Prof. Dr. Jürgen Strauss:

Key-concepts for the "Zwischenprüfung" regarding George Yule. The study of language. CUP 1985 (rev. ed. 1991). –



NB:  I will ask no questions relating to chapters 4 and 17, but keep in mind that other colleagues may find key-concepts from these chapters important, too).


Chapter 1 The origins of language

The divine source; The natural sounds source; The oral-gesture source; Physiological adaptation; Speech and writing (interactional function – transactional function)


Chapter 2 The development of writing

Pictograms and ideograms; Logograms (cuneiform writing); Rebus writing; Syllabic writing; Alphabetic writing (Cyrillic alphabet); Written English


Chapter 3 The properties of language

Communicative versus informative; Unique properties; Displacement; Arbitrariness; Productivity (fixed reference); Cultural transmission; Discreteness; Duality; Other properties (vocal-auditory channel; reciprocity; specialization; non-directionality; rapid fade)


(Chapter 4 Animals and human language

Teaching chimpanzees; Washoe; Sarah and Lana; Nim Chimpsky;

Hans, Buzz and Doris; The controversy)


Chapter 5 The sounds of language

Phonetics (three branches!); Voiced and voiceless sounds; Place of articulation (bilabials; labiodentals; dentals; alveolars; alveo-palatals; palatal; velars; glottals; glottal stop); Charting consonant sounds; Manner of articulation (stops; fricatives; affricates; nasals; liquids; glides); Vowels; Diphthongs


Chapter 6 The sound patterns of language

Phonology; Phonemes; Minimal pairs and sets; Phones and allophones; Assimilation ('schwa'); Elision


Chapter 7 Words and word-formation processes

Word-formation processes; Coinage; Borrowing; Compounding; Blending; Clipping; Backformation; Conversion; Acronyms; Derivation; Affixes; Prefixes and suffixes; Infixes; Multiple processes


Chapter 8 Morphology

Morphology; Morphemes; Free morphemes; Bound morphemes (derivational and inflectional morphemes); Morphological description; Problems in morphological description; Morphs and allomorphs; Other languages (reduplication)


Chapter 9 Phrases and sentences; grammar

Grammar; Types of grammar; The parts of speech; Traditional grammar; Traditional categories; Traditional analysis; The prescriptive approach; Captain Kirk's infinitive; The descriptive approach; Structural analysis; Immediate constituent analysis; Labeled and bracketed sentences


Chapter 10 Syntax

Generative grammar (generative; generate); Some properties of the grammar; Deep and surface structure; Structural ambiguity; Different approaches; Symbols used in syntactic description; Labeled tree diagrams; Phrase structure rules; Transformational rules


Chapter 11 Semantics and pragmatics

Semantics and pragmatics: definition); Neither God nor Humpty Dumpty; Conceptual versus associative meaning; Semantic features; Lexical relations; Synonymy; Antonymy; Hyponymy; Co-hyponyms; Homophony. Homonymy and polysemy; Interpreting what speakers mean; Context (co-text; physical context); Deictic expressions; Presupposition; Speech acts (direct and indirect speech acts)


Chapter 12 Discourse analysis

Interpreting discourse; Cohesion; Coherence; Speech events; Conversational interaction; The co-operative principle (four maxims: quantity; quality; relation; manner); Background knowledge (inference; schemata)


Chapter 13 Language and machines

Speech synthesis; Artificial intelligence; Parsers; Understander-systems; ELIZA; SHRDLU


Chapter 14 Language and the brain

Parts of the brain; Broca's area (production); Wernicke's area (understanding); Supplementary motor area; The localization view; Other views; Tongue tips and slips (tip-of-the tongue phenomenon; Malapropism [e.g. sextant]; slip-of-the-tongue; Spoonerism [e.g. noble tons of soil]; slips-of-the- ear); Aphasia; Broca's aphasia (agrammatic); Wernicke's aphasia (anomia); Dichotic listening (right ear advantage); The critical period; Genie


Chapter 15 First language acquisition

Basic requirements; The acquisition schedule; Some controversies; Caretaker speech; Pre-language stages (cooing; babbling); The one-word or holophrastic stage; The two-word stage; Telegraphic speech; The acquisition process; Morphology (overgeneralization); Syntax; Questions; Negatives; Semantics (overextension)


Chapter 16 Second language acquisition/learning

Acquisition barriers (acquisition and learning; optimum age; empathy); Acquisition aids; Grammar-translation method; Direct method; Audiolingual method: The communicative approach; Acquisition processes (interference; interlanguage)


(Chapter 17 Sign language

(Oralism; Signed English; Origins of ASL; The structure of signs; The meaning of signs; Writing in ASL; ASL as a linguistic system)


Chapter 18 Language history and change

Family trees (diagram of Proto-Indo-European languages); Family relationships; Cognates; Comparative reconstruction (majority principle; most natural development principle); Language change; Old English; Middle English; Sound changes; Syntactic changes; Lexical changes (broadening; narrowing); The process of change (diachronic and synchronic view)


Chapter 19 Language varieties

The Standard Language (Standard English); Accent and dialect; Regional dialects; Isoglosses and dialect boundaries; The dialect continuum; Bilingualism; Language planning; Pidgins and Creoles


Chapter 20 Language, society and culture

Social dialects; Education, occupation, social class; Age, sex; Ethnic background (Black English); Idiolect; Style (situational varieties; style-shifting); Register; Diglossia; Language and culture; Linguistic determinism; The Sapir-Whorf hypothesis; Language universals