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Chapter 4

Week 3 - Harris Chapter 4, Kane Chapter 5, 6, 7, Course Reader Deutscher.doc

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ANTH 1150
Satsuki Kawano

Harris Chapter 4 Summary Universal features of language Language is: the medium by which ideas, inventions, and memories outlive individuals and generations. • Linguistic competence allows: o Rules o Appropriate behaviour for situations o Situations are remote in space and time • Language allows: o Generations to replicate traditions o Facilitates social change o New patterns of social activities = new rules o Rules are stored in brain and passed through language • Verbal rules allow: o Governed behaviour o Humans surpass other species o Complexity and diversity • Acquisition of language: o Is an instrumental force in the creation of increasingly complex social activity Semantic Universality: is a unique aspect of human communication. It refers to the communicative power of language-the fact that language provides for nearly infinite combinations that express different experiences and thought in different ways. • These are the three distinctive features of semantic universality Productivity: • Infinite capacity of human language • Creation of new messages • To convey information about an infinite number of subjects • We create these messages in greater detail • Animals do not have this linguistic ability Displacement: • Ability to send or receive a message without direct contact • Among animals vocalization or sounds are closely tied to specific types of stimuli • A growl is a warning only when in direct threat • Humans can talk about past, present and future events • Human capacity to convey abstract literature o Poetry o Literature o Science Arbitrariness: • Seldom a connection between the abstract symbols employed by humans and the events and properties they signify • Constructed out of sounds • Physical shape and meaning are not programmed in or genes • Animal communication in contrast consists of genetically stereotyped signals and decoding behaviour o Dogs secret hormones as a sexual signal o Chimpanzees use facial expressions or hand gestures Linguistics: Elements of Language Analysis As with other areas of scientific inquiry, linguistics try to discover the underlying rules that govern language Components of linguists: • Speaking and hearing languages occurs unconsciously • Language is smooth • Figure out the pattern and rules of language • Structural linguistics o Breaks language down into hierarchy o Smallest to broadest o Smallest is “phone” and leads to how sentences are formed “syntax” • Grammar o Linguists describe how language is constructed, not proper usage Phonetics and Phones Phonetics: the study of the phones, or individual sounds, that native speakers make Phones: represent etic occurrences, they occur die to variations in the location of the tongue and lips and the stress, pith and tone of the sounds. They can be observed and identifies in speech without having to question the speaker. Phonemic differences: are derived from patterns of sounds that are meaningful to native speakers. Phonemes: are units of sounds (phones) that lack meaning in themselves; they are the smallest sound contrasts that distinguish meaning for native speakers. • Languages differ from one another and so do the phones of the languages o The click in the African language o Sing-song tone of the Chinese language o Smallest amount of sounds used in a natural language is 13 (Hawaiian) o Quechua has 30 o No matter how many sounds they combine to form a language o Ex: 10 phones can make 10,000 words o It is native speakers who perceive whether subtle contrastive differences between phones and phonemically significant o Phonemes represent the fact that not all variations of a given sound result in differences of meaning o The phonemic system  All the phonemes in a given language  Thus consists of sets of phones that are arbitrarily but habitually perceived by the speakers as contrastive Morphemes Morpheme: the smallest part of an utterance that has a definite meaning. • May consist of a single phoneme or of strings of phonemes in different combinations and permutations • Some can stand alone • Some can occur only in conjunction with other morphemes: o These stand alone  Hello  Stop  Sheep o Example: Are those goats or sheep? SHEEP is a perfectly understandable message and can stand alone Bound morphemes are embedded within words such as the suffix: these can never constitute well formed messages on their own • ing • ed • er Syntax Syntax: consist of the unconscious rules governing the arrangement of words in sentences and phrases • Sentence structure, how words are ordered and the relationship of the components • Arranging words into categories o Nouns (things) o Verbs (actions, events) o Adjectives (quantities) • This allows the listener to figure out the relationship among things that the speaker is saying • Native speakers can distinguish between grammatical and ungrammatical sentences even when they have never heard particular combination before 1. Colorless green ideas sleep furiously 2. Furiously sleep ideas green colorless Sentence one is grammatical sentence two is not. Language and Symbolic Representation More generalized capacity for symbolically representing objects, actions and relationships Symbolic thought: occurs when a person simultaneously associates two or more complex ideas that evoke a reaction • Emotional and has meaning that most members of the culture understand • War memorials and places of worship have great meanings because people understand their symbolism • Symbols are given meaning within a cultural context • Symbols can arouse passion and evoke thoughts and emotions that can