Class Notes (810,422)
Canada (494,121)
Psychology (4,099)
PSY274H5 (129)
Lecture 2

PSY274 Lecture 2 (Sept 17).docx

10 Pages
Unlock Document

University of Toronto Mississauga
Craig Chambers

PSY274 Lecture 2 - Last time: design features for language o Semanticity o Arbitrariness o Discreteness o Duality of patterning o Productivity o Displacement - “Language matters” – other criteria o Rules that constitute a grammar o Innateness o The ability to refer to abstractions  Related to semanticity and displacement  Specifies some of the kinds of things we can denote with symbols o Cognitive processing - Design features provide criteria to evaluate naturally occurring animal communication systems* o Notes: make sure you understand design features  Are used to evaluate communication systems, not animals  …. - Take home message o There seems to be a big gap between our linguistic abilities and the communicative abilities of other species - SPOKEN LANGUAGE (topic for today) o Evolution of spoken language o Information conveyed by speech  Linguistic  Paralinguistic o Aging and speech communication o Relationship to written language (if time) - Evolution of language o Topic: criticized for overly speculative o Negative view of this topic is not recent o In 1866, influencial Societe de linguistique de Paris banned discussion on this topic o What’s the problem? Why is it such a questionable topic when it comes to its scientific utility?  There’s already a big gap between animal communication and humans, so why study this?  How to find information that don’t exist anymore? There are no fossils to spoken language! - Maybe the ban was justified at the time… o Bow-wow theory  Human language evolved as a result of us imitating environmental sounds and then somehow evolve into language  Evidence: onomatopoeic words  Words that resemble environmental sounds  Ex. Swish (water splashing)  Problems? o Not a lot of words are actually onomatopoeic o Not very systematic across languages o Pooh-pooh theory  Origin language has to do with reflexive noises and then turn into a code  Ex. Rock falling into your hand and then you say “ow”  Ex. Clearing your throat makes a “noise”; after exercising and you make a groaning noise  Evidence: universal use of sounds as interjections  Ex. Uh oh, ahhh,  Problems  Not many words are like that  Those sounds don’t look like vowel sounds o Yo-he-ho theory  Idea that chanting activity evolved into language activity  Evidence  Use of rhythmic features in language (e.g. stress), similar to another account, the La-la theory  Problems  Big leap to get from chanting to characteristics of words - More modern (yet still speculative) ways to think about the evolution of language o 1) Consider the link between vocal abilities and language  Compared to great apes, human appear poorly adapted for swallowing…can choke to death  Reason: positioning of components in vocal tract  Apes don’t have the same configuration and don’t really choke  BUT, the positioning enables production of wide range of speech sounds  In contrast, vocal apparatus of apes does not allow them to make speech sounds - So a trade off situations, where benefits outweigh costs? o What does mean is that, we can look at which ancestors had vocal communication by looking at physiology of fossil hominids o If so, anthropologists could estimate which human ancestors used vocal communication by evaluating vocal tract physiology in fossil hominids  Homo erectus vs. homo Neanderthals o BUT: how secure is the link between the ability to make lots of sounds and naturally occurring linguistic systems?  Some animals can make lots of sounds too - Another approach o Consider the evolutionary relationship between intelligence and language o One view: Bickerton  Early humans had “protolanguage”, use of this system spurred the fast evolution of the brain, making more complex thought (and then more complex language) possible  So…increases in language ability in evolution led to increased in cognitive ability  Human intelligence was spurred on o Evidence?  Again, the no-fossil problem  So what is the argument?  Human infants basically use a protolanguage, some theorists argue that infants’ emerging language ability spurs on their cognitive development o CONTROVERSIAL  Theory of recapitulation: ‘ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny’ o Development of single organism is like a fast motion replay of that organism’s history o By looking at organism over their lifetime, it’s like a snapshot of the organism over history o LARGELY DISCREDITED  Therefore: in human evolution, linguistic and cognitive abilities likely emerged in the same way - Language and human intelligence, the opposite position… o Increases in cognitive ability across evolution led to increased in linguistic ability o Stephen Jay Gould:  Evolutionary theorist  Language=by product of other evolutionary processes that triggered the increase of human intellectual abilities  Spandrel  Term used to refer to by products from other processes  Borrowed from architecture term o Things connecting to columns so that it creates something to connect column to ceiling - Another type of association to consider: o The link between social structures/practices and the need for language  Play?  Bonding  Kinship structures?  Grooming? o Argument: as social group size got larger, humans needed a bigger brain to keep track of social knowledge o Language evolved as a bonding device for social interactions - Finally o Consider an evolutionary relationship between manual gestures and language  Shift to bipedalism  frees up the hands  Existence of sign languages today  Good vocal apparatus isn’t sufficient  Association between brain hemisphere that controls dominant hand and that controls language  Relationship between gesturing between different hands and the language you’re communicating to people  Brain areas in monkeys that correspond to language areas in humans: argued to respond to gesture - In the end, however, very speculative field o Next topic: regardless of how spoken language evolved, how does it “work” as a communicative system? - The kinds of information conveyed by speech o Assigned reading: points out broad range for the function of different communicative messages and how the transmission of process occurs from start to finish o Speech stream contains two kinds of information  Linguistic information  Words and their meaning in sentences  Prosodic information (stress, intonation)  Paralinguistic information - Linguistic information o Words and their meanings in sentences  Inventory of words  Rules of combination  Morphology (forming words)  Syntax o Prosodic information  Intonation, stress patterns - A closer look at linguistic info: WORDS o Pairing words with concepts  At broad level of analysis: considerable UNIFORMITY across human languages (e.g., all have different classes of words for things, properties, actions…)  At fine grained level of analysis: variations in precisely which things we have stand-alone words for - Examples: cross-linguistic differences in the lexicalization of concepts o Busker  Person performing on the street in an unofficial manner o Day/year French: jour, journee/an, annee  During: use journee or annee  Asking about how old are you in years, use an o The bird flew out the window  Spanish equivalent: the bird exited the window flying o Number distinctions: singular vs. plural, singular, dual, plural, etc;  English usually only have singulars and plurals  Greek has words that indicate things in duals o Markers of politeness, evidentiality, status as actually existing vs. conjectured - Impact on TRANSLATION o Sticking too close to a word-for-word translation typically yields something very odd- sounding o It is sometimes claimed that the same ideas can never be precisely translated to another language (likely an overstatement, but true in some cases) o Language
More Less

Related notes for PSY274H5

Log In


Don't have an account?

Join OneClass

Access over 10 million pages of study
documents for 1.3 million courses.

Sign up

Join to view


By registering, I agree to the Terms and Privacy Policies
Already have an account?
Just a few more details

So we can recommend you notes for your school.

Reset Password

Please enter below the email address you registered with and we will send you a link to reset your password.

Add your courses

Get notes from the top students in your class.