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Prescriptive Rule

What SHOULD occur in a language as opposed to what actually does.

Descriptive Rule

What DOES occur in a language as opposed to what should.


When sound switch places in a word. "aks" to "ask".


meaningful sting of sounds. "d-o-g".


The thing represented by the signifier. "The actual dog."

Grimm's Law and Sir William Jones

System of sound correspondences. (think cognates)


Smallest unit of sound. (distinguish meaning)


Variants of a phoneme. (puck and cup)


block airflow


dont block airflow


puh and buh words

minimal pairs

one is voiced and the other is not.


stops, fricatives, and fricates. (obstruction in your mouth)


Nasals, liquids, glides.

Tense vowels are long


Lax vowels are short


Great Vowel Shift

Around c. 1300


/t/, /id/, /d/, /z/, /s/, /Iz/ (plurals)
will be /z/ if word ends in a vowel
/Iz/ if word ends in a sibilant (/ch/ or /dg/)
/s/ if noun ends in a voiceless sound.


Bound and free. bound have to be attached to a word (suffixes) and free are actual words/

Past Tense Marker

/d/, /t/, /Id/


Vowel variation. (sing, sang, sung.)


/s/, /z/, /Iz/

Past Participle Ending

-en, -ed.

Indefinite Article

a, an

Zero plural

deer, sheep, fish (used to be fishes).

Closed class morphemes

free, but do not combine. (and, the, a)

Derivational Morphemes

A bound or free morpheme that forms a new word. (uptalk). Changes noun to a verb, etc. -ly, -age, -ness, a-, im-, in-.

Inflectional Morphemes

indicates something about a word's grammatical function such as number or tense. suffixes, plurals, conjugations, etc.

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