Textbook Notes (363,473)
Canada (158,372)
Anthropology (232)
ANT253H1 (58)
Chapter 2

Chapter 2 - Studying Language.doc

12 Pages
Unlock Document

University of Toronto St. George
Marcel Danesi

Chapter 2 - Notes By: Kousha Azimi Studying Language - Started in 1786 – Sir William Jones (English Scholar) suggested that Sanskrit, Persian, Greek and Latin sprang from the same linguistic source and belong to the same language family - His suggestion started the systematic study of language families (linguistics as a science) and analyzing language as a force shaping social and cultural life in 19 century 1930s, study of language-society-culture interface dropped from linguistic science and became a branch of both linguistics and anthropology by the early 1950s (this branch called anthropological linguistics) Scientific Approach to Language - 5 Century BCE Indian scholar Panini compiled a grammar of Sanskrit language of India o (one of) first person to describe a language scientifically o Showed the words are constructed from smaller structures or units (e.g. unmistakable) - Aristotle divided sentences into subject and predicate (this division still remains fundamental today) - Greek scholar Dionysius Thrax wrote a comprehensive grammar of Greek using Aristotle’s scheme o Showed parts of speech relate to each other in formation of sentences o Identified nouns, verbs, pronouns, prepositions, conjunctions, adverbs, and principles as main parts of language th - Roman grammarian Priscian (6 Century CE) adopted Thrax’s model and described Latin grammar (still used in textbooks of Latin in school today) th th - 16 + 17 century  surveys of different languages to determine which grammatical facts were universal and which specific to the world’s languages 1 th - 17 century  French scholar Port-Royal Circle  “universal” grammar of French  showed how certain sentences are derivatives of others o Eg. An all-knowing God created the visible world o Made up of smaller/more basic sentences connected to each other by unconscious rules of grammar (eliminated repetition) + allowed rearrangement of words o Port Royal argued that such rules are the basis of sentence formation and of language itself o Principles of rules are operated everywhere, no matter what language (i.e. Universal) o Chomsky acknowledged his debt to Port Royal (similar thoughts) - German Scholar Humboldt  also had universalist view of language o Different view from Port Royal o Believed that particular (internal) structure of language spoken (innere Sprachfrom) conditioned how people came to view reality o His work was precursor of a view of language known as linguistic relativity o Every language has its innere Sprachfrom which determines its outer form and which is a reflection of its speakers’ minds o Language and thought of people are inseparable th - 19 century (a lot of precise surveying of world’s languages) Jacob Grimm, Franz Bopp and Rasmus Christian Rask compared languages systematically o Noticed that in some languages sounds in related words corresponded in regular ways o E.g. /p/ in Latin Pater (father) and pedem (foot) corresponded to English /f/ in father and foot o Concluded: must be a phylogenetic link between Latin and English o Method of such linkages called comparative grammar (term coined by Friedrich Schlegel) 2 - Study of sound correspondence among Latin, Greek and Sanskrit led to conclusion that these languages must have all descended from the same undocumented language - They called this language the Proto-Indo-European - Protolanguage (study of undocumented language which could be reconstructed by method of sound comparison) made explaining regular sound differences in different languages possible - Eg. Explained that sound /θ/ in English probably was closer to /t/ in PIE since Greek and Latin have /t/ and they are closer in time to PIE - English, Swedish and German belong to Proto – Germanic language family (spoken in Scandinavia) - As population spread out over Europe, language changed, but did not change the same way everywhere - Regional varieties due to changes became separate languages over time because of external reasons such as achievement of nationhood - English is the Proto-Germanic Language that changed the most - Late 19 century the first ever model of Indo –European language family was divided into branches (family charted on pg 36) - Neo-grammarian school in Germany: o introduced notion of sound law o Eg /p/ > /f/ and /t/ > //θ/ are sound laws o Tendencies within languages that bring about changes within them o Exceptions (such as /d/ in dental as opposed to thental) was explained with the notion of borrowing (English borrowed it from Latin directly without modification) - Swiss philologist Ferdinand de Saussure: o made distinction between the historical study of sounds (called diachronic) and the systematic