❖ Defining Language
o Verbal vs. Non-Verbal communication
■ Speech - act of producing meaningful sounds
■ Language - cognitive, mental process to create those sounds
❖ Origins of Language
o Archaeology and Paleoanthropology
o Based on non-linguistic info
■ Genetics, areas of brain, development of symbolic artifacts
■ Homo sapiens (100KYA - KYA = kilo = 1000years)
What makes Human Language Distinctive?
❖ Human Language: Design Features
1. Productivity / Openness - create an infinite range of expressions from a finite set of rules (ex. combine numbers and letters to make new words)
2. Displacement - ability to refer to events and issues beyond the present
■ Past and future
■ Real, fantasy, fiction
3. Prevarication - can lie; can construct sentences that are grammatically correct but semantically nonsensical (meaningless) (ex. “Colourless green ideas sleep furiously.”)
4. Arbitrariness - lack of transparent distinction between the form of a symbol and its function (ex. red circle w/ cross - red signals no or danger)
5. Duality of Patterning - units (sounds) patterned in a way to create meaning (ex. ma = mama)
6. Semanticity - language means things, words connect to what it represents (ex. tree), but there are different ways to think like imagining different kinds of trees in different peoples minds
❖ Components of Language
o Phonemes
■ Sounds that make a difference for meaning
■ Each language only uses some sounds
■ Only some language has transcriptions to a written form
o Morphology
o Vocabulary
■ Semantics - study of meaning
o Pragmatics
■ Study of language in the context of its use
o Syntax
■ Rules that predict how words or sentences are generally formed - intuitive understanding We are hardwired to understand grammar and rules
❖ Non Verbal Human Communication - embodied communication
o Kinesics
■ Study of human communication by verbal / non verbal means
■ Posture, body movement, facial expressions (non word sounds: laugh, cry) o Paralanguage
■ All the optional vocal features/sciences (ex. tone, volume, speed)
■ Silence = powerful (ex. a judge is quiet in the courtroom but has most power) o Dress
■ Jersey, kimono, hijab (ex. wearing the wrong hockey jersey to a pub may put you to shame)
o Sign Language
■ Form of communication that uses hand movements
■ Provides a fully competent form of communicative system
■ Many different forms globally (diff. kinds of sign language per country)
■ Associated with people who are hearing impaired or if verbal speech is forbidden (ex. when police are breaking in to someone's home they use hand movements to direct which way to go)
How do we “Learn” Language
❖ Understanding Human Language: Evolution of Grammar
o Noam Chomsky (B.1928)
o Linguistic, Philosopher, Political Activist
■ Linguistics is a branch of cognitive psychology
o Theory of generative grammar
o Linguistic Competence
o Theory of Innate Language
o Emergent Grammar Viewpoint
■ Savage - Rumbaugh + Rumbaugh
■ Syntax and grammar must develop once anyone begins to speak more than 2 words
■ No universal grammar
■ Human language is unique because we improve upon systems that are already in place (ex. animal could always lie, and we learned how to as well)
❖ Language Acquisition: Children
o We were born into a language, not born with one.
o Basic grammar of Human Mind (Chomsky)
o Communicative Competence (Dell Hymes)
o Universal Sequences
■ Negation (double negative - "I don't see no dog."
■ 5 "W" Questions
o Overall Intellectual Growth Crucial
■ Memory, understanding of causality, capacity for symbolic representation (ex. when kids say stuff wrong; I'm souping = I'm eating soup)
o Baby Talk or Parentese - (universal?)
■ Also used with pet or foreigners
■ Simplified form of language - deletion of verbs, short words, high pitched Animal Communication Systems
❖ 3 Broad Categories for Signals in all Non-Human Acts
■ Signals that relate to individual survival
■ Signals that relate to mating and reproduction
■ Signals that relate to social signals
Ex. Making sounds to warn your crew about predators that are coming.
❖ Non-Human Primate Communication
o Rely on call systems
■ Oral communication
■ Set of meaningful sounds that are made in response to environmental functions
■ However, non-human primates have the capability to learn to communicate effectively with humans
❖ Chimpanzee Language Studies
o Washoe
■ 1st non human to speak a human language (sign language)
■ Allen and Beatrice Gardener
■ He was copying humans in order to learn how to interact
Some animals don't have the same brain (vocal apparatus) and are not capable of making the same sounds as humans do
o Nim Chimpsky
■ Herbert S. Terrace
o Kanzi
■ Sue Rumbaugh
■ Lexigrams
■ Chimps used symbols to show what they needed but the symbols do not look like the banana itself to show that they are not only looking at images
❖ Gorilla Language Study
o Koko
■ Dr. Francine "Penny" Patterson
■ American sign language
■ Lived like a human and signed what she wanted or how she was feeling without humans helping her or showing her imaged
❖ Orangutan Language Study
o Chantek
■ Dr. Lyn Miles
■ American sign language
❖ Criticisms of Ape Language Experiments
o Arguments for "Clever Hans Effect"
■ Operan Conditioning
■ The animals are replicating and not actually understanding the symbols but are just copying their trainers
How do we Study Language?
