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  1. WORDS
    “Words mean more than what is set down on paper. It takes the human voice to infuse them with deeper meaning.”
    – Maya Angelou

    Context and meaning. This would probably be the surrounding idea behind the quote above yet before elevating and looking through “meaning” it is but significant to dwell on the concrete and tangible: our lexicon. Before we can arrive at the level of ideation and meaningful significance of utterances, we always begin from where it started at the level of words and the study of such. Consequently, the study of words eventually will spring forth meaning and use as it naturally follows; appropriately used in the context of language learning and teaching, the exploration of lexicon and morphology can bring about progressive changes in language classrooms.

    At the structural level of language, word formation and processes on vocabulary collection are the prime interest in language learning set-ups. Traditionally, phonetics and sound-patterns and phonics learning become the take-off point in language classrooms but they remain to be isolated and traditionalist in nature in terms of developing real-world competencies. Speech and pronunciation lessons and items in the curriculum to a point is good but are not essentially developmental but word-formation study is as Lightbown (qtd. in Brown, 2000: 274) claims that “knowing a language rule does not mean one will be able to use it in communicative interaction” just as knowing phonic enunciation is. Yet otherwise morphologic knowledge and competence necessitates understanding and gaining meaning from learning significant sound patterns in usage.

    Second, as this writer is an English junior high school teacher, knowing that second language learners imbued with an over-arching culture and context understands from experience that vocabulary build-up on whole-language approaches and cultural sensitivity in learning lexicon in a target language. In second language learning, the phenomenon of overgeneralization occurs. Defined by Brown (2000) as “the incorrect application- negative transfer- of previously learned second language material to a present second language context” as a second language teacher, this writer constantly uses needs analysis and demographic profiling of learners to suit instruction well. For instance, teaching literature and understanding difficult words from reading selections involve not just knowing etymological background but letting learners “experience” in context.

    Lastly, in actual morphological studies in language classroom settings we are reminded that “the learner’s task is enormous because language is enormously complex” (Lightbown qtd. in Brown, 2000). Significant learning on language items, vocabulary storehouses within learners may be latent in some cases and to some extent to second language learners in general, which might not be ‘felt’ at the onset of lexicon instruction. Nunan and Bailey (2009) support that “learners may simply not produce a particular language structure, lexical item, or speech act at all. It is impossible to conclude that a learner has not acquired an item simply because he or she has not used it in your presence”. Thus, this writer is conscious and cautious enough to place events of language learning instructions that utilize real-world second language usage tasks and authentic assessments.

    We simply do not study words and word-formation processes as they are. “The use of morphology measures is especially warranted in light of complexity trade-offs believed to occur both in language development – when growth in one linguistic domain (e.g. syntax) is temporarily prioritized overgrowth in another (e.g. morphology) – as well
    as cross-linguistically, in the form of balancing effects between different domains of the linguistic system.” (De Clercq & Housen, 2019). Placed in the context of language instruction and second language learning, lexicon and morphology should be objectively studied yet at the same time contextually appropriate.

    References

    Brown, H. (2000). Principles of language learning and teaching. 4th ed.
    Addison Wesley Longman Inc.

    De Clercq, B. & Housen, A. (2019). The development of morphological complexity: A
    cross-linguistic study of L2 French and English. Second Language Research 35
    (1), 71–97. DOI: 10.1177/0267658316674506

    Nunan, D & Bailey, C. (2009) Exploring second language classroom
    research: A complete guide. Cengage Learning Asia Pte. Ltd.

