CMNS 304W Lecture Notes - Lecture 2: Linguistic Determinism, Phatic Expression, Noam Chomsky

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Composition: Writing Between the Lines
Language Evolves
Language is between 10,000 and 100,000 years old
o Some of the oldest existing languages:
Greek (1400 BCE)
The Chinese family of languages (1300 BCE)
Hebrew (1200 BCE)
Euskera (Basque)
Tamil (>300 BCE)
Linguistic determinism: a belief that the words we use limit how we understand everyday life.
o Example: according to this idea, languages that have different male and female forms
for nouns for would cause people to have biased views about gender.
o There is some evidence that supports this idea, while other evidence contradicts it.
A myth based on this idea: Eskios hae  ords for so.
Tends to make people to have stereotypes and misunderstanding of the culture
Modern English is approximately 500 years old.
o The earliest English dictionary was published in 1604.
Exercise: lets consider the English language term in-law.
o What does this term mean? A particular relationship defined by law.
o What does this choice of words imply about the culture of people who speak English?
o Hebrew: ’chutai [equivalent of in-laws in English]
Linguistic root chatan/chotain [bridegroom]
o Hebrew term for bride is kallah
Daughter-in-law is a kallah for life…
o Hebrew language frames marriage as a joining of families
Communication is a Social Process
What comes to mind when you think of gossip?
o Gossip is a text that:
Disparages the absent other, and/or
Glorifies oneself vicariously, or by association with an absent other.
o According to Benedict Carey of the NY Times (Hae ou heard? Gossip turns out to
serve a purpose NYT,  August :
Long-term studies of Pacific Islanders, American middle-school children
and residents of rural Newfoundland and Mexico, among others, have
confirmed that the content and the frequency of gossip are universal:
people devote anywhere from one-fifth to two-thirds of their daily
conversation to gossip.
Gossip regulates social relations
Gossip determines conditions for social membership
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Document Summary

Language is between 10,000 and 100,000 years old: some of the oldest existing languages, greek (1400 bce, the chinese family of languages (1300 bce, hebrew (1200 bce, euskera (basque, tamil (>300 bce) A particular relationship defined by law: what does this choice of words imply about the culture of people who speak english, hebrew: (cid:373)"chuta(cid:374)i(cid:373) [equivalent of in-laws in english] Linguistic root chatan/chotain [bridegroom: hebrew term for bride is kallah, daughter-in-law is a kallah for life , hebrew language frames marriage as a joining of families. Gossip turns out to serve a purpose(cid:863) nyt, (cid:1005)(cid:1010) august (cid:1006)(cid:1004)(cid:1004)(cid:1009)(cid:895): Language and communication have structure and purpose: roman jakobson (russian-american linguist, 1896-1982, model of the functions of communication: Jako(cid:271)so(cid:374)"s model of the co(cid:374)stituti(cid:448)e fa(cid:272)tors [di(cid:373)e(cid:374)sio(cid:374)s] of co(cid:373)(cid:373)u(cid:374)i(cid:272)atio(cid:374): Code: structure and agency: how dimensions correspond to functions. Code meta-lingual: consider the statement: he was too old to help. Joh(cid:374) earle"s (cid:862)chi(cid:374)ese roo(cid:373)(cid:863) thought e(cid:454)periment: noam chomsky (american linguist, b.

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