Idiomatic Phrases Have Been the Foundation Research Proposal

Pages: 9 (2886 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 3  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Communication - Language

¶ … idiomatic phrases have been the foundation upon which civilization was developed, with the evolution of romance, trade and government being directly related to the corresponding availability of words with which to express an individual's unverbalized thoughts. Indeed, words have power and history has also shown that they have even been the source of costly wars and the peaceful settlements that ended them. Today, although most people use far less than a million words in their working vocabularies, it is reasonable to suggest that there have been billions of words formulated over the millennia that have come and gone as times changed. The manner in which an otherwise random assortment of letters becomes part of the lexicon, though, has varied from the prehistoric era where humans were restricted to interaction with a few dozen other humans to the 21st century, where interactions take place on a global basis with thousands and thousands of others. Not surprisingly, etymologists and lexicographers are hard-pressed today to keep up with the dynamic lexicon that exists today, but there are some common features concerning how words become words that provide some interesting insights into what communication tools humans need and what steps are needed to formally add a word to a language. This paper provides a review of the relevant peer-reviewed and scholarly literature to determine how words, to use a modern idiom, "hook up" with the world to wend their way into the working vernacular. A discussion of the meaning of the word, "word," is followed by a review of the literature to identify the traditional steps that have been followed to officially designate new words and to suggest rebuttals to those who would disagree with these steps because of the dynamic and global nature of human interaction today. A summary of the research and an analysis of further conclusions that be drawn from these findings are presented in the conclusion.

Statement/Explanation/Background of the Research Questions

Research Proposal on Idiomatic Phrases Have Been the Foundation Upon Assignment

Like the Supreme Court justice who suggested that he could not define pornography, but "knew it when he saw it," most people know what words are but would have some problems articulating a precise definition for them. For instance, according to Katamba (1994), "We use words all the time. We intuitively know what the words in our language are. Nevertheless most of us would be hard pushed to explain to anyone what kind of object a word is." In fact, while it may be possible to pantomime even abstract concepts such as "copper wire" or "telephone" so that people without a common language will understand, defining the word "word" defies this simplistic approach. In this regard, Katama emphasizes that, "If a couple of Martian explorers (with a rudimentary understanding of English) came off their space-ship and stopped you in the street to enquire what earthlings meant by the term WORD what would you tell them? I suspect you might be somewhat vague and evasive. Although you know very well what words are, you might find it difficult to express explicitly and succinctly what it is that you know about them." What does the typical person in the 21st century in the United States or the UK really know about words, though? Many people in the West may intuitively recognize the Latin and Greek roots for most of the words in the English language, but the etymological history of these words is probably not part of this personal body of knowledge. Despite this dearth of understanding, or perhaps because of it, understanding how words become part of the working language of a society has assumed some new relevance and importance in a world increasingly networked together in inextricable ways by the Internet and international trade. As Katamba points out, "We too have an interest in understanding words because they play such an important role in our lives. It is impossible to imagine human society without language. And equally, it is impossible to imagine a human language that has no words of any kind. It is impossible to understand the nature of language without gaining some understanding of the nature of words." To this end, this paper used the structure described below to answer the guiding research questions, "How do words hook up with the world, what is the meaning of word, is it something in the head, something in the world, and something in between, or something beyond them."

Structure of the Study

The review of the literature proceeds in an inverted pyramid fashion, with a general overview of how various authorities have defined words and how they become part of the working language of a society. An analysis of relevant counterpoints by authorities of an opposing view is followed by a discussion concerning how the processes by which words become words have changed in fundamental ways over the centuries to the point where lexicographers no longer represent the sole arbitrators of what qualifies as a word. A summary of the research and answers to the guiding research questions are presented in the conclusion.