lead to extreme behavioural response • Several layers of symbolic meaning may be embedded in: o Objects o Words o Actions Example is the national flag is a common example of a symbol that has many associations; • Unity • Political loyalty • National pride • Other emotional connections Symbols are not substitutes for objects but they are ways of convening a meaning Language Issues and Theories Innate Grammatical Knowledge • Theory proposed by Noam Chomsky 1973- human language is possible because of the existence of an innate capacity for grammar • At the deepest levels all human languages share an inborn species-specific structure that is “hard-sired” into neural circuitry • Human brain has a blueprint for building words • Inborn structure allows children to learn a language at a young age • Adults are also able to translate languages because of the inborn structure • The approach is called o Innatist or rationalist o Explanation of human capacity for language Are there Superior and Inferior Languages? • Simple human languages, with limited vocabulary and grammar do not exist • Groups with simpler technologies or social organizations do not have simpler languages • No language is superior to another • The failure of a language has nothing to do with evolutionary standings • It simply reflects culturally defined needs • Speakers of language that lack a word for a number greater than 5 get along well • 19 century linguists suggest a hierarchy for languages o Top prize being Europeans for efficiency, elegance and beauty o Second is Latin for mastery, grammar was long and prolonged No, there are No “PRIMITIVE” Languages • Preliterate societies often lack words for colors • They don't need to be color conscious • But they will use body parts, the sky and milk to compare colors • All languages in the world posses a common fundamental structure that need; o Minor changes in vocab Language, Thought and Causality • Principle of linguistic relativity or the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis o Applies to people who’s language systems differ radically in vocab and grammar they are in different thought worlds o Although language and though are reflected in culture, it is incorrect to assume that language “causes” or “restricts” thought or that language “determines” culture o Speakers of different languages will construct reality differently because language affects how individuals perceive reality o This is due to filters  This has the effect of structuring the world in a particular way for its speaking  Learning new languages causes a person to enter a new social reality based in the language habits of the group Linguistic Naming Categories • Whorf’s theory has been tested in color categories • Some languages have separate terms only for brightness contrasts • There is evidence that even if there are only two or three major parts of the color spectrum distinction can be made Sociolinguistics Sociolinguistics: is concerned with hoe language is used in different social contexts and what is tells us about social relationships. • Speakers tailor their words for specific audiences • Storytelling reveals the dynamics of group membership • Dialects may be used to create and maintain social boundaries between individuals • Data provides real-life social interactions provides important clues about structural and super structural patterns such as; o Status o Class o Gender Language and Gender • Gender differences are also found in the speech styles of men and women o Pronunciation: men exhibit greater use of nonstandard pronunciation than do women of similar age, and social group o Intonation: Men use a more narrow range of pitch and more even volume and velocity in their speech patterns than women o Verbosity: contrary to the belief that women are talkative, men in fact talk more than women o Grammar: Women use “tag questions” much more frequently than men- sentences in which the speaker makes a statement and adds a “tag” in the form of a question: its hot today isn’t it? o Vocabulary: Women tend to use intensifiers such as very, terribly and extremely and empty adjectives such as wonderful and lovely. They also tend to use hedge words • Many nouns and pronouns that refer to human beings lack gender o Child o Everybody o Person citizen o American Difference between boys and girls speech begins at a young age: Boys: • Boys play in large groups • Their play is competitive • Use communication to get attentions and compete for status Girls: • Play in pairs or small groups • Engage in cooperative roles • Do not have clear cut rules • Spend more time talking than playing Cross-Talk: takes place when listeners miss or misinterpret cues in communication Maltz and Broker identify why American men and women come into conflict during conversation: • Men and women attach different meanings to what is said and often have misunderstandings about intentions • Women feel that men disregard their emotions o Men fell that they are showing support by offering advice and not sharing • Women discuss problems with one another to share experiences o Men use their knowledge to give advice and not share • Women explicit knowledge that has been said o Men pick up the conversation where it left off • Women use communication to; o Maintain relationships o Men do not they are assertive Language, Social Class and Ethnicity • Certain dialects and linguistic styles can be considered inferiors to other • Language superiority is associated with social and political motivations • Demotion of dialects to inferior status can be understood only as part of the general proves by which ruling groups attempt to keep their dominant position • African American Vernacular English o Known as Ebonics o
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