Chapter 10: Language pg. 313-337 18:24
Average American high school graduate knows about 45,000 different words.
College student 75,000-100,000
Speaker needs to know words sound, sequence of phenomenes that make up the word.
Also knows words orthography- sequence of letters making up printed version of word.
Must know how to use word within various phrases governed by rules of syntax
Speaker needs to know the meaning of a word; must have semantic representation for word
to go with phonological representation, connecting meaning to sound.
Words used to name objects and things around us.
Words Referent is what the word is referring to.
Know referent of bird, know what bird means.
Key differences between words referent and its meaning
Some things have no referent because they refer to things that do not exist.
Reference can be temporary or matter of coincidence.
Ex. President of United States changes but meaning of phrase stays the same.
Can also understand words meaning if one understand relevant concepts.
Building New Words
Size of someones vocabulary is quite fluid.
New words being created all the time
Imagine hearing hack for the first time, hacker, hacking, hacked. Added morphemes allow you to use words in new ways.
Need to highly the generativity of language capacity to create endless series of new
combinations all built from the same set of fundamental units.
Someone who knows English knows how to create new forms within the language; how to
combine morphemes to create new words, knows how to adjust phonemes when theyre put
together into combinations.
Levels of phrases and sentences
If you have 400,000 words in vocabulary how many sentences could you build?
Sentences range in length from very brief to long.
Speakers need to follow the rules of syntax rules governing sequence of words in phrase
These rules provide crucial function for us because they specify the relationships among
words in sentence which allows us to talk about how one topic is related to another.
Tells us who is doing what when we hear They boy chased the girl
We need principles of syntax that are separate from considerations of semantics or
Syntax needs to be understood in terms of series of relatively abstract rules governing
Rules specify elements that must be included in sentence and what the sequence of these
elements must be.
Rules also specify overall organization of sentence.
The boyLoves his dog is an organization of the sentence in terms of phrase-structure
A sentence (S) always consists of a noun phrase (NP) plus a verb phrase (VP)
Linguistic Rules, Linguistic Competence
Taught not to say aint
Need to be clear about what sort of rules there are and what the rules are not.
Prohibitions are the result of prescriptive rulerules describing how language is
supposed to be. Used to mark differences between social classes.
Should be count split infinitives as improper usage?
If we do we are honoring the English spoken in 1926
In this chapter we are concerned with descriptive rulesrules characterizing the
language as it is ordinarily used by fluent speakers and listeners.
Patterns describe how English is structured or what English is.
The absence of a word or phrase in ordinary usage is difficult to interpret.
Spontaneous speech is filled with performance errors such as They were I mean werent
Most cases you know how to repair the error to make correct sentence.
Original performance doesnt reflect your full linguistic knowledge.
Sometimes we need to examine language competence rather than performance pattern
of skills and knowledge that might be revealed under optimal circumstances.
Can reveal this competence through linguistic judgments; asked to reflect on one structure
or another and asked whether that structure is acceptable or not.
The Function of Phrase Structure
Many linguistic judgments reveal importance of phrase-structure rules.
People reliably reject some sequences of words as ungrammatical and the phrase structure
rule tells us why; unacceptable sentences are ones that dont follow rules- groupings can
also be explained in terms of phrase structure.
Phrase structure rules also matter for linguistic performance and seem to guide what we
interpret from sentences we encounter.
S NP (doer) VP (information about doer) divides sentence into the doer and information
about that doer.
VP (verb phrase) V (verb-action) NP (recipient of action)
Phrase structure of sentence provides road map.
Phrase structure untangles who did what to whom.
Complication is with the variety of sentences we encounter. ActorAction Recipient
Sometimes we shift sequence of words for stylistic reasons or to convey a certain emphasis.
Variations from sentence to sentence all marked as a part of sentences D-strdeepre
D-structure reflects speakers intentions in saying a sentence- whether it is a question,
comment, where the emphasis is.
Argued that combinations at each level seem to be rule-governed.
Rules determine which units can be combined and in what order.
Rules also specify a structure within larger units.
Linguistic UniversalPrinciples applicable to every human language.
Subject of a sequence tends to precede object in roughly 80% of worlds languages.
Preferred subject-object-verblanguage likely to form questions by adding some words at
Preferred subject-verb-objectthe language will place its question words at the beginning
of the question.
Perhaps language learning occurs so fast because child begins process with enormous head
start; biological heritage
Child needs to learn what their culture expects language wise and what the rules are; they
can then set the switches and begin learning properly.
- Sentence Parsing
A sentences phrase structure conveys crucial information about who did what to whom
How do you parse a sentence (how do you figure out each words syntactic role?)
Wait until sentences end and only then go to work on figuring out sentences structure.
Comprehension might be slowed because youre waiting for termination of sentence.
Would avoid errors because interpretation guided fully by full information about sentences
Instead people begin identification process as soon as they hear first words phoneme.