study of a language at a specific point in time (called synchronic) o Proposed new science of language should focus on langue (language) rather than parole (word) 3  Langue  system of rules that members of a speech community recognize as their language  Parole  ability to use the rules in conversations, writing etc. o Goal of linguistics was to understand the nature of langue o Believed that studying language was to be by the notion of differénce (opposition)  Structures of language do not take on meaning that function in isolation but rather in differential relation to each other • E.g. Cat and Rat  opposing them will show that initial consonants /k/ and /r/ are important in English for establishing meaning o His approach came to be known as structuralism - Structuralism adopted in Europe by Russian linguists in Czech city of Prague known as Prague Circle o Developed notions such as distinctive features that have remained central to linguistic analysis o Nikolai Trubetzkoy  perfected the technique of opposition by elaborating on concept of minimal pair (e.g. Cat and Rat)  Minimal pairs allow linguists to test what oppositions are significant in a language o Jakobson  opposition theory used to explain features of language development  sound differences that occur rarely in languages of the world are the last ones learned by children • e.g. nasal consonants /n/ and /m/ in all languages  learned first • /k/ and /h/ produced near back of throat (laryngeals) are rare  learned last  Theory of opposition predicts the sequence of acquisition in children th - Structuralism adopted in America in early 20 century by anthropologist Franz Boas and his student Edward Sapir 4 o Boas did not see linguistics as study of langue o He believed goal of linguistics was a description of how a speech community uses a language for its specific social and cultural purposes  E.g. many words for music (classical, jazz, etc. ) in English revealing the relative importance of music in English culture o Study of language and society is so obvious it requires no justification - Standard repertoire of notions and techniques required for conducting linguistic analyses on languages provided by Leonard Bloomfield - Linguists collected information on different languages and related such information to differential cultural emphases using a Bloomfield’s manual of techniques o Came to be known as descriptive (describe languages to understand cultures that used them) - Linguistics constructed to be ipso facto, a social or cultural science - Ethnographic method used to gain insight into language - 1957, American linguist Noam Chomsky: o Understanding of universal rules of language could not be developed from description of the sounds, word forms, etc. of different languages o True theory of language would explain why all languages reveal similar pattern for constructing complex sentences from more simple ones o John is eager to please and john is easy to please have the same surface structure but mean different things and have different deep structures  Chomsky believed that we have access to transformational rules that turned them into sentences with identical surface structures  We see the difference in their meaning because we can reconstruct the deep structures of the two sentences - Chomsky’s radical proposal: if studied nature of rules in different languages, we would eventually come to the conclusion that they could be conflated into one universal set of rule-making principles 5 - Oppositions to Chomsky’s theory: o Abstract syntactic rule-making principles do not explain the semantic richness of language o Sentences are not basic units of language, discourse texts are  Systemic linguistics (developed by Halliday) looks at parts of speech such as pronouns as “text-governed structures)  Use of pronouns connects various parts of conversation linking them logically  Choice of pronouns is hardly due to sentence structure, it is motivated by text structure o Cognitive Linguistics (started in early 80s) – focuses on relation between language, cognition, and culture  George Lakoff (student of Chomsky) – in his book Women, Fire, and Dangerous Things  Australian language  Dyirbal  has four genders (pertaining to women, pertaining to fire, and pertaining to things that are dangerous)  Words and grammatical categories use
More Less

Related notes for ANT253H1

Log In


Don't have an account?

Join OneClass

Access over 10 million pages of study
documents for 1.3 million courses.

Sign up

Join to view


By registering, I agree to the Terms and Privacy Policies
Already have an account?
Just a few more details

So we can recommend you notes for your school.

Reset Password

Please enter below the email address you registered with and we will send you a link to reset your password.

Add your courses

Get notes from the top students in your class.