Lecture_1_introduction - Lecture 1- Introduction What is...

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Lecture 1- Introduction What is language? Major areas of language study
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When we study human language, we are approaching what some might call the "human essence" , the distinctive qualities of the mind that are, so far as we know, unique to man. Noam Chomsky, Language and Mind (1972) the possession and the use of language distinguish humans from other animals. understanding the nature of language is one of the best means of understanding our humanity. nevertheless, an investigation into natural language is one of the most intricate and difficult research enterprises. Studying the essence of human language is by definition a cross/inter-disciplinary analysis. Nowadays linguists, neuroscientists, biologists, sociologists, psychologists, anthropologists, speech-language pathologists collaborate in order to find out more about the nature of human language there are several possibilities to go into studying language; two of them will be discussed in this course: A). analyzing theories on the origins of language B). analyzing the structure of language
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- speculative approaches; no one knows when human language actually arose and who was the first to speak language - immense difficulties: although anthropologists believe that the human species has existed for as long as five or six million years, the earliest records date from around 4000 B.C.E. (the writings of the Sumerians). - we suspect that some type of spoken language developed between 100,000 and 50,000 years ago, but we do not have direct evidence relating to this. - several hypotheses have been proposed ( The Divine Source , The Natural Sound Source Theory, The Physical Adaptation Source, The Genetic Source ); also all mythologies and religions contain theories, stories, explanations about (human) language origin. THE ORIGINS OF LANGUAGE
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I. The Divine Source in all the major religions a god is responsible for giving language to humans in the biblical tradition, God created Adam and “whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof”. Egyptians name the creator of language Thoth; for Babylonians it is Nabu and for the Hindus, Brahma's wife, Sarasvati language is ascribed a special importance religions of the world also maintain that the same language was originally spoken around the world (the Monogenetic Theory ) : the Tower of Babel story in the book of Genesis (the Bible), the legends of the Toltecs (in Mexico) what was the first language spoken? several experiments have reportedly been performed in order to answer this question.
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The “original” language the basic idea underlying these experiments is to examine human infants growing without hearing any language around them the hypothesis was that these infants would spontaneously begin using the original God-given language one famous experiment trying to test this hypothesis: - the Greek historian Herodotus (5 th century B.C.E.) mentions that the
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This note was uploaded on 10/05/2010 for the course LIN 200 taught by Professor Nagy during the Summer '08 term at University of Toronto- Toronto.

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Lecture_1_introduction - Lecture 1- Introduction What is...

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