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Lecture 3

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James Stinson

Lecture 3 The structure of language What is Language?  Language and culture like two sides of a coin. Language is part of culture, but also tool through which culture is communicated  While many different animals and organisms can communicate, only humans have the capacity for fully developed language-grammar, syntax, speech  Allows humans to communicate cultural ideas and symbolic meaning from one generation to another in a cumulative fashion, and to generate new cultural ideas based on our experience  The “logic” of a culture is also the “logic” of its language  how it orders and classifies the world Universal Grammar  Linguist Noam Chomsky argues that the human brain contains a limited set of rules (universal grammar) for organizing language, so that all languages have a common structural basis Non-Verbal Communication  Language (spoken) and written (writing-existed for 6000 yrs), is our primary means of communication  Kinesics is the study of non-verbal communication through body movements, stances, gestures, expressions  Gestures, face expressions, and body stance, clothing, even if unconscious, covey info and meaning, and status. ex: playing poker  Non verbal communication varies cross culturally. Ex: head shaking side to side=No in North America but Yes in India Clothing as non-verbal communication The Evolution of Language  Nonhuman Primate Communication  Call Systems  Consist of a limited number of sounds that are produced in response to specific stimuli (ex: food or danger)  Cant refer to past or future events, or stimuli not present  Cant be faked  Calls cant be combined to produce new calls  Although wide primates use call systems, the vocal tract of apes is not suitable for speech Sign Language  A few nonhuman primates have been able to use ASL (American sign language)  Washoe-chimp, 100 ASL signs  Lucy-second chimp, lived in a foster family until she was introduced to the wild, where she was killed by poachers  Koko-gorilla, regularly uses 400 ASL signs and has used 700 signs at least once  Nonhuman primates have been reported to display some humanlike language capacities with ASL o Creativity: Lucy demonstrated the ability to Joke and lie o Cultural Transmission: they have tried to teach ASL to other animals o Productivity: combined 2 or more signs to create new expressions o Displacement:
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