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Lecture 2

ANT253H1 Lecture Notes - Lecture 2: Lev Vygotsky, Universal Grammar, Foxp2


Department
Anthropology
Course Code
ANT253H1
Professor
Marcel Danesi
Lecture
2

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Jan. 17th, 2017
ANT253 Lecture #2
Noam Chomsky and Universal Grammar
- Metaphor: Juice Story
o Grandson who drinks homemade juice every morning
o Had an orange cat
o What every child sees and understands is that if we name a characteristic with a word
the assumption is that that same word will be used with a different characteristic
Called the cat juice because they were both orange
o We amalgamated something here and something there and they belong together under
one category
For his grandson, it was juice
o LEV VYGOTSKY: studies speech in kids they use language creatively to make
analogies or inferences about the world
- NOAM CHOMSKY: most influential in modern debate on language acquisition, Universal
Grammar etc.
- UNIVERSAL GRAMMAR: adapted Plato’s perspective by positing the presence of what he calls
a “universal grammar”; in the human brain, children acquire language so effortlessly on the basis
of partial and imperfect input from speakers known as the poverty of stimulus
- Universal grammar is argued to be the blueprint upon which all languages are built
- Linguist Pinker suggests that children are born with a language of thought, constantly inferring
the appropriate rules form various speech samples to which they are exposed, to produce a
language of speech; claims that Universal Grammar is in our genes (like Plato and Chomsky)
- Hypothesis gene called FOXP2 passes on specific language impairments to one’s offspring,
which suggests that language is a trait that is transmitted through genetic inheritance
o Burling: FOXP2 may nort be specifically marked language gene
Sociolinguistics
- SOCIOLINGUISTICS:
- Interested in relationship between language and social variables (gender, age, class)
o Ex// How do people communicate using emoji’s?
- LINGUISTIC ANTHROPOLOGY: considers language and its relationship to humans, more than
one language
o Ex// How do emoji’s change the way people think?
- How language creates rituals, stories, thought, ways of classifying
Watch vs. Clock
- Italian: clock and watch are one word “l’orologio” vs. in English
- Russia: arm and hand all one word vs. in English where we broke the arm up
- Chinese is more like English = separated up, more specified
- Portability is crucial in English language
- English culture says: if it is located somewhere it is a clock, if its on your person/portable its a
watch
- Time keeping was important when it was created in Europe
- Buddhists wouldn't see it that way no kept time, time using daylight
- Time is traced to history of language and culture
find more resources at oneclass.com
find more resources at oneclass.com
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