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Lecture 3

CMNS 110 Fall 2012 - Week 3 Lecture Notes

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Simon Fraser University
CMNS 110
Gary Mc Carron

CMNS 110 Lecture – Week III Language & Culture - We store memories in language - Language creates social bonds - Early theorists were concerned with the excessive POWER of language - “Speech acts” = actions made with language Augustine - Presents 2 different positions: o Sees language as a natural phenomenon o Then says that language is a gift from the Gods (supernatural) “Magical Words” - Family—Politeness: please & thank-you will get you things o Gives you some power - Society—Expletives: cursing & swearing o Generally have a class function o People retreat from some words as they became associated with the lower classes - Legal System—Hate Speech: maximum sentence of 14 years in prison o Can cause harm - Dysphemisms  use harder words to describe something (ex: kicking the bucket) - Euphemisms  use softer words to describe something (ex: passing away) 2 Origins of Language - (1) Call of Nature hypothesis o Language is vocalization of our inherent nature - (2) Gestural Origins hypothesis o Origin of language in our gestures; spoken language comes later o Gestural language is more natural than spoken language o This hypothesis experienced a resurgence in the 1980’s in the studies of chimpanzees—learned many gestures to communicate, could not vocalize  Chomsky claims the chimps are using imitation, not actually communicating themselves o “Impossible to communicate in the dark” Hockett’s Design Features of Language - Concerned with CONTEXT in relation to the origins of language - Need the social and cultural context to understand a language - Chomsky (biological approach) criticized Hockett’s perspective - Humans have language; animals have communication systems - What does spoken language consist of? o (1) VOCAL  Suggests all language is social  Sender-Receiver model o
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