Principles Regarding the Language & Their Education Implications
· The linguistic principles can be described as follows:
I. Language is a system:
· Language is a system like that of the human body. He system of the body functions through various organs such as the heart, the lungs etc. the system of language functions through three constituents, e.g. the sounds, the structures and the words.
· There can’t be any utterance without making use of sounds, structures or vocabulary.
· In fact language is a system of systems. It is a system of phonological, grammatical and lexical systems. The whole system of language can’t be taught whatever the number of years devoted to its study. So the principle that language is a system stresses the importance of selection and gradation of language material. It is because of this reason that in structural approach. The structures and vocabulary items are carefully selected and graded.
II. The system of language is arbitrary:
· There is no relationship between a particular symbol and the object denoted by it. For example, why do we call a particular object ‘tree’ or another object ‘stone’? There is no relationship between the symbol ‘tree’ and the object denoted by it. The same is true in the case of ‘stone’ or other items of vocabulary. It is a matter of convention. Once the convention is set, it is not for the individual to break it.
· The same is true of question and answer forms. Why is that? “Is this a tree?” is a question. And “This is a tree,” a statement. It is also a matter of convention.
III. Language is a system of symbols:
· Symbols are representations of things rather than the things themselves. The word ‘boy’ is not a boy. It stands for a boy. Language functions best only when the symbols are known to the speaker and the listener, the writer and the reader.
IV. The symbols of language are vocal:
· Language uses vocal symbols which are made up of speech sounds. These sounds are produced by human beings through various movements of the vocal organs.
· Language is primarily speech, writing is only secondary. A language lives on the tongues of the people. This principle stresses the importance of oral work in teaching a language.
V. Language is learned:
· Language is a learned activity. It doesn’t come automatically, as walking does. The child is not born with the skill of speaking. He has to acquire it after he is born. If a child were to be isolated from society or brought up in the company of deaf people, he wouldn’t be able to pick up any language.
· We know that children pick up languages by listening to their parents, relatives and friends. They put in strenuous efforts to learn their mother tongue.
· Since language is a learned activity.
VI. Language is for communication:
· The chief purpose of language is communication. We use language to inform others, to ask them to do certain things or to express our feelings or emotions. For this purpose it is important that we acquire the right type of pronunciation which is intelligible to others. Teacher should, therefore, pay attention to correct speech on the part of students.
VII. Language is cooperative:
· Sara is baking and asks “Do you have a cup sugar” but Ayesha passes her a cup of salt, so this is an uncooperative example of language.
VIII. Language is related to the culture in which it exists:
· A language is the product of a particular society and culture. It has meaning only in relation to that society and culture. The Eskimos, for example, have so many different words in their language for ‘snow’. It is because ‘snow’ plays an important part in their lives. But other speakers don’t have that number of words for ‘snow’. In England to ask a person his salary is considered ill-mannered, but it is not so in Pakistan. The way of greeting, saying thanks etc. are different in different countries. It is because of cultural differences.
IX. Language is made up of habits:
· According to Jespersen, “Language is a set of human habits, the purpose of which is to give expression to thoughts and feelings”. The system of language is to be mastered at the habit level. When a person speaks his mother tongue, he doesn’t consider the position of the various speech organs while making the meaningful noises.
X. Language is social behavior:
· The features of language aren’t inherited in the biological sense, that is, heredity doesn’t predispose a person to learn one language more easily than another. Language is social behavior. A child picks up the language of hos environment. If a child born in Sind is brought up London, he will pick up English, but if he is taken away to Moscow, he will learn Russian
XI. Language is unique:
· Each language is unique. No two languages have the same sound, grammatical or lexical systems. All languages differ in this respects.so fresh efforts have to be made to learn a language.
XII. Languages changes:
· Language isn’t static. A living language like human beings, changes, if we study the history of any language, we shall notice the numerous changes that have taken place in it over the year.
· Changes take place in all aspects of language. This is more so in the case of vocabulary. Words come and go. They are born and die. Words are invented according to need. We have noticed that thousands of words have been added to Urdu language after independence. English too has borrowed words from various languages. Besides this, words change their meaning from time to time. The word ‘sad’ once meant ‘full to brim’, Well-fed’. Then it meant ‘solid’. Later on, it was applied to a person who was reliable and firm. Then it got its present meaning.
· It is true to say that vocabulary is the least stable part of a language. Change in sounds also taken place. If we hear English as it was spoken 500 years ago, we shall be hardly able to make it out. Likewise, changes also occur in the grammatical system of language.
· The implication of the fact that language changes is that the teacher should teach current usage or descriptive grammar rather than prescriptive grammar.