Lecture 3 July 16 2013
Evolution and structure
1. The origins of language
a. Divine theory – Tower of babel (Gen. 11)
b. “Ding-Dong” theory-Cratylus & Socrates-scientific theory, the ding
dong theory, a natural association between words, one’s own language
is natural. Socrates argued that there was no natural connection
between language and words. Humans decide which words to use.
c. “Bow-wow” theory – Lubbock, onomatopoeia-Also the bow wow
theory- language is based on imitating the sounds of nature.
d. “Ouch” theory- The “ouch” theory- Darwin and his contemporaries,
language evolved from a previous primate, language evolved over
time, based on the vocal communication system of non-human
e. Evolutionary theory- bipedalism, advent of tool use, homo habilis,
tool use linked to language. Looks at advent of culture, and how
culture as an adaptive advantage created selective pressure for larger
cranium. We have a unique hardware of processing language.
2. The biology of language I
The human brain
1. High index of encephalization- larger brain
2. Expanded neocortex; reduced olfactory bulb- reduction is sense of smell, it
becomes less important , small teeth, small jaws, 80% of brain is neocortex
3. Lateralization of linguistic functions- right and left side of the brain,
expressed as in right handedness- associated with left hemisphere and vice versa
1. Broca’s area (speech) – left frontal lobe- controls speech, left frontal
2. Wernicke’s area (syntax) – left temporal lobe-associated with syntax,
ability to use grammer in speech, make sentences, understand language, in left
temporal lobe, when this area is damaged hearing is not lost, but the ability to
understand language is lost.
3. The Biology of Language 2
The human vocal apparatus
3. Supra‐laryngeal vocal tract- this is above the vocal tract, the larynx
a. Resonators: pharynx, oral cavity, nasal cavity-walls of the vocal cavity
b. Articulators: tongue, lips, teeth Lecture 3 July 16 2013
The neocortex controls mostly face and hands.
4. Descriptive manner
How do other languages work? Having a common sense of terms to describe
diversity of human language
1. Phonology- study of sounds
1. Phonetics- talking about physical properties of sound, looking at
spectrograms, more in field of physics
a. Acoustic phonetics- study of the sounds we hear, from speaker to
listener, spectrograms, anthrop. avoid this b/c it goes into physics
b. Articulatory phonetics- domain of human physiology, description of
speech in terms of the vocal apparatus. Study of how we make sounds
by out articulators and vocal tract.
2. Phonemics-study of sounds we hear, sounds we make
a. Phones / phonemes-speech of sounds, t, p
b. Allophones- one of a set of multiple possible spoken sounds. Different
sounds but have the same meaning/phone. Ex: spin, pit, the p which is
the phone have different sounds because of the places of articulation
and vocal tract but have the same meaning/phone which is p.
2. Morphology- what are organizing principles in combining these sounds
Morphemes- smallest grammatical unit in a language.
1. Free morphemes [words]-have meaning
2. Bound morphemes- only have meaning when they attached to another free
a. Derivational – changes meaning or part of speech- change the
meaning or part of speech
i. e.g., firm infirm (opposites)- adding “in”
ii. e.g., quick quickly (adjective to adverb)- adding “ly”
b. Inflectional – changes grammatical sense-changing the grammars
i. number, possessive, comparative, superlative, tense, etc.
ii. e.g., Tagalog, sulat (write) sinulat (wrote)
How many morphemes?
• Yesterday John ran away with the baker’s younger daughter.