, exciting and fraught with difficulties. There are very few definite neat answers to things. What we need to do is try to become aware of the way language varies according to who people are, what they are doing, and the attitudes they have to their language.

We need to remember that there has been very little research into the Social context of BSL. This course may well raise more questions than it can answer, but at least we can become aware of the issues involved, even if we cannot come up with a simple answer. Social context will think about variety within a language. Everybody who speaks a language has a very wide linguistic repertoire unless they have very severe learning difficulties, or are learning the language as a foreign language.

This means, they can use language in many different ways, depending on the situation they are in. The sort of language that they use also depends on their social background and social identity.

We have said that Social context looks at the way relationship between society and people and language. What is the relationship between language and people? There are 4 possibilities: For each of these 4 possibilities, try to think of some examples that show the different influences. When you have done so, look at some of the ideas I suggest below. When you have seen my ideas, maybe you can add some more of your own.

We can probably discount number 4: Neither interact with each other or influence each other.

relationship between language meaning and context

Some linguists would like to see language as something pure, abstract and untouched by the real world, like a mathematical formula, but that's just a convenient way of thinking about the structure of language. As soon as we look at people using language we can see that the practical version of this abstraction is much more complex.

In the end we will probably need to say that number three: Society and language influence each other Is the correct way to look at the relationship. Speech and social behaviour are constantly interacting. All the time language is changing because of social contexts and social contexts cause the language to be changed. However, this does not mean that we should not explore the two other possibilities in some depth, because they can enlighten us about the relationship of language and society.

There are two views here - one is more extreme than the other. The first idea is that language is so powerful that it actually affects how you see the world; the second is that is influences the way we think and behave. A linguist called Whorf claimed language actually affects the way you see the world so language is like a pair of glasses through which we see everything.

Whorf said that Hopi and European had different ways of talking about the world, so it influenced the way they saw the world. European languages treat time as something that can be divided up into separate seconds, minutes and days.

Meaning and Context in Language Teaching

Trees and plates can be counted, but water and hope cannot and the language makes distinctions here. The Hopi language treats time as indivisible so that Hopi will not talk about minutes and weeks.

Trees and water are simply treated linguistically as non-discrete items. The result of this claimed Whorf was that the Hopi genuinely see the world differently from Europeans.

Their language structure makes them see the world differently. Unfortunately, for this theory, nobody asked the Hopi if they really saw the world differently. It would seem that they see it just as we do.

Would their world view shift depending on the language they were speaking? Another example of this theory is the often-cited fact that Eskimos have lots of different words for snow, so it means they actually see different kinds of snow, whereas we only see "snow".

Meaning and Context in Language Teaching

But this isn't really true because we can use words to describe the snow if we need to, e. We aren't tuned to thinking about it that way, but if it becomes important, we can easily do so. We might not know the names of different makes of car, but still be able to tell the difference between a Fiat and a Rolls Royce, for all that. So could an Eskimo, even if the Inuit language didn't have the exact words.

Using Context to Determine Hidden Meaning - Eleni Christodulelis - TEDxOhioStateUniversity

Besides which, Eskimos don't really have all those words for snow - it's just one of those pieces of information that everyone repeats and no-one has checked if it's true.

If you check, you find it isn't true! There is an important lesson here that linguists can learn: Any Hopi or Inuit could have told us immediately that this was a load of nonsense, but no-one ever thought to ask them.

Many people, including linguists have done the same when describing sign languages, too. Often they have said things that people have come to believe when deaf signers have known it wasn't true. The point about the story is that this sort of control does not really work, and cannot work because if we do not have words for our thoughts, we just create them anyway.

Still, some politicians and businesses do like to believe that the language we use will affect the way we think about something. So, language doesn't affect what we can see in the world, but it is still possible that language affects people and society because maybe language still affects the way we can think.

Some people say that sign languages don't have abstract signs because all signs are iconic and so deaf people can't think about abstract things like love, bravery, inflation, investment for the future etc. IF this was true, then we could say this was an example of language affecting people.

relationship between language meaning and context

BSL can express anything that English can. A linguist called Basil Bernstein found that middle class children used an "elaborated" code of English in school. This meant they used more abstract words, less context dependent words and more complicated sentences. Working class children seemed to use a more "restricted" code. This meant using more concrete words, more context-dependent and less complicated sentences. So some people but NOT Bernstein said this means working class children can't think in abstract ways because their language doesn't allow them to.

This, of course, is nonsense. Just as with deaf people. All it means is that the children used different ways of expressing the same thing.

relationship between language meaning and context

One example of the way that language is said to affect society is in sexist language. The theory is that language affects the way we view men and women because it treats men and women differently. If you use words like chairman or fireman it implies only men can do the jobs, so women feel left out. It is worth noting, though, that the form of the words can influence our view of things.