At the end of each chapter, there is a list of key terms. These are the most relevant and should be understood. The glossary given here tries to be somewhat comprehensive, and lists key terms, non-key terms, and some common terminology not used in this book, but perhaps used elsewhere. Don't attempt to memorize the glossary! There are online glossaries as well, e.g. see the SIL glossary.

A - BC - D - E - F - G - H - I - JKL - M - NO - P - QR - S - TU - VW
ablative case
The case used in a number of languages, e.g., Latin, to express direction or movement away from the object marked by ablative. In English, the preposition from would be used instead.
accusative case
The case of the object or prepositional object, only visible on pronouns in English, e.g. me, in He saw me, also called the objective case.
A form of a creole that has moved towards the standard.
A sentence in which the doer of the action is the subject, as in I saw an elephant.
A word which often describes qualities, e.g. proud; it modifies a noun.
E.g. proudly; it is similar to an adjective but it modifies a verb, adjective, or other adverb.
Cannot stand on its own, e.g. an ending such as -ing, see chapter 2, where the more specific terms prefix and suffix are used.
Process where an affix belonging to an auxiliary 'hops' and attaches to the verb immediately to the right of the auxiliary.
African-American English (AAE)
A variety associated with descendants of African slaves brought to North America, also called AAVE (African American Vernacular English).
Consonant that is a mix of a stop and fricative, e.g. [d3].
E.g. -s in she walks, ending on the verb that 'agrees' with the subject.
Initial consonant rhyme.
Consonant made by placing the tongue behind the upper teeth, as in [n] and [s], see chapter 2.
Consonant made by placing the tongue in the post-alveolar area, e.g. [3], see chapter 2.
Word (lexical ambiguity) or sentence (structural ambiguity) with more than one meaning.
Changing the form of a word to pattern with a grammatically related word, e.g. went becoming gone.
Describes a language that has few endings to express grammatical relations, such as subject and object, but uses word order and prepositions instead.
The penultimate syllable is the last but one, and the antepenultimate is the one before that.
A word with the opposite meaning, e.g. hot/cold, good/bad.
appositive NP
The second NP in Tegucigalpa, the capital of Honduras.
The deliberate use of an older form, e.g. using thou in Modern English.
A, an, the in English.
When the character of the action is emphasized, as in he is reading, rather than when the action took place.
Release of air, e.g. the [t] in ten; one feature lost in Grimm's Law.
attributive adjective
Term not used in this book; an adjective that modifies a Noun inside an NP.
A `verb' that cannot stand on its own, but that 'helps' (combines with) another verb, e.g. have in They have seen a riot.
back vowel
Vowels such as [u], [o], and [a], distinguished from front vowels such as [i], [e], and [�, see chapter 2.
bare infinitive
Infinitive without a to, e.g. leave in I saw her leave.
A form of a creole that is closest to the creole, see chapter 9, section 4.
Underworld jargon; the jargon of an occupational or other group.
In English, case is only visible on pronouns. Thus, she in She saw me has nominative case, i.e. is used in subject position, and me has accusative or objective case, i.e. is used in object position.
Languages spoken in Europe and the British Isles but partly replaced by Germanic and Latin, see chapter 1.
Unit containing a lexical verb, see also main clause, subordinate clause.
closed class
Class of words that cannot easily be changed. Typically, these are prepositions, pronouns, auxiliaries, i.e. the grammatical words.
The English of the London population; in the 18th century typical of a certain social class.
code switching
Alternating between two languages or varieties.
Words with a common origin, e.g. Dutch melk, German Milch, and English milk are cognates.
Creating a new word.
collective noun
Grammatically singular but semantically plural, e.g. furniture.
Collocation enables us to see words in context and to see that some words are often used with other words. This provides an indication of the meaning of the word.
Informal register.
comma intonation
A break in speech, e.g. to indicate background information. In writing, this is indicated through commas, hence the name.
common noun
Noun referring to a general entity, e.g. canyon, person, or building, as opposed to proper nouns that refer to specific objects, e.g. The Grand Canyon, George Washington, or The Taj Mahal.
Forms such as greater that compare one situation or entity with another.
Similar to object.
E.g. that/if/whether, connects two clauses, one subordinate to the other.
Word formation rule that combines two independent words, e.g. desertbroom.
The person putting the letters in a mold to prepare for printing.
Not used in this book, except in quotes. It is a general term to describe a word that joins two or more words or phrases or sentences together. There are subordinating (that) and coordinating (and) conjunctions. We use complementizer and coordinator respectively.
