The Properties of Language

Lecture #2 LING 2301 Fall 2008

Do you remember?
What is Language (“big-L”)? What is a language (“little-L”)?

grammar

{

The systematic “rules” and patterns that govern linguistic behavior The body of knowledge that allows one to produce a particular language
2

LING 2301 Fall 2008

Grammar
A Body of Linguistic Knowledge
–How to:
Combine sounds Create words Build sentences Construct texts Participate in conversations
“Language is so built into the way people live that it has become an axiom of being human.” --Bolton
LING 2301 Fall 2008 3

is thisLooking at Stepping Back: LANGUAGE??? Communication LING 2301 Fall 2008 4 .But.

Core Properties of all Communication •Form (various modalities) •Meaning •Function (purpose) sign LING 2301 Fall 2008 5 .

Analyze this Non-Linguistic Sign LING 2301 Fall 2008 6 .

How About This Sign? ??? LING 2301 Fall 2008 7 .

Three Types of Signs Iconic – Signifier (form) resembles signified (meaning) Indexical – Signifier gives directional information Arbitrary – No inherent relationship between form and meaning Q: If words are signs – and they are – what kind of sign are they? LING 2301 Fall 2008 8 .

7 Design Features of Human Language Arbitrariness Discreteness Duality Productivity Displacement Cultural Transmission Interchangeability LING 2301 Fall 2008 9 .

Arbitrariness the connection between the signifier (form) and the signified (meaning) is arbitrary these arbitrary relationships are agreed upon by speakers. i. a matter of convention (consensus) even interjections and onomatopoetic signs are arbitrary – ouaoua ~ bow-wow ~ mŏng-mŏng ~ signified wan-wan moon signifier 10 – aïe! ~ ouch! ~ aigo! ~ aiya! LING 2301 Fall 2008 .e.

Arbitrariness 달 moon mahina kuu 月 lua LING 2301 Fall 2008 lune 11 .

book “shu” Arbitrariness moo “muu” silent “muu” daikon “muu” LING 2301 Fall 2008 shoe “shu” cabbage “shu” additional “muu” 12 .

7 Design Features of Human Language Arbitrariness Discreteness Duality Productivity Displacement Cultural Transmission Interchangeability LING 2301 Fall 2008 13 .

What is “discrete” vs. without discernible units. Continuous entities don’t have clear boundaries. they’re units. categorical. utterances can sound like continuous streams of sound. Language is… DISCRETE Language is made up structured units if… –… you have knowledge of the system! –Otherwise. “continuous”? Discrete entities have clear boundaries. LING 2301 Fall 2008 14 Discreteness .

color chart 2 LING 2301 Fall 2008 15 .Color Test: How many do you see? Which set of colors is DISCRETE? color chart 1 vs.

7 Design Features of Human Language Arbitrariness Discreteness Duality Productivity Displacement Cultural Transmission Interchangeability LING 2301 Fall 2008 16 .

7 Design Features of Human Language Arbitrariness Discreteness Duality Productivity Displacement Cultural Transmission Interchangeability LING 2301 Fall 2008 17 .

They are observable physical events “noise” or “image” 2.They are more than simple physical events They are produced in order to communicate meaning LING 2301 Fall 2008 18 .Duality Linguistic units have a dual nature: 1.

7 Design Features of Human Language Arbitrariness Discreteness Duality Productivity Displacement Cultural Transmission Interchangeability LING 2301 Fall 2008 19 .

LING 2301 Fall 2008 20 . “Rule Governed Creativity” – An infinite number of utterances can be created by a limited number of rules / patterns. “Creativity”) How many utterances are there in a language? Humans are capable of unlimited expression.Productivity (a.k.a. We routinely create and comprehend novel utterances.

7 Design Features of Human Language Arbitrariness Discreteness Duality Productivity Displacement Cultural Transmission Interchangeability LING 2301 Fall 2008 21 .

it’s a biological instinct.The Last Three Design Features Displacement Cultural Transmission – We can communicate beyond the here and now – We are not “stimulus bound” – Grammars are transmitted from one generation to the next – Acquiring “a language” requires involvement in a culture – COMPARE Genetic Transmission of big-L “Language” Each human is born with Language. Interchangeability – All members of the community are physically capable of transmitting and receiving messages LING 2301 Fall 2008 22 .

*A a a baby cat dog the the. *Cat the hugged baby the. Create two different sentences using only these words LING 2301 Fall 2008 23 .Focus on Sentences Consider the following finite lexicon: – – – – – – – – – – – hugged saw laughed dog cat the a cute big baby we *The we laughed a cute.

ke-ege mal-ha-gessumnida.Which of the Following Strings are Grammatical? a. Korean • Naeil * d. com ela amanhã. Dutch * b. spreken. Portuguese • Falar-ei LING 2301 Fall 2008 24 . • Ik zal haar morgen * c. Tomorrow her to speaking do shall. I shall speak to her tomorrow I shall her tomorrow speak. Speak shall I with her tomorrow.

editors Descriptive Grammar (Descriptively Grammatical) – The set of rules (or patterns) that characterize observed language behavior – Determined by observing language users and extracting relevant generalizations LING 2301 Fall 2008 25 .What do we Mean by “Grammatical”? Prescriptive Grammar (Prescriptively Grammatical) – The set of rules (or patterns) that are deemed to be the “correct” or “proper” way to use a language – Set by members of the community that possess the power to enforce the rules: teachers.

The brave little toaster jumped into D the lake to save the drowning duck.Determine the Grammaticality of… Prescriptively Grammatical Descriptively Grammatical The student said that our dog saw A a cat. Yes No No Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes No 26 B What are you talking about? They want to boldly go where C nobody has gone before. E I shall her tomorrow speak. LING 2301 Fall 2008 .

The red roses are yellow. LING 2301 Fall 2008 27 √ ! . and dedicated to the proposition that each men created equal. conceived in Liberty.Grammaticality vs. The industrious bunnies baked a delicious cake for Mimi’s birthday. Semantically Odd * Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation.

Relationship between Prescription and Description Universe of all word combinations in language X Combinations that speakers actually produce Combinations that are officially sanctioned by the authorities Descriptively grammatical but prescriptively ungrammatical LING 2301 Fall 2008 Descriptively ungrammatical but prescriptively grammatical 28 .

Judging what is “Good” in Language According to Algeo. “Good” Language: – Communicates something successfully – Meets literary standards – Is scholarly – makes the language police happy – Is logical Who gets to judge what is good? LING 2301 Fall 2008 29 .

“Language is very fertile ground for ethnocentricity.Comparing Languages: Who’s is Better? Do you have the right to say that somebody else’s language is too hard or backwards or illogical or ugly? Yes! From a linguistic perspective. what makes language X better than language Y? Nothing! As Bolton says.” Who gets to judge what is good? LING 2301 Fall 2008 30 .

tell me what one point in today’s lecture was the least clear? What concept do you find the hardest to “get”? LING 2301 Fall 2008 31 .Muddiest Point Before you leave class today.

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful