Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Are Some Languages Better than Others?$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

R. M. W. Dixon

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780198766810

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198766810.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.oxfordscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2019. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use (for details see www.oxfordscholarship.com/page/privacy-policy).date: 22 May 2019

How languages work

How languages work

Chapter:
(p.23) Chapter 2 How languages work
Source:
Are Some Languages Better than Others?
Author(s):

R. M. W. Dixon

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198766810.003.0002

This chapter is an informal sketch of how a language operates, and how it relates to the social and geographical milieu in which it is spoken; how systems of vowels and consonants can be of varying size, and how word structures may be simple or intricate. It also looks at the value of tones and the reason why what is a distinction in the vocabulary of one language may be coded within the grammar of another. All modern languages have something which would have been missing from a putative primitive tongue—words which ‘shift’ reference depending on who is talking to whom, and where and when: demonstratives ‘this’ and ‘that’, pronouns ‘I’ and ‘you’, and time words such as ‘today’ and ‘tomorrow’. There is then discussion of word classes, and the advantages and disadvantages of one word belonging to two classes.

Keywords:   phonology, redundancy, tones, shifters, pronouns, demonstratives, word classes

Oxford Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs , and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us .