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Prof. dr. sc. Danica Škara University of Split PSYCHOLINGUISTICS AND COGNITIVE ASPECTS OF LANGUAGE WEEK 4: LANGUAGE EVOLUTION AND DEVELOPMENT.

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Presentation on theme: "Prof. dr. sc. Danica Škara University of Split PSYCHOLINGUISTICS AND COGNITIVE ASPECTS OF LANGUAGE WEEK 4: LANGUAGE EVOLUTION AND DEVELOPMENT."— Presentation transcript:

1 Prof. dr. sc. Danica Škara University of Split PSYCHOLINGUISTICS AND COGNITIVE ASPECTS OF LANGUAGE WEEK 4: LANGUAGE EVOLUTION AND DEVELOPMENT ANIMAL LANGUAGE

2 What is language? “Language is a purely human and non-instinctive method of communicating ideas, emotions and desires by means of voluntrily produced symbols.” Edward Sapir (1921)

3 A language is a system for encoding and decoding informationinformation. information the term refers to the forms of communication considered peculiar to humankind. the term refers to the forms of communication considered peculiar to humankind.communicationhumankindcommunicationhumankind In linguistics the term is extended to refer to the human cognitive facility of creating and using language. In linguistics the term is extended to refer to the human cognitive facility of creating and using language.linguistics human cognitive facilitylinguistics human cognitive facility

4 Origin and evolution of language To ask where language comes from is to raise the question of the origin of the cognitively modern human mind. To ask where language comes from is to raise the question of the origin of the cognitively modern human mind. The evolution of modern human language required both the development of the anatomical apparatus for speech and also neurological changes in the brain to support language itself, but other species have some of these capabilities without full language ability. The evolution of modern human language required both the development of the anatomical apparatus for speech and also neurological changes in the brain to support language itself, but other species have some of these capabilities without full language ability.

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6 The frontal lobes are where ideas are created; plans constructed; thoughts joined with their associations to form new memories; and fleeting perceptions held in mind until they are dispatched to long- term memory or to oblivion. The frontal lobes are where ideas are created; plans constructed; thoughts joined with their associations to form new memories; and fleeting perceptions held in mind until they are dispatched to long- term memory or to oblivion. This brain region is the home of consciousness. Self-awareness arises here, and emotions are transformed in this place from physical survival systems to subjective feelings. This brain region is the home of consciousness. Self-awareness arises here, and emotions are transformed in this place from physical survival systems to subjective feelings. The area of the frontal lobe most closely associated with the generation of consciousness is in the prefrontal cortex. These four areas, which endow human with fucntions are not available in other animal: The area of the frontal lobe most closely associated with the generation of consciousness is in the prefrontal cortex. These four areas, which endow human with fucntions are not available in other animal:

7 1) Belief in divine creation. Many societies throughout history believed that language is the gift of the gods to humans. The most familiar is found in Genesis 2:20, which tells us that Adam gave names to all living creatures. This belief predicates that humans were created from the start with an innate capacity to use language. 1) Belief in divine creation. Many societies throughout history believed that language is the gift of the gods to humans. The most familiar is found in Genesis 2:20, which tells us that Adam gave names to all living creatures. This belief predicates that humans were created from the start with an innate capacity to use language.

8  Invention hypotheses. There are several hypotheses as to how language might have been consciously invented by humans based on a more primitive system of hominid communication.  Invention hypotheses. There are several hypotheses as to how language might have been consciously invented by humans based on a more primitive system of hominid communication.  Each hypothesis is predicated on the idea that the invention of language and its gradual refinement served as a continuous impetus to additional human mental development.

9 1) Warning hypothesis. Language may have evolved from warning signals such as those used by animals. Perhaps language started with a warning to others, such as Look out, Run, or Help to alert members of the tribe when some lumbering beast was approaching. 1) Warning hypothesis. Language may have evolved from warning signals such as those used by animals. Perhaps language started with a warning to others, such as Look out, Run, or Help to alert members of the tribe when some lumbering beast was approaching.

10 Gestural theory Gestural theory The gestural theory states that human language developed from gestures that were used for simple communication. The gestural theory states that human language developed from gestures that were used for simple communication.gestures

11 Each of the imitation hypotheses might explain how certain isolated words of language developed. Very few words in human language are verbal icons. Most are symbols, displaying an arbitrary relationship of sound and meaning. (Example: the word tree in several languages: Spanish árbol; French arbre; Each of the imitation hypotheses might explain how certain isolated words of language developed. Very few words in human language are verbal icons. Most are symbols, displaying an arbitrary relationship of sound and meaning. (Example: the word tree in several languages: Spanish árbol; French arbre;

12 There are three distinct views of how language evolved: There are three distinct views of how language evolved: SOCIAL > Language arose through increased socialisation in early settled communities and the need for a communication system to support hunting and farming. SOCIAL > Language arose through increased socialisation in early settled communities and the need for a communication system to support hunting and farming.

