IMA 540 Linguistics Class 13

Language Change

Regularity of Sound Change: Consistent change according to phonological rules; for example, the caught-cot merger, which has occurred in regular contexts in areas of North America and Scotland.

see:  the Northern Cities Vowel Shift affects the six short vowels in caught, cot, cat, bit, bet and but.

Sound Correspondences: Great Vowel Shift – In England Middle English changed to Modern English by means of a shift in pronunciation of vowels. Called a chain shift because several sounds move as if in step across the phonetic chart. (see more in section below)

Ancestral Protolanguages

Indo-European is the protolanguage, or ancestor, of the modern European languages, which split into ten groups over time (not the oversimplified two in the text!)

  1. Celtic, with languages spoken in the British Isles, in Spain, and across southern Europe to central Turkey;
  2. Germanic, with languages spoken in England and throughout Scandinavia & central Europe to Crimea;
  3. Italic, with languages spoken in Italy and, later, throughout the Roman Empire including modern-day Portugal, Spain, France, and Romania;
  4. Balto-Slavic, with Baltic languages spoken in Latvia & Lithuania, and Slavic throughout eastern Europe plus Belarus & the Ukraine & Russia;
  5. Balkan (exceptional, as discussed below), with languages spoken mostly in the Balkans and far western Turkey;
  6. Hellenic, spoken in Greece and the Aegean Islands and, later, in other areas conquered by Alexander (but mostly around the Mediterranean);
  7. Anatolian, with languages spoken in Anatolia, a.k.a. Asia Minor, i.e. modern Turkey;
  8. Armenian, spoken in Armenia and nearby areas including eastern Turkey;
  9. Indo-Iranian, with languages spoken from India through Pakistan and Afghanistan to Iran and Kurdish areas of Iraq and Turkey;
  10. Tocharian, spoken in the Tarim Basin of Xinjiang, in far western China.

This chart from the Utexas Linguistics research Center shows the progression over time of these languages developing:

1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Proto-Indo-
European
PIE minus
Anatolian
Helleno-Armeno-Aryan-
Balto-Slavic-Germanic
Helleno-Armeno-Aryan Hellenic Hellenic
Armeno-Aryan Armenian
Indo-Iranian
Balto-Slavic-Germanic Balto-Slavic Balto-Slavic
Germanic Germanic
Italo-Celtic-Tocharian Italo-Celtic Italic Italic
Celtic Celtic
Tocharian Tocharian
Anatolian Anatolian

 

Regional dialects became separate languages – as Romance languages developed from Latin. Regular sound changes characterize the differences between the languages.

Phonological Change

Examples of the sound changes in English:

lost sounds: /x/ velar fricative lost from words like light and night; 

new sounds: the allophone (variant sound not signalling meaning change) of /f/, /v/ becoming its own phoneme; the sound ʒ as in leisure: ˈli ʒər;

sounds from other languages’ influence: /ch/ or // sound from Italian as in /tʃɜrtʃ/ church replaced /k/ as in proto-germanic kirika  and /ʃ/ sound from French as in shut /ʃʌt/ – compare to Old English scyttan

changed sounds: doubled (geminate) consonant /f:/ becoming simplified to /f/

Great Vowel Shift is credited to Otto Jesperson, who coined the term, “The great vowel-shift consists in a general raising of all long vowels” (A Modern English Grammar, 1909).

Great Vowel Shift

Morphological Change

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grammatical_case

The eight historical Indo-European cases are as follows, with examples either of the English case or of the English syntactic alternative to case:

  • The nominative case indicates the subject of a finite verb: We went to the store.
  • The accusative case indicates the direct object of a verb: The clerk remembered us.
  • The dative case indicates the indirect object of a verb: The clerk gave us a discount.
  • The ablative case indicates movement from something, or cause: The victim went from us to see the doctor. and He was unhappy because of depression.
  • The genitive case, which roughly corresponds to English’s possessive case and preposition of, indicates the possessor of another noun: John’s book was on the table. and The pages of the book turned yellow.
  • The vocative case indicates an addressee: John, are you all right? or simply Hello, John!
  • The locative case indicates a location: We live in China.
  • The instrumental case indicates an object used in performing an action: We wiped the floor with a mop. and Written by hand.

Syntactic Change

Word order in English has changed; Old English allowed for Subject -Object-Verb construction because case marking clarified relationships.

