Contiued: It?s All In The Definitions Formalism, Functionalism and Animal Communication Wednesday: January 11, 2012 What is language? How do you define language? What are the criteria for language? Communication (with self or others) Gestures or emotions (sign language/ signs or symbols) Rules or guide lines ( shared by the community/ conventional) Are communication and language the same thing? Noam Chomsky ? ? Colorless green ideas sleep furiously.? We all recognize this as English but we don?t know what it means ? therefore communication is not a part of language. A Quick ?Expert? Definition Your text book (via David Crystal, 1995) : Language is the Systematic and Conventional use of sounds (or signs, or written symbols) for the purpose of communication or self-expression. Systematic: Phonology , lexicon, Morphology , syntax (the cat bit the dong. The dog bit the cat) , pragmatics (?Can you hold this, pleas?)? Conventional / Signs: Dog, cien, hund, ? Communication or Self-expression Parts of Language (5 parts) Phonology Sound systems (phones and allophones) Cat + s = Cats Dog + s = Dogs? ( really a z sound) Grammar Prescriptive versus descriptive Prescriptive language ? rules of language like don?t put a preposition at the end of a sentence. Descriptive ? how people actually do things with language. Syntax: How words are arranged ( means to sit down together) Morphology: structure of the meaningful units of language (morphemes) Morphemes: -ed, -es, -s Semantics: The meaning ?Colorless green ideas sleep furiously? Chomsky says that each word has a meaning but the sentence as a whole is meaningless. Pragmatics: How language is used ?Please pass the salt? Individuals with Autism have trouble with pragmatics. Plus: Lexicon ( often not considered a component of ?language?) The list of words ? the mapping of words and their meanings. Friday: January 13, 2012 There are some languages, where word order doesn?t matter In Latin, word order does not matter. It is the ending of the words that matter and give the words meaning and order. Theories of Language Development How is language learned? How does a child learn to say The white puppy is cute rather than Puppy white cute is the? How does a child learn that this is a dog or a puppy? Behaviorist Introspection- looking within (the way psychology started) Skinner ? in order for psychology to be a science, it must be observable and must be measured in some way. Behavior is the only thing we need or can measure in psychology. Reinforcement, conditioning, association, stimulus-response You can not observe what is going on inside. This is called the Black Box Therefore we are only interested in the stimulus and the response because it is the only thing we can see through observation and can be measured. Only what is observable, measurable Why Behaviorism? Puts Psychology ( and the study of language) in the realm of science. gets away from introspection puts emphasis on measurement and experimentation An experiment requires ? random assignment of two groups. Dumb attentional/associative mechanism ? how a child learns through association. Cookie example What?s wrong with behaviorism? Behaviorists say: ?it?s not that cognitive mechanisms don?t exist, it?s just that they are irrelevant.? Just because something is not observable, does not mean it isn?t real or important. Emphasis on observable and measurable behavior can obscure our understanding of Psychology and cognition. Chomsky: ?To say that Psychology is the study of behavior is like saying that Physics is the study of meters.? Generativist We can ?generate? language ? we can say new things, combine the units of language to generate language. Language is modular. Universal Grammar Universal properties of language (parameters) Innate Deep structure, linking rules to get to surface structure DS: Jan kiss Sam Linking rules tell how to arrange the works / morphemes etc. into a passive sentence Surface structure: Sam was kissed by Jan Experience helps us select the appropriate parameters Adjective ? Noun (white House) or Noun ? Adjective Why Generitivism? Behaviorism couldn?t explain how we generate novel never-before-heard utterances. There are a nearly infinite number of grammatical utterances recursion Poverty of the Stimulus Argument 1. Can?t learn the patterns of language based on positive evidence alone. We need negative evidence too. There are errors in speech e.g.,: castling in chess (you can only do this once in a game) How would someone learn to play chess by watching? How would you learn the things that only happen ever once in a while? 2. Children are only ever presented with positive evidence for patterns. ?Now, Johnny. You can?t say ?Dog the house the in is?/ 3. All (typical) children master their native language (therefore must be innate). Wednesday, January 18, 2012 Problems with Generativist Approach 1. Linguists have failed to find and document universal characteristics of language. We do not know what is in universal grammar. 2. We can?t find any characteristics of language that are uniquely human. Recursion was the last bastion (Hauser, Chomsky & Fitch 2002), but it turns out the European starlings (Gentner et al. 2006) are able to recognize recursion in song. 3. Turns out that we can learn language based on positive evidence alone. Computer modeling ? when we make a computer to mimic language. Which is a grammatical error and which is not. Pre-emption We do not need someone to tell us that dog the is incorrect, we just need lots of positive evidence that the dog is correct. 4. Turns out that there are other aspects of language that help us learn it: social context, statistical learning, child directed speech etc. Think Do any of the facts on the previous page mean that Generativists are wrong about the basic tenets of how language is learned? What is a good theory/hypothesis? Can you prove that pink elephants don?t exist? (unfalsifiable) Has to be falsifiable. Have to be able to be proven wrong. Other drawbacks (not faults, exactly) to the Generativist Program Because generativists believe that the LAD (language acquisition device) is unique to language, we get short-changed in studying language ? can?t apply what we learn to other types of cognition and vice versa. Unless we posit redundancies in cognitive mechanisms There is a corresponding tendency to call things innate principles of language learning rather than trying to explain what you find in terms of other aspects of learning. e.g., innate ?shape bias? rather than an appeal to what is distinctive about an object. Non-generativist cognitive approaches Not exclusive, but often overlapping Becomes a matter of what is being emphasized in explaining learning of a particular matter. Focus on explaining learning without resorting to the stipulation of an innate LAD or an innate universal grammar Language is just one part of cognition and shares abilities with other cognitive capacities someone of these capacities may be innate and 1. Usage-based/Constructionist (e.g., Goldberg,?) *Not the same as in the book* Ex: The dax mooped the cruk into the gazzer. Caused motion -
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