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Glossary

Accent The mode of utterance or pronunciation peculiar to an individual or locality, including stress, tone and pitch.

Accusative The grammatical case which expresses the destination of the action signified by a verb.

Angles A Northern European people from the Jutland peninsula speaking a West Germanic dialect of the proto-English type; known to themselves as "Engle". They gave their name to the English language.

Argot The jargon, slang or peculiar phraseology of a class; originally that of thieves and vagabonds.

Aspirated The manner of articulation of a consonant whereby an audible rush of air accompanies the production of the consonant.

Auxiliary language A third language used as a means of communication by speakers from two different language groups (see Lingua Franca).

Brittonic The earlier language of lowland Britain: its descendents being Welsh, Breton, Cornish and Cumbric. Often referred to less correctly as Brythonic.

Celt or Kelt The generic name of a people, the bulk of whom lived in the central and western part of Europe. Ancient writers applied the term Celt to folk of great stature, with fair hair and blue or grey eyes. Queen Boadicea, strictly "Boudicca", said to have been a red-headed six footer, is representative. In Britain the most Celtic type is to be found in the South of England.

Celtic The languages and cultures of the continental Celts and related peoples in Britain and Ireland.

Conventional Spelling One established by the need for grammatical consistency rather than by orthography.

Colloquial Pertaining to or used in common conversation.

Common-Irish The shared literary language used by educated people in Scotland and Ireland prior to the evangelising of the Highlands at the end of the 18th Century.

Consonant Cluster e.g. "strengths, twelfths".

Copula The word that unites the subject and the predicate of a sentence.

Creole A pidgin which has been adopted as a mother tongue. New Guinea pidgin English is the best known example.

Diacritic A mark added to a letter or symbol indicating a change in its usual pronunciation, e.g. á, ę, ü.

Dialect Any variety of a language including the standard or literary form.

Diaphone All the different forms of a phoneme that collectively occur in all the dialects of a language.

Digraph Two letters denoting one sound: /ph/ in "digraph".

Diphthong A union of two vowels pronounced in one syllable.

Dvorak Keyboard Layout Designed in 1936 by August Dvorak and William Dealey.
" , . P Y F G C R L / =
A O E U I D H T N S
; Q J K X B M W V Z

Ellipsis The omission of a word, or part of a sentence, as being understood by the reader.

Engle See Angles

Erse An early Scottish variant of the word "Irish".

Esperanto See Chapter 5 for main reference.

Etymology The facts relating to the formation or derivation of a word.

Euphony Phonetic tendency towards ease of pronunciation and a pleasing acoustic effect.

Farsi Modern Persian - the official language of Iran.

Friese A language of about 300,000 speakers in Northern Holland, Schleswig, Jutland and over 20 islands in the North Sea. Mutually intelligible with English until the 15th Century. Gives some indication of what a pure form of English would have been like.

Genitive Noun case expressing origin or possession, e.g. "Rome's citizens, John's book".

Glosa An update of "Interglossa" - the elementary Greek and Latin based constructed language invented by Hogben.

Goidelic The earlier language of Ireland: its descendants being Modern Irish, Scottish Gaelic and Manx.

Grammar A system of principles for speaking and writing.

Homonyms Words with different meanings looking and sounding the same.

Homographs Words with different meanings looking the same.

Homophones Words with different meanings sounding the same.

Ideogram, Ideograph A symbol signifying meaning directly and visually, e.g. a Chinese character.

Ideogrammatic, Ideographic Conveying meaning rather than sound. English spelling is perhaps more ideogrammatic than phonemic - making minimal reference to the parallel phonetic system of speech.

Idiom The language of a particular nation or region; or a mode of expression peculiar to a nation or region. An expression characteristic of a particular language which is not logically or grammatically explicable.

Idiomatic Mother-tongue competence, whether or not it is the speaker's first language.

Indo-European A family of languages characteristic of Europe and India. English and Hindi belong to it. Finnish and Tamil do not. Latin, Greek and Persian were descended from it.

Inflection The modification of the form of a word including the declension of nouns, adjectives and pronouns, and the conjugation of verbs.

International Phonetic Alphabet (I P A) A set of phonetic symbols for international use introduced in the late 19th Century, constructed on the basis of the Roman and Greek alphabets with the addition of special symbols and diacritics to indicate fine distinctions in sounds, e.g. nasalisation of vowels, lengths, stress and tones.

Intonation Modulation, or the rise and fall in pitch of the voice.

Ladino An old-fashioned form of Spanish spoken by Sephardic Jews.

Lexicon A word-book or dictionary. A vocabulary of terms used in connection with a particular subject.

Lingua franca A language used as a means of communication by speakers who do not have a native language in common (see Auxiliary Language).

Linguistic Pertaining to languages.

Metonym A word used in a transferred sense, e.g. "the bottle" for "drink".

Monophthong A single vowel sound.

