Anthropology 1027A/B Lecture 1: Introduction
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Wednesday, January 6, 2016
What is linguistics?
The scientiﬁc study of language: how it works, how it is used, and how it changes.
What does it mean to “know” a language?
Being able to communicate verbally and in written form, understand words and how
they come together as a whole, understanding how it changes locally (slang).
What is Language?
Language makes us human: we have the ability to learn language and all humans
learn a language. We are genetically predisposed to learn any language, the language
we learn depends on where we live.
Language plays an important role in: communication, conveying thoughts and
emotions, and differentiating groups (social, national, cultural).
You do not need to have a written component in a language in many languages there is
Human speech organs: lungs, vocal chords, tongue, teeth, lips, nose. *Description of
function in lecture slides*
Accents come from the way the tongue is conditioned to move. You learn a certain way
to move it when you’re learning a language.
1. Language is a system that is regulated by rules - a grammar.
-It is not alway obvious what constitutes a rule and constraint in a language.
-It is not always written in grammar books and explicitly taught.
-The rules that a native speaker has in their mind.
2. Language is a creative system (lexicon + grammar)
-Language allows innovation (within limits —> Certain sounds you can make or
endings you can have).
3. Language is not writing.
All humans beings are born with an ability to learn a human language ( linguistic
capacity). Chomsky 1957 and later work
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