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Ling 001: Linguistic Typology Part 1: Review and Introductory Notions.

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Presentation on theme: "Ling 001: Linguistic Typology Part 1: Review and Introductory Notions."— Presentation transcript:

1 Ling 001: Linguistic Typology Part 1: Review and Introductory Notions

2 Following our look at grammatical structures To this point we have examined linguistic structures at various sizes: –Sound structure –Word Structure –Sentence Structure –Interpretation and Meaning This investigation, while dealing with different areas, shows common components

3 Properties of the different areas Some common themes –Linguistic representations involve abstract structures (i.e. structures that we don’t hear or see per se) –E.g. the way that speech sounds are organized suggests an analysis in terms of dimensions like place and manner of articulation –In addition, the way that linguistic objects (speech sounds, morphemes, words) function in combination provides evidence for the abstract structures and rules employed by speakers (although of course without their explicit knowledge)

4 Relating this to the central point Remember in addition that there is a central argument that we began with –Language is not a cultural invention; it is something that the human brain develops along the lines of walking –Language learners are guided in learning the (abstract!) rules of how language is structured by innate linguistic competence –In an abstract sense, all languages are ‘the same’, that is, they accomplish the same things and are all reflections of this innate endowment

5 Further considerations and questions At the same time, we know that languages differ from one another (i.e. when we don’t make the abstraction above) Question: How do we talk about these differences in light of the hypothesis that there is something universal and innate to human language?

6 Plan Review some facts about languages of the world Examine different areas in which languages differ Talk about the nature of such differences

7 Languages: Basic Facts How many languages are there? According to the Ethnologue database, there were in 2000 a total of 6,809 living languages in the world Naturally the different languages have distinct geographical distributions

8 Geography Distribution: Americas: 1013 Africa: 2058 Asia: 2197 Europe: 230 Pacific:1311

9 Comments When the numbers of languages are given in such terms, it is to be assumed that the number of speakers varies greatly E.g. Mandarin Chinese is reported to have 874 million speakers, whereas some languages have only a single speaker remaining In addition, counts are subject to questions of what counts as a (first) language and so on, and are thus not absolute (see below)

10 The Ethnologue Top 10 Top 10: Languagen(million) 1.Mandarin Chinese874 2.English341 3.Spanish322-358 4.Bengali207 5.Hindi181 6.Portuguese176 7.Russian167 8.Japanese125 9.German100 10.Korean78

11 Counting It was noted above that the numbers depend a lot on how the counting is defined Consider e.g. Arabic, one of the world’s major ‘languages’: –Grouped together, all of the different varieties of Arabic have 219 million speakers (this would be number 4) –However: different local varieties of Arabic are not mutually intelligible, and are therefore counted separately –The difference between e.g. Algerian Colloquial Arabic and Egyptian Colloquial Arabic is reported to be like that between e.g. Spanish and Portuguese

12 Endangered Languages Many of the 6,000-odd "living" languages cited in Ethnologue are endangered or nearly extinct. Roughly half of the world's languages are moribund, in the sense that new generations of children are not being raised to speak them. Within a century, it is likely that the number of living languages will be cut at least in half, and may well be fewer than 1,000. Thus the current rate of extinction for languages is much greater than the rate of extinction for biological species. Most people believe that this loss of linguistic/cultural diversity is a bad thing. For languages that can't be saved, it is still possible to document them for scientific purposes and for the sake of future generations who might want to study or even revive them.

13 Talking about differences In light of the number of languages found in the world, our hypothesis about innateness has to say something about this kind of variation The idea is going to be that the variation isn’t absolute; rather languages show fixed points of difference This is illustrated in several examples of such differences in this and the following lecture

14 Basic Difference: Sound/Meaning Connections One obvious point is that languages differ in terms of how sounds are paired with meanings For instance, one thing we have to learn when we learn a foreign language is what the words of that language are (obviously) Examples: EnglishGerman DogHund CatKatze TreeBaum

15 Differences This is just the arbitrariness of sound/meaning connections viewed across languages It may be that languages have different vocabularies for different things This has caused some to think that the language that we speak fundamentally affects how we think about or categorize reality This is the so-called Whorfian Hypothesis: language determines thought This hypothesis has been largely discredited, as discussed in various places

16 Interpreting this Given that languages are simply going to vary in terms of their set of sound/meaning connections; some further questions –What other types of variation are there? Variation in inventories Variation in e.g. word-order requirements –How much variation is there when we are looking at rules rather than inventories?

