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Chapter 2


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Meredyth Daneman

PSY374 Ch. 2 Chapter 2: Linguistic Principles MAIN POINTS  Linguistics have attempted to identify those grammatical features that appear in all languages. Four pervasive properties are duality of patterning, morphology, phrase structure and linguistic productivity  ASL shares these linguistic properties with spoken languages. Sign language differs from spoken language in its iconicity and simultaneous structure  Language consists of an infinite set of sentences. A person who knows a language knows its grammar, which consist of a finite set of rules  Transformational grammar distinguishes btw two levels of sentence structure: deep structure and surface structure. Phrase structure rules generate deep structures, and transformational rules operate on deep structures to produce surface structures  Several controversies exist within grammatical theory, including whether grammatical rules are psychologically real, the role of syntax in grammar, and whether knowledge of language is innate BASIC GRAMMATICAL CONCEPTS  In English word order is: Subject, Verb, Object  In Japanese its: Subject, Object, Verb DUALITY OF PATTERNING Duality of patterning: a feature of a communication system in which a small number of meaningless units can be combined into a large number of meaningful units Phones – are speech sounds Aspiration – puff of air [ph] – Pill - Spill – no puff of air  [p] –unaspirated Phonemes: are differences in sound that make a contribution to meaning, they are indicated by slashes /b/ /d/  phonemes can be thought of as categories for phones  in English aspirations are not phonemic, no difference on phones make a difference in meaning, only phonemes ex. dig, big  in Thai aspirations are phonemic /ph/ /p/ PSY374 Ch. 2 distinctive feature: is a characteristic of a speech sound whose presence or absence distinguishes the sound from other sounds 1.+ voicing  /b/ is + bilabial  which means the sound is articulated at the lips and is (+ stop), meaning that the airflow from the lungs is completely stopped during production 2. - voicing  /p/ is – 1. /p/ cannot be followed by a /b/ at the beginning of a word 2. a word cannot begin with two stop consonants ex. p, t, b, g, d, k 3. Voiceless stop consonants are aspirated when they are at the beginning of a word ex. till, still/ kill, skill  Duality of patterning is a universal property of language MORPHOLOGY Morphology: The system of word forming elements and processes in a language Morpheme: the smallest meaningful unit in a language ex. truck = 1 morpheme, bedroom = 2 morphemes  bed and room Free morphemes: A unit of meaning that can stand-alone Bound morphemes/grammatical morpheme: a unit of meaning that only exists when combined or bound to a free morpheme ex. read-ing, -ing cannot stand alone PHRASE STRUCTURE Phrase structure – the hierarchical organization of sentences into phrases (the young swimmer)(accepted the silver medal)  the items in parentheses are the constituents of this simple declarative sentence  the first item in a noun phrase (NP)  a determiner (the), an adjective (young), a noun (swimmer)  The second constituent is a verb phrase (VP)  verb (accepted), and a second NP (the silver medal)  NPs are replaced by NPs and VPs are replaced by VPs Phrase-structure rules: are syntactic rules that specify the permissible sequences of constituents in a language  each phrase structure rule “rewrites” a constituent into one or more other constituents PSY374 Ch. 2  by using a series of rules, we can derive a sentence from top to bottom (that is from the largest to the smallest constituent)  Lexical insertion rules: put words into the structure that has been built ex. (adj) = young, silver, beautiful  The entire sequence of rules that produces the sentence is called a derivation A Simple Set of Phrase Structure Rules: PS 1 S (sentence)  NP + VP PS 2 NP  det. + (adj) + N PS 3 VP  V + NP Steps in the Derivation of The young swimmer accepted the silver medal Phrase structure ambiguity: a form of ambiguity in which a sentence has multiple meanings that may be revealed by regrouping the sentence constituents Ex. They are eating apples (pg. 24) LINGUISTIC PRODUCTIVITY Linguistic productivity/linguistic creativity: our ability to create and comprehend novel utterances  Instead of storing sentences we store rules of sentences, the number of rules is finite but the rules can be combined to form unlimited number of sentences  Recursive rule: a rule that applies to its own output, such as a rule for self- embedded sentences (ex. S  NP + V + S)  The woman knows the child thinks the man left  There is no limit to the number of times we can embed one sentence into another  Recursion seems to be a resilient property of human language  Linguistic productivity distinguishes human language from animal communication systems, which consist of a small number of discrete signals  Strong verbs (irregular in the past tense)  went, fell, ate  children tend to overuse these past tense markers ex. goed SUMMARY  Four basic grammatical concepts are duality of patterning, morphology, phrase structure, and linguistic productivity  Words consist of one or more units of meanings – morphemes (reflect subtle differences in meaning)  Words are composed of phonemes  Smaller units are combined in a rule governed manner to produce the larger units PSY374 Ch. 2 INSIGHTS FROM SIGN LANGUAGE American Sign Language (ASL): sings are expressed in visual or spatial form  ASL is sharply distinguished from manual forms of English that translates English sounds into signs  the best known is fingerspelling: translates English words, letter by letter into manual form (secondary gestural system)  ASL  is independent of English and derived from French Sign Language (FSL) DIFFERENCES BETWEEN SIGNED AND SPOKEN LANGUAGES Arbitrariness: no intrinsic relationship exist btw the set of sounds and the object to which the sound refers i.e there is no relation btw the size of a word and the size of its referent (what its referring too)  we have big words for small objects (caterpillar) and we have small words for large objects (train)  this is a universal feature in human language Iconicity: a characteristic of language in which words resemble their referents ex. ASL  attention, judge possess a high degree of iconicity  each language represents the object iconically in different ways  hearing observers not familiar with sign language were able to identify only about 10% of signs that were presented  better performance in deaf signers for unfamiliar languages of signing, iconic signs are not necessarily transparent in meaning  the degree of iconicity has declined in ASL for the past 200 years ex. Home = Sleep + Eat but now in 1 sign  ASL has an increasing degree of arbitrariness and now has a system of reference – part iconic and part arbitrary Simultaneous and sequential structure  the structure of spoken language is largely sequential in nature  sign language is organized more spatially more then temporally  the meaning of utterances is not specified primarily by order of signs but by the combination of features simultaneously present in a sign Similarities between signed and spoken languages  Duality of patterning – the 3 major parameters of signs are o 1.) hand configuration  19 different values of hand configurations or hand shapes ex. open palm, closed fist, partially closed fist with index finger pointing PSY374 Ch. 2 o 2.) place of articulation (12 values) deals with whether the sign is made at the upper brow, the cheek, the upper arm and so on o 3.) movement – whether the hands are moving upward, downward, sideways, toward or away from the signer in rotary fashion and so on  they are all combined in various ways to form ASL sings  therefore it has duality of patterning Candy is + index, - compact Apple is +index, +compact Jealous is –index, - compact  recognition errors involved pairs of signs that differed in only one feature  sings with similar patterns of distinctive features were psychologically similar to one another MORPHOLOGY  ASL signals various grammatical distinctions  the distinction btw first and second person  ask me, sing is toward the signer, ask you, the sign is toward the addressee  ASL marks number, aspect, and reciprocity RECIPROCITYY  reciprocity deals with the distinction btw, they pinched them and they pinched each other  that is whether there is a subject that is the agent of the action and an object that is its recipient or whether there is a mutual interchange btw subject and object  in English the distinction is made with pronouns  in AS
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