White_Essay3 - ESSAY 3 LINGUIST101 WHITE Elizabeth White...

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ESSAY 3 LINGUIST101 WHITE Elizabeth White Minta Elsman Discussion 2 April 13, 2011 Content: Organization: Mechanics: Total: 1. Outline 1.1. Introduction 1.1.1. Who are the Piraha? Hunter-gatherer tribe living on a beach bordering the Maici River in the Amazon (Colapinto, 1) Reject attempts to learn other languages or outside cultures (Colapinto, 1, 3) It has been debated that Pirahã is different than all other languages because it lacks what Chomsky considers crucial components – UG and recursion (Colapinto – throughout article) 1.1.2. Debate about language Lacks UG and recursion – critical to Chomsky‟s view on language 1.1.3. Thesis & Opinion While not seemingly evident in the Piraha language, it cannot be ruled out that the Piraha are not capable of such linguistic capabilities. Their sentence structure is based upon their culture. If their culture were to change, their language would evolve as well. Everett believes that Chomsky‟s view that all language is governed by UG has no evidence supporting it. However, Everett‟s belief that language is solely based upon an individual‟s culture has a basis. It is because of this, that I believe that language itself is shaped by our culture, and that while the Pirahã‟s language does not have recursion, their language is based on what is necessary for their culture. They have a system that they understand and pass from generation to generation with a syntactic and tonal qualities that differentiate words and phrases. 1.2. Body 1: Chomsky-ism 1.2.1. Chomsky’s Theory The source of all language is UG, which all humans have If all languages originate from UG, then there should be some characteristics that all languages share in common
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ESSAY 3 LINGUIST101 WHITE The research so far suggests that whatever other differences may exist among languages, all languages share the common characteristic of recursion “the ability of children to create grammatical sentences that they have never heard before proves that learning to speak does not depend on imitation, instruction, or rewards.” (Colapinto, 5) “to come to know a human language would be an extraordinary intellectual achievement for a creature not specifically designed to accomplish the task.” (Colapinto, 5) (“Reflections on Langauge”, 1975) Hypothesized that humans have a capacity for language at birth “language organ” (colapinto, 5) Equipped with an immutable set of rules, or UG, that is shared by all other humans Chomsky‟s theory only allows for you to look at the properties, and not the language itself. (colapinto, 6) Culture plays very little role in the study of language (colapinto, 6) Recursion How we construct all phrases “continue to insert chunks or language inside other chunks ad infinitum, thereby creating a neverending
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This note was uploaded on 11/14/2011 for the course LINGUIST 101 taught by Professor Mccarthy during the Spring '08 term at UMass (Amherst).

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White_Essay3 - ESSAY 3 LINGUIST101 WHITE Elizabeth White...

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