Linguistics

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Linguistics
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2013-01-04 18:31:29
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Linguistics
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  1. Animal communication form and content
    • Form:
    • Visual 
    • Tactile
    • Olfactory
    • Auditory

    • Content:
    • Food
    • Fear
    • Territorial marking
    • Mating
  2. Human language form and content
    • Form:
    • Auditory

    • Content:
    • Food
    • Fear
    • Territorial marking
    • Mating
    • Anything else
  3. Hockett's design features- Arbitariness
    Not iconic: no obvious relation between sound or shape and meaning e.g. walk/run

    Most animal communication systems are different, e.g. length of bee's dance, intensity of bark
  4. Hockett's design features- Discreteness
    Units are discrete

    Cat-Mat Different meaning although small change in spelling
  5. Displacement
    Ability to refer to things which are not here and now

    Generally absent in animals, but some limited displacement in bee's dance
  6. Hockett's design features- duality of patterning
    Small meaningless units can be combined into meaningful units

    • Small set of meaningless units (phonemes)
    • Large set of meaningful units
    • Not common in animals, but not unique to animals
  7. Hockett's design features- openness/creativity/productivity
    Ability to combine known units in novel ways

    Response in generally not dependent on stimulus

    Generally lacking in animals; limited number of messages available and often message dependent on stimulus
  8. Hockett's design features- tradition
    The ability to speak is passed on between generations

    Some aspects of our language ability may be inbuilt, but without contact with human language it does not develop

    Much animal communication is pre-programmed, though some appears to be learned, e.g. birdsong
  9. Bees waggle dance
    • Abstract symbolism
    • Iconic
    • Message cannot be modified beyond the two basic parameters
    • Message genetically set
    • No deceit
  10. Birds
    • Call vs song, "dual articulation"
    • Dialects
    • Acquisition
    • Narrow meaning range

    Not necessarily connection between subtlety of sound and subtlety of message
  11. How did language evolve?
    No/many answers

    Subject of fascination

    Part of creation myths
  12. Evolution
    1859 Charles Darwin

    • Variation within species
    • Mutations- not all organisms survive
    • Most fit for survival reproduce
    • Offspring inherit characteristics
  13. When did language evolve?
    Earliest deciphered written records: Sumerians 5000-6000 years ago

    Reconstruction may take us back to roughly 10'000
  14. Evolutionary changes that facilitate language and speech
    • Biped
    • Descending of larynx
    • Change in canine teeth
    • Increased brain size
  15. Adaptation of exaptation?
    • Adaptation:
    • feature built by natural selection for the function it now has

    • Exaptation:
    • feature evolved for other usage, but co-opted for current role

    "Spandrel hypothesis"
  16. Early stage: protolanguage
    • Musical
    • Gestures
    • Lexical

    • Evidence?
    • Animal communication systems?
    • Assumption of linguistic egalitarianism?
    • Birth of new languages- pidgins and creoles?
  17. Pigins
    • Have no native speakers
    • A way of communicating between people who have no language in common

    • Different levels recognised:
    • Jargon
    • Stable pidgin
    • Expanded pidgin

    Tend to be relatively shortlived
  18. Pidgin characterstics
    • Small vocabulary
    • Small phoneme inventory
    • Little or no morphology
    • Few if any function words
    • Little evidence of hierarchical structure
  19. Creoles
    • Have native speakers
    • Not qualitatively distinguishable from non-creole languages
    • Develop quite suddenly
    • Not genetically related to lexifier language
    • Creole continuum: basilect ~ mesolect ~ acrolect
  20. Common developments from pidgins to creoles
    • Phonological reduction
    • Lexicon increased
    • Optional elements become regularised and sometimes eventually obligatory
    • Elimination of variation
    • Simple sentences conflated into complex constructions
  21. Common features of creole languages
    • Tense, mood, aspect markers
    • Serial verb constructions
    • Subject-verb-object order
  22. TokPisin
    • Around 1.5 millions speakers use it as a Lingua Franca
    • Around 20'000 native speakers
    • One of the official languages of Papua New Guinea
  23. Nicaraguan sign language
    • Students started to develop their own signing system from their home signs
    • Signs became more systematic and regularised, more abstract rather than gestural and complex structures developed
    • Next generation of deaf children at the school acquired  the new sign language like a child would any language
  24. When do languages die?
    • Extinction of the speakers (war, disease, natural disasters)
    • Dispersion (due to war, economic migration)
    • Adoption of other language

