79 terms

Exam 2

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What do we know when we know a language?
We know that a language is an arbitrary symbol system that is systematic and rule governed.
What is Linguistic creativity?
The ability to create potentially infinite number and range of messages using finite set basic 'ingredients' and rules.
What does it mean to say that 'human language looks species uniform'?
Language is acquired by children, except in extreme circumstances (feral children). All human languages are similar in their basic properties and acquisition profiles. Children reach mastery of their native language regardless of differences in environment-by around age 5.
What is the critical period in human language?
The critical period is understood as a sensitive period of time after which language acquisition is impossible or at least very difficult.
What species other than human show evidence of a critical period?
Some birds can only learn complete bird songs between 7-60 days after hatching (e.g. White-crowned sparrow).
Where does human language ability come from?
According to the "genetic hypothesis", children are biologically predisposed to learn language, so language ability is "innately specified", part of our biological (genetic) endowment as humans.
Why do we study animals in relation to language?
Examining non-human communication systems will help address whether language is species-specific (potentially uniquely human). This gives us a better understanding of the range of communication systems in the world, and of human language.
For what reasons (or what functional purposes) do animals communicate?
Give warnings; convey/mark territory; provide information for food; mating, etc.
Which modalities do animals use to communicate?
Scent, color, touch, gesture, facial expression, etc.
In what ways is animal communication similar to than human language?
Both use symbols to communicate meaning.
In what ways is animal communication different than human language?
Animal communication often lacks key characteristics found in human languages (such as creativity and the ability to create infinite sets of sentences with a limited set of symbols and rules.
What is the fiddler crab communication system?
Fixed and inflexible number of symbols. Really small number of symbols. Specieis-dependent dialects. 40 different varieties.
What can we conclude when we compare the fiddler crab communication system with human language?
Major differences between claw-waving and human language. They lack creativity.
Describe the epaulet-showing communication system of red-winged blackbirds, how does it work, what is communicated?
Color display. Showing their "epaulets" indicates something like "stay away from my territory." Other blackbirds can understand the message.
What can we conclude when we compare epaulet-showing communication system with human language?
Major differences between the epaulet showing and human language, they lack creativity.
What three properties do the wagging dances of bees communicate?
Distance, direction, and quality.
How is distance communicated in the wagging dances of bees?
Their wagging tempo marks distance, round dance for 5 meters to food source, sickle dance for food source 5-20 meters, tail-wagging dance for food source further than 20 meters.
How is direction communicated in the wagging dances of bees?
Their angle relative to the sun. Round dance says no distance coding, food source is close enough. Sickle dance and tail-wagging dance gives direction coded with respect to the sun.
How is quality communicated in the wagging dances of bees?
The amount/intensity of waggles communicated the quality, how much & how good/bad.
What can we conclude when we compare the wagging dance of bees communication with human language?
Some similarities with human language (it is a symbolic system), but major differences between "bee dance" and human language (it is a closed system, limited to only some aspects of source encoding, and it's "infinity" comes from continuous variation in the blending system).
What are the two types of communication that birds produce vocally?
Bird calls and bird songs
What do bird calls transmit?
Intensity of the call can reflect level of danger, for example. Single fixed messages, no creativity.
What do bird songs transmit?
Largely severe territorial functions (others stay away, mate, etc.). Songs use different parts of the bird's brain.
In what ways is birdsong similar to human communication and language development?
Some innately-specified aspects. Some interaction with environment/ "learning." Some evidence for "critical period."
What are some of the unique characteristics of Alex the parrot's utterances?
Not just imitation. Able to name objects, ask questions, name colors, distinguish sameness/difference, etc.
Why are attempts at oral language production in chimpanzees "doomed to failure?
Chimpanzee vocal tract structure is too different to produce oral language (higher larynx + shorter/smaller pharynx= only oral cavity)
In what ways have researchers tried to elicit production despite chimpanzee's limitation in oral language production?
ASL and artificial languages like Yerkish are ways to elicit production of language.
Who was Clever Hans, and what amazing feat could he perform?
He was a horse that could solve mathematical problems.
How was Clever Hans able to solve complex math problems?
He was aided by subtle, unintentional cues (such as finger tapping or foot tapping) from trainers and other humans).
Initial studies teaching human language to chimpanzees asked the question "Can chimpanzees learn human language if they are given the same environment to learn language as a human child?" Why would this idea by consistent with a behaviorist view?
Because they believed that the environment was the main difference why chimpanzees did not learn language and human children did.
How was the chimpanzee Gua taught human language?
Gua was raised by the Kellogg family and treated the same as their son, Don, who was similar in age.
Was the attempt to teach the chimpanzee Gua language successful?
Gua did not learn to speak but could recognize and understand some commands and labels for objects and people.
How was the chimpanzee Viki taught human language?
The Hayses attempted to teach her spoken language, and she was given speech to teach her to produce sounds of human language.
How much english was the chimpanzee Viki able to learn?
She learned to say approximations of 4 words; cup, papa, up and mama.
What language was the chimpanzee Washoe taught?
She was taught ASL becuase the previious attempts at teaching chimpanzees spoken language were unsuccessful.
Why was ASL chosen to try and teach Washoe human language?