Sound such as b, p, f, v, t, k, made by somehow modifying the airstream, see Chapter 2.
A word that is shortened, e.g. he's for he has.
Two language varieties becoming more similar, e.g. due to increased communication.
The process that creates a new word, e.g. the verb to fax from the noun fax, without any change to the word.
Connecting two phrases or clauses that are equal to each other by means of e.g. and.
coordinating conjunction
Not used in this book; same as coordinator, q.v.
Connects two phrases or clauses that are equal to each other, e.g. and/or, also called coordinating conjunction.
A verb with a subject predicative, typically to be or to become.
Set of (usually electronic) texts that are representative of a language, variety, or stage of a language.
count noun
A noun that can be counted and made plural, e.g. computer in two computers and many computers, as opposed to non-count nouns such as furniture where a classifier such as piece is needed to count or pluralize.
A language that is acquired by children on the basis of a pidgin. It is very analytic.
dangling modifier
An adverbial clause whose subject is not the same as the subject of the main sentence.
degree adverb
Adverbs that indicate degree, e.g. very, too, so, more, most, quite, rather.
Consonant made when tongue touches the teeth, e.g. [�, see chapter 2, also called interdental.
Prefixes or suffixes that build words and contribute to the meaning, e.g. anti-.
Describing what language users really say, as opposed to what they 'should' say (=prescriptivism).
Word that points or specifies, e.g. the.
A situation where there are two codes (dialects, languages, or registers) where one code is used under very different circumstances than the other, e.g. government vs. family.
A vowel consisting of two parts.
direct object
Object of a verb such as eat, see, and enjoy. For instance, him in They saw him.
discourse marker
Usually an adverb that serves to indicate the mood of the speaker, e.g. well, actually, hence, also called a mood marker.
When two sounds that are similar are made less similar.
Verb that has both a direct and indirect object, e.g. tell, give.
Two language varieties becoming more different.
A special kind of number agreement, where two are indicated.
A word used to fulfill a grammatical requirement, see dummy do and dummy subject below.
dummy do
If no auxiliary is present in a sentence, do is used with questions and negatives.
dummy subject
If a subject is not present, it or there are used, also see pleonastic subject, typical for an analytic language.
Early Modern English
Abbreviated as EMod, the period from 1400 to 1650.
See past participle.
Word or phrase left out to avoid repetition, e.g. in He wrote a poem and painted a picture, the subject of painted has been left out.
Term not used in this book. It is the result of eliding, see above.
embedded sentence/clause
A clause or sentence inside another phrase or sentence/clause.
A social and philosophical movement in the 18th century characterized by a firm belief in reason, leading to the American and French Revolutions, as well as to a criticism of religious organizations.
When a sound is inserted in between two other sounds, e.g. milek for milk.
The history of a word.
external change
Change brought about by political or social events, see chapter 1, section 3.
Estuary English
A variety of English spoken in London and along the river Thames and its estuaries in Southeastern England.
An exact copy, produced usually by photography, as in figure 4.1.
finite verb
A verb expressing agreement and tense (past or present).
Book printed by folding a sheet of paper once so that one side contains two pages.
folk etymology
Modification of a word based on a (mis)interpretation of its history.
formal language
Language used in formal situations such as ceremonies, formal lectures, meeting a government official.
Consonant made when air escapes in a slightly obstructed way, e.g. [f], [s], see chapter 2.
Making a stop into a fricative.
front vowel
Vowel made with the tongue to the front, as with e.g. [i], [e], and [�, see chapter 2.
When a sound is fronted, often used for vowels.
function word
Not used in this book, alternative to grammatical category or word.
functional category
Not used in this book, alternative to grammatical category or word.
Phrases (and clauses) have functions such as Subject and Direct Object. In Old English, they are expressed through cases, and in Modern English through word order.
genetic (classification)
Grouping languages together that have a common ancestor (e.g. Indo-European is the ancestor of Germanic and Romance).
genitive case
The case that a possessive has, e.g. Catweazle's in Catweazle's book.
A verbal noun that ends in -ing. When it has a subject, this subject bears genitive case e.g. John's in John's cleaning up would be appreciated.
A sound that has characteristics of both a vowel and a consonant; it easies the transition between a consonant and vowel; Modern English examples are [j] and [w].
Consonant made closing the glottis, as the [t] in bottle sound in some variaties of English.
Not used in this book. Adjective that can be modified in terms of degree, e.g. very happy, happier.