13 PHYSIOLOGICAL: the human articulators appear to be specially adapted to language. PHYSIOLOGICAL: the human articulators appear to be specially adapted to language. NEUROLOGICAL: A lay view holds that human beings are able to master the complexities of language because they have developed a higher intelligence or a larger brain. NEUROLOGICAL: A lay view holds that human beings are able to master the complexities of language because they have developed a higher intelligence or a larger brain.

14 Nativists vs. empiricists Nativist theories —Chomky is the preeminent name here—place the distinctiveness of language in specific genetic endowment for a specifically genetically instructed language module. Under that view, there is minimal learning involved in acquiring a language. Nativist theories —Chomky is the preeminent name here—place the distinctiveness of language in specific genetic endowment for a specifically genetically instructed language module. Under that view, there is minimal learning involved in acquiring a language. Empiricists like Hobbes and Locke argued that knowledge emerge ultimately from abstracted sense impressions. Empiricists like Hobbes and Locke argued that knowledge emerge ultimately from abstracted sense impressions.

15 The precise form of language must be acquired through exposure to a speech community. Words are definitely not inbron, but the capacity to acquire language and use it creatively seems to be inborn. N. Chomsky calls this ability the LAD (Language Acquisition Device). The precise form of language must be acquired through exposure to a speech community. Words are definitely not inbron, but the capacity to acquire language and use it creatively seems to be inborn. N. Chomsky calls this ability the LAD (Language Acquisition Device).

16 Co-evolutionary theory There are also coevolutionary proposals: Language is not an instinct and there is no genetically installed linguistic black box in our brains. Language arose slowly through cognitive and cultural inventiveness. There are also coevolutionary proposals: Language is not an instinct and there is no genetically installed linguistic black box in our brains. Language arose slowly through cognitive and cultural inventiveness. Language began as a cognitive adaptation and genetic assimilation. Cognitive effort and genetic assimilation interacted as language and brain co-evolved. Language began as a cognitive adaptation and genetic assimilation. Cognitive effort and genetic assimilation interacted as language and brain co-evolved. We have a vast, open-ended number of frames and provisional conceptual assemblies that we manipulate. We have a vast, open-ended number of frames and provisional conceptual assemblies that we manipulate.

17 During the last few years the argument that both archaic H. sapiens and Neanderthals had the brain capacity, neural structure and vocal apparatus for an advanced form of vocalization, that should be called language, is compelling. During the last few years the argument that both archaic H. sapiens and Neanderthals had the brain capacity, neural structure and vocal apparatus for an advanced form of vocalization, that should be called language, is compelling.

18 Was there one or more than one original language? Was there one or more than one invention of language? There are about 5,000 languages spoken on Earth today. We know that there were even more spoken in the past, when most people lived in small bands or tribes rather than in large states. There are about 5,000 languages spoken on Earth today. We know that there were even more spoken in the past, when most people lived in small bands or tribes rather than in large states.

19 Monogenesis vs. polygenesis 1) The oldest belief is that there was a single, original language. The idea of a single ancestor tongue is known today as monogenesis. In Judeo-Christian tradition, the original language was confused by divine intervention, as described in the story of the Tower of Babel in Genesis. 1) The oldest belief is that there was a single, original language. The idea of a single ancestor tongue is known today as monogenesis. In Judeo-Christian tradition, the original language was confused by divine intervention, as described in the story of the Tower of Babel in Genesis.

20 The hypothesis of multiple linguistic origins that often goes along with this hypothesis is known as polygenesis. Each of the original languages then would then have diverged into numerous forms. The major language families of today would be descended from these separate mother tongues. The hypothesis of multiple linguistic origins that often goes along with this hypothesis is known as polygenesis. Each of the original languages then would then have diverged into numerous forms. The major language families of today would be descended from these separate mother tongues.

21 Animal communication Transmission of information from one animal to another by means of sound, viisble sign or behavoiur, taste or odour, electrical impulse, touch, or a combination of these. Transmission of information from one animal to another by means of sound, viisble sign or behavoiur, taste or odour, electrical impulse, touch, or a combination of these. The vehicle for the provision of this information is called a signal. The vehicle for the provision of this information is called a signal.

