abgdezhqiklmnxoprstufcyw Top left: Greek Bottom left: Cherokee Middle: Arabic Top right: Russian LANGUAGE
What is language? A form of communication that is a systematic set of arbitrarysymbolsshared among a group and passed on from generation to generation
A form of Communication What is Conveyed or transmitted?
System • sounds • system of sounds that when put together according to certain rules results in meanings • Systematic nature of language is usually unconscious
arbitrarysymbols • associations between words/sounds and the things they represent arbitrary • not natural or self-evident meaning. • meaning provided by tradition and consensus • Because symbols are arbitrary they have to be learned. Rabbit Conejo Usagi Kanninchen Cuniculus “grab hold of this” “look at this” lobster Descriptive symbols
Other forms of communication: • Direct: facial expression, body stance, gesture, tone of voice • Indirect: writing, algebra, music, painting, signs
Language has displacement • Talk about stimuli which are not present • “The yellow elephant eats dancing peanuts.” • past, present, future • Language is productive • Produce novel utterances which can be understood (see the elephant sentence!) • creative and one can create new messages. Human language is thus an "open" system while animal language is "closed,"
Call systems consist of a limited number of sounds that are produced in response to specific stimuli (e.g. food or danger) • Calls cannot be combined to produce new calls. • Calls are reflexive in that they are automatic responses to specific stimuli. Apes, such as these Congo chimpanzees, use call systems to communicate in the wild
Shared • profoundly social • we use language to send social messages about • who we are, • where we come from, • who we associate with • we may judge a person's background, character, and intentions based upon the person's language, dialect, or, in some instances, even the choice of a single word.
Descriptive or Formal Linguistics • Also called structural linguistics • Tries to discover the rules of phonology, morphology, and syntax of another language, especially those with no written dictionary or grammar. • Seeks to discover language rules that are not written down but are discoverable in actual speech.
Phonology • The study of the sound patterns of a language • what sound combinations are permissible • how sound systems are organized • Morphology • The study of meaning in individual units of language.concerned with the structure of words. The smallest unit of meaning is a morpheme. • Syntax • The rules by which words are put together to form sentences and phrases e.g. order of Subject, Verb, Object • Semantics • The meaning of symbols, words, phrases, and sentences of a language.
Historical Linguistics • Focuses on how language changes over time and how languages relate to one another. • Anthropologists are interested in cultural features that correlate with language families. • Reconstruction of languages: • Proto-Indo-European • Sino-Tibetan • Linguistic divergence • Gradual or by force
method of tracing the history of languages called glottochronology • assumes that changes in the core vocabulary, e.g. pronouns, lower numerals, and names for parts of the body and natural objects change at a constant rate • apply a formula to determine when the languages separated • 1786 William Jones noted similarities between Sanskrit and classical Greek and Latin • 1822 Jacob Grimm formulated rules to describe the sound shifts that had occurred when the various IE languages diverged from one another • In Germanic, d of Romance switched to t: deux to two • The p of Romance switched to f : pater to father, pied to foot • German s switched to English t: wasser to water
Some cognates* in Indo-European languages *Cognates: words that are similar in sound and meaning
subgroups reflect long period of linguistic divergence from an ancient unified language 50% of the world’s population speak an Indo-European language Proto-Indo-European Linguistic Family Tree
individual languages are themselves the result of further linguistic divergence • further subdivided into dialects • speech characteristic of a particular region or social class • boundaries may be psychological, social, economic, as well as geographical • dialect continuums where the edges of languages blend • French blends into Italian • German into Dutch, • Spanish into Portuguese
Town A Town B 3 Town C 2 Town D 1 3 Town E 2 2 Town F 1 3 3 Town G 2 2 Town H 1 3 3 2 2 1 3 3 2 2 3 3 1 2 2 3 1 3 2 2 3 1 3 2 2 3 1 2 3 Dialect Continuum (The left-to-right dimension expresses range of mutual intelligibility.)
