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Lecture#1-What is Language?

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Marcel Danesi

Ernie Tam20111012Chapter 1What is LanguageLanguage constitutes the overarching memory system of the human species It is sued to encode knowledge to pass it to other generations to investigate reality and to communicate Ancient Greeks called language logos part of the human brain that transformed humans from raging animals into rational beings oLanguage can be used to communicate and to argueDefining Language Language can be defined as the use of the tongue to create meaningbearing signso A sign is anything that stands for something other than itselfoEg Red is used as a sign to describe the color Language enables people to name and classify things that are relevant and meaningful All languages have five things in common o1 A system of distinctive soundso2Units known as wordso3 Grammatical structureo4 Strategies for using language in various personal and social wayso5 Resources for making new words and thus new meanings Most languages have 2060 vocal sounds meaning that vocal sounds are only meaningful and used to build larger structures such as words Words are units of sounds that have meaning standing for objects actions or ideas Grammatical structure is the manner in which words are related to each other to form larger units of meaning such as sentences oMeans to provide people to effectively adapt to new situation and experiences Language and SpeechLanguage is a mental sign system consisting of certain specific types of signs and of structural principles for making understanding and using them Speechis the use of language to form and transmit messages oSpeech can be vocal involving the use of vocal organs tongue teeth lungs or non vocal such as writing or in gesturing Speech is dependent on the categories of the language system You cannot have speech without language but you can have language without speech
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