Language Our spoken, written, or signed words and the ways we combine them as we think and communicate
Characteristics of Language • Grammar • A system of rules that allows for understanding • Generativity • The ability to create infinite amount of expressions using a limited amount of words • Displacement • Ability to communicate about matter that are not here-and-now
Language Structure • The building blocks of language • Phonemes • Set of basic sounds • In English some different letters create the same phonemes (boot and tube, enough and fluff) so linguistic symbols are used instead (schwa)
Language Structure • Morphemes • The smallest unit of language that has meaning • Root words carry the primary semantic content of a word • Prefixes (pre, un, de, ex, post, anti, ante) • Suffixes (able, ed, s, ify, ize, esque, less)
Language Structure • Grammar • A system of rules that enables understanding • Rules diveded between Syntax and Semantics • Syntax • Rules used to order words in sentences • Can affect the semantics of the sentence
Language Structure • Grammar • Semantics • Rules used to derive meaning • Is the meaning of clip in “putting my hair in a clip” the same as “moving at a decent clip”? • What happens if you add morphemes like “er”, “s”, or “ed” to clip?
Language Development • Development mirrors structure (phonemes learned first, then morphemes, etc) • -Children learn their native languages before learning to add 2+2 We learn, on average (after age 1), 3,500 words a year, amassing 60,000 words by the time we graduate from high school.
Language Theorists • Skinner • Operant Learning • Language learning is similar to other forms of learning • Association, imitation, and reinforcement create understanding
Language Theorists • Noam Chomsky • Inborn Universal Grammar • Pointed out that language is learned at a far faster rate than other skills • Language details change, but the skill is universal • Language Acquisition Device
Language Theorists • Stephen Pinker • Language and Thinking • Took Chomsky’s ideas and expanded on them • Claimed that language is so tied into humanity that it must have evolved like eyes or hands • “The Language Instinct”
Language Theorists • Pinker: • Thanks to the redundancy of language, yxx cxn xndxrstxnd whxt x xm wrxtxng xvxn xf x rxplxcx xll thx vxwxls wxth xn “x” • (t gts lttl hrdr f y dn’t kn whr th vwls r)
Language Theorists • Benjamin Lee Whorf • Linguistic Determinism • -Language shapes us as much as we shape it • -People who speak different language think in different ways • -Can a society without a past tense think about the past? Will it make thinking about the past harder? Will it happen less often?
Final Thoughts • We often think in words. Can we think without words? • Is thinking limited without thinking in words? • When not thinking in words, what do we using instead? • To what degree are thinking and language inseparable?