Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Language and 'a language'

Difference between 'Language' and 'a language'
Language refers to a system of communication unique to human beings that makes use of written and vocal symbols. A language, on the other hand is a subcategory of this type of communication peculiar to a particular people, region, geographical region or socio-political background. For example, Creole languages are largely spoken in the Caribbean and Hindi largely spoken in India.
 In other words Language refers to the system of human communication and is a more general term than a language which is a given variety spoken by a given speech community (read country). The distinction is usually made by capitalizing the 'L' of the more general term.
Creole as a Languages
Creoles are considered languages as they meet the general requirements of a language. They are:
1. Human
2. Systematic
3. Complex
4. Symbolic
5. Evolutionary/Maturational
6. Arbitrary (In their assignment of meaning to symbols)
Characteristics of Creole Languages: Jamaican Creole & Standard English
*Lexifier language: Language from which the majority of lexical (vocabulary) items are derived.
Creoles vary from their Lexifier (European) languages in many ways. Some of those aspects are listed below:
1. Grammar
Creoles make use of unmarked or bare nouns, verbs and pronouns. Inflection is usually indicated by use of a particle. Examples:
                    English                                 Jamaican Creole
Bare Noun:  Boy+s (pl)                            Boy dem (pl)  (dem is a particle that indicates plural)
Bare Verb:   Ran (past)                            Did/Ben run (past) (Did/Ben are particles that indicate past tense)
Bare Pronoun: Its colour (possessive)     Fi it colour ('Fi' is the particle that indicates possession/ownership)
2. Sound 
Consonant Clusters
Certain sound combinations that are allowed in English are not permissible in Creole and must change in order to conform to the rules of pronunciation. For example, Creoles do not accept consonant clusters beginning words. Hence, *Sm sounds as in Smith are broken up by a vowel to produce  --> Sumith. Words with *Th sounds as in thin drop the 'h' sound to produce tin and them becomes dem etc.
Metathesis
In some Creoles, namely JC certain sounds are switched around. So, 'film' for example becomes flim, 'ask' becomes aks etc. This is referred to as metathesis.
3. Vocabulary
Though they get a significant portion of their lexicon (vocabulary) from European language, creoles have different words to refer to the same object/referent in English. For example, 'girl' in English is 'gyal' in JC; 'child' is 'pikni' and 'eat' is 'nyam' etc.
4. Semantics
Words in English take on different or additional meaning in Creole. This is seen clearly in the naming of Jamaican body parts. For example, foot in JC is used to refer to the entire leg, calf, ankle and foot in English. Jc does not make those above mentioned distinctions in English. In JC 'tears' are referred to as 'eye water', in Guyanese Creole a homosexual man is referred to as an 'anti-man', Trinidad refers to the fruit 'guinep' as 'chenet' and the list goes on...

Conclusion: Creole as a language is human, complex, symbolic etc, in its own merit. What other examples of differences between Creole and Lexifier can you identify?

Primary Data Collection Methods


Primary Data: Data collected firsthand by researcher
Secondary data: Data retrieved from books, journals etc
1. QUESTIONNAIRES
These are a collection of questions that the respondents complete on their own. They are used when factual information is required. When opinions are required an opinionnaire is used. This is constructed in a similar manner as a questionnaire. A questionnaire is used with all research designs. There are approximately three ways in which a questionnaire can be administered:
  1. Personally
  2. Via the telephone
  3. Via the mail
2. INTERVIEWS
These can either be structured or unstructured. They comprise a group of questions administered to the respondent face to face. The structured interviews comprise a set of precisely formulated questions, which are asked of a respondent. The unstructured interviews allow the respondent to respond to a stimulus question. It is very informal and allows for the respondent to speak for as long as he/she wants. These are used in qualitative research and case studies, but can be useful in surveys especially social
surveys.
3. OBSERVATION 
Observation is the systematic noting and recording of events, behaviors, and artifacts (objects) in the social setting chosen for study. The observational record is frequently referred to as field notes - detailed, nonjudgmental, concrete descriptions of what has been observed. For studies relying exclusively on observation, the researcher makes no special effort to have a particular role in the setting; to be tolerated as an unobtrusive observer is enough. Observation can range from a highly structured, detailed notation of behavior structured by checklists to a moreholistic description of events and behavior.
4. ATTITUDE OR SENTIMENT SCALES
These are used to measure attitudes, beliefs and opinions of a respondent. They can be used with all types of research, but more specifically with surveys and action research.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Research Instruments
Research Instrument is designed specifically to collect data to provide answers for a given research question.
 Questionnaire
 Strengths
§  Facilitates data collection of large population
§  Less time consuming than other methods
§  Allows for anonymous responses
§ Is easily administered
Weaknesses
  • Not very economical (paper expenses etc)
  • Does not allow for probing responses
  • Responses can be misleading (especially if researchers are not around to clarify)
  • Limitations posed by the literacy of the respondents
Interview
STRENGTHS
  • Provides in-depth information
  • Allows the researcher more flexibility
  • Can yield a high volume of data
WEAKNESSES
  •  May result in unnecessary information
  •  Can be affected by researcher's biases
  •  Can be time consuming
  • Data collection is heavily dependent on the respondent’s schedule
  • The respondent’s memory can be poor, yielding inaccurate information.
Observation
STRENGTHS
  • Facilitates the collection of primary data
  • Comparatively lessens respondents bias and possible interference
  • It can yield a high volume of data
  • It allows for researcher flexibility
WEAKNESSES
  • Can be affected by researcher's bias
  • Reactions of the respondents may be misinterpreted
  • Important and relevant data may be missed as chosen times of observation may not be    appropriate or even significant
  • May be affected by Observer’s Paradox where the person being observed exhibits behaviour they feel is expected.