LECTURE 4: May 30, 2013 Chapter 4
THE STRUCTURE OF LANGUAGE
1) Introduction: language and Communication
2) The Evolution of language
3) The structure of language
4) Meaning and Symbolism (Semiotics)
INTRO TO LAN AND COMM
- What is Language?
Language and culture like two side of 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 of fully developed language- grammar, syntax, and 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
- 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
All humans have same physical capacity of language in their brain
An interview with Prof. Noam Chomsky
- Language is the core property that determines human being.
- Normal mature human being knows more than10,000 words.
- Non-Verbal Communication
Language (spoken) and written (writing- existed for 6000 years), is our primary means of
Kinesics is the study of non-verbal communication through body movements, gestures,
and expressions Gestures, facial expressions, and bodily stances, clothing, even if unconscious, convey
information and meaning, and status. E.g. playing Poker
Non-verbal com varies cross culturally. E.g. head shaking side to side = NO in North
American, Yes in India.
Clothing as non-verbal communication. E.g. Monk wearing yellow and red cloths,
policemen in uniform.
THE EVOLUTION OF LANGUAGE
- Nonhuman Primate Communication
- Call Systems
Very dependent on tone. Language is much more complex than call systems.
Consist of a limited number of sounds that are produced in response to specific stimuli
(e.g., food or danger).
Cannot refer to past or future events, or stimuli not present.
Cannot be faked.
Call cannot be combined to produce new calls.
Although wild primates use call systems, the vocal tract of apes is not suitable for speech.
- Sign Language
A few nonhuman primates have been able to learn to use American Sign Language (ASL)
Washoe, a chimpanzee, eventually acquired a vocabulary of over 100 ASL sign
The second chimp to learn ASL was Lucy who lived in foster family until she was
introduced to the "wild", where she was killed by poachers