The rules to form and understand language. In this book, we focus on how to analyze sentences, rather than full texts, words, or sounds. We also focus on descriptive, rather than prescriptive rules.
A sentence (or word) that native speakers consider acceptable.
grammatical category/word
Word with little meaning, e.g. Determiner, Quantifier, Auxiliary, Coordinator and Complementizer.
The change from lexical to grammatical word, e.g. the shift from the full verb will meaning 'want' to the auxiliary will indicating future tense.
Great Vowel Shift
The raising of long vowels in ME, e.g. meet changing from [met] to [mit], see chapters 2 and 7.
Grimm's Law
Name given to a set of sound changes that differentiate the Germanic languages from the other Indo-European ones, see chapter 3.
An English-based creole spoken by African Americans along the coast and on islands of South Carolina, Georgia, and NE Florida.
high vowel
Vowels made with the tongue in the highest position, e.g. [i] and [u], see chapter 2.
The same pronunciation for two different words, e.g. tale and tail.
Movement at the end of the Middle Ages emphasizing each individual's ability to decide good from bad by means of rational inquiry.
Mixture of two different languages, e.g. renew having a prefix re- derived from Latin and a stem new from English.
When speakers are so conscious that a prescriptive rule exists that they make a mistake.
Construction that doesn't have a nominative as subject, e.g. me thinks ...
Group of languages that includes among others English, Germanic, Celtic, Slavic, Latin, Greek, and Sanskrit, see chapter 3.
See present participle.
A command such as Go away, shut up!
A 'normal' sentence, i.e. not asking a question, indicating a wish or command.
indirect object
Object that can be preceded by to or for, e.g. Doris in Clovis gave Doris a flower.
Form such as to go, to be, to analyze; it is one of the non-finite constructions; its ending in Old English is abbreviated as INF.
Grammatical markers to indicate case or agreement; in this book alternatively used with 'endings'.
informal language
Language used in informal situations such as casual conversation. In/formality depends on the situation, the participants, the topic.
inkhorn term
A 16th century term to criticize the (over)use of latinate/difficult terms.
innate faculty
Enables us to acquire language.
instrumental case
Case expressing which noun is the 'instrument' through which the action is done.
internal change
Change that speakers are usually not aware of and that follows expected paths such as voicing between vowels.
interrogative pronoun
Pronouns that indicate a WH-question such as who left. They are in form similar to relative pronouns.
interrogative sentence
A question such as Who will go there?
A verb without an object, e.g. laugh, swim.
irregular verbs
The past tense and past participle of these verbs are not formed by adding -ed to the present, as in the case of regular verbs. Some examples of irregular verbs are: go, went, gone; see, saw, seen; write, wrote, written.
A line on a dialect map separating areas where a linguistic feature is different, e.g. the presence of [r].
Technical terminology of a particular group, e.g. computer jargon; also used for certain pidgins.
Compound poetic phrase, such as hronrad 'whale-road' to mean `sea'.
A consonant made by closing the lips, e.g. [p], [b], [m], see Chapter 2.
lexical category
Word with lexical meaning, such as a Noun, Verb, Adjective, Adverb, and Preposition.
lexical verb
Verb that can stand on its own, e.g. see, walk.
light verb
Verbs such as make, do, take with a very general meaning that combine with nouns, as in take a walk.
lingua franca
A language used by many other than its own native speakers, e.g. English at the moment.
linguistic knowledge
Knowledge about linguistic notions and rules that we have in our heads, e.g. consonants and vowels, structure, question formation.
The study of language.
Consonants such as [l] and [r].
locative case
Case expressing the place of the noun in that case, see e.g. chapter 2, section 5.
low vowel
Vowel made with the tongue in lowest position, e.g. [� and [a] in English.
main clause
Independent clause, i.e. a sentence that can stand on its own, minimally containing a subject and a predicate and not embedded within another clause.
A sound or construction that is cross-linguistically unusual.
Relating to the Middle Ages, a time period from about 1000-1450, characterized in Europe by a dominance of the Catholic church.
A form of a creole that is between the creole (basilect) and the standard (acrolect).
The switching of sounds, e.g. gars becoming grass.
mid vowel
Made with the tongue in intermediate position, see figure 2.2, e.g. [e] and [o].
Middle English
Abbreviated as MidE, the period between 1150 and 1400.
Auxiliary such as must, will, would, can, could that expresses necessity, uncertainty, possibility.
Modern English
Abbreviated as ModE, the period from 1650 to the present.
