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Lecture 2

ANT253H1 Lecture Notes - Lecture 2: Marcel Danesi, Noam Chomsky, Universal Grammar

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Marcel Danesi

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Professor Marcel Danesi Jan. 17, 2017
Language can be a form of deceit (we use it to lie)
From birth to around puberty is a critical period for acquiring a language
Noam Chomsky (linguist) and Universal Grammar
- Children are exposed to bits and pieces of language rather than systematically
- Somehow our brains are trained to take in language and interpret it
- Metaphor: Juice story
Sociolinguistics interested in the relationship of language and social variables
Linguistic Anthropology considers language and its relationship to humans, more
than one language, etc.
- Watch vs. clock in Italian, “l’orologio” is the term for both watch and clock
(Buddhists don’t value time, so they wouldn’t care; but time was very important when
it was first invented in Europe; in Canada the portability of a watch is important to
Therefore, time is perceived based on history of language, culture, place
- Koasati (an indigenous language spoken in Louisiana), men say “lawawhol” to refer
to “lifting”, while women say “lakawhos” (so the way they say it distinguishes their
gender, not the subject itself)
- In the language spoken on the island of Carib in the West Indies, women use the word
“kachi” for “sun”, while the men use “hueyu” (again, gender-different language)
Historical Roots (***most likely not on exam)
- A while ago, people believed that God would punish people by making them speak
different languages
- Ferdinand de Saussure, 1916
- Diachronic and synchronic
- Langue and parole
Difference, Opposition
- One slight change in a word pronunciation changes everything
- Every language is structured/based on words (people can think of things in any
Minimal pair (cat vs. rat = 1 sound change)
Franz Boas (founder of anthropological method in North America)
Nuer society had colours and markings of cattle, but few words to describe clothing
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