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Glossary- language structure terms (modified from Moats, 2000)

 

 Glossary-  language structure terms  (modified from Moats, 2000 and Moats, 2010))

Term Definition
R-controlled syllable Pertaining to a vowel immediately followed by the consonant /r/, such that its pronunciation is affected or even dominated by the /r/.  
Affricative Consonant phoneme articulated as a stop before a fricative, such as /ʧ/ or /ʤ/.  
Allophone A predictable phonetic variant of a phoneme, such as nasalized vowels.  
Alphabetic principle The use of letters and letter combinations to represent phonemes in an orthography.  
Alveolar Consonant spoken with the tip of the tongue on the ridge behind the upper teeth, such as /t/.  
Antonyms Words considered to represent opposite meanings.  
Bilabial Consonant formed with the lips together, such as /b/.  
Bound morpheme A morpheme, usually of Latin origin in English, that cannot stand alone but is used to form a family of words with related meanings. A bound root (such as –fer) has meaning only in combination with a prefix and/or a suffix.  
Clause A syntactic structure that contains a subject and a predicate; clauses can be either independent or dependent.  
Closed syllable A syllable where the vowel is followed by a consonant, as in hat.  
Coda The part of a syllable that comes after the nucleus or peak.  
Connotative meaning The affective and experiential associations conjured up by a word.  
Consonant A phoneme that is not a vowel and is formed with obstruction of the flow of air with the teeth, lips, or tongue; also called a closed sound in some instructional programs; English has 40 or more consonants.  
Consonant aspiration The phenomenon of releasing a stop consonant with a puff of air; contrasted with unaspirated, without a puff of air.  
Consonant blend Adjacent consonants within a syllable, before or after a vowel sound.  
Consonant cluster Adjacent consonants within a syllable, before or after a vowel sound; oral language equivalent of the term consonant blend.  
Consonant digraph Written letter combination that corresponds to one speech sound but is not represented by either letter alone, such as th or ph.  
Consonant-le syllable A syllable where the consonant is followed by "le," as in table.  
Content words Nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs; words that carry most of the meaning in a sentence.  
Derivational morpheme Morphemes, added to roots or bases to form new words, that may or may not change the grammatical category of a word.  
Derivational morpheme Morphemes, added to roots or bases to form new words, that may or may not change the grammatical category of a word.  
Descriptive grammar A linguist's description of what speakers unconsciously learn about the rules of their language.  
Diphthongs Vowels that have a glide and may feel as though they have two parts, especially the vowels /æu/ as in house and /ɨo/ as in oil; some linguistics texts also classify all tense vowels as diphthongs.  
Discourse Structure Organization of connected sentences.  
Distinctive features Phonetic properties of phonemes that account for their contrast with other phonemes.  
Free morpheme A morpheme that can stand alone in word formation.  
Fricative A class of speech sound articulated with a hiss or friction.  
Function word Belonging to the grammatical classes of words that are notcontent words, including conjunctions, articles, pronouns, prepositions, and auxiliaries; these are closed categories to which new words are seldom added.  
Generative (grammar) The quality of rule structure that allows an infinite number of specific, novel expressions.  
Glide A consonant phoneme that glides immediately into a vowel; also called semivowel.  
Glottal When the vocal air stream is stopped completely by closing the opening between the vocal cords (the glottis).  
Grammatical category Traditionally called a part of speech; members of a category can be used only in certain specified ways within the structure of a sentence.  
Grapheme A letter or letter combination that spells a single phoneme; in English, a grapheme may be one, two, three, or four letters, such as e, ei, igh, or eigh.  
Homorganic nasal rule Rule that a consonant that follows a nasal consonant will be produced in the same place of articulation as the nasal (contact).  
Inflection A bound morpheme that combines with base words to indicate tense, number, mood, person, or gender; contrasts with derivation (peaches, walking).   There are only eight inflectional(grammatical) suffixes in modern English: <s> plural <'s> possessive <-s> agreement <-ing> progressive <-ed> past tense <-en> past participle <-er> comparative <-est> superlative
Irregular spelling Word spellings that are not based on predictable sound-symbol patterns of English.  
Labiodental Consonant sound articulated with the lower lip and upper teeth.  
Lax Short vowels produced with little tension in the vocal cords; contrasts with tense.  
Lexical semantics The study of meanings of words and their relationships.  
Lexicon The mental dictionary of a speaker; the part of linguistic memory that contains knowledge of words.  
Linguistic context The context provided by the language in which a word is embedded.  
Liquid Speech sound in which air is obstructed but not enough to cause friction.  
Minimal pair A pair of words that contrast only in one phoneme.  
Morpheme The smallest meaningful unit of language.  
Morphology Units of meaning (morphemes) within words.  
Morphology The study of meaningful units of language and how they are combined in word formation.  
Morphophonemic Pertaining to rules or aspects of language that specify the pronunciation of morphemes; pertaining to a writing system that spells meaningful units (morphemes) instead of surface phonetic details in speech; a characteristic of English orthography.  
Nasal Spoken with the air stream directed through the nasal cavity.  
Non-verbal communication Messages or meanings conveyed in a way other than through words, but perhaps including vocal behaviors and characteristics such as pitch or loudness of voice.  
