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Chapter 4

ANTH 1150 Chapter Notes - Chapter 4: Signify, Hopi Language, Appropriate Behavior

Course Code
ANTH 1150
Satsuki Kawano

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Harris - Chapter 4: Universal features of language
Language is: the medium by which ideas, inventions, and memories outlive individuals
and generations.
Linguistic competence allows:
oAppropriate behaviour for situations
oSituations are remote in space and time
Language allows:
oGenerations to replicate traditions
oFacilitates social change
oNew patterns of social activities = new rules
oRules are stored in brain and passed through language
Verbal rules allow:
oGoverned behaviour
oHumans surpass other species
oComplexity and diversity
Acquisition of language:
o Is an instrumental force in the creation of increasingly complex social
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
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
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
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
oDogs secret hormones as a sexual signal
oChimpanzees use facial expressions or hand gestures

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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
oBreaks language down into hierarchy
oSmallest to broadest
oSmallest is “phone” and leads to how sentences are formed “syntax”
oLinguists 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
oThe click in the African language
oSing-song tone of the Chinese language
oSmallest amount of sounds used in a natural language is 13 (Hawaiian)
oQuechua has 30
oNo matter how many sounds they combine to form a language
oEx: 10 phones can make 10,000 words
oIt is native speakers who perceive whether subtle contrastive differences
between phones and phonemically significant
oPhonemes represent the fact that not all variations of a given sound result
in differences of meaning
oThe 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
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

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Some can occur only in conjunction with other morphemes:
oThese stand alone
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
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
Arranging words into categories
oNouns (things)
oVerbs (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
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:
Example is the national flag is a common example of a symbol that has many
Political loyalty
National pride
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