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Unit 1: Overview of Human Language

5 Pages

Course Code
Psychology 2134A/B
Marc Joanisse

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Unit 1 Overview of Human Language The real content of this course begins in this section in which we will start to think about what language is and why we would want to study it anyway The Human Language Language is a unified phenomenon across humans All humans use language However they dont all speak the same language In fact sign languages arent even spoken but as we will see in this course they are still human languages In this class youll learn that languages differ in some basic ways However they share many important characteristics When we look beyond the surface differences across languages we see that there are lots of deep similarities across them All Languages Are The Same Some important points before we go on There is no such thing as a primitive language All languages are structurally complex and are able to transmit an infinite set of thoughts and ideas There is no correct or best form of a language languages can have many dialects identified with different social or economic strata However these are just as grammatical and complex as any other form of the language There are high versions of a language eg people who profess to speak The Queens English But this is strictly social construct Nothing can be expressed in one language that cannot be expressed in anotherThere are no thoughts or ideas that can only be expressed in one language and not another What do we know when we know languageNoam Chomsky famous linguist Thats a good question Lets take a closer look Consider these two sentencescats run after dogsrun cats dogs after Youll notice that the first sentence is very different from the second it makes sense and seem right Linguists would argue that the difference is that the first sentence is grammaticalit fits with the rules of English as we know them The second sentence isnt grammatical and weve used the asteriskto denote this fact What makes it grammatical It cant just be what words are used the second sentence contains the same words as the first Instead the difference is the order of the words How do we know what orderings of
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