LANGUAGE FORM

Different languages have different ways to name objects of thought. We can say a dog in English; in German ein Hund, in French un chien, in Greek σκυλος, and in Russian собака.

All these words have different forms, but they will refer in context to the same object of thought that we name a dog in English.

A cat in English will be eine Katze in German, or un chat in French, γάτα or γάτος in Greek, or кот in Russian.

In English, a chat can be a conversation, a gat may mean a channel or passage. Kot might be a Yeniseian language.

Language forms happen to differ, but they also happen to be very similar. We always need to know the language and the context, to see what the language form denotes: a picture of a cat is not a cat.

Language form is word form. Psycholinguistics has “body language” for a figure of speech. There is no language without syntax, and our bodies are not word order. Sign languages are a different matter.

To work on language form, we can use virtual words. Invented or virtual words have word shapes, but they have no meaning. They can help exercise syntax. Children invent words spontaneously to play, and also to practice language.

We can have two invented verbs, bimmo and theemo. They can show places for head verbs. Bimmo can be as a regular verb; theemo can behave like an irregular verb.

Past Simple


Present Perfect

I bimmoed.
I theemoed.

I have bimmoed.
I have theemoen.

We can have two invented nouns, phimmo and rheemo.

Our virtual verbs are gillyflower. Our invented nouns can be carrot. The colors occur less in print, and invented words are just to help exercise. They are not to replace language.

Try our ■→COLOR CODE.

Virtual words can help learn speech sounds. Our virtual words have the sounds {f}, {b}, {th}, and {r} in the same word position. The sounds happen to be difficult to learners, just as telling [I] from [I:]. We have these in “phimmo” and “rheemo”.

Kids might say things as “phimmo bimmoes rheemo”, not only for fun, but also for real language practice. Virtual words allow exercise on linguistic form solely. This means we can work as in school, but easier.

As in ■→MIND PRACTICE, let us think about exercise 24, use ■→GRAMMAR VISUALS and have fun (!)

1. Phimmo will bimmo rheemo. 2. Rheemo has theemoen phimmo. 3. Rheemo theemoed phimmo. 4. Phimmo is theemoing rheemo. 5. Rheemo will be bimmoing phimmo. 6. Phimmo will have theemoen rheemo. 7. Phimmo had theemoen rheemo. 8. Rheemo was bimmoing phimmo.

We can use virtual words with most exercises — if and as we like.
■→5.2. PRACTICE: VIRTUAL WORDS AND REAL SYNTAX
■→10.3. WORKOUR FOR REAL-TIME TALK: LEARN TO SAY THEEMO

■→This text is also available in Polish.


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