Glossary

A user-friendly jargon equivalency enumeration.

æ/ÆAsh. (lower and upper case) Pronounced as the <a> in cat.

Cognate – words that are cognates have the same etymological root somewhere in the deep recesses of language.

Descriptivist – Someone who observes language and describes it without judgement. This is what Linguistics aims to do.

Illocutionary force – the intended meaning behind an utterance, whether written or spoken. This doesn’t need to match with the general meaning of the utterance – in fact, it rarely does! For example ‘Do you have a plunger I could borrow?’ in most cases means ‘If you have a plunger I could borrow, please give it to me’ – though this does not avoid the facetious response of ‘Yes I do have a plunger you can borrow. Would you like to borrow it?’

Morpheme – put simply, the smallest bit of language that has its own meaning. The ‘un’ in unfinished – it’s not a word of its own, but it has meaning.

Old English – The language spoken in England from (mumble mumble) the fifth century until 1066 (although actually it carried on longer). A Germanic language. The slightly-archaic name for it is Anglo-Saxon.

Phatic talk – communication that serves the purpose of expressing, establishing and maintaining social relationships, rather than imparting information.

Phonotactic(s) – the permissible combinations of sounds in a language. Every language is different, and will allow (and forbid!) different clusters of vowels and consonants at different points in a word. For example, the word pterodactyl is of Greek origin, where a ‘pt’ cluster at the start of a word is acceptable. English doesn’t allow this (though we do have it at the end of a syllable, like apt or adopt), so we have to adjust the way we pronounce the word.

Plosive – in artiuclatory phonetics, a sound which is made by completely blocking off the airway in the mouth before releasing it. English examples of plosives include p, t and k sounds.

Prescriptivist – Someone who sets the rules of language and dictates right and wrong.

Received Pronunciation – hard to exactly pin down, RP is an accent of English associated with (for example) the Queen, the BBC, and ‘speaking properly’. It is a Southern variety of English often modelled as ‘correct’ or ‘proper’ and referenced in dictionaries – though in reality, very few people actually speak with an RP accent.

þ/ÞThorn (lower and upper case) – a runic character, pronounced ‘th’ as in ‘I really am the laziest person you’ve ever met’ or ‘th’ as in ‘just try and think of someone lazier. See? You can’t’. In Old English it is interchangeable with ð/Ð, Eth.

Sociolinguistics – the study of language in society, and how it is affected by a whole plethora of factors, such as age, class, gender, culture, etc.

2 responses to “Glossary

  1. Pingback: Is Texting Ruining our Language? | so long as it's words

  2. Pingback: Is swearing really so bad? | so long as it's words

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