CHAPTER 9 – LANGUAGE
1. WHAT IS LANGUAGE?
Structure: Has structural principles such as a grammar or a system of rules and principles
that specifies the properties of expression
- Structure that has to do with sound (phones)
Localization: Various physical mechanisms… specific language centers in the brains of the
- Uses particular areas of the brain; different types of brain injury
Use: used for expression of thought, establishing social relationships, communication of
ideas, clarifying ideas.
- The way we choose to convey an idea is regular and consistent
- Language is arbitrary: e.g.: there is nothing inherent in a water bottle, it’s just an
arbitrary association of letters and words that made up the word water bottle
Animals can communicate. Monkeys holding each other’s hands doesn’t convey language
1. It is not arbitrary (arbitrary: there’s nothing about the sound I’m producing that
communicates the ideas of the message; e.g.: bee’s job of finding the food is not
2. Animals can’t tell another animal what an enjoyable place is, all they can communicate
is a systemized route they do every day.
3. Animals’ communication doesn’t have the same productiveness with humans. You can’t
generate an infinite amount of ideas or information to animals, unlike humans. E.g.:
Every person could say anything they haven’t heard, learn from it and use it.
2. STRUCTURE OF LANGUAGE
- Phoneme: smallest unit of sound we can make that could change a meaning to a word
e.g. mat vs. cat – by substituting the phoneme m to phoneme c, we could make the word
mat to cat.
- Morpheme: smallest unit of sound we can make that has its own meaning.
The things we add to a word to change its meaning is also a morpheme. If they are not
use as endings, they are not morphemes.
e.g. Take vs. taking – take has a meaning, taking has two morphemes (take and –ing). –
ing is also a morpheme because it changes the meaning of the morpheme take.
- Grapheme – the letters in our language
Once you learn a particular grapheme, we have an idea how would that grapheme
sound in a particular word. However, it’s not always the case.
- Deep orthography- The translations from grapheme to phoneme are not 100 percent reliable.
English is a deep orthography language. There is not a one to one correspondent between
graphemes and phonemes in the English language which made it harder to learn. (Shallow –
Spanish). * Syntax
- Rule for how to put together sentences and phrases; grammar of the language
e.g.: not using double negatives
e.g. English is Subject Verb Object - “The girl will hit the boy”. (not all language uses SVO)
* The(determinant) poodle (noun) (noun phrase) will chase (verb phrase) the red ball (noun
- The and poodle could be together to form a noun phrase. Flexibility of the English
language: This sentence could also change its sequence to form the same meaning of the
- Meaning; the whole importance and reason of using language is to impart meaning
-producing language is producing meaning. Comprehending language is comprehending
1. Anomaly - “Coffee ice-cream can dictation”
- The syntax is perfect but it doesn’t have a useful meaning.
2. Contradictions - “My dog is not an animal”
- We all know that a dog is an animal. This can make sense as well can’t make sense at the
3. Ambiguity - “I need to go to the bank”
- There are two places that correspond to bank. Hence we tend to only have one sense of
one particular word.
- In the brain, all the meaning of the word bank is being activated and your brain only
activated one meaning.
- Good readers vs. not good
4. Synonym - “The rabbit is not old enough”
- We could say that the Rabbit is too young.
5. Entailment - “Pat is my uncle”
- We communicate differently to friends, doctors or strangers. We tend to let our
behavior be governed by rules. *
- you know that pat has to be a guy
*phonological rules – how you pronounce a word
* Pragmatics (see textbook for this)
- Social rules of language; ho