LLCU 110 Lecture 1: The Nature of Linguistic Knowledge

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Queen's University
Languages, Literatures and Cultures
LLCU 110
Bronwyn Bjorkman

The Nature of Linguistic Knowledge Thursday, January 12, 2017 11:33 AM Navajo Code Talkers Transmitted messages for the U.S. military in Navajo as a code to protect intercepted messages from enemies What does the example of the code talkers tell us about linguistic knowledge? o In order for this to work, Navajo has to both be different enough from both English and Japanese to avoid decryption, and similar enough to convey the same precise meaning through translation Things we know about English: Words (lexicon, morphology) Sounds (phonetics, phonology) o We do not register differences in sounds which are not useful in the languages we use o E.g. there are four t sounds in Hindi which are difficult for English speakers to register Word order (syntax) Expletive infixation (syntax) o Massachusetts > Massafuckingchusetts Variations such as Massfuckingachusetts or massachufuckingsetts are unacceptable or tend to sound wrong o Implicit knowledge when an order is wrong Linguisticgrammatical competence + Communicative competence Politeness o E.g. Indirectness reply as soon as possible vs. I would appreciate it if you could reply as soon as possible Social norms Rhetoric Eloquence How do linguistics define communities? Do communities have a single language? o Communities can be mono, bi, or multilingual o E.g. Montreal (EnglishFrench) In most places in the world there is more than one dominant language or dialects (variations on a language) What about across different media? o (i.e. Spoken, written, online, signed) o Spoken There can be differences in the common words used (washroom vs. bathroom) or the pronunciation
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