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Lecture 1

LINGUIST 1A03 Lecture Notes - Lecture 1: Generative Systems, Human Brain, Sign Language

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Catherine Anderson

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Linguistics Week 1: What is Linguistics?
-The science of human language
-It is science- which means the way we ask questions is scientific based
-We use systematic empirical observations
-Empirical: observe data to find the evidence for theories
-Linguists observe how people use their language
-Linguists Observations are NOT judgements
-This is descriptive approach, not prescriptive
-Describe how they use they language, not prescribe how they should use it
-Observe what people, say, how they say it and make theories
-The articulatory system: enable us to produce speech (tongue etc)
-Auditory System: ex—> ears help us use speech
-Neural System: Human brain most complex with so many connections for language
-Cognitive Science: interested in what goes on in the mind.. Linguistics is subfield of this
-Mental Grammar in all speakers of all languages
-Phonetics: study of speech sounds
-Phonology: Mental Grammar of each language organizes sounds
-Morphology: Strategy used to form words
-Syntax: How combine words to form sentences
-Semantics: Meaning of the words
-All languages have Phonetics, Phonology, Morphology, Syntax, and Semantics… Also core
subfields of Linguistics
Is there ever a role for prescriptivism?…
-yes! depends in certain situations
What do we know when we know a language?
-How to make sounds
-What words sound like
Mental grammar: shared system and generative system, governed by systematic principles
How did you know to form words??
-From past experiences and learning and when you encounter new nouns you know what to
do.. Mental grammar!!! <— this is using syntax
-How do you understand sentences with no meaning?—> Mental Grammar! —> Syntax and
-Creativity= most fundamental property of human language
Creative means that…
1. Every language can express any possible concept ex: Tagalog word describes something
that is too cute
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