4 Language in the real world
Because the focus of this course has been to teach you the terminology you’ll need to describe language, the majority of the examples that you’ve interacted with have been invented. This has been to keep you focused on the feature of language under scrutiny and to reduce the ‘noise’ that can be found in everyday language use. In the real world, you’ll likely find that, although the basic structures of language are present, people like to get creative with how they use morphemes, words, phrases, clauses and sentences. But fear not! You can use your new-found knowledge of language and grammatical structures to be able to explain when people move off the beaten track and use language creatively. Let’s test that knowledge now.
Activity 3 Getting creative
Answer each question using as much language description terminology as you need.
1. What morphemes have been used to create the word ungreenable and what might this word mean?
2. What word class is heart in the sentence I heart New York and why might this be unusual?
3. What component of the clause appears to be missing in the slogan Got milk?
- The bound morphemes un and able have been added to the free morpheme green to create a new word. Potential meanings for this word (based on an understanding of what the different morphemes mean) include a garden that won’t grow, an object that will not turn green, or even someone who will not adopt environmentally friendly habits. You may have thought of other meanings.
- In this sentence the noun heart is acting as a verb. The meaning of this sentence can be taken to mean something similar to ‘I love New York’ with the meaning conveyed through the well-established relationship between the concept of love and the human heart.
- There is no subject in this clause. This may be an example of English following the same pattern as a language like Spanish where the subject pronoun is not written or spoken. This slogan might also be interpreted as a question, asking the reader or hearer if they have any milk. You might also have noticed that the verb got might not be what is expected here as auxiliary have would seem a more likely candidate rather than the lexical verb that has been used.