July 2 2013
What is language: (Chomsky)
1. Structure: Has principles such as grammar or a system of rules that guide
how we express ideas in a language.
2. Localization: various physical mechanisms specific language centers in the
3. Use: used for expression of thought, establishing social relationships,
communicating ideas, and clarifying.
Main characteristics of language:
1. Regular – rules are enduring
2. Productive – infinite combinations of things can be expressed
3. Arbitrariness – lack of necessary resemblance between a word or sentence and
what it refers to. Ex. Meerkats, make weird sounds so there is correspondence
between sound and the meaning. But for humans that is different. (Distance is tied
4. Discreetness – system can be subdivided into recognizable parts
Koko: can’t really express everything a human can that’s why its not exactly the
same, lacks arbitrariness: shows flowing tears when is sad , we don’t
Chaser (dog): We give things names but it is more than that, you can know lots of
objects but it doesn’t mean you know language! (her and her toys) she doesn’t
Elephant: listens to people all the time, then he manipulates his trunk to what they
are saying! Certain animals mimic the way we speak
Alex (parrot): Used logic to problem solve
Structure of language:
Phonology: study of sound, smallest unit of sound we can make (mat vs. cat)
Morphology: smallest unit of sound we can make that has meaning
Syntax: Rules of how to put sentences together
- Anomaly’s: although they make sense grammatically but they lack semantics.
It makes sense syntactically, but at the end of the day it is not a sentences
because it is not semantically meaningful.
- Contradictions: “my dog is not an animal” Syntactically correct though
- Ambiguity: I need to go to the banks
- Synonym: The rabbit is not old enough -
- Entailment: pat is my uncle – should be