Mood A variable verb function expressing predication (indicative), command (imperative), potential or volition (subjunctive) or will (infinitive).

Morphemes Parts of a word which singly or together convey meaning.

Neologism A new word, or an old word used in a new sense.

Normalise To bring within normal or intermediate standards.

Notional Existing only as a concept.

Notional Pronunciation A pronunciation conceived as a compromise to reconcile a range of diverse accents in order to act as a model for spellings which would find the widest degree of acceptance.

Number Singular or plural.

Old-English (englisc) A West Germanic language almost identical to Old-Friese. Probably the lingua franca of the Roman Army in Britain. Named after the Engle.

Orthoepy The part of grammar that treats of the way a given language is spoken.

Orthography The part of grammar that treats of the way a given language is written.

Pali A Prakrit vernacular which became the sacred language of Buddhism.

Phoneme A notional phonological unit of language, which conveys meaning, and which cannot be analysed into smaller meaningful units.

Phonemic Symbols etc. representing particular phonemes.

Phonetic Representing vocal sounds.

Phonic Concerning speech sounds, esp. the orthoepic interpretation of words when reading aloud.

Phonology The study of the sound system of a particular language.

Phrasal Verb A verb and one or more additional words, having the function of a verb, e.g. "put down, put up, chop down, chop up"

Picts An earlier name of the inhabitants of Scotland. They disappeared from history when they united with the Irish- speaking Scots in the 9th Century.

Pidgin A linguistically simplified, mixed and restricted language used in limited contact situations between people who have no common language.

Pitch The degree of acuteness of sound.

Prakrit One of the "natural" languages of later schismatic Hindu scripts. Three have been used by the Jains.

Pronunciation The action of speaking or articulating.

Received Pronunciation (R.P.) The pronunciation of that variety of British English widely considered to be the least regional, being originally that used by educated speakers in Southern England.

Received Standard The spoken language of a linguistic area in its traditionally most correct and acceptable form.

Reflexive Pronoun A pronoun that relates back to the subject in a sentence.

Relexification Direct substitution of vocabulary: the process of replacing a word or group of words in one language with a corresponding word or group of words from another language but without adjusting the grammar.

Rhotic A dialect or accent in which [r] is pronounced when it occurs before a consonant or a pause.

Romance A general name for the vernaculars which developed out of popular Latin - French, Provencal, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Romanian, Romansch, with their various dialects.

Sanskrit The "perfected/purified" language of the ancient Hindu religious scripts.

Saxons A Northern European people from Northern Germany speaking a West Germanic dialect. The name was generalised to include all Northern Germans. In Britain, used for the Romano-British majority which had adopted Saxon language and ways.

Schwa A short indeterminate vowel, like that at the end of "sofa". By far the commonest vowel sound in English.

Scot The usual name for the Irish in the early Middle Ages. Scots from Dalriada in Northern Ireland took the Irish language to Northern Britain in the 6th Century. Scotland takes its name from them.

Scotia One of the names for Ireland in the early medieval period.

Script A kind of writing, or a system of alphabetical or other written characters.

Semantic Relating to meaning, especially of words.

Shibboleth A word or pronunciation used to distinguish outsiders: originates from the incident described in the Bible - Judges 12: 4-6 (see also Zephaniah 3: 8-9).

Stress Relative loudness or force of vocal utterance through a syllable in a word or a word in a sentence.

Syllabification To divide a word or passage into syllables.

Synecdoche A figure of speech putting part for the whole, or the whole for part.

Syntax The orderly or systematic arrangement of the parts of speech in a sentence.

Tense The form of a verb which indicates the time of the action.

T.O. "Traditional Orthography": the present spelling of the English language, which is not really orthographic at all, by any current standard.

Tone The quality of sound, usually with reference to pitch: high, low, rising, falling, level etc..

Transliteration The action of rendering the letters or characters of one alphabet into those of another.

Verbal Pertaining to or concerned with words, especially in speech.

Vernacular A native or indigenous language. The idiom of the region.

Voice One of two verb forms: active (the object acts) or passive (the object is acted upon).

Voiced A sound whose production involves vibration of the vocal chords, as in [b, d, g, v, z].

Voiceless A sound whose production does not involve vibration of the vocal chords, as in [p, t, k, f, s].

Volapük An artificial language, chiefly composed of materials from European tongues, invented in 1879 by a German priest, Johann M Schleyer, as a means of international communication.

Welsh A name derived from the continental Volcae, which came to be applied indiscriminately to all Western European inhabitants of the Roman Empire. In Britain the word Welsh was probably first applied to speakers of Latin; on the Continent, variants such as Walloon, Wallon, Waalsch, Welsch, Velsk, and Vlach are still applied to the French, the Italians and the Romanians.

Zipf's Law The length of a word tends to decrease as its relative frequency of use increases: i.e. one can generally determine the relative age of a word or phrase by how short it has become.

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