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Linguistics Lecture 1.docx

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Linguistics Lecture 1 - What is linguistics? o the scientific study of language o goals:  to unlock the “black box” in which language is created  to observe verifiable, testable, quantitative facts about human languages  to describe human languages  to explain the facts about them and regularities in their structure  to study language like an object  to be descriptive, not prescriptive  linguistics does not make judgements of value between languages  recognizes that there is no ideal form of language o looks at:  language structure  acquisition  usage  changes over time - What is language? o A method of communication o Uses speech, writing and signing o The human language is unique to our species  Over time we have adapted to use our breathing and eating organs for speaking  Is a natural language  Created free from other species’ intervention  Evolves unconsciously  Changes over time  Uses arbitrary/unconnected signifiers (ie. the word “dog” has nothing to do with how the dog looks or behaves)  Animal languages have only signifier-based vocabularies o Cannot build complex expressions like humans can  Humans can add prepositions and suffixes to words to create new words  Using grammar guidelines, humans can create new sentences never seen before… - Language creativity o Humanity’s ability to produce new words and sentences is infinite o Language creativity means that we can understand sentences we have never heard before o This ability is constrained by grammar (linguistic competence)
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