Linguistics/Glossary

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Descriptivism - Observation of how language is used. This is generally the method used in linguistics. (Cf. prescriptivism)

Morpheme - An individual unit of meaning in a word. For example, the word uninterested may be analyzed as consisting of three morphemes: un-, interest, and -ed. (Morphemes are sometimes also considered to contain units which have no basic phonological representation, see reduplication, truncation).

Morphology - The study of how units of meaning are combined together to create words. The basic units of reference in morphology are morphemes.

Phone - A unit of sound or a gesture used to produce one in a language. Note that different phones may have the same underlying representation in a language (see phoneme).

Phoneme - A class of phones which contrast with other phonemes in a language. For instance, in English the phoneme /t/ is realized as a plosive at the beginning of a word (e.g. term) but as a flap between vowels in most positions (e.g. butter), while in other languages these two sounds are different phonemes.

Phonetics - The study of the different types of sounds used in human language and how they are produced and perceived. The basic units of representation in phonetics are phones.

Phonology - The study of how languages group phones together and use them to encode meaning. The basic units of representation in phonology are phonemes.

Prescriptivism - Ruling on how language should used. This is common in language instruction but is generally irrelevant to linguistics. (Cf. descriptivism)

Register - a different type of speech adopted by a language-user depending on context

Rounding - "puckering" of the lips while producing a phone, most commonly a vowel