Introductory: Language Defined
Language a cultural, not a biologically inherited, function.
Futility of interjectional and sound-imitative theories of the
origin of speech. Definition of language. The psycho-physical
basis of speech. Concepts and language. Is thought possible
without language? Abbreviations and transfers of the speech
process. The universality of language.
The Elements of Speech
Sounds not properly elements of speech. Words and significant
parts of words (radical elements, grammatical elements). Types
of words. The word a formal, not a functional unit. The word has
a real psychological existence. The sentence. The cognitive,
volitional, and emotional aspects of speech. Feeling-tones of
The Sounds of Language
The vast number of possible sounds. The articulating organs and
their share in the production of speech sounds: lungs, glottal
cords, nose, mouth and its parts. Vowel articulations. How and
where consonants are articulated. The phonetic habits of a
language. The “values” of sounds. Phonetic patterns.
Form in Language: Grammatical Processes
Formal processes as distinct from grammatical functions.
Intercrossing of the two points of view. Six main types of
grammatical process. Word sequence as a method. Compounding of
radical elements. Affixing: prefixes and suffixes; infixes.
Internal vocalic change; consonantal change. Reduplication.
Functional variations of stress; of pitch.
Form in Language: Grammatical Concepts
Analysis of a typical English sentence. Types of concepts
illustrated by it. Inconsistent expression of analogous
concepts. How the same sentence may be expressed in other
languages with striking differences in the selection and
grouping of concepts. Essential and non-essential concepts. The
mixing of essential relational concepts with secondary ones of
more concrete order. Form for form’s sake. Classification of
linguistic concepts: basic or concrete, derivational, concrete
relational, pure relational. Tendency for these types of
concepts to flow into each other. Categories expressed in
various grammatical systems. Order and stress as relating
principles in the sentence. Concord. Parts of speech: no
absolute classification possible; noun and verb.
Types of Linguistic Structure
The possibility of classifying languages. Difficulties.
Classification into form-languages and formless languages not
valid. Classification according to formal processes used not
practicable. Classification according to degree of synthesis.
“Inflective” and “agglutinative.” Fusion and symbolism as
linguistic techniques. Agglutination. “Inflective” a confused
term. Threefold classification suggested: what types of concepts
are expressed? what is the prevailing technique? what is the
degree of synthesis? Four fundamental conceptual types. Examples
tabulated. Historical test of the validity of the suggested
Language as a Historical Product: Drift
Variability of language. Individual and dialectic variations.
Time variation or “drift.” How dialects arise. Linguistic
stocks. Direction or “slope” of linguistic drift. Tendencies
illustrated in an English sentence. Hesitations of usage as
symptomatic of the direction of drift. Leveling tendencies in
English. Weakening of case elements. Tendency to fixed position
in the sentence. Drift toward the invariable word.
Language as a Historical Product: Phonetic Law
Parallels in drift in related languages. Phonetic law as
illustrated in the history of certain English and German vowels
and consonants. Regularity of phonetic law. Shifting of sounds
without destruction of phonetic pattern. Difficulty of
explaining the nature of phonetic drifts. Vowel mutation in
English and German. Morphological influence on phonetic change.
Analogical levelings to offset irregularities produced by
phonetic laws. New morphological features due to phonetic
How Languages Influence Each Other
Linguistic influences due to cultural contact. Borrowing of
words. Resistances to borrowing. Phonetic modification of
borrowed words. Phonetic interinfluencings of neighboring
languages. Morphological borrowings. Morphological resemblances
as vestiges of genetic relationship.
Language, Race and Culture
Naïve tendency to consider linguistic, racial, and cultural
groupings as congruent. Race and language need not correspond.
Cultural and linguistic boundaries not identical. Coincidences
between linguistic cleavages and those of language and culture
due to historical, not intrinsic psychological, causes. Language
does not in any deep sense “reflect” culture.
Language and Literature
Language as the material or medium of literature. Literature may
move on the generalized linguistic plane or may be inseparable from
specific linguistic conditions. Language as a collective art.
Necessary esthetic advantages or limitations in any language. Style
as conditioned by inherent features of the language. Prosody as
conditioned by the phonetic dynamics of a language.