Using controversial techniques, linguists seek the more elusive prehistoric tongues • Nostratic—ancestral speech of the Middle East 12,000 to 20,000 years ago • Ancestral to nine modern language families • A 500-word dictionary has been compiled • Contemporary with Nostratic were other ancient tongues including Dene-Caucasian • Dene-Caucasian reputedly gave rise to Sino-Tibetan, Basque, and one form of early Native-American called Na-Dene
- an educated guess as to the original home of a language can be also be made based on the number of different geographical dialects • - the more there are the closer to the homeland. • - Thus there are far more dialects of English in England than in New Zealand, or the USA. • - same sort of logic can be applied at higher levels • - There are far more languages and Language families in Africa than anywhere else suggesting that Africa is the homeland of human beings • - attempts have been made to find the original language of humanity • - mitochondrial DNA suggests that modern humans migrated out of Africa about 100,000 years ago - maybe earlier • - original language about 100,000 years old
Language Change • geographical distance or barriers • borrowing from another language • usually results in greater resemblance due to borrowing e.g. about 50% of the English vocabulary has been borrowed from the French • different social classes contact may borrow differentially • Pig pork • Cow beef • Sheep lamb
spread of linguistic features may be halted by racial, religious or social class differences that inhibit communication • - eg. there are substantial differences in speech between the untouchable groups and other groups • - members of the untouchable groups have work contracts with others but no friendships • - without friendships and the easy communication between friends, dialect differentiation developed. Child labour, Untouchables in quarry, Tamil Nadu, India
Sociolingusitics • The Social Uses of Language • - Language expresses, symbolizes and maintains the social order • Social variables influence a person's use of language • Class • Gender • Status • Age • National/ethnic/regional identity • education • A child learning the language is also acquiring social competence i.e. the ability to recognize and interpret the social activity taking place. • e.g. opening or closing a conversation • Telling a joke or story • taking conversational turns
Social Identity language use is fundamental to the creation and expression of social identity and difference. the social prestige or stigma attached to linguistic varieties often supports and expresses the value attached to social identities. Eg. the Queen’s English vs Cockney English distinctive aspects of language from pronunciation to syntax, to slang, i.e. any aspect of linguistic code • Glottal stopCity = Ci’y water= wa'er • Dropped ‘h’ house = ‘ouse, hammer = ‘ammer • TH fronting three = free bath = barf • Vowel lowering dinner = dinna, marrow= marra
- Most prestigious form will be that of the most powerful group in society because it is this group that controls education and the media. • Prestige form often forms the standard language • - a national language permits internal cohesion and fosters external distinction • - forms a powerful base for national identity • - minority languages serve to mark off ethnic difference within multiethnic societies.
90% of Paraguans speak Guarani, yet until 1992 Spanish was the official language, the language of prestige and is used in government, schools, and commerce. • Guarani is used in informal settings with friends and relatives, in talking with status inferiors. • Guaraní raises feelings of pride and linguistic loyalty in the people
- nineteenth century China united by a standard written language but 8 mutually unintelligible dialects - each dialect had its reading pronunciation for the same character - thus a shred literacy did not confer a shared spoken language - 1932 pronunciation forms were normalized to reflect that spoken in Beijing - communists actively promoted use of Mandarin
Restoration of languages in decline may be taken as an aspect of ethnic revival eg. Irish - English was the language of social prestige in the mid 16th century when the English colonized Ireland and Irish went into decline - Irish was the language of the poor - In the mid 19th century Irish nationalist movement emerged and sought to encourage and revive the original language - part of a national movement which led to the Irish Free State - Irish was made the official language - support for it in the form of compulsory education, bilingual publications etc.
EBONICS A “slang” dialect used by certain groups of the African-American community.Yo, Big Daddy upstairs,You be chillinSo be yo hoodYou be sayin' it, I be doin' itIn this here hood and yo'sGimme some eatsAnd cut me some slack, BloodSos I be doin' it to dem dat diss me Don't be pushing me into no jiveAng keep dem crips awayCause you always be da man, GStraight up.Aa-men.
English First English First is a national, non-profit grassroots lobbying organization founded in 1986. The goal is to Make English America's official language
Indexicals - items that mark features of the speakers and for the hearers identity - include pronouns, kinship terms, forms of address, and speech levels - they create and sustain a relational social identity
Terms of address • Is the formality of the setting relevant? • Do you use kin titles to indicate a person's kinship relation to you? Is age or generation relevant in selecting them? • Is relative status or rank relevant in selecting an appropriate term in your community? • What, if any, is the age difference between people which is considered relevant in determining address usage?
