CST 241-04

Human communication system

  • conventionality
  • displacement
  • productivity

language acquisition device (LAD)

  • Noam Chomsky: universal grammar

Functions of language

  • transmits cultural information
  • organizes human thinking

language structure

  • phonology – phonemes (sounds)
  • morphology – morphemes (phonemes to words)
  • syntax – words to sentences
  • morphology + syntax = grammar

lexicon

  • word list

semantics

  • word meaning

Sapir-Whorf hypothesis

  • language organizes thinking, molds world view
    • kinship terms
    • color categories
    • time
    • gender

contra Sapir-Whorf hypothesis

  • diverse language but same values, beliefs
  • variation in relative importance of gender distinctions

*** discussion of Yoruba linguistics

LANGUAGE AND SOCIETY

  • dialects
    • ethnic identity
    • African-American vernacular English (“Ebonics”)
  • code switching
    • social identity

LANGUAGE AND CULTURAL CHANGE

pidgin

  • used in int’l trade

Creole

  • pidgin becomes main language

Language and history

  • proto-language

language extinction

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