Edward Sapir > Language: An Introduction to the Study of Speech > Subject Index > Page 57
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Edward Sapir (1884–1939).  Language: An Introduction to the Study of Speech.  1921.
 

Page 57
 
as in English, but in sta “from” the t is clearly “aspirated,” like that of time. In other words, an objective difference that is irrelevant in English is of functional value in Haida; from its own psychological standpoint the t of sting is as different from that of sta as, from our standpoint, is the t of time from the d of divine. Further investigation would yield the interesting result that the Haida ear finds the difference between the English t of sting and the d of divine as irrelevant as the naïve English ear finds that of the t-sounds of sting and time. The objective comparison of sounds in two or more languages is, then, of no psychological or historical significance unless these sounds are first “weighted,” unless their phonetic “values” are determined. These values, in turn, flow from the general behavior and functioning of the sounds in actual speech.
  These considerations as to phonetic value lead to an important conception. Back of the purely objective system of sounds that is peculiar to a language and which can be arrived at only by a painstaking phonetic analysis, there is a more restricted “inner” or “ideal” system which, while perhaps equally unconscious as a system to the naïve speaker, can far more readily than the other be brought to his consciousness as a finished pattern, a psychological mechanism. The inner sound-system, overlaid though it may be by the mechanical or the irrelevant, is a real and an immensely important principle in the life of a language. It may persist as a pattern, involving number, relation, and functioning of phonetic elements, long after its phonetic content is changed. Two historically related languages or dialects may not have a sound in common, but their ideal sound-systems may be identical patterns. I would not for a moment wish to imply that this pattern may not change. It may

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