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Lecture 1 ANT253 Language and Society.docx

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Marcel Danesi

Language and Society – ANT253H1 Lecture 1 1. Language and Linguistics a. The sound evokes the object where it is in the room, we connect sound/words to objects - Linguistic anthropology focuses on the understanding of how humans think as part of living together in groups and how language interlinks with social forms, concepts, and activities, such as how people talk to each other 2. The science that studies Language is called Linguistics a. What is language? b. Language is the use of the tongue to create forms of thought known as words, or more accurately signs. i. Presents things through a sound or some kind of mark on a page… ii. Only those bipedal, can use language iii. Primates, communicate…they don’t speak - Language is felt by people to be a tool for gaining and preserving knowledge and as a weapon that can lead to misunderstanding and conflict - Panini (Indian scholar) showed that many words are made up of smaller pieces o For example: incompletely is made up of in + complete + ly (in and ly are known as the affixes 3. Sign system: red a. It is representation, that is something that stands for something else b. Change the world, the society, with language c. All languages have 5 basic things in common: i. A finite set of distinctive sounds used to make words and to convey various types of meaning (phonology – study of sound)…languages have phonological relations ii. Units that bear meanings of one kind or another known as words (morphology) iii. Grammatical structure, that is specific principles for making words, and for putting them together to form larger units of meaning (known as sentences and texts) iv. Strategies for using language in various personal and social ways, logical pragmatic (known as speech) – pragmatic aspect of language v. Resources for making new words and for using language in new ways (semantics) Language and speech (langue and parole) - Language is a sign system where as speech is the use of that system to transmit verbal messages o Speech can be vocal (tongue, teeth, lungs etc.) or nonvocal (writings or gesturing) o One can have language without speech; but one cannot have speech without language - Competence and performance - Langue is the knowledge and to play is parole (more sensitive and responsive to the situation) Language and Society – ANT253H1 Lowering of the larynx (prerequisite for vocal language) - Innate or acquired? - The lowering of the larynx permits vocal speech by leaving a chamber above the vocal folds that can modify sounds - “Poverty of Stimulus” o The claim that language is an innate biological endowment does not capture the intricacy of the interplay between the environment in which the child is reared and the instinctive knack for language; nor does the opposing idea that the mind is an “empty slate” on which the environment “writes” the rules. o There is an interconnection between nature and nurture - A child is spoken to…after a while, the child speaks o
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