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Lecture 5

PS102 - Lecture 5.docx

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Wilfrid Laurier University
Eileen Wood

Language & Thought Lecture 5 Properties of Language • Creative • Structural • Meaningful • Communicative Creative • Effortlessly create new sentences - Have a finite vocab that can be combined in infinite ways - Wanna go out for dinner? - Want to fetch some grub? - Would like to dine out? Structure • Although creative – there are rules • These are regularities of language (not necessarily grammar rules) - Ex. can end a sentence with a preposition and be understood, can’t say “dinner the” Meaningful • Each word represents an idea - Object (cat or dog), action (bites), abstraction, quality… • Grammar/structure also contribute to the ideas - Dog bites cat or cat bites dog (think of a picture of a dog biting a cat or vice versa) Communicative • Some language is private – for ourselves (inside voice) • Most language is directed at and around others, social activity (writing, decoding, speaking etc.) • Need to know the sounds, words, sentences of languages & principles of conversation Conversation: Pragmatic (how we speak to others) • Knowing how to speak to whom • Difference between talking to a child, loved one, stranger, employer, enemy, expert etc. Structure of Language • Phonemes • Morphemes • Syntax Phonemes (ex. sounds you can produce in English) • Requires sounds • Sounds require physiological structure • Diagram* • Smallest unit of sound recognized as separate in a given language • Do not correspond to letters of alphabet • Meaningful perceptual units • Basic unit of sounds that we can recognize • Humans can produce 100s of phonemes - No language uses all - About 40 phonemes in English - Other languages may have different numbers Morpheme • Fundamental unit of meaning • Combination of phonemes • English: 40 phonemes; more than 80,000 morphemes for the average person • Semantic also means meaning, but semantic deals with meaning of words • Morphemes form words - Some are single syllable words (hat, bat) - Some are single letters (s, ed – past tense) - Ex. how many morphemes in the word “strangers” - “strange” – root word (basic unit) - “r” – person - “s” – people Syntax • Rules for combining words together into meaningful phrases (when you pause as you read) • How you phrase, gives the meaning - Ambiguity - They are hunting dogs - Can be “they are hunting… dogs” or “They...are… hunting dogs” - Premises for humour Structure & Meaning • Surface structure is how you parse the sentence into meaningful units • Ambiguity:
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