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Ch 10 Language.docx

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University of Toronto Scarborough
George Cree

Ch 10: Language Chapter 10: Language Introduction:  Language is at the heart of and essential for a huge range of human activities and achievements (we pass things down to next generations) The organization of language  Language is highly organized --> clear patterns for expressing ideas (partly allows one to comprehend spoken language)  Knowing a language --> diction, syntax etc are essential for organizing language  Sentences - coherent sequences of words that express the intended meaning of a speaker  Morpheme - smallest language units that carry meanings  Phonemes - smallest units of sound that can serve to distinguish words in language o Some are represented by letters of language, others are not  Sentences --> phrases --> words --> morphemes --> phonemes  New sequences must adhere to some rules Phonology  The production of speech o Blocking/restricting airflow through the larynx by vocal folds causes a production of sound = voicing o Distinguish sound by (a sound's identity):  Manner of Production  How the airflow is restricted --> a different sound will be produced  Voiced vs. not voiced  Does the sound use the vocal cords or not?  Place of articulation  Where the airflow is restricted  Complexity of Speech Production o Phonemes that differ only in one production feature some more similar to each other; phonemes that differ in multiple features sound more distinct  Seen in errors people make (subs. P for B) o Problems encountered while recognizing speech  In a stream of speech there are no markers to indicate where phonemes end and begin  there are generally no gaps or signals of any sort to indicate the boundaries between successive syllables or successive words  Coarticulation - in producing speech one does not utter one phoneme at a time, but the phonemes overlap (in order to produce fluency and speed in speech) o Aids to Speech Perception (Solutions):  Speech segmentation - slicing the stream into appropriate segment  Usu. People perceive each word to be separate -- but not the case  The speech encountered is surprisingly limited in its range --> 50 most common words = 50% of spoken language  Top-down influences  we actively seek a match between the sounds arriving at our ears and the words actually in our vocabulary  Phonemic restoration effect  Knowledge relying on broader context  When a phoneme is removed from a recording of sentence, the participants attest to "hearing" the phonemes as if it were present o Categorical perception  Constantly trying to discern what the other person is trying to convey  Categorical perception  much better at hearing the differences between categories of sounds than we are at hearing the variations within a category of sounds  In reality, people have individual differences and the listener doesn't care too much about how one person pronounces one letter and how another pronounces the same letter. What does matter is the difference between one letter and another letter.  Evidence: even though there is a graded difference b/w "Ba" and "Pa" sound, listeners perceive an abrupt change (i.e. categorization) o Combining phonemes  The combination is limited by language and it is not an incapacity of the human ears or perception  There are rules that seem to govern the adjustments that must occur when certain phonemes are uttered one after another  Ex. When a base ends with a voicing sound, the plural "s" sounds like [z] (bags) when it doesn't, it sounds like [s] (books) Words  Sound - sequence of phonemes that make up the word  Orthography - the sequence of letters that make up the printed version of the word  Word Meaning o Referent - what a word refers to o Difference b/w referent and meaning  The referent can change, the meaning cant (ex. US President)  There are words that have no referent because they don’t exist in reality --> but they still have meaning (ex. X-ray vision) o Knowing a word is knowing the relevant concept  Building New Words o Generativity - refers to the capacity to create an endless series of new combinations, all built from the same set of fundamental units o Knowing a language entails being able to generate new words according to rules of the language Syntax  Most sentences contain 20 words or fewer  Syntax - rules governing the sequence of words in a phrase or sentence o Specifies the relationship among the words in the sentence and this allows us to talk about how one topic related to another  Syntax does not depend on meaning (meaningless sentences make sense - Me Tarzan)  Syntax is separate from semantics and sensibility  Phrase structure o Rules governing the organization of the phrase (where the noun, subject, predicate etc. will be) o A sentence consists of a noun phrase and a verb phrase  Linguisitic Rules, Linguistic competence o Prescriptive rules - Rules describing how the language is supposed to be  Used to mark differences b/w classes  These rules change with the passage of time and era (from location to location) o Descriptive Rules - Rules characterizing the language as it is ordinarily used by fluent speakers and listeners  Simply describe how English is structured (i.e. What English is) o Language competence - the pattern of skills and knowledge that might be revealed under optimal circumstances (what is right -- not what seems or feels okay) o Language Performance - the pattern of spoken language  Not reliable for studying descriptive rules because of errors in speech (slips)  The Function of Phrase Structure o Reveal if a statement seem to make sense or not o Naturally group words  Provides initial road map (Sentence --> Doer (NP) + Info abt doer (VP)) o Guides our interpretation of the sentences o There are many phrase structures that guide our interpretation  "I ate when I was hungry" vs "When I was hungry, I ate" o Phrase structure helps us untangle who-did-what-to-whom in any particular sentence  D-Structure o D-structure - reflects the speaker's intentions in uttering (or writing) a sentence  Ie. There is more to the sentence than just its surface form -- a deeper intended meaning  Linguistic universals o There are certain similarities at each stage of phonological hierarchy among language o Linguistic universals -- principles applicable to every human language o Sequence of categories  98 % of languages --> subject precedes the obje
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