An element whose function is to modify another element, e.g. purple in purple sage.
Describe the quality of something.
Having a single origin.
Rules for how to build words, e.g. formal + ize, see chapter 1.
multiple negation
When two or more negative words (not, nobody) occur in the same clause, e.g. I didn't eat nothing.
Change in meaning from general to more restricted.
A sound produced with a lowered velum so that the air excapes out of the nose, e.g. [m] and [n], see chapter 2.
E.g. not or n't, or a negative word such as nothing.
New word, either borrowed or 'invented'
nominative case
The case of the subject, only visible on pronouns, e.g. she in She left early.
non-count noun
Nouns that cannot be counted or pluralized, e.g. rice or furniture, see also count noun.
non-restrictive relative
A clause that provides background information to the noun it modifies; is often set apart from the rest of the sentence through commas or comma intonation, also called appositive clause.
A word such as table, freedom, book, love.
A word such as one, two. They can be seen as Adjective or Determiner.
objective (accusative) case
In English, case is only visible on pronouns, e.g him, in Hermione saw him. Objects typically get this case, hence the name objective.
object predicate
Often realized as an AdjP, NP, or PP, making a claim about the object, e.g. nice in I consider her nice. It occurs together with a complex transitive verb such as consider, elect.
A word whose sound suggests the object, e.g. cuckoo.
The system of writing. Also used to describe a spelling system or proposal for reform, e.g. John Hart's.
Phonetic process moving the sound forward, e.g. a [g] changing to a [j].
The study of old handwriting.
A list of forms that are related to each other, see e.g. chapter 4, section 4.
A verb form occurring either accompanied by an auxiliary, or on its own heading a non-finite clause.
Similar in form to prepositions and adverbs, but only used together with a verb.
passive auxiliary
A form of to be used together with a past participle. For instance, was in She was arrested.
passive construction
A construction where what looks like an object is functioning as a subject, e.g. she in She was arrested.
past participle
Typically follows the auxiliary to have to form a perfect, or to be to form a passive. It can function on its own in a non-finite clause. The participle ends in -ed/-en (walked, written, chosen) or may be irregular, such as gone, swum, begun, learnt.
past perfect
Forms such as By that time, I had gone.
Last syllable but one.
perfect auxiliary
To have when used together with a past participle. For instance, have in I have done that already.
The study of the sounds of English, see chapter 2.
The structure of the sound system of (a) language.
phrasal verb
A verb that is always combined with a preposition-like element but which has a special meaning. For instance, look up does not mean 'see upwards', but 'go to the library and check on something'.
A group of related words, centered around a head.
A language that is acquired by adults for communication (trade) between speakers of very different languages.
pied piping
Taking the preposition along in a relative clause or a question, as in the man to whom I talked. It is called this after the Rat Catcher of Hamelin.
pleonastic subject
A word such as it or there, used to ensure there is a subject, typical for analytic languages. Also dummy subject, q.v.
Having multiple origins.
E.g. his or Catweazle's in his book or Catweazle's book, also called genitive case.
A part of a word that cannot stand on its own and that is added to the beginning of another word, e.g. anti-, pre- and pro-.
A word indicating location (in place and time), such as at, in, on; direction, such as to, into, towards; or relationship, such as with, between, among, of.
preposition stranding
Leaving the preposition behind in a relative clause or a question, as in the man who I talked to.
A rule typically learned in school, see chapter 1, e.g. 'don't split an infinitive' or 'don't use multiple negation'.
present participle
Forms that end in -ing, e.g. walking, used after a progressive auxiliary, as in he is walking, or on its own in a non-finite clause, as in Walking along the street, I saw a fire.
present perfect
Forms such as I have gone, where the auxiliary is in the present but the participle is a perfect.
Indicating that the action is or was going on.
Words such as he, she, it, me that refer to an NP; pronouns replacing PPs (there), AdjPs (so), AdvPs (thus), or VPs (do so) are called either pronoun or pro-form.
proper noun
Name for a unique entity, e.g. personal names or places. They are most often capitalized.
A language reconstructed on the basis of evidence from related (daughter) languages.
The use of a word to suggest two meanings.
Words such as all, some, many, each; they are either like determiners or adjectives, or occur before determiners.
A book size resulting from 4 pages being printed on one side of a sheet and the sheet then being folded twice.
A set of sheets to be bound together with other sets of sheet, see chapter 7.
Finding an earlier form, e.g. based on comparing that form in two languages (=Comparative Method).
Term used in printing to indicate the front side of a page.