Researchers believed that this would be much easier for her to learn because chimpanzees have a gestural system using their hands and are known for using tools.
What was the method used for teaching the chimpanzee Washoe ASL?
She was taught by the Gardenrs molding her hands to form ASL signs.
About how many signs did the chimpanzee Washoe learn?
Around 160.
What did the cimpanzee Washoe accomplish in terms of creativity and combination with ASL?
She was able to combine utterances, but many were ungrammatical. She produced the famous utterance "water bird," but it is unclear whether she creating a new word by combining words or simply naming the objects she saw.
What was a major problem with the studies of the chimpanzee Washoe?
Many of the trainers who worked with Washoe were not fluent in ASL. There are not many records, and she appears to be large repeating her trainers' utterances.
Who was the researcher who conducted the studies with the chimpanzee Nim Chimskey?
Harold Terrace.
What did Harold Terrace expect to find from the studies with the chimpanzee Nim Chimskey?
He believed that Nim would be able to form grammatical sentences and hope that Nim would be able to be a translator between humans and chimpanzees in the wild.
How was the chimpanzee Nim Chimskey taught?
He was raised in a home by a student and her family, he was taught ASL by trainers.
What were some problems with the methodology in the studies with the chimpanzee Nim Chimskey?
All trainers were not fluent in ASL. Some argues that Nim was taught in an environment that was too "sterile" and unnatural.
What did Terrace conclude from the research with the chimpanzee Nim Chimskey?
Terrace concluded that it is impossible for a chimpanzee to create a sentence, and that the initial expectations were too high. From analyzing tapes of Nim signing, it appeared that Nim was largely imitating the signs of his teachers. He also realized that there was very littler structure to Nim's utterances, and as Nim produced longer utterances, the meaning did not become more complicated (as it does with children).
What symbol system was the bonobo Kanzi taught?
He was taught Yerkish, an arbitrary symbol system using a keyboard with symbols.
How did Kanzi begin to learn the Yerkish language?
Kanzi began learning Yerkish by observation (when his mother was being taught), without any human direct intervention.
What are some interesting facts about the bonobo Kanzi's abilities?
Acquired 44 lexigrams and was able to recognize spoken English by the age of 4, and eventually learned 250 symbols. Extended their meaning. Kanzi seemed to associate multiple parts of an utterance with their role.
What can we infer from Kanzi the bonobo's abilities?
Very ticky to tease apart to what extent Kanzi uses grammatical rules and structures, rather than expectations of what order words typically follow.
Why did researchers decide to teach Kanzi Yerkish?
This was to show that non-human primates could use arbitrary symbols and structure to form sentences. This technique would avoid the problem that primates showed in correctly shaping the different signs.
What language was Koko the gorilla taught?
Koko was taught to use ASL and can understand English words. The system she was taught is more like "signed English" because it does not follow the grammar of ASL.
How many signs did Koko the gorilla learn?
Around 250 signs by age 5.
What were some problems with the research with Koko the gorilla?
The researchers often interpreted Koko's utterances very liberally. There is not much independently verifiable data.
What is the international phonetic alphabet?
An alphabet used to describe the sounds of human languages.
Why is the phonetic alphabet used rather then other orthographic systems?
Avoids ambiguities and other problems that are characteristic of orthographies.
What are the three subfields of phonetics given in Yule?
Articulatory, Auditory, and Acoustic.
What is the difference between a voiced and voiceless sound?
Vocal fold vibrate when voied (+V) sounds are produced. Vocal folds do not vibrate when voiceless (-V) sounds are produced.
What is an example of a voiceless sound?
P
What is an example of a voiced sound?
B
What parts of the mouth are used to produce a bilabial sound?
Bottom and Upper lip.
What parts of the mouth are used to produce a labiodental sound?
Bottom teeth and Top lip.
What parts of the mouth are used to produce a (Inter) Dental sound?
Tongue and teeth.
What parts of the mouth are used to produce a Alveolar sound?
Tongue Tip and Alveolar Ridge.
What parts of the mouth are used to produce a Palatal sound?
Front of Tongue and hard palate.
What parts of the mouth are used to produce a Velar sound?
Back of Tongue and Velum.
What parts of the mouth are used to produce a Glottal sound?
Glottis.
Describe the manners of articulation: stops
Full closure followed by release.
Describe the manners of articulation: fricatives
Incomplete closure, but enough to cause turbulence/frication.
Describe the manners of articulation: affricates
Stop and fricative (more or less simultaneously).
Describe the manners of articulation: nasals
Velum lowers; air escapes through nasal cavity.
Describe the manners of articulation: liquids
Type of approximate.
Describe the manners of articulation: glides
Type of approximant; articulators in motion or "glide".
How do we describe vowels?
Height, backness, rounding, and tense/lax of tongue.
What are dipthongs?
"Combined" vowel sounds that begin with a vowel and end with another vowel.
What is phonology?
Description/study of the system and patterns of speech sounds in languages.
What is a phoneme?
Distinct sounds that distinguish meaning (i.e. they are contrastive) in a language.
What is the difference between a phoneme and an allophone?
Allophones are phonetic variants of a phoneme.
What is an example of an allophone in English?
An example in English could be aspirated voiceless stops.
What is a minimal pair?
A pair of words that differ in only one sound (such as "bit" and "pit."