2.5 What is Linguistic knowled

English Notes
BSL Video

What is Linguistic knowledges 


People who have knowledge of their language know when their language is being used correctly and can judge when something spoken or signed is "not right" or "strange". Signers and speakers have an implicit knowledge of the rules of their language and know that some things are acceptable and some are unacceptable in the language.

When we know a language we create a "grammar" for it that shows we know the rules about things like:

  • the order of elements in a sentence, for example, WOMAN LAUGHS-HEARTILY is considered the correct order, but LAUGHS-HEARTILY WOMAN is not acceptable.
  • its vocabulary, for example, knowing and understanding different regional signs. There are regional differences in BSL for signs for colours, numbers and a range of other signs such as PEOPLE and NEWS.
  • its pronunciation, for example, when a sign moves, do you move your hand from the wrist or the elbow?. In the sign THOUSAND, signers know that the movement should come from the wrist and not from the elbow.
  • the morphology of the language, for example, what sort of information can we get in BSL verbs or adjectives? The sign WAIT can contain extra information to make signs like WAIT-BRIEFLY, WAIT-A-WHILE and WAIT-A-LONG-TIME. The basic sign LOOK can change to show LOOK-CAREFULLY and LOOK-DOUBTFULLY. The sign WALK can change to show WALK-WITH-EFFORT or WALK-HAPPILY-AND-RELAXED. On the other hand, signers know that we can't change the sign CAT to mean VERY-EFFORTFULLY-CAT. We know that there are some times to sign WANT and AGREE with some changes, but others are not acceptable. 

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