An Introduction to Romance Linguistics

An Introduction to Romance Linguistics

An Introduction to Romance Linguistics

An Introduction to Romance Linguistics

Synopsis

Filling a major gap in the study of Romance languages and linguistics, this unique reference-text will be of immense value to students and teachers who, up until now, have had to depend upon separate studies of independent languages. This new work combines Romance linguistics with the latest research in Spanish sibilants, origins of Latin American Spanish, Rhaeto-Romanic dialectics, French phonemes, and Brazilian Portuguese. In addition, the book includes representative reading selections with extensive comparative passages and comprehensive bibliography.

Excerpt

Although we all use language, few of us realize what a marvelous skill we possess. The human baby is the only young of any species that has an inclination to babble, and it is now thought that by a process of elimination he finally selects from a very large repertoire the sounds and structure patterns that he hears in his environment. This selection is made for the most part long before he goes to school and his guidelines are fixed by the home first, then by the "street," and in the long run his principal teacher may very well be the "kid across the street."

This language that he has learned quite well, in sound, form, and pattern, by the age of six is only one part of a vast culture that his society presents to him already made through centuries of interaction, and his very nature and way of life will be determined in large measure by this culture. Throughout life the language that he learned will be the key to the rest of his societal behavior, which includes attitudes, concepts, reactions, ways that have been learned in a climate of unawareness and that will be very tenacious in his adult life. These ways of doing things fall into several social categories: association, interaction, play, bisexuality, temporality, territoriality, defense, subsistence, exploitation, etc. One of the best examples of a system of informal culture is the pattern of gestures that a given culture uses. Spanish, for instance, has at least a hundred fairly standardized gestures that are used among 200 million people, and yet few of these hispanos remember having learned them and would have difficulty in describing them. Most of our language, too, has been given to us in a climate of unawareness.

Given the fact that we learn most of the structure of our "native" language without realizing what is going on, and also the fact that this structure tends to be tenacious over the years and even centuries, it is not surprising to note that although vocabulary changes constantly (university campuses demonstrate this), one's pronunciation and grammar change . . .

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