The Study of Language
1. Origins of language:
Bow wow theory: mensen deden de geluiden van dieren na. Het geluid wat ze hoorden zo werd het object genoemd. Onomatopoeia: words containing sounds similar to the noises they describe (v.b. bang, cuckoo, dus woorden die klinken als geluiden) [pic]
The human brain is not only large relative human size but also lateralized. (lateralized: divided into a left side and a right side, with control of functions on one side or the other) Innateness hypothesis: the idea that humans are genetically equipped to acquire language.
2 Animals and human language
Communicative signals: behavior used intentionally to provide information. Informative signals: behavior that provides information, usually unintentionally. 6 Distinct properties of human language:
1) Reflextivity: Humans are able to reflect on language and its uses. We can think and talk about language. A special property of human language that allows language to be used to think and talk about language itself. 2) Displacement: Humans can refer to past & future time and other things & places (than just the here and now) 3) Arbitrariness: There is no natural or ‘iconic’ relationship between linguistic signs and objects. Less arbitrary word sounds are onomatopoeic words (rare). (woorden, je kunt hier wel mee spelen, b.v. groot met grote letters en klein met kleine letters) if a chimpanzee can use a square plastic shape to convey the meaning of the word bleu it means that there is now a connection between the symbol and what it means. 4) Productivity: Creativity or open-endedness) the potential number of utterances in any human language is infinite.(the ability to produce new words) Ad 4: Animal communication is limited: fixed reference. E.g.: Bees communicate location of food with ‘a dance’, but only the horizontal distance ( not vertical. 5) Cultural transmission: Language is passes on from 1 generation to the next. (E.g.: Korean infant adopted by English speaking parents will speak English, not Korean.) Ad 5: Cats ‘meow’ the same in any culture, birds instinctively produce songs or calls. 6) Duality: Human language is organized at 2 levels or layers simultaneously. At one level we have distinct sounds (n, b, i), at another level there is distinct meaning (bin, nib).
Can humans and not humans communicate, understand each other’s language? Probably not. Animals produce a particular behavior in response to a particular sound, but they do not ‘understand’ what the words mean.
4 the sound patterns of language
Phonology: the study of the characteristics of speech sounds. Phoneme: the smallest meaning-distinguishing sound unit in the abstract representation of the sounds of a language. (v.b. when we learn to use alphabetic writing, we are using the concept of the phoneme as the single stable sound type which is represented by a single written symbol. (t) is described as a sound type and all the different spoken versions of (t) are tokens) Phones: are phonetic units and appear in square brackets. A physically produced speech sound, representing one version of a phoneme. Allophones: one of a closely related set of speech sounds or phones. (v.b. the (t) sound in the word tar is normally pronounced with a stronger puff of air than is present in the (t) sound in the word star, you should be able to feel some physical evidence of aspiration) Aspiration: a puff of air that sometimes accompanies the pronunciation of a stop. Nasalization: pronunciation of a sound with air flowing through the nose, typically before a nasal consonant. Minimal pair: fan – van, bet – bat twee woorden waarin maar 1 letter anders staat. Two (or more) words that are identical in form except for contrast in one phoneme in the same position in each word (v.b. bad, mad) Minimal set: feat, fit, fat, fate, fought, foot etc. een paar letters veranderen maar de f blijft op zijn plaats of big, pig, rig, fig, dig and wig....
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