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Language Preview. Chapter 1. Human Language Specialization. Origin of Language: Theories. Divine Gift Monogenetic theory Human Invention Echoic (imitative) Cries of nature Rhythmical grunts Love songs Evolution of Linguistic Capacity Anatomical Neurological. Creative System.

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Origin of language theories
Origin of Language: Theories

  • Divine Gift

    • Monogenetic theory

  • Human Invention

    • Echoic (imitative)

    • Cries of nature

    • Rhythmical grunts

    • Love songs

  • Evolution of Linguistic Capacity

    • Anatomical

    • Neurological

Creative system
Creative System

  • Infinity of language

    • Grammar

      • Pull the boat onto the beach

      • ______ the boat

    • Word formation

      • New word: “Soleme”

      • Having the properties of Soleme = “_______”

      • Created in the process of “_____________”


  • Human language makes infinite use of finite means.

    • The pink dog wanted a red balloon.

    • ?Colorless green ideas sleep furiously.

Recursive rules
Recursive Rules

  • This is the house that Jack built.

  • This is the cheese that sat in the house…

  • This is the rat that ate the cheese that…

  • This is that cat that killed the rat that…

  • This is the dog that chased the cat…

Key point
Key Point

  • Speakers of any language can understand and produce sentences they’ve never heard before.

  • You tell me…a sentence you’ve never heard before


  • The man saw the fish with binoculars.

  • You tell me… John yelled “Duck”…

Grammatical or not
Grammatical or not…?

  • The fish is swimming.

  • *Fish the swimming is.

  • ?Swimming is the fish.

  • *The fishing is swim.

  • He saw two dogs.

  • *He saw twos dog.


  • watashi-wa inu-ga mimashita I (subject) dog (object) saw(I saw a dog)

  • *mimashita inu-ga watashi-wa (saw) dog (object) I (subject)

  • watashi-ga inu-wa mimashita I (object) dog (subject) saw(A dog saw me)

Grammatical or not1
Grammatical or Not?

  • John kissed the little old lady who owned the shaggy dog.

  • Who owned the shaggy dog John kissed the little old lady.

Grammatical or not2
Grammatical or Not?

  • John is difficult to love.

  • It is difficult to love John.

Grammatical or not3
Grammatical or Not?

  • John is anxious to go.

  • It is anxious to go John.

You tell me
You Tell Me

  • Grammatical/ungrammatical pairs

Linguistic competence
Linguistic Competence

  • Internal/Innate grammar

    • Phonetics

    • Phonology

    • Morphology

    • Syntax

    • Lexicography

    • Semantics

    • Pragmatics

      …more details coming at the end of the chapter…

Linguistic competency
Linguistic Competency

  • Sound System

    • Phonetics

    • Phonology

  • Words

    • Form + meaning ≈ Arbitrary relationship

    • Sound Symbolism  onomatopoeia

Competence vs performance
Competence vs. Performance

  • Linguistic Competence

    • Knowing

    • Mental grammar

  • Linguistic Performance

    • Doing

Grammatical principles
Grammatical Principles

  • Generality

  • Parity

  • Universality

  • Mutability

  • Inaccessibility

Grammatical or ungrammatical
Grammatical or Ungrammatical?

He ain’t got none.

  • For Descriptive Linguistics:

    “Ungrammatical” means a native speaker would not have a reasonable expectation that the intended message will be understood

On final prepositions
On final prepositions…

  • It is a rule up with which we should not put. - Winston Churchill

Prove or disprove

Language is systematic and rule-governed.

Language is generative (has creative potential).

Language is a set of arbitrary symbols.

The symbols have conventionalized meanings

The symbols are primarily vocal.

Language is essentially human.

Language is used for communication.

Language operates in a speech community or culture.

Language is acquired by all people in much the same way; language acquisition and language learning both have universal characteristics.

Language changes.

Prove or Disprove…


“the system of operations for creating an indefinite number of sentences out of a finite number of elements”

Components of grammar
Components of Grammar

  • phonetic system

    • the sounds of the language

  • phonological system

    • the sound patterns of the language

  • lexical system

    • the words or vocabulary of the language

  • morphological system

    • the patterns of word formation of language

  • syntactic system

    • the structure of sentences of the language

  • semantic system

    • the meanings of words and sentences of the language

  • pragmatic system

    • how the language is used in the context of spoken discourse

Two views of language
Two Views of Language

  • Noam Chomsky

    • Focus on ideal situation

      • Homogeneous speech community

      • Competence = performance

  • Dell Hymes

    • Focus on real people

      • Speech community is critical

      • Competence ≠ Performance

Noam chomsky
Noam Chomsky

“Linguistic theory is concerned primarily with an ideal speaker-listener, in a completely homogeneous speech-community, who knows its language perfectly and is unaffected by such grammatically irrelevant conditions as memory limitation, distractions, shifts of attention and interest, and errors in applying his [/her] knowledge of the language in actual performance.”

Dell hymes
Dell Hymes

“A child from whom any and all of the grammatical sequences of a language might come with equal likelihood would be, of course, a social monster. Within the social matrix in which it acquires a system of grammar, a child acquires also a system of its use regarding persons, places, purposes, other modes of communication, etc.--all the components of the communicative events, together with attitudes and beliefs regarding them. There also develop patterns of the sequential use of language in conversation, address, standard routines, and the like. In such acquisition resides the child’s sociolinguistic competence (or more broadly, communicative competence), its ability to participate in its society as not only a speaking but also a communicating member.”

You tell me1
You tell me…

  • If you had to choose between Chomsky & Hymes’ approaches, who would you support?

  • Is there a value in combining &/or balancing the two approaches?

Teaching grammar
Teaching Grammar

  • Prestige dialect…

  • Second language instruction…

For tomorrow
For “tomorrow”

  • Exercises

    • 1-6 – All

    • (they’re easy)

  • Read Chapter 2

  • Bring a small hand mirror to class