22 Different contexts require different kinds of information and thus different signals. Different contexts require different kinds of information and thus different signals. The number of signals in a species’ repertoire can range from 5 or 6 in the simplest non-social animals to in social insects, such as bees and ants, or to in social vertebrates, such as wolves and primates. The number of signals in a species’ repertoire can range from 5 or 6 in the simplest non-social animals to in social insects, such as bees and ants, or to in social vertebrates, such as wolves and primates.

23 Design features of human language The following properties of human language have been argued to separate it from animal communication: The following properties of human language have been argued to separate it from animal communication: Arbitrariness: There is no rational relationship between a sound or sign and its meaning. (There is nothing intrinsically "housy" about the word "house".) Arbitrariness: There is no rational relationship between a sound or sign and its meaning. (There is nothing intrinsically "housy" about the word "house".) Cultural transmission: Language is passed from one language user to the next, consciously or unconsciously. Cultural transmission: Language is passed from one language user to the next, consciously or unconsciously. Discreteness: Language is composed of discrete units that are used in combination to create meaning. Discreteness: Language is composed of discrete units that are used in combination to create meaning.

24 Displacement: Languages can be used to communicate ideas about things that are not in the immediate vicinity either spatially or temporally. Displacement: Languages can be used to communicate ideas about things that are not in the immediate vicinity either spatially or temporally. Duality: Language works on two levels at once, a surface level and a semantic (meaningful) level. Duality: Language works on two levels at once, a surface level and a semantic (meaningful) level. Metalinguistics: Ability to discuss language itself. Metalinguistics: Ability to discuss language itself. Productivity: A finite number of units can be used to create an infinite number of utterances. Productivity: A finite number of units can be used to create an infinite number of utterances.

25 Animals and language? Is language use a uniquely human ability? Is language use a uniquely human ability? Parrots - can memorize chunks of human speech Parrots - can memorize chunks of human speech Polly wanna cracker But are they really producing utterances based on an underlying meaning? But are they really producing utterances based on an underlying meaning?

26 Animals and language? Is language use a uniquely human ability? Is language use a uniquely human ability? Tweet chirp chirp warble warble chirp. Bird use songs to serve territorial and courtship functions. Bird use songs to serve territorial and courtship functions. Can songs be used productively? Can songs be used productively? Translation: this is my tree

27 Animals and language? Is language use a uniquely human ability? Is language use a uniquely human ability? Angle of the dance indicates direction Rate of looping indicates distance Honey bees dance to indicate where a source of nectar is. Honey bees dance to indicate where a source of nectar is.

28 Some examples Animals - use a variety of methods to communicate Animals - use a variety of methods to communicate Dogs bark Dogs bark Birds sing Birds sing Bees dance Bees dance People talk - we use language (as well as other methods) for communication People talk - we use language (as well as other methods) for communication

29 Animals and language? ArbitrarinessDisplacementProductivityDiscretenessSemanticity Duality of patterning ParrotDog Bird song Bee dance Human Language ? ? ? ? ?

30 Research with apes, like that of Francine Patterson with Koko or Herbert Terrace with Nim Chimpsky, suggested that apes are capable of using language that meets some of these requirements. However, no experiment has shown a non-human being to be proficient in all of these areas. Research with apes, like that of Francine Patterson with Koko or Herbert Terrace with Nim Chimpsky, suggested that apes are capable of using language that meets some of these requirements. However, no experiment has shown a non-human being to be proficient in all of these areas. Research with apesFrancine PattersonKoko Nim Chimpsky Research with apesFrancine PattersonKoko Nim Chimpsky

31 Can Chimpanzees Talk?

32 Conclusion It seems that we have a ‘language organ’ which other species do not possess, a segment of our brain which is triggered by a storage of development. It seems that we have a ‘language organ’ which other species do not possess, a segment of our brain which is triggered by a storage of development. The results suggest that while chimpanzees and gorillas are quite intelligent they are not capable of human language. Rather they have a primitive version of the semantic ability children use to begin learning language. Human beings seem to have a different kind of intelligence! The results suggest that while chimpanzees and gorillas are quite intelligent they are not capable of human language. Rather they have a primitive version of the semantic ability children use to begin learning language. Human beings seem to have a different kind of intelligence! Language has been shaped over many generations into a system which reflects the way human thought is structured. Language has been shaped over many generations into a system which reflects the way human thought is structured.


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