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Every human knows at least one language, spoken or signed.
Linguistics is the science of language, including the sounds, words, and
grammar rules. Words in languages are finite, but sentences are not. It is this
creative aspect of human language that sets it apart from animal languages,
which are essentially responses to stimuli.
The rules of a language, also called grammar, are learned as one
acquires a language. These rules include phonology, the sound system,
morphology, the structure of words, syntax, the combination of words into
sentences, semantics, the ways in which sounds and meanings are related, and
the lexicon, or mental dictionary of words. When you know a language, you know
words in that language, i.e. sound units that are related to specific meanings.
However, the sounds and meanings of words are arbitrary. For the most part,
there is no relationship between the way a word is pronounced (or signed) and
Knowing a language encompasses this entire system, but this
is different from behavior (called performance.)
You may know a language, but you may also choose to not speak it. Although you
are not speaking the language, you still have the knowledge of it.
However, if you don't know a language, you cannot speak it at all.
What is literature? Why do we read it? Why is
Literature is a term used to describe written or
spoken material. Broadly speaking, "literature" is used to describe
anything from creative writing to more technical or scientific works, but the
term is most commonly used to refer to works of the creative imagination,
including works of poetry, drama, fiction, and nonfiction.
Why do we read literature?
Literature represents a language or a people:
culture and tradition. But, literature is more important than just a historical
or cultural artifact. Literature introduces us to new worlds of experience. We
learn about books and literature; we enjoy the comedies and the tragedies of
poems, stories, and plays; and we may even grow and evolve through our literary
journey with books.
Ultimately, we may discover meaning in
literature by looking at what the author says and how he/she says it. We may
interpret the author's message. In academic circles, this decoding of the text
is often carried out through the use of literary theory, using a mythological,
sociological, psychological, historical, or other approach.
Whatever critical paradigm we use to discuss and
analyze literature, there is still an artistic quality to the works. Literature
is important to us because it speaks to us, it is universal, and it affects us.
Even when it is ugly, literature is beautiful.