17 Inventory Differences Another way in which languages differ is in terms of their inventories of elements Recall that we discussed this in our unit on phonology: –English: 30 something phonemes –Abkhaz: A language spoken in the Caucasus; one dialect has c. 67 consonant phonemes –Hawaiian: smaller phoneme inventory

18 Inventory Differences, cont. Remember that we are interested in breaking down phonemes into more abstract units; features for –Place of articulation –Manner of articulation –Voicing; etc. The idea in this type of variation is that a restricted inventory defined in these terms is in principle available, and that specific languages make specific choices from that inventory.

19 Inventory, cont. Inventory differences show up in e.g. morphology as well; consider number (recall morphology slides) –English: Singular and Plural I go, we go, etc. –Classical Greek: Dual as well: Lu-ei `he/she/it looses’ Lue-ton `they-2 loose’ Luo-usi `they loose’ –Lihir (Oceanic) Wa `you’ Gol `you-2’ Gotol `you-3’ Gohet `you-PAUCAL’ Go `you-PL’

20 Further differences When it comes to morphology and syntax, we see another way in which languages differ With morphology: –What is expressed ‘in a word’ differs greatly from language to language –Similarly, whether or not we see discrete pieces, or multiple adjustments to a single piece With syntax: –how trees are linearized (where the head of the phrase is) –Fixed vs. free word order

21 Syntactic differences In syntactic typology, we see other types of differences; some cases that involve the order of words and phrases: –Whether a language has a fixed word- order or not –What the fixed word-order of the language is in the first place –Whether there have to be subject and object Noun Phrases in the first place

22 English Word Order One fact that is clear about English is that major constituents occur in a fixed order: –Subject Verb Object (SVO) Other orders change the meaning; put differently –The cat chased the dog; and –The dog chased the cat. Describe different events altogether. In English, information about the Subject and the Object requires a fixed syntactic order Think carefully about e.g. –The cat, the dog chased

23 General Patterns The general pattern- one that accounts for part of the word order facts- is that in English, the heads of phrases precede the complements of the heads Recall that we have phrases like XP with head X In English we find [X YP], not YP X E.g. PP: [to [the store]]; VP [eat [an apple]]

24 Another way of putting this The trees we draw for constituent structures are like mobiles Linear orders respect these structures: lines cannot cross VP V NP eat N apples Later we’ll see languages that have this tree structure, but a different order for the elements *[[the apples] eat] Ok: [ eat [the apples]]

25 Remember The example of inversion with auxiliaries: –Is [the unicorn that is in the garden] t eating apples? In order to know which is to move to the front, we have to know the phrase structure. The linear order does not tell us. In the way we think about syntax, the mobile is important for movement and other syntactic phenomena, but in the end it has to have a linear order

26 English Phrases The fact that the head precedes the complement is general in English; this is called the head-initial pattern In other languages, as we will see later, the reverse pattern is found; these are head-final patterns There are sporadic examples in English in which the reverse appears to be found as well: Examples with notwithstanding notwithstanding, English is a head-initial language

27 Elsewhere Some languages are primarily head- final; e.g. Hindi. Compare –Rahul had read the book. –Rahul-ne kitaab-ko paRh-aa thaa Rahul book read AUX There’s a kind of “mirror-image” effect here (think trees…)

28 Structures S NP AuxP Rahul Aux VP had V NP readthe book This is the English version….

29 Head final S NP AuxP Rahul VP Aux NP V “had” the book read This is the Hindi version. Look carefully at what has changed.

30 A puzzle Which “basic” orders are possible? What about VSO: –Welsh: Lladdodd y ddraig y dyn. killed the dragon the man ‘The dragon killed the man.’ See the next lecture…

31 Free Word Order Some languages do not require major constituents to appear in a fixed order Such languages are sometimes described as having free word order In such languages, participants in the event and subject, object etc. are identified by other means

32 Examples One language with free word order is Mapudungun, which is spoken in Chile and Argentina Here is a basic sentence: INche pefin metawe I see vessel ‘I see the vessel’

33 Word Orders In addition to allowing SVO sentences, all of the other possible arrangements are grammatical as well: –INche metawe pefin.SOV –Metawe iNche pefin.OSV –Metawe pefin iNcheOVS –Pefin metawe iNcheVOS –Pefin iNche metaweVSO

34 Agreement and Free Word Order How are the grammatical roles of these noun phrases determined? Above the verb is given as pefin This verb actually has a lot of information in it: Pe-fi-n See-Object.Marker-1sS That is, the verb says that the subject is first person singular, and that there is a third person object. Thus the different word orders can be understood as expressing the same basic proposition

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