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Chapter 3

LING 200 Chapter 3 Complete.docx
LING 200 Chapter 3 Complete.docx

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McGill University
LING 200
Maire Noonan

LING 200 Introduction to the Study of Language Chapter 3 Common-sense Views of "Language” Language is a form of expression Body language & hand language  All of these too vague to constitute the object of scientific inquiry  Pretty much anything expressive can be called language in everyday discussion Language as an instrument/result of thought Language should be defined in its relation to thought and reasoning, or so commonly believed Is it language that allows is to have new thoughts or is it thoughts that control language? Under one view  Language shapes our perception of reality and predetermines what we see in the world around us  According to Sapir Whorf theory, we conceptualize nature along lines laid down by our native languages In contrast  Other views think thoughts exist independently of language and language just matches the thoughts or concepts that exist independently in our mind  It is not very clear what the boundaries of our thoughts are and how to derive these boundaries Language as a repository of culture Language used by a culture primarily reflects that culture's interests and concerns, thus language can be defined as a medium of culture  Not true, because pretty much every positive or negative correlation among race, language and culture can be paralleled to languages from the American Northwest Coast Native peoples  Also, Eskimo do not have many words for snow Language as a system of communication I-Language  Most widespread conception of language Language is not, in its essence, a means for transmitting cognitive information, we just happen to use it that way  More productive to treat languages as arbitrary rule systems, like codes or games, in order to get insight into their structure  Views above are valid in everyday discussion but not relevant to scientific accounts of language The views presuppose the concept language is already clearly defined, and immediately link language to socialization and culture Socialization also uses the same concept as I-language  Explicit rules against showing certain body parts  Implicit rules of plural formation must all be encoded in memory if they are to have any influence on behavior A child is "socialized” into a language as well  Each child ends up with a rule or pattern that leads to a certain behavior, whether in socialization or language i.e. The Walpiri child is socialized to reduplicate for plurals while the English child is socialized to add a suffix  Each child ends up with a rule or pattern that can be used to generate or understand new forms, therefore the socialization process lead to a computational system Narrowness  Scientists have to use the word ’’language’’ in a narrow sense because a scientific pursuit aims at discovering laws and principles that govern the way things are  Just like how chemists use a pre—existing word like ”water” to imply H20, linguists borrow the word ”language" for a narrow and scientific meaning  Linguists don't account for communication just as how vision scientists don't talk ab
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