  2. On Speech Acts and Conversation Analysis
    – “The only reason why we ask other people how their weekend was is so we can tell them about our own weekend.”
    – Chuck Palahniuk, Invisible Monsters

    And this is the start of a speech act. The quote above is a familiar situation wherein we exercise that fundamental human attribute that makes us ‘superior’ creatures: the ability to produce speech and hold out communication. Human communication, that is. Getting into a conversation using the given scenario above implies that the audience/receiver is also interested in making a ‘contribution’ to the speech situation, given that he/she will respond [and if he/she does] and to what the reply entails because “in the reformulation of speech act theory by Bach and Harnish (1979, as cited in Sbisa, 2002, p. 422), deeply influenced by Grice’s intention-based and inferential view of communication, the success of the speech act (qua communicative illocutionary act) is defined in terms of the recognition of the speaker’s communicative intention by the hearer”. Thus, it is always essential to identify and recognize each interlocutor’s intention in analyzing speech situations. Referring again to the quoted scenario, the reply of the receiver is actually insignificant because whether or not the answer is affirmative or otherwise, the first speaker (sender of the question) will talk about his/her weekend anyway. This may sound ironic but definitely, it is true in real situations.
    Further, Sbisa (2002) elaborated that
    This context-dependence must have some source, which may be traced back to the fact that language use is always situated. In fact, language is regularly used in such a way that there is an agent who counts as being responsible for its use within the framework of some activity, and such situatedness of speech acts requires their context to be limited. Secondly, if a speech act is produced and understood in a context and is, therefore, a situated event, it seems reasonable to think that it should be evaluated with respect to that context. (p. 427)
    Practically speaking, conversation initiators, the ones who begin or open turn-takings will always carry the intention of saying something from their own context, yet pry others of the question they themselves would like to answer. And this happens as a manifestation of interlocutor’s personality as Mairesse and Walker (2006) elucidated that “many studies have identified cues associated with personality at different linguistic levels, including acoustic parameters (Smith et al. 1975), lexical categories (Pennebaker & King, 1999) and more complex phrases (Gill & Oberlander, 2002). The extraversion/introversion dimension has received the most attention as it is the most important one for discriminating between people (Peabody & Goldberg, 1989)” (p. 544). As found in this study, the “talkers” [as in the sender in our template scenario] are the ones with the intention to “over” fulfill the maxims of Grice. In that given context we see through the underlying notion that the speaker wants to say something yet guised it as a question first and then eventually elaborating the question as to his own answer. And this happens all the time. This writer has had significant interactions and situations wherein he participated in conversations that were governed or controlled by interlocutors who are conceited and self-serving participants.
    Nowadays, with the limited face-to-face interactions, it is good to note the conversation that transpired along with Messenger group chats, online sites, and social media forums. Meredith (2019) explains that “the concept of affordances suggests that any object affords particular possibilities for interaction, but what properties are relevant and how they are used only emerges through the interaction between actors and those objects. The physical properties of an object, in this case, a particular technological platform, may impact how a user interacts with that technology, but the social norms and expectations also matter. Therefore, whether an affordance exists depends entirely upon the relationship between the actor and the property. Affordances are not static features of technology, but are features that can be seen by users as having a number of potential actions associated with them”. Even in group chats among varying degrees of relationships, a brief run-through reveals how interactants “present” themselves as these are pointed out in the manner of the acts and turn-taking strategies. A noticeable aspect of the “seen zone” and “like-zoned” in Messenger takes consideration into how one is aware and non-responsive to the conversational thread or if one knows and is well-aware of but does not bother to respond or in some contexts, selectively replying to. Yet the ‘flow’ of communication is evident with multiple markers of conversational threads and patterns. Personality traits and conversation participants is an exciting as well as exacting field of inquiry as any human communication study will seek to uncover. This inherent capacity of dynamism in interactions makes the study of language more than complicated, is that it is rewarding. As it is said by the poet Rainer Maria Rilke:
    “A person isn’t who they are during the last conversation you had with them – they’re who they’ve been throughout your whole relationship.”

    References

    Mairesse, F. & Walker, M. (2006). Words mark the nerds: Computational models of personality
    recognition through language. Proceedings of the Annual Meeting of the Cognitive
    Science Society, 28 (28), p. 543-548. https://escholarship.org/uc/item/0285b37z

    Meredith, J. (2019). Conversation analysis and online interaction. Research on Language and
    Social Interaction, 52 (3), p. 241-256. DOI: 10.1080/08351813.2019.1631040

    Sbisa, M. (2002). Speech acts in context. Language & Communication, 22 (4), p. 421–436.
    ISSN : 0271-5309