❖ Descriptive Linguistics
o Patterns of speaking discoverable in actual speech o Difficult
■ The rules of examining principles that predict how sounds are made and how they're used
■ How sounds convey meaning and meaningful sound sequences are strung together to form words (morphology)
■ How words are strung together to form phrases and sentences (syntax)
❖ Historical Linguistics
o How languages change over time o Record and date linguistic divergence
■ Written works
■ Language family's (cognates -words that mean and sound the same)
■ Reasons for divergence
❖ Pragmatics
o Study of language in the context of its use o 2 kinds of text
■ Linguistic (words/sentences)
■ Non - Linguistic (subjects/ activities present at the same time)
■ Discourse (series of sentences, same topic
■ Enthopragmatics (remembering main threads of communications - ex. remember that one time...)
❖ Ethnography of Speaking
o Sociolinguistics
■ Study of language in relation to society
■ Gender and speech
• Variation can be slight/extreme
• Ex. "vocal fry” and "up talk”, meaning bro talk or like Kim K.
■ Social status and speech
• Individual social position is reflected in their language
What is the Relationship between Culture and Language?
❖ Cultural Influences on Language
o Accent
■ Pronunciation
■ Provides info of someone's background
• Place of origin/education (ex. my fair lady kind of talk) o Lexical Context
■ Vocabulary
• Ex. colour words, colour vs. the written words - stroop effect)
• Ex. Chips vs. fries, potay-toe vs. potah-toe
❖ Linguistic Influences on Culture
o Linguistic Determinism
■ Language determines consciousness of the world and behaviour
■ Extreme = frames and dimensions of persons primary language is so strong that its impossible to learn another language fully, or to understand a different culture fully
o Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis
■ A particular language nature influences the thought of its speaker
■ Different patterns of thought
■ Language is a force in its own right
❖ Multilingualism and Code switching
o Multilingualism Common
■ Esp. when have more than one official language
■ Ex. Singapore: English, Mandarin, Tamil, Malay
o Code switching
■ Use more than 2 languages during a conversation
■ Speak one language to not offend others (speaking English in front of bilingual family so they're not offended)
❖ Dialects
o Language variation based on regional and social differences among speakers (pronunciation, accents, intonation, grammar, vocabulary, conversational style)
1. Settlement patterns
2. Physical and social isolation
3. Migration
4. Contact
5. Gender and class
There is no such thing as a standard dialect. We have biased opinions on what may be better to us.
What Happens when Languages Come into Contact?
❖ Pidgin Languages
o Language with no native speaker
o Develops in a single generations between members of communities that possess distinct native languages
o Different from and reducible to neither of the languages that give birth to it
❖ Creole Language
o Associated with European colonialists and their imported slaves
o Incorporated much of vocabulary of masters language but have different grammar from both sides
o Ex. Chomsky but in grammar
What are Conlangs?
❖ Constructed Languages
o “Con-lang"
o A language whose phonology, grammar, and vocab has been consciously devised by an individual/group, instead of having evolved naturally
■ Include Elvish, Klingon
❖ Constructed Languages: Na'vi
o Na'vi is a constructed language spoken by the people in Pandora in the movie “Avatar" o Language was created by Dr. Paul Frommer, Professor Emeritus of Clinical Management Communications at USC
❖ Constructed Languages: Kryptonian
o Christine Schreyer (UBCO)
o Constructed for the film "Man of Steel”
❖ Constructed Languages: Bioware
o Wolf Wikeley (U of A alumnus)
o Developed four 2500 word languages for Dragon Age (Elven, Dwarven, Qunari)
■ Emphasis on "authentic sounding fantasy language"
■ Well known for gibberish
Are Languages at Risk? Can we "Save" Them?
❖ Extinction, Endangerment and Revitalization
o Language Shift or Decay
■ Speakers adopt a new language
■ Language is dying with the people
o These people understand English but can't actually speak it
o Language Endangerment
■ Fewer than 10000 speakers
❖ How to separate languages from dialect?
o Language Extinction
■ Gradual / sudden
o Language Revitalization
■ Efforts to revive/maintain local languages face many challenges
■ Must respond to local circumstances and factors
■ Which version do we want to keep?
■ Strategies
• Formal classroom instruction
• Master-Apprentice System
• Web based tools and services
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