English negation: used particle ne in OE; allowed double negation; this survives in some dialects (as in “I haven’t never owed nothing to no one“)

Location of negation in contraction has changed

Formation of comparatives & superlatives: more gladder was grammatical in 1470

Jakob Grimm:

Noticed regular sound correspondences between Sanskrit, Greek, Latin, and Germanic languages. Posited what came to be known as Grimm’s Law: Voiced aspirates become unaspirated, voiced stops become voiceless, voiceless stops become fricatives. (IPA CHART )

Yoda’s syntax (p. 527) is OSV (object –subject-verb)

Lexical Change

  • Change in category – Nouns becoming verbs (impact; hoover, Mirandize – can you think of more?);
  • Addition of new words
    • coinage – Kodak, Xerox, Google, sudoku
    • from names (eponymous) – Eponym board
    • Blends – podcast, chortle
    • Reduced words
      • clipping – prof.
      • acronyms – NASA
    • Borrowings / loan words
  • Loss of Words – pease; groovy?
  • Semantic Change
    • Broadening – holiday
    • Narrowing – meat
    • Meaning Shifts knight, lust
  • Reconstructing Dead Languages
    • 19th Century
      • Comparatists
      • Cognates
    • Comparative Reconstruction
    • Historical Evidence – written works and letters – best if written by poor spellers!
  • Extinct &  Endangered Languages

–  Modern examples of resurrection: Hawaiian, Hebrew

  • Genetic Classification of Languages
    • Languages of the world
  • Types of Languages
  • Why Do Languages Change?

IMA Linguistics 540 Class 12

Psycholinguistics area of linguistics concerned with linguistic performance in speech or sign production & comprehension

    Nature of linguistic knowledge:

  • not a set of fixed phrases stored in memory
  • speech chain (brain-to-brain linking)
  • mechanisms allow us to break stream of sounds into linguistic units

Comprehension: How do we “unpack”language that is complex?

Breakdowns reveal how the language processor works.

Speech Signal

acoustic terms: describe sounds’ physical aspects
fundamental frequency
intensity
spectrograms (voice-prints)

why
Try to read the above spectrogram.
See more on reading spectrograms here
Once you learn how to read them you can try the Mystery Spectrogram!Formants of vowels: characteristic patterns of vowels on spectrogram; these are the phonemes of American English

Speech Perception and Comprehension

Segmentation: how to listener perceives sounds as distinct units; the “segmentation problem”
Recognition of speech sounds produced by different speakers in various environments  the “invariance problem”

    Perceptual units:

  • phonemes
  • syllables
  • morphemes
  • words
  • phrases

Factors that affect perception/comprehension:

  • native language (perceptual bias)
  • context (situation or topic)
  • content of one’s mental lexicon (lexical access)
  • ability to analyze syntactically (parse)
  • knowledge of lexical semantics 
  • prosodic aspects of speech (intonation)

Note: webmining can be a way for computers to develop lexical semantics

Comprehension Models and Experimental Studies

Top-down vs. bottom-up processing
Top-down: start with semantic and syntactic information and end with sensory input
Bottom-up: move from acoustical signal to semantic interpretation

Lexical access and Word recognition
Lexical decision experiments: response time is measured to find out how quickly words are recognized
Priming techniques: semantically related words can increase the rate of comprehension of other words
Naming task: shows subjects read words faster than non-words

 William Labov:

The Social Stratification of English in New York City

Chapter III The Social Stratification of /r/ in New York City Department stores

Motivation of study: to test 2 ideas:

  1. the variable /r/ is a social differentiator in all levels of NYC speech
  2. casual and anonymous speech events can be used as basis for a systematic study of language

Careful conversation was used for previous dialect studies but Labov felt more accurate data would come from casual conversation.

Comments on Labov’s method for the department store study?

Chapter IV The Isolation of Contextual Styles

Contexts in which casual language is found:

Extra-interview communication (interruptions and asides)

Personal Narratives

The Language of Life and Death

Analysis of Narrative Structure

Orientation
Complicating Action
Evaluation
Coda

Later version:

  • Abstract (A) – the indication that a narrative is about to start and the speaker wants a listener’s attention.
  • Orientation (O) – the ‘who’, ‘where’, ‘what’ and ‘why of the narrative. This sets the scene and provides further contextual information for the listener.
  • Complicating Action (CA) – the main body providing a range of narrative detail.
  • Resolution (R) – the final events, the ‘rounding off’ to give the narrative closure.
  • Evaluation (E) – additions to the basic story, to highlight attitudes or to command the listener’s attention at important moments.
  • Coda: (C) – a sign that the narrative is complete. This might include a return to the initial time frame before the narrative

 

Atlas of North American English 

 

IMA 540 Linguistics Class 11

textingDeborah Tannen: The Medium is the Metamessage

Introduction

Bateson – coined term Metacommunication: “the subject of discourse is the relationship between the speakers”

The metamessage, according to Tannen, is implicit, and indicates how the  ‘speaker’ intends the message.

