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Language Strata : Producing Meaningful Expressions

Composed by :
Vilya Lakstian

              Producing language is not a kind of random things. All language units are grouped into a whole-structured arrangement supported by logical and conceptual idea. It happens consciously or unconsciously. Human has produced this way in the long period of time. Linguistics tries to comprehend this issue. This language science wants to make theoretical basis coming from what human has done through their communication. In this article, writer has attention to share his knowledge toward the stratum in language. This idea comes from the background which Firth (1967) had developed language strata. Language is created semantically from the produced sounds. How does it look like? Here we go!

Phonological Stratum
                This idea is resulted from the fact that language is formerly produced from sounds. Before general languages have been transcribed and documented, people in the past had done it. Coming from small units of sound, they become phonemes. Let us focus on the sounds /b/, /u:/, and /k/. How do those sounds create in meaning? Can we use them in /u:kb/, /ku:b/, /kbu:/ or /bu:k/? It is why phonological stratum is being talked here. Which one has a meaning? Yap!  That is /bu:k/ (book). In its development, minimal pair may happen like in the word /tu:k/ (took).

Lexical Stratum
                From the previous stratum, what do they result? That’s right! They create lexemes. The words “book” and “took” are lexemes in the form of noun and verb (past form).  Those words have meanings as the characteristic of lexical units. “Book” refers to “pieces of papers (plain or written) commonly grouped with cover and pages”.  “took” which is a V2 from “take” (take – took – taken) literally means “to grab, to get something”.

Grammatical Stratum
                Let us start from reading the sentence,
    Ralph : “I go office bring book take raincoat hard rain”
                Compare it with,
    Ralph : “I go to the office by bringing those books and taking raincoat because of the hard rain”

                The first sentence is so damn odd for us. It is different with the second. The sentence with bold words contributes in resulting a meaningful utterance. Those words also indicate the existence of grammatical cohesion with the descriptions of article, preposition and conjunction. Grammatical cohesions help language users in creating an expression with logical and conceptual way. It also enhances expression.

Semantic Stratum
                Those words in the previous correct sentence are grouped into a whole-comprehended meaning.  It sounds like, “there is a man who goes to the office with many books and wearing raincoat to face the happening hard rain”. The whole meaning is taken from the unity of semantic concepts had by every language unit. The language units consist of noun, verb and adjunct. They are also supported by their roles as subject, predicate and complement.
                We have known about language stratums. It is important to respect about their occurrences in language activities. Linguists should have concern to these phenomena too. For detail readings, you can read the following references:

Bloomfield, L. 1933, Language, London: George Allen and Unwin
Firth, J.R. 1957, Paper in Linguistics, London, Oxford University Press
Ventola, Eija. Text Analysis in Operation: A Multilevel Approach. University of Helsinki


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The writer has attention towards Linguistics. It makes him focus on Linguistic research since he was in Bachelor Degree. He is now studying in Master of Linguistics. He is a researcher staff and Literature Division in "Balai Penelitian dan Kajian Sosial". He always watches and participates in many events, then writes them in this blog. He also develops his talent in music with Solo Jazz Society, a Jazz community in Solo, Indonesia. So, enjoy....!! Thanks

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