Review and Discussion

As noted in the introduction, words truly do have power. Throughout history, loves have been lost, wars have been fought (and continue to be fought) and nations are built on the power of words. According to Vernon (2008), "It is because of their power to change a life that sayings appealed to ancient philosophers. Transformation, not just understanding, was the goal of their intellectual exertions. A wise thought was like a rudder: it oriented the bow so that the sails of life could fill." When wise but abstract thoughts require strict interpretation in a fashion that others can understand, the process in the past is largely the same as it is today. People select words or parts of words with known meanings to communicate their thoughts, and when the existing lexicon is inadequate to the changing needs of a society, new words and idiomatic phrases emerge to satisfy these needs. This was and remains particularly true of the English language. For instance, Lighter (2000) emphasizes that, "With an alacrity uncommon among the world's languages, English can make nouns into verbs almost by sleight of hand: no special grammatical endings are needed."

In the past, the process by which such new words and idioms found their way into the working vernacular of a society could take centuries or even longer, with communication being restricted by virtue of a lack of efficient transportation, widespread illiteracy and a paucity of printed books which remained too costly for average folks until relatively recently in the human record. There was also the not inconsequential matter of getting a word passed the powers that were at the time, and this could be a daunting endeavor all by itself. According to Babowice (2007), "The study of words is called lexicology. A dictionary, which lists all the words we use, is called a lexicography. Words are constantly being recycled, re-defined and re-used, and inventions prompt the creation of new words. Your parents thought 'fly' meant to soar in the air, but you know that it also means you look really good. Your grandmother couldn't have known about DVDs was when she was your age - they weren't invented." These lexicographical compilations have been the gold standard by which words have been measured for their acceptability. In this regard, Mcarthur reports that, "The first dictionary of English, the Table Alphabeticall of 1604, was a small book of 3,000 entries 'conteyning and teaching the true writing, and vnderstanding of hard vsuall English wordes, borrowed from the Hebrew, Greek, Latine, or French, & c." (sic) Indeed, before the Industrial Revolution, lexicographers could take their time and debate the merits of including a new word in a dictionary, for example, and at the time, these lexicographers represented the supreme authority concerning whether a new word would qualify for inclusion or not.

With the advent of the telegraph and telephone, though, things started to change in major ways and cross-cultural interactions between more common and frequent, and foreign words and phrases became widespread among international trading partners. Following two major world wars where millions of people were exposed to foreign lands and languages and the introduction of modern telecommunications in the latter half of the 20th century, these processes became so accelerated that new words and idiomatic phrases and peppering the English language on a daily basis today. Adding to the increasing consternation of lexicographers trying to keep up with these rapid changes in language is the fact that people from different countries are developing their own online version of languages to help them communicate in a mutually understandable fashion, and "bloggers" coined the term long before the word found its way into a modern dictionary.

In this environment, words can become part of the working vernacular with far more rapidity than in years past, but more importantly, perhaps, words are finding their way into languages in ways that have never been used before. Politicians and policymakers alike recognize the importance of communicating their… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

Two Ordering Options:

Which Option Should I Choose?
1.  Buy full paper (9 pages)Download Microsoft Word File

Download the perfectly formatted MS Word file!

- or -

2.  Write a NEW paper for me!✍🏻

We'll follow your exact instructions!
Chat with the writer 24/7.

Organizational Values Organizational Foundations Visiting Nurse Service Discussion Chapter

Philosophical, and Empirical Foundations of Psychology Argument Term Paper

Health Care Reform Has Been a Hot Research Paper

Forensic Science Term Paper

Foundation Problems in Clay Soils Literature Review

View 200+ other related papers  >>

How to Cite "Idiomatic Phrases Have Been the Foundation" Research Proposal in a Bibliography:

APA Style

Idiomatic Phrases Have Been the Foundation.  (2008, December 8).  Retrieved September 24, 2020, from

MLA Format

"Idiomatic Phrases Have Been the Foundation."  8 December 2008.  Web.  24 September 2020. <>.

Chicago Style

"Idiomatic Phrases Have Been the Foundation."  December 8, 2008.  Accessed September 24, 2020.