2008W_%20Assig_1_key - Score out of 9(= 18 points 2...

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Score: _____ out of 9 (= 18 points ÷ 2) LINGUISTICS 1: ASSIGNMENT 1 Name: KEY TA: Section: To do this assignment, you should have read Chapters 1-3 of The Language Instinct and seen the film “Discovering the Human Language”. Be concise in your answers. If you use more than the space allotted, you have written too much. WE ARE LOOKING FOR SPECIFIC POINTS OFTEN A FEW KEY WORDS OR PHRASES ! 1. (2.25 points) In his book Knowledge of Language (p. 8), Noam Chomsky gives the following pair of sentences, noting that in (a), the underlined pronoun them can refer to “the men” earlier in the sentence, whereas in (b), the underlined them MUST refer to people OTHER THAN “the men” mentioned in the sentence: (a) I wonder who the men expected to see them . (b) The men expected to see them . With respect to these facts, Chomsky poses the questions, “How does every child know, unerringly, to interpret the [pronoun] differently in the two cases? And why does no pedagogic grammar have to draw the learner’s attention to such facts?” Quote a sentence from Pinker’s Language Instinct , pp. 4-6, that answers Chomsky’s questions. • “Language is a complex, specialized skill, which develops in the child spontaneously, without conscious effort or formal instruction, … (p. 4) The complexity of language, from the scientist’s point of view, is part of our biological birthright; it is not something that parents teach their children or something that must be elaborated in school …(p. 6) 2. (2.25 points) Pinker at the beginning of Chapter 2 of The Language Instinct speaks of “Stone Age people [living in the highlands of New Guinea] isolated from the rest of the world for forty thousand years.” The film Discovering the Human Language (see p. 21 of the APS book) has a segment on the Warlpiri, a group of hunter-gatherer people in Australia, of which the narrator says, “[Warlpiri] has been spoken in isolation from non- Australian languages for possibly up to 60,000 years.” GIVE A QUOTE OF ONE OR TWO SENTENCES FROM PINKER , pp. 13-19 (with page cited) WHICH EXPLAINS THE SIGNIFICANCE THAT LANGUAGES SUCH AS THESE HAVE FOR THE CLAIM THAT LANGUAGE IS PART OF HUMAN BIOLOGY , NOT A PLANNED INVENTION OF A MAMMAL WITH A LARGE BRAIN . • (p.13, bottom) No mute tribe has ever been discovered, and there is no record that a region has served as a “cradle” of language from which it spread to previously languageless groups. • (p.14). The universality of complex language is a discovery that fills linguists with awe and is the first reason to suspect that language is not just any cultural invention but the product of a special human instinct.
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