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ASPECTS OF LINGUISTIC COMPETENCE AUG. 30, 2013 – DAY 3 Brain & Language LING 4110-4890-5110-7960 NSCI 4110-4891-6110 Harry Howard Tulane Universit.

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Presentation on theme: "ASPECTS OF LINGUISTIC COMPETENCE AUG. 30, 2013 – DAY 3 Brain & Language LING 4110-4890-5110-7960 NSCI 4110-4891-6110 Harry Howard Tulane Universit."— Presentation transcript:

1 ASPECTS OF LINGUISTIC COMPETENCE AUG. 30, 2013 – DAY 3 Brain & Language LING NSCI Harry Howard Tulane Universit

2 Course organization The syllabus, these slides and my recordings are available at The NSCI students that were not registered should have been notified by NSCI that they are cleared to register. The LING students that were not registered should have been cleared to register. You will not receive any notification, however. Anyone else not registered should talk to me. 8/30/13Brain & Language - Harry Howard - Tulane University 2

3 PUBLIC SERVICE OPTION Office of Public Service 8/30/13Brain & Language - Harry Howard - Tulane University 3

4 Review processing modularity localization aphasia phrenology linguistic sign, signifier & signified symbol representation, first- & higher-order evolution & co-evolution natural & sexual selection falsifiability 8/30/13Brain & Language - Harry Howard - Tulane University 4

5 What is co-evolution? What examples of co- evolution can you think of? So, how could the brain and language have co-evolved? Will we ever know? – Don’t answer! See next slide. 8/28/13Brain & Language - Harry Howard - Tulane University 5

6 What is falsifiability? Are all swans white? The classical view of the philosophy of science is that it is the goal of science to ‘prove’ observational data. This hardly seems possible, since it would require us to infer a general rule from a number of individual cases, e.g. all swans are white. However, if we find one single black swan, logic allows us to conclude that the statement that all swans are white is false. Falsificationism thus strives for questioning, for falsification, of hypotheses instead of proving them. 8/28/13Brain & Language - Harry Howard - Tulane University 6

7 Falsifiability Is it good or bad? Is the theory of the co-evolution of the brain & language falsifiable? 8/28/13Brain & Language - Harry Howard - Tulane University 7

8 ASPECTS OF LINGUISTIC COMPETENCE Ingram §2 – Design features of language 8/30/13Brain & Language - Harry Howard - Tulane University 8

9 What makes a language? Charles Hockett (1966), "The Problem of Universals in Language" The search for universals through comparison with animal systems: "The design-features listed below are found in every language on which we have reliable information, and each seems to be lacking in at least one known animal communicative system. They are not all logically independent, and do not necessarily all belong to our defining list for language--a point to be taken up separately..." 8/30/13Brain & Language - Harry Howard - Tulane University 9

10 Design features of language Mode of communication: vocal-auditory, tactile-visual, or chemical-olfactory 2. Rapid Fading: Message does not linger in time or space after production. 3. Interchangeability: individuals who use a language can both send and receive any permissible message within that communication system. 4. Feedback: users of a language can perceive what they are transmitting and can make corrections if they make errors. 5. Specialization: the direct-energetic consequences of linguistic signals are usually biologically trivial; only the triggering effects are important. 8/30/13Brain & Language - Harry Howard - Tulane University 10

11 Design features of language Semanticity: there are associative ties between signal elements and features in the world; in short, some linguistic forms have denotations. 7. Arbitrariness: there is no logical connection between the form of the signal and its meaning. 8. Discreteness: messages in the system are made up of smaller, repeatable parts; the sounds of language (or cheremes of a sign) are perceived categorically, not continuously. 9. Displacement: linguistic messages may refer to things remote in time and space, or both, from the site of the communication. 8/30/13Brain & Language - Harry Howard - Tulane University 11

12 Design features of language Productivity: users can create and understand completely novel messages In a language, new messages are freely coined by blending, analogizing from, or transforming old ones. This says that every language has grammatical patterning In a language, either new or old elements are freely assigned new semantic loads by circumstances and context. This says that in every language new idioms constantly come into existence. 11. Cultural transmission: the conventions of a language are learned by interacting with more experienced users. 12. Duality (of Patterning): a large number of meaningful elements are made up of a conveniently small number of meaningless but message- differentiating elements. 8/30/13Brain & Language - Harry Howard - Tulane University 12

13 Design features of language Prevarication: linguistic messages can be false, deceptive, or meaningless. 14. Reflexiveness: In a language, one can communicate about communication. 15. Learnability: A speaker of a language can learn another language. 8/30/13Brain & Language - Harry Howard - Tulane University 13

14 Summary image 8/30/13Brain & Language - Harry Howard - Tulane University 14

15 Which are the most important ones? "There is...a sense in which [productivity], displacement, and duality...can be regarded as the crucial, or nuclear, or central properties of human language." 8/30/13Brain & Language - Harry Howard - Tulane University 15

16 What about body language? 8/30/13Brain & Language - Harry Howard - Tulane University 16

17 ASPECTS OF LINGUISTIC COMPETENCE Ingram §2 – Phonetics 8/30/13Brain & Language - Harry Howard - Tulane University 17

18 Phonetics How do you pronounce this word? “ghoti” enough women solution What can you conclude from this exercise? the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) [fI ʃ ] 8/30/13Brain & Language - Harry Howard - Tulane University 18

19 NEXT TIME Continue with this chapter. Do exercises that I will send you. 8/30/13Brain & Language - Harry Howard - Tulane University 19


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