41 terms

Quiz 1


Terms in this set (...)

rules that people know that we observe (describe language)
do not tell us what speakers actually say, but what they should say. (prescribe language)
personal implicit knowledge to a person, mental grammar, rules they know about the language
their knowledge of the language in action, even if they make mistakes
implicit knowledge
knowledge of language we have that we don't think about, just something we do (unconscious knowledge)
explicit knowledge
knowledge of language that we are aware of and why we do it (conscious knowledge)
description of a language at a particular point in time (does not need to be in the present time)
diachronic, where languages came from, what language they are related to, etc. (maybe like a family tree?)
Most language are spoken, it is the process of language we pick up without being taught.
written language
language recorded on paper. a language that needs to be taught. 6500 language today are not written. written language requires the brain activity we use to speak and more.
physical nature of speech (production, perception)
sound structure of languages
the structure of words
the structure of sentences
the meaning of words and sentences
how speakers and writers use language to do things
Theoretical linguistics
the nature of language
Historical linguistics
language change; reconstruction
language and society
language in the mind and brain
Applied linguistics
language teaching & translation
Computational linguistics
computer processing language
The medium of the message
Visual, tactile, auditory, chemical
●Most language uses the auditory modality (i.e.
spoken language); Human hearing: ~20Hz -
●Visual component to speech (McGurk effect)
● Sign language—all visual
● Most written language (orthography)
● Braille (a form of writing)
(Universal feature)
● Signs have meaning
● Here's a sign in the auditory modality produced
by Canis lupus: example
● Howling's meaning (from Wikipedia)
● Assemble the pack (usually before and after hunts),
● Pass on an alarm (particularly at a den site)
● Locate each other during a storm or unfamiliar
● Communicate across great distances
● What's the meaning of "wolf" [wɔɫf]?
(Universal feature)
Pragmatic function
● The usefulness or purposefulness of a sign
● For example, how does a communicative act
help an organism stay alive? What purpose
does it serve?
● Howling?
(Universal feature)
● The organism in question can both send and
receive messages
● Wolves both hear the howl and can respond in
● Counter example: Male silk worms can only
receive messages (which are chemical)
(non-universal but common feature)
Cultural transmission
● One generation must pass it on to the next
● Humans are not born speaking a language, but
must learn it
● Animals
● Some chimp signals are learned (i.e. they don't
arise spontaneously in isolated chimps)
● Some cetacean communication is learned (e.g.
dolphin signature whistles)
● Some birds exhibit "dialect" variation
● Counter examples: Innate communication
● Most animal communication
● e.g. Many bird species do not need to "learn" to
sing but do it spontaneously beginning at a certain
developmental period
● Similarly, things like crying, laughing, and
smiling seem to be universal in humans
(non-universal but common feature)
● The signal and its form are not logically related
● Why does "wolf" [wɔɫf] mean Canis lupus?
● Latin: lupus, English: wolf, Basque: otso, Arabic:
ذئب رمادي
● Some examples in the animal kingdom
● The book's example: Fence lizards turning blue to
indicate territorial ownership
● Opposite is "iconicity": the signal is related to
the meaning
● Wolves rolling over to signal passivity
● Appearing larger to as a threat
● Iconicity in Language (rare)
● Onomatopoeia
● Sound symbolism
(non-universal but common feature)
Smaller units can be combined to create a
larger message, i.e. messages can be
● Words can be combined to create sentences
● Humans only?
● Bees seem to create new signals from components
(see the book's details on bee dances)
● Apes in the wild can't combine calls to create a new
call that is more than the sum of it's parts
● Apes in captivity can be trained to do this...
(unique to language?)
● Ability to communicate about things that aren't
present (time or location)
● Common in language: "Yeah, I'll go to that party
tomorrow, but only if Alex goes."
● Where will I go? When will I go? What's contingent
on me going? etc.
● Bees have some limited ability to do this
● Can communicate about sources of food that are
distant from the hive, i.e. not immediately present
● Trained apes have this ability (to a limited
(non-universal, rare feature)
● Open-ended, non-fixed number of messages
● I can create a sentence or word that you have
never heard before, but understand
● Unknown in the animal kingdom?
● Bees have considerable creativity in communicating
about the location and viability of a food source
● They can only communicate about food
● Trained apes may exhibit this (Kanzi)
(unique to language?)
Non-linguistic human
● Visual
● "Body language"
● Gestures
● Facial cues—smile, frown, sad, happy
● Auditory
● Screams, sobbing, etc.
● Tactile
● Notice the non-linguistic communication here
Characteristics of human spoken
• Large vocabulary: 10,000-100,000 items
• Open vocabulary: new items are added easily
• Variation in space and time: different languages
and "local accents"
• Messages are typically structured sequences
of vocabulary items
Vocal signaling systems of
other primates have other properties
• Small vocabulary: approx. ten items
• Closed vocabulary: new "names" or similar
items are not added.
• System is fixed across space and time: widely
separated populations use the same signals.
• Messages are usually single items, perhaps
with repetition.
Some general characteristics of other
primate vocalizations retained by
human speech
• Vocalizations communicate individual
• Vocalizations communicate attitude and
emotional state
Potential advantages of the human
• Easy naming of new people, groups,
places, etc.
• Signs for arbitrarily large inventory of
abstract concepts
• Language learning is a large investment
in social identity
What can non-human primates
● There have been attempts at teaching apes
(chimps and gorillas) rudimentary language
● Usually sign language
● Ape vocal tracts incapable of speech sounds
● Signs may be on a computer / board
● Kanzi
● Large, arbitrary vocabularies
● Discreteness
● Displacement
● Productivity?
● Highly controversial, but they do seem to have some ability here, especially in comprehension
● Can learn more than mere mimicry
● Don't have fully human-like abilities
● Does not happen in the wild—i.e. it's not spontaneous
● Clearly have sophisticated (and more humanlike) cognition compared to most animals
● Whales, dolphins, porpoises
● Highly intelligent creatures
● Dolphins
● Mostly auditory: Clicks, whistles, high frequency
tones (far above human hearing)
● Difficult to study due to environment, range of habit,
technological limitations in recording
● What do they communicate?
● The usual
● Mating interest, threats, excitement
● Location of individuals
● etc.
● Unique
● Individual calls ("names")
● Possible organization of the pod and its movements
Communication and language
● Human language is unique communication
● Humans also have non-linguistic communication, too!
● Social animals with sophisticated cognitive
systems (like Homo sapiens sapiens) seem to
have better abilities with language
● Though no animal has learned Language
The basic process of speech
• Air goes up from the lungs, through the windpipe (or trachea),
• through the larynx, where it must pass between two small muscular folds called the vocal folds,
• From there it goes into the pharynx,
• and then into the mouth or the nose, more accurately the oral tract and the nasal tract.
Vocal folds:
• If the vocal folds are pulled apart, air will flow freely, whereas if they are close together and let loose, the pressure of the airstream will
cause vibration.
• Sounds in which vocal folds are vibrating are voiced.
• Sounds in which vocal cords are not vibrating are voiceless.
• Vocal folds in action
• Compare [sssss] and [zzzzzz], or [fff] and [vvvv].
• Feel the vibrations at your larynx.
• Stop up ears: [ffffvvvvvfffff]
• Minimal pairs of words:
• fat, vat
• thigh, thy
• Sue, zoo