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Lecture#2-What is Language

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University of Toronto St. George
Marcel Danesi

Ernie Tam20110920Lecture 2What is LanguageAll languages have five basic things in commono1 A system of distinctive sounds How sounds cohere to make meaning Eg If you were listening to someone speaking a language that you did not know it would be sound Sesame Streethow to understand where language came fromCat rat bat by changing one syllable in the beginning you change the meaning of the word Those distinctive sounds is called a phoneme There is an aesthetic quality for language o2 Units known as wordsLipiousLipdelicious Advertising to attract others o3 Grammatical structureo4 Strategies for using language in various personal and social wayso5 Resources for making new words and thus new meanings Language and Speech You can learn a language but never speak it LanguageMental system of forms for one to understandSpeechhow you deliver language You are using the larynx the vocal speech Using pen or computer as written speech Or in speech impaired people you can use your hands for sign language Federdinand de SaussureLangue language and parole vocal and written Is language capacity universal oFeral children are exemplars of children who did not know language capacity These are children who needed to survive on their own Eg Genie oOur brain will bring in and take input stimuli and organize it on its own oIn other words if you dont hear a language when you are born then you must learn it yourselfoThe time period from 0 age to pubertyif you havent been exposed to language by puberty you cant learn onecritical periodPlatos question Poverty of Stimulus
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