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Becca Lange, Mithra Pirooz, Allen Cox.  What is language? ◦ Properties:  Regular  Arbitrary  Productive  Discrete  Communicative  Dynamic  Generative.

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Presentation on theme: "Becca Lange, Mithra Pirooz, Allen Cox.  What is language? ◦ Properties:  Regular  Arbitrary  Productive  Discrete  Communicative  Dynamic  Generative."— Presentation transcript:

1 Becca Lange, Mithra Pirooz, Allen Cox

2  What is language? ◦ Properties:  Regular  Arbitrary  Productive  Discrete  Communicative  Dynamic  Generative  Structure

3  Ancestral roots of human language in animal sounds: grunts, barks, whines  8-6 million years ago, humans split from chimpanzees

4  3.5 million years ago, African australopithecines, who have an apelike vocal tract, could not speak but communicated by gestures and grunts  3 million years ago, crude human proto- language is first seen

5  2 million years ago, Homo ergaster/archaic Homo erectus developed physical organs and mental capacity to produce a rough form of speech  100,000 years ago, first modern vocal tract appears in fossils of Homo sapiens  100,000-50,000 years ago, gradual brain enhancement and beginnings of development of symbolic thought and of language as we know it

6  Common origin of all human languages in a single language (Proto-World) first spoken in Africa around 70,000-60,000 years ago  32,000 years ago, earliest cave paintings and sculpture, clear evidence of symbolic thought and sophisticated language use

7  3,500 years ago (1,500 BC), earliest alphabetic writing emerges in the Middle East

8  Language is a symbolic system of communication.  According to the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis, language structures the human understanding of the world. ◦ The sense of reality is embedded in a speaker’s language. ◦ Language creates a subjective perspective of the objective world, a perspective shared by all speakers of a language.

9  Humans have an innate ability to acquire language and capitalize on its use.  This can be shown by brain structures specifically tied to language interpretation and production.

10  The left hemisphere ◦ The left hemisphere plays an important part in language processes ◦ Anterior parts of the left hemisphere (Broca’s area), are specialized for speech output ◦ Posterior areas (Wernicke’s area) of the left hemisphere are crucial for speech comprehension ◦ The right hemisphere

11  The right hemisphere ◦ Perception of prosodic cues ◦ Aids with discourse by helping a person comprehend a story line, make inferences based on previous material, and find the main theme or lesson of a story ◦ Metaphorical and nonliteral use of language

12  Anterior & posterior regions ◦ Phonology  Anterior regions ◦ Syntax  Posterior regions of the left hemisphere ◦ Semantics

13  Broca’s aphasia  Wernicke’s aphasia ◦ ure=related ure=related  Paraphasias ◦ Semantic paraphasia ◦ Phonemic paraphasia  Conduction aphasia  Transcortical motor aphasia  Transcortical sensory aphasia  Global aphasia  Agrammatic aphasia

14 HumanPrimate

15  American Sign Language ◦ Hand symbols ◦ Syntax marked by word order, as well as the spatial location where a symbol is made, and the type of hand movement ◦ Relies on analogous regions of the left hemisphere as vocal language, but the right hemisphere is more important

16  Written Word and Music ◦ Relies on similar, but separate regions of the left hemisphere as spoken word  Separable processes

17  Kana  Kanji

18  Language is naturally based upon sound and paralinguistics (e.g. pitch, gestures, expressions).  Additions to language, such as writing, are artificial language. They attempt to mimic natural language and cannot be innately acquired – must be taught.

19  Systematic – all language must have an identifiable grammar – or rules that outline a classification system, word sequencing, and other structuring.  Sound – can convey universal meaning. ◦ Consider:  Bouba  Kiki  What do these words look like?

20  Arbitrary – words are arbitrarily assigned. ◦ Signifier – the sounds meant to represent something physical. ◦ Signified – the object represented by the sound. ◦ Consider onomatopoeias for a dog barking:  In English: arf, arf!  In Spanish: guau, guau!  In German: wau, wau!  In Japanese: wung, wung!

21  Idioms – tendency to assign illogical meaning to random phrases (subset of arbitrariness).  Creativity – even from within the confines of language and grammar, it is theoretically possible to produce infinite statements (hence fiction and lying).  Redundancy – ensure accurate delivery (“I did it myself.” “I am.”)  Markedness – degree of differentiation between languages

22  Noam Chomsky proposed that since humans have innate language competence, there must be an underlying universal grammar.  Common grammatical genetic mechanism predicts three factors: ◦ “Genetic Endowment” – by genetically limiting language, it makes language acquisition possible. ◦ “External data” – ability to select language though experience (bilingualism). ◦ Principles not specific to the functions already performed by the brain.

23 ◦ Phoneme- in a spoken language it is the smallest distinctive sound unit (syllable) ◦ Morpheme- in a language, the smallest unit that carries meaning ◦ Grammar- system of rules in language that enables us to communicate and understand others ◦ Semantics- sets of rules which we derive meaning ◦ Syntax- rules for combining words into sensible sentences in a given language

24 ◦ Behaviorist- Skinner- learning of specific verbal responses ◦ Nativist- Chomsky- learning rules of language  Languages Acquisition Device (LAD) ◦ Interactionist


26  Critical Period? ◦ Genie  ji15glasmQ&feature=related ji15glasmQ&feature=related  2:03 – 3:20

27 ◦ Additive Bilingualism ◦ Subtractive ◦ Code Switching ◦ Age of Acquisition effect

28  The Problem: ◦ There is something coming after you, and your village, and you need to communicate this to the rest of your group  Rules: ◦ You can only use the words on the paper and other connecting words like: the, is, at, on, etc. ◦ You must have a least 4 sentences ◦ At least 2 different people must speak ◦ Try to make it entertaining

29  Language is constantly changing.  E.g. English:  Old English: ◦ Her for se here of East Englum ofer Humbremuþan to Eoforwicceastre on Norþhymbre, ond þær wæs micel ungeþuærnes þære þeode betweox him selfum

30  Middle English: ◦ Whan that aprill with his shoures soote The droghte of march hath perced to the roote, And bathed every veyne in swich licour Of which vertu engendred is the flour;  Early Modern English: ◦ To be, or not to be, that is the Question: Whether 'tis Nobler in the minde to suffer The Slings and Arrowes of outragious Fortune, Or to take Armes against a Sea of troubles, And by opposing end them

31  As the cultures which speak a language become more “civilized” there is a tendency for consonants to move “forward” and vowels to move “up.”  The Knights Who Say “Ni!” ◦

32  They live in a forest... this is a play on interpreted “civility”  They find the use of the the ə sound in “its” repulsive compared to the high sound ǣ in “Ni!”

33  Language defines our reality.  In many respects, language gives us our “humanness” – or at least our consciousness of it.  Language is constantly evolving – it adapts to its needs and surroundings to promote its survival. ◦ Language accomplishes in hundreds of years what takes genetic evolution millions of years to accomplish.

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