Movement started to reform the Roman Catholic Church.
Language of a particular occupation or social situation.
regular verbs
Verbs formed by adding -ed to the present to form the past tense and the past participle, as in the case of verbs such as walk, walked, walked.
relative clause
A clause/sentence that typically modifies a noun, e.g. the tree which I see from the window.
relative pronoun
Pronoun such as who, whose that introduces relative clauses. The same set is used in questions, where they are called interrogative pronouns.
Time period from 1450 to 1600 (1650 in England), characterized by a renewed interest in Greek, Latin, and other sources.
restrictive relative
A relative clause with highly relevant information.
Used in English to distinguish [r] from the other liquid [l]; used in other languages for consonants made with the tongue curled towards the roof of the mouth.
A late 18th and early 19th century period emphasizing feelings and national consciousness.
RP English
Received Pronunciation, educated spoken English mainly of the southeast of England.
runic script
Writing system used by e.g. speakers of Germanic languages, see chapter 4.
Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis
The view that the language one speaks determines one's thinking.
A unit that contains at least a verb. The subject may or may not be expressed.
The linguistic aspects to meaning.
Auxiliary such as dare (to), need (to), used to, ought to, have to. They have properties of both main verbs and modal verbs.
shift (semantic shift)
Change of meaning picking up on one aspect of the original meaning, e.g. Modern English starve is related to Dutch sterven 'to die'.
Used in printing to keep track of the printed pages, see chapter 7.
The language spoken by a social group.
The study of language in context (social/regional etc).
Point to something, i.e. a determiner's function in a phrase.
spelling pronunciation
A phenomenon where people pronounce all the symbols in a word. For instance, speakers might pronounce the b in debt. This is true with the t in often and the h in vehicle.
split infinitive
Separating the to from the verb, e.g. to boldly go ...
Informal, non-standard variety, with lots of change, see the many editions of UCLA Slang.
standard language
A variety that is typically taught in the educational system, spoken (and written) by journalists, and used to write laws. It is a formal variety, one that is typically represented in grammars and dictionaries.
The process where a language is codified by means of grammars, dictionaries, or one particular work.
Consonant made by closing the airstream, e.g. [p], [b], [t] and [d], see chapter 2.
Choice between formal or informal kinds of speech (and writing).
strong verb
A term for a verb that has a different stem vowel for the present, the past, and the past participle, e.g. swim, swam, swum. See chapter 4.
In English, the subject agrees with the verb in person and number.
subject predicate
Often realized as an AdjP, making a claim about the subject, e.g. nice in She is nice. It occurs after a copula verb such as be, become.
Expressing a wish, intention or necessity, e.g. go is a subjunctive verb in it is important that he go there. In Modern English, most of these are replaced by modal verbs.
subordinate clause
Dependent clause, or clause embedded in another by means of a complementizer such as that, because, if.
subordinating conjunction
Not used in this book, same as complementizer, q.v.
A language that represents a non-dominant group but that influences the dominant group, e.g. Celtic influence on English.
A part of a word that cannot stand alone but is added to the end of another word, e.g. -ness, -ful, the plural -s, and the past tense -ed.
An adjective such as greatest.
A language that represents a dominant group that influences the non-dominant group, e.g. English influence on Native American languages.
Having a paradigm in which the words are not phonologically related to each other, e.g I and me, and go and went.
A word with an almost identical meaning, e.g. often and frequently.
Rules for how words are combined into phrases and sentences.
A repetition of the subject and the auxiliary, as in She has been there before, hasn't she?
Indicating past or present time.
Verb with one object, e.g. see.
A structural classification of languages, e.g. those that are all VO or OV in word order.
Universal Grammar
Grammatical properties shared by all languages.
Consonants such as [k] and [g], see chapter 2.
A lexical category often expressing a state, act, event or emotion.
Term used in printing to indicate the back side of a page.
A case expressing who the addressee is.
English distinguishes active from passive voice, i.e. She read a book. and A book was read by her.
Having the vocal folds vibrate, as in in [z], [v], see chapter 2.
Not having the vocal folds vibrate, as in [s], [f], see chapter 2.
The vibration of the vocal folds as in e.g. [z], [m], [l], see chapter 2.
Sounds such as [i], [e], [a], [o], [u], made by not blocking the airstream, see chapter 2.
Change in the meaning of a word whereby the original meaning becomes more general, e.g. bookmark is now used not just to mark the page in a book, but to mark a URL.
word order
Linear sequencing of words and phrases.