    • Can be:
    • Sudden (death of speakers)
    • Gradual (reduced contexts of use, lexical and structural influence of dominant language)
  25. When is a language safe?
    • Size: 96% of the worlds population speak 4% of the world's languages
    • Coherence of community
    • Proportion of the community speaking the language
  26. Written vs spoken language
    Many (most) languages are not written down atallChildren acquire spoken language naturallyLearning reading and writing however requires instruction
  27. Features of spoken language
    • Structures acceptable in spoken language need not correspond to grammatical structures in written language
    • Intonation marks boundaries
    • Non-fluency features (false starts, self-corrections, "empty" fillers)
  28. Features of interactive spoken language
    • Backchanneling (yeah, hmm etc)
    • "Holding the floor" (fillers and discourse markers)
    • Overlap
    • Planning as you go along
    • Monitoring your own output
  29. Pre-writing systems
    Pictograms- iconic relationship between shape and meaning

    Ideogram- extended from immediate likeness

    Iconicity- arbitrariness are not absolutes
  30. Types of writing systems
    Logographic- symbol represents meaning

    Syllabic- symbol represents syllable

    Segmental- symbol represents sound
  31. Development of writing systems
    • Likely to have developed from pictographs
    • Form increasingly stylised
    • Meaning broader and increasingly abstract

    Form came to be associated not just with the meaning but also with the sounds and can therefore represents (parts of) unrelated words
  32. Sumerian cuneiform writing
    • Oldest preserved writing systems (6000 years)
    • Varied material preserved
    • Initially pictographic
    • Curved lines of pictographic representations become more angular convensionalised states
    • Changed partly due to change in writing implement
  33. Methods for gathering data- introspection
    Relies on the linguist's own intuitions about grammaticality, meaning, or speakers' reactions to particular linguistic exampes.

    Very quick and easy to do

    • Small sample size
    • Confined to linguist's own native language
  34. Methods for gathering data- grammaticality judgements
    Asking a representative group to assess sentence for grammaticality

    • Gets a representative sample
    • Can elicit negative evidence

    • If done properly can be fairly time consuming
    • Speakers of the same language can disagree
  35. Methods for gathering data- observed communicative events
    Observe (and record) language in its natural context

    • Naturally occuring language
    • Time consuming

    • May not include the issue you are interested in
    • Ethical and methodological issues
  36. Methods for gathering data- linguistic corpora
    Collection of representative samples is called a corpus

    • Can be very large and hence provide a broad sample of the language
    • Relatively easily searchable
    • Historic material available

    • Cannot provide negative evidence
    • Whose grammar are we studying?
  37. Methods for gathering data- elicitation by non-verbal stimuli
    Linguistic responses to nonverbal events or stimuli, e.g. acted event, video clip, object, pictures

    Common in some situations where translation tasks of grammaticality judgement etc are unlikely to yield reliable results 

    • Can be tailored
    • No interference from language used by the interviewer
    • Comparable data

    • Materials not always culturally appropriate
    • Time consuming
  38. Neogrmmarians
    • Made impressive advances in certain areas of linguistics
    • Historical data
  39. Ferdinand de Saussure
    Langage vs Langue vs Parole

    Langue: underlying code that makes communication possible, has social underpinning and is part of the native speaker's knowledge

    Parole: the individual act of speaking

    Langue is a system of arbitrary signs
  40. Signs
    Semiotics is the study of signs in general

    • Iconic:
    • the sign resembles the signified

    • Symbolic:
    • the relation between the signifier and the signified is arbitrary

    • Indexical:
    • there is a causal link between the signifer and the signified
  41. Signified
    the concept
  42. Signifier
    the mental representation of the sound pattern
  43. Saussure's influence on Linguistics
    • Synchronic linguistics
    • Spoken language
    • Langue as a social fact
    • Signs and focus on form-meaning relationships
    • Langue as a structured system: structuralism
  44. Saussure's influence on Other fields
    • Anthropology
    • Philosophy
    • Literary theory
    • Semiotics
  45. Are any linguistic signs iconic?
    • Onomatopoeia
    • Word order and chronological order
    • Sound symbolism
  46. Sapir-whorf hypothesis
    Strong: language determines thought

    Weak: language has a tendency to influence thought
  47. Navaho
    Verb form varies to encode shape, flatness and flexibility of objects acted upon
  48. Properties of language acquisition
    • Speed
    • No teaching required
    • Poverty of stimulus
    • No negative evidence
  49. Nativists
    Innate capacity for language, language-specific learning mechanisms

    • Innate
    • Language specific
    • Large genetic basis, language-specific learning mechanisms
  50. Empiricists
    minimal genetic basis and general learning mechanisms

    • Learned
    • Non-language specific
    • Minimal genetic basis and general learning mechanisms
  51. What does a child need to do to learn their native language?
    • Segment the speech stream
    • Identify linguistically relevant units
    • Map sound sequences with meaning
    • Learn to combine units
    • Learn to associate structure with meaning

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