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NLPA Intro to Language by Mind Map: NLPA Intro to Language
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NLPA Intro to Language

high level elements


smallest element of natural language that carries a meaning when uttered in isolation

"minimal free form" (Bloomfield)

words and their properties are compiled into dictionaries or lexica

word structure and relationship is governed by morphology


composed of phrases

usually contain a verb (in some languages, implied)

represent: statements, questions, commands

a grammatical unit

sentence structure is governed by grammar

low-level elements


"The smallest segmental unit of sound to form meaningful contrasts between utterances."

[b] [a] etc.


usually defined in terms of a vowel nucleus plus extra consonants

often defined as the smallest actual speech utterance that cannot be "interrupted"

unlike phonemes, there are few constraints on combining syllables

can be defined statistically in terms of a compact description of the constituents of language

can mostly be combined freely with other syllables

unlike words, syllables do not necessarily have any meaning





language allows us to communicate meaning

describe a scene

describe past or future actions

interact socially

exceptions: occasionally, language is used just for its sound or decorative effect


language is composed of elements that represent real-world objects and actions

the physical structure of the individual elements (letters, words, etc.) can be completely arbitrary and unrelated to the object it represents

symbols are discrete rather than continuous

"categorical perception" of phonemes

exceptions: stress and prosody in spoken language may be continuous to some degree


language is mostly linear = 1-dimensional

that's a consequence of the fact that the primary source of language is human verbal communication

NLP algorithms operate on 1D sequences of symbols

exception: some South American writing systems, document layout, sign language