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LING 1000 Lecture Notes - Counterexample

Course Code
LING 1000
Katherine Martin

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LING 1000 notes – Language vs. Communication Systems – page 1
Defining language
1960s - Charles Hockett - "design features" of language
Agreed on by most linguists
ALL languages have all these features
Mode of communication - dedicated way to transmit language
Interchangeability - individuals can produce and receive
Semanticity - all parts have meaning/function
Pragmatic function - communication system is useful
Cultural transmission - learned via social interaction with a group of people
Displacement - ability to communicate about things that are not physically or
chronologically present
Arbitrariness - form not predictable from meaning
Learned by convention (also unpredictable)
Counterexample: onomatopeoia
Sound symbolism: sound /ee/ in English - smallness
Discreteness - system made up of finite number of discrete, separate units
Units can be rearranged, combined
Productivity - infinite number of ways discrete units can be recombined
Rule-governed, but with productive rules
Additional design features (not in official 9)
Prevarication - ability to (intentionally) lie/mislead
Reflexiveness - communication system can refer to itself
Specialization - only purpose of system is for communication
Spontaneity - not just used as reaction to stimulus
Animal Communication
Bird calls: short, simple, can be difficult to locate
Used for keeping together, warning
Bird songs: long, complex
Seasona, specific meanings
Repitition, internal structure, rules for combination
Monkeys: vocal calls, facial expressions, posture
Describe specific dangers (eagle vs. snake)
Determine social hierarchies (territorial disputes)
Facial expressions match calls, monkeys can match meaning and expression
Alex: avian learning experiment - African gray parrot
Results not repeated with other parrots
Primate studies:
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