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If we stripped language down to its barest essentials we would, we might intuitively feel, have to retain words. When a child shouts ‘Dog’ we have little material for a discussion of syntax or social variation. What we do have even in this simplest of utterances is a word and, as the nature of a word implies, an association with something in the real world and a sequence of sounds that conveys that something to other people. If we set aside exclamations of joy, fear, and so on we can communicate little verbally without words. It is words which, expressed as sounds, convey the thought of a thing, of a concept, from the mind of one person to the mind of another person, providing, of course, that these two people speak the same language. For speakers of English the word dog,, conveyed by means of the sound sequence /dog/or, in the case of many Americans, /dag/, transmits the concept of a particular kind of animal. The word large,, conveyed by the sounds /1a:d3/, refines the image.
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