Non-vocal communication Messages or meanings conveyed in a way other than through words or vocal behaviors, such as body movement, positions, postures, timing, use of objects, etc.  
Noun phrase (NP) The syntactic category of expressions containing some form of noun and capable of functioning as the subject or object in a sentence.  
Noun phrase (NP) The syntactic category of expressions containing some form of noun and capable of functioning as the subject or object in a sentence.  
Obstruents Consonants that are produced with an obstruction of the air stream, including stops, fricatives, and affricates; contrasts with sonorants.  
Open syllable A syllable where nothing comes after the vowel, as in he.  
Orthographic ending rules Spelling patterns that govern addition of endings to words with certain syllable types.  
Orthography Spelling patterns.  
Orthography A writing system.  
Palatal Spoken with the tongue against the roof of the mouth behind the alveolar ridge.  
Peak The part of the syllable, usually the vowel, that carries the most vocal energy; also called the nucleus.  
Phoneme A speech sound that combines with others in a language system to make words.  
Phonetics The study of linguistic speech sounds and how they are produced and perceived.  
Phonology Speech sounds (phonemes).  
Phonology The rule system within a language by which phonemes are sequenced and uttered to make words; also, the study of this rule system.  
Phrasal grammatical category A constituent of a tree diagram depicting sentence structure that is potentially larger than one word.  
Phrase A syntactic structure that contains one or more words but does not contain both a subject and a predicate (verb); may fill either the subject or the predicate slot in a sentence and may combine with other phrases to form a complete sentence.  
Pragmatics Communication in context.  
Pragmatics The system of rules and conventions for using language and related gestures in social contexts; the study of that rule system.  
Prefix A morpheme that precedes a root or base word and that contributes to or modifies the meaning of a word; a common linguistic unit in Latin-based words.  
Prescriptive grammar The attempts of grammarians to define, legislate, or dictate proper use of language in a culture.  
Regular spelling Word spellings that are based on predictable sound-symbol patterns of English.  
Root A morpheme, usually of Latin origin in English, that cannot stand alone but that is used to form a family of words with related meanings.  
Schwa A nondistinct vowel found in unstressed syllables in English.  
Semantic class A group of words that are treated as members of a category.  
Semantic features A symbol system of pluses and minuses used to denote abstract qualities of noun meaning.  
Semantic field A group of words connected by meaning associations, such as all of the words that denote the quality of height.  
Semantic properties The component features of the meaning of a word.  
Semantics Phrase and sentence meaning.  
Semantics The study of word and phrase meanings.  
Sentence A group of words that has at least a finite verb; a complete sentence has a noun phrase (subject) and a verb phrase (predicate).  
Situational context The context for comprehending language that is provided by the person who is speaking, the person who is listening, the objects or experiences that are being referred to, and other background information.  
Sonorants Speech sounds that are spoken with resonance and continuancy, including vowels, glides, liquids, and nasals; contrasts with obstruents.  
Stop Consonant speech sound that is articulated with a stop of the air stream.  
Stressed Accented syllable articulated with greater loudness, duration, or pitch.  
Suffix A morpheme, added to a root or base word, that often changes the word's part of speech and that modifies its meaning.  
Syllabary A writing system designed to represent syllable units with single symbols.  
Syllabic consonant Consonant that becomes the nucleus of a syllable; liquid and nasal consonants may be syllabic.  
Syllable Unit of pronunciation that is organized around a vowel; it may or may not have consonants before or after the vowel.  
Syllable boundary Division between adjacent syllables, which is not always the same in speech as in print.  
Synonym A word that means the same or almost the same thing as another.  
Syntax Phrase and sentence structure.  
Tense Linguistic term for a long vowel, spoken with tension in the vocal cords.  
The Historic Layers of English: Anglo-Saxon, Latin (Romance), Greek  
The six syllable types of English Six different syllable configurations, organized around the vowel nucleus of the syllable, characterize English syllables and predict the pronunciation of the vowel; regularized by Samuel Webster to justify his 1806 dictionary's division of syllables.  
Transformation An operation that converts the constituents of a sentence structure into a different sentence structure by adding, deleting, or rearranging those constituents.  
Transitive property The property of verbs that must be followed by a direct object.  
Unstressed Unaccented syllable.  
Velar Speech sound articulated with the tongue on the ridge behind the teeth.  
Verb Phrase (VP) The syntactic category of a phrase that contains the verb and that can function as the predicate of a sentence.  
Verb Phrase (VP) The syntactic category of a phrase that contains the verb and that can function as the predicate of a sentence.  
Vowel An open phoneme that is the nucleus of every syllable and is classified by tongue position and height, such as high/low or front/mid/back; English has 15 vowel phonemes.  
Vowel digraph (also called vowel team) A vowel grapheme or spelling that uses two or more letters for a single speech sound.  
Vowel height One of the two parameters in distinguishing vowels. The others are tongue position and lip rounding.  
Vowel nasalization The phenomenon that each time a vowel is spoken before a nasal consonant, that vowel is nasalized.  
Vowel-consonant-e ("silent –e") syllable A syllable which ends in a silent "e" after one consonant, as in smile.  
  Moats, L. (2000). Speech to Print: Language Essentials for Teachers of Reading & Spelling.  Baltimore: Brookes Publishing Co.

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