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Lecture 2

PSY274H5 Lecture Notes - Lecture 2: Unintended Consequences, Ghoti, Sensory System


Department
Psychology
Course Code
PSY274H5
Professor
Craig Chambers
Lecture
2

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PSY274
Lecture 2
Design Features for Language
Within the textbook - Napoli
Ability to create novel linguistic expressions – productivity
Napoli’s other criteria
Rules that constitute grammar
Innateness - blueprint of what language should look like, how you should use a language
Refer to abstractions - related to semanticity and displacement
Cognitive processing - not instinctive, more processed
Design features provide criteria to evaluate naturally
Not descriptors of species or animals
When did language evolve?
It is a topic that is treated with disgust since there is no evidence and is just an idea
Hypotheses usually have dismissive names because of the topic
Bow-wow theory
Mimicking sounds made by the environment - somehow becoming language
Evidence - existence of onomatopoeic words - words that sound like what they refer to, it
is unlikely though due to the small portion of onomatopoeic words that exist
Pooh-pooh
The idea of building on sounds that humans already produce, spontaneous sounds
Evidence - all languages have integrated sounds, ouch, wow but the amount of words also
exist in a minority
Ye-he-ho
Emerged from the noises groups make when doing work
Evidence - intonation, rhythmic patterns
La-la
The idea that language evolved from singing (emotionally inspired singing)
It is said that rhythmic patterns have a higher likelihood emerging as a characteristic of
language itself
More Recent kinds of speculations
1. Vocal abilities and Language
Poorly designed vocal tract - prone to choking, choking not possible for primates,
position tract has makes it possible to make speech
Benefit that outweighs the cost - speech vs choking
Able to estimate which of our ancestors had a vocal apparatus for speech sounds
Homo erectus did and Neanderthal did not
Problem is that other animals such as African grey parrot and whale make many
sounds but there is no language in the wild
2. Intelligence and Language
Protolanguage - extremely simple, after simple way it sped along evolution of the
brain, complex thought
Language is the evolutionary push for the evolution of cognitive ability
Arguments that I
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