276s092modern_human_language

276s092modern_human_language - MODERN HUMAN LANGUAGE A...

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MODERN HUMAN LANGUAGE: A SKETCH
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MODERN HUMAN LANGUAGE: A SKETCH "Language" is not just one thing. Instead, it is made up of many subsystems: Pragmatic Systems: Reference and the intentional stance, other functions of language Phonological Systems: Gesture/Sound Conceptual Systems: Propositions and the lexicon Syntactic Systems: Tracking reference Discourse Systems: Principles that organize large-scale structure and content of talk and text
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MODERN HUMAN LANGUAGE: A SKETCH What is remarkable about Modern Human Language (MHL)? A) MHL is diverse – currently there are 6,000-7,000 different languages. B) MHL is fast – immense amounts of meaning can be conveyed in short bursts of speech. C) MHL is productive – any MHL can be used to construct an infinite number of possible messages. D) MHL is open, with very large (and, in principle, unlimited) inventories of so-called "open-class" items – lexicons of adult speakers approximate around 60,000 items. Contrast signal repertoires of other animals which range from very few to perhaps 80 signals in very complex communication systems of social carnivores like wolves and dogs. ( Note: MHL’s include “open-class” items, for instance, the nouns and verbs of English They also include “closed-class” items, for instance the pronouns of English, or the inflectional suffixes that can appear on English verbs such as –s, –ed, -ing
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MODERN HUMAN LANGUAGE: A SKETCH E) MHL includes Metasigns, language about language (e.g.: “What did you mean?” “You pronounced that wrong.” “You have no right to order me around that way.”) F) The dominant principle in formation of both "closed-class" and "open-class" items in MHL is arbitrariness – that is, meanings of these items is assigned by convention. G) MHL exhibits "duality of patterning": meaningless elements (sound segments, hand shapes/positions/motions) are combined to make meaningful signs (“morphemes”). H) MHL exhibits structural dependency, constraints on abstract
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This note was uploaded on 05/06/2009 for the course ANTH 276 taught by Professor Staff during the Spring '08 term at Arizona.

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276s092modern_human_language - MODERN HUMAN LANGUAGE A...

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