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Unformatted text preview: Lecture 1 : Introduction Ling 120 BMoulton 22 September 2011 1 Linguistics as a Theory of Knowledge of Language One goal for linguistics and linguistic theory: modelling knowledge of language, in particular the knowledge about possible and impossible linguistic combinations: ( 1 ) a. blick vs. *bnick phonological (sound) b. untie vs. *uncheerio vs. *unfly morphological/semantic ( 2 ) Take it out of the fridge vs. *Take out it of the fridge. syntactic How did you come to know such things? No one explicitly told you what things were not possible in English (i.e. not gram- matical). Nor can it be that you only recognize as grammatical those sentences you have heard or already produced. I can come up with plenty of sentences that youll accept but you havent heard. ( 3 ) a. The customers appreciated my coffee more than my tea? b. *What did the customers appreciate your coffee more than? Neither of these sentences could have been modelled on anything youve heardthis is especially true of ( 3 b). But nonetheless you can still determine that (b) it is ungrammat- ical and (a) isnt. HOW DID YOU COME TO KNOW THIS? 1 . 1 Incomplete data The problem of learning the syntax of a language is made harder by the incompleteness of the data we are exposed to in learning it. Human language has the interesting prop- erty of being recursiveone and the same operation can apply to its own output, and hence keep on going or recur. 1 Keir Moulton 120 B Introduction For instance, verbs like say and think and others can be followed by sentences introduced by that . These sentences can in turn contain another instance of a verb like say or think , which can then be followed by a sentence that contains ... you get the point: ( 4 ) They said that Bob wanted Mary to think that Sean was happy that Maria was not aware that people would like for her to know that ... The recursive property of linguistic structures allows for (in principle) infinitely ex- panded sentences. We can never hear such things and yet by a young age you can recognize that ( 4 ), and its possible continuations, are good. HOW DOES A CHILD COME TO KNOW THIS? 1 . 2 Misleading data Not only is data incomplete, some data in the childs environment is misleading: ( 5 ) ?This is the pie that I wondered who made it. There is something weird about ( 5 ). But you hear these things all the time, so why do we have the intuition they are not fully grammatical? Adult grammar is also full of utterances that dont even bear on the kind of gram- maticality judgments that native speakers appeal to in judging many sentences: ( 6 ) Umm, so, yeah, like, yeah, I dont actually know if, ok, yeah. A lot of our utterances arent full sentencesmuch of what we say is full of starts and stops, incomplete sentences. But in isolation, we know that the following is not a com- plete sentence: ( 7 ) *I dont actually know if....
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This note was uploaded on 11/02/2011 for the course LING 120b taught by Professor Moulton during the Fall '11 term at UCLA.
- Fall '11