Forms of address - terms of address vary with the nature of the relationship between speakers - the reciprocal use of first names generally signifies an informal intimate relationship between two persons - a title and a last name used reciprocally indicates a more formal or businesslike relationship between individuals of roughly equal status - nonreciprocal use of first names and titles in English is reserved for speakers who recognize a marked difference in status between themselves - this status can be a function of age (as when a child refers to her mother's friend as Mrs Miller and is in returned referred to as Sally) - or it can be along occupational lines as when as person refers to his boss by title and last name and is in return addressed as John
Power Semantic • Determines which pronoun will be used on the basis of the difference in social status (or power) between the speaker and addressee. • wealth, age, sex, institutionalised role in the church, the state, the army, the family ... • The T of "intimacy" versus the V of "formality" (French tu or vous) • Based on an asymmetrical relation and is non-reciprocal.
Politeness Use of polite language was one aspect of the enactment of social hierarchy in the Thai court - politeness entailed the correct use of formal modes of addressing royalty with linguistic terms that exalted royalty and humbled those of lower status. - The first person pronoun used when addressing the king meant `I the slave of the Lord Buddha' - second person meant `the dust beneath the sole of your august feet' meaning that the speaker did not dare address the king directly but to the dirt on the floor. -The Thai person who addresses his comments to the dirt beneath the king's shoe is invoking a cultural image of `low status' but he is also indexing relative identity in the social interaction of discourse.
- American women taught women's language which consists of polite deferential ways of speaking which ultimately subordinate women in society - men take longer conversational turns and interrupt more frequently in order to take the floor from current speaker. - women do more maintenance work by providing encouraging responses, asking questions and listening. - In Japan women use special terms of self-reference and address - The Carib Indians men and women use different words for the same concepts In Malagasy though women seen as abrupt and direct. men speak with care and indirectness.
Does Language determine how we Perceive the world? Is Our thinking and Our Behavoiur determined by our language?
Sapir-Whorf hypothesis 'Human beings do not live in the objective world alone, nor alone in the world of social activity as ordinarily understood, but are very much at the mercy of the particular language which has become the medium of expression for their society. It is quite an illusion to imagine that one adjusts to reality essentially without the use of language and that language is merely an incidental means of solving specific problems of communication and reflection. The fact of the matter is that the "real world" is to a large extent unconsciously built up on the language habits of the group.' 1929
Sapir-Whorf hypothesis • two basic principles: • 1. linguistic determinism • the language we use to some extent determines the way in which we view and think about the world • Strong determinism • language actually determines thought, that language and thought are identical. • Weak determinism thought is merely affected by or influenced by our language,
2. linguistic relativity • distinctions encoded in one language are unique to that language alone. • Eg. The Colour spectrum, is a continuum, each colour gradually blending into the next; there are no sharp boundaries. But we impose boundaries; we talk of red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet. • these discriminations are arbitrary and indeed in other languages the boundaries are different
Colour Terms • Dani (New Guinea) have only two colour categories • mili which means dark, cold colours such as black • mola which means warm, bright colours such as white • languages with three colour terms add Red • those with four add yellow • English has 11 (red, yellow, black, white, green, blue, purple, pink, brown, orange, grey)
Sapir-Whorf hypothesis • Sapir Whorf says habitual thought might be influenced, if not determined, by linguistic structures. • We perceive the world through language - the colors we see is predetermined by what our culture prepares us to see • do we see blue and green colours because our language has two different names for these two neighbouring parts of the colour spectrum? • Can the Tiv perceive or distinguish between Red and yellow?
Sapir-Whorf hypothesis • The physiology of our eyes is essentially the same. • All normal humans share similar sense perceptions of color despite differences in color terminology from one language to another. • People can see subtle gradations of color and can comprehend other ways of dividing up the spectrum of visible light. • However, as a society's economy and technology increase in complexity, the number of color terms usually also increases. • i.e. the spectrum of visible light gets subdivided into more categories. • As the environment changes, culture and language typically respond by creating new terminology to describe it.
Which belong together? The red things and the blue things Or the strings and the sticks?
Carroll and Casagrande looked Navaho Indians • they place great stress on form and shape, rigidity and material from which an object is constructed • they gave three groups of children • one Navaho speaking • one English speaking • one bilingual • showed them a green stick, a green rope and a blue rope • asked them which objects went together • Navaho speakers said objects with the same form i.e. ropes went together • English speakers categorize by colour rather than form put green stick and green rope together • confirms the relativity of language hypothesis