Same statements about the politeness of different conversational styles apply to text messages as to oral communication – age difference regarding the acceptance of texting in company of someone with whom one is communicating face-to-face.

Brevity of interruptions are part of the judgement of rudeness in high-involvement style and young-texters style.

Markers of Enthusiasm and Intensity

Gender difference in use of doubled punctuation marks and duplicated vowels. The ‘unmarked’ use is to show enthusiasm this way.

Brevity is cold – or is it just a masculine style?

Brevity may be indirect; can be the motivation for texting rather than telephoning. Thus, the medium is a metamessage – telephoning can either be rude as an interruption or showing enthusiasm as in the need to communicate more fluidly.

Ambiguity of sending just a link.

Buzzfeed article on the “True Meaning” of emojis

Pacing & Pausing

Length  of time between message and response is a metamessage.

A dead battery can imply unintended meaning!

Texting_cf0f4f_2756352Multiple Media – communicating the same message more than once

textingMedium Choice – Facebook is more public – being broken up or ‘Facebook official’ is for a different audience than text or other medium messages.

If you’re using FB do you send a private message or post on the person’s wall?

Liabilities of the technology – signature as unintended message

Moral Panic at Introduction of New Media

Writing; the printing press, texting… new media discourse isn’t that unique when compared to previous means of communication.

What are your observations on the use of texting and social media in the communication patterns of your peers?

IMA Linguistics 540 Class 10

George Lakoff & Mark Johnson –
Metaphors We Live By

How basic is metaphor to our conceptual system?  Do our metaphors define our reality?

STRUCTURAL METAPHORS

ARGUMENT IS WAR (But it could be dance!)
Is this why pacifists don’t like to argue?

TIME IS MONEY (i.e., a valuable commodity)

Michael Reddy – the Conduit Metaphor:

  • IDEAS (Of MEANINGS) ARE OBJECTS.
  • LINGUISTIC EXPRESSIONS ARE CONTAINERS.
  • COMMUNICATION IS SENDING.

“The speaker puts ideas (objects) into words (containers) and sends them (along a conduit) to a bearer who takes the idea/objects out of the word/containers.” (p. 10)
What does the conduit metaphor mask?
What doesn’t this metaphor fit?

ORIENTATIONAL METAPHORS

Work done by William Nagy (1974) (Ph.D. Dissertation)

Experiential Bases of Metaphors

  • What does it mean for a metaphor to have an experiential basis?
    •  Metaphors are not arbitrary

What is the physical basis of these metaphors?

HAPPY IS UP; SAD IS DOWN.
CONSCIOUS IS UP; UNCONSCIOUS IS DOWN

HEALTH AND LIFE ARE UP
SICKNESS AND DEATH ARE DOWN

HAVING CONTROL OR FORCE IS UP
BEING SUBJECT TO CONTROL OR FORCE IS DOWN

MORE IS UP; LESS IS DOWN
FORESEEABLE FUTURE EVENTS ARE UP (AND AHEAD)

HIGH STATUS IS UP; LOW STATUS IS DOWN
GOOD IS UP; BAD IS DOWN
VIRTUE IS UP; DEPRAVITY IS DOWN
RATIONAL IS UP; EMOTIONAL IS DOWN

Internal Systematicity

Metaphor is consistent, not random

Another Kind of Coherence: Cultural

Values are evident in metaphors
Interesting reference (p. 24) to cultures where up-down is not a priority; where passive is better than active. (Buddhism?)

Ontological Metaphors

ENTITY AND SUBSTANCE METAPHORS

INFLATION IS AN ENTITY

Examples:

  • Referring
  • Quantifying
  • Identifying aspects
  • Identifying causes
  • Setting goals and motivating actions

THE MIND IS A MACHINE
THE MIND IS A BRITTLE OBJECT

Container Metaphors

Land areas: human-imposed boundaries; political maps

The visual field: what we see is a territory

Events, Actions, Activities and States
A racewashing
love
depression

Personification

Non-human entities given human motivations & characteristics
“Technology is stealing my job”

 

IMA 540 Linguistics Class 9

Student Exercises

Exercise 14 (p.228) on The Jabberwocky


Semantics: the study of the linguistic meaning of morphemes, words, phrases, and sentences

Subfields
  • lexical semantics: concerned with the meanings of words
  • phrasal or sentential semantics: concerned with larger syntactic units
  • There are more types which the text doesn’t cover

Pragmatics: The interpretation of linguistic meaning in context. (according to the text; my own definition is that it is the study of how we do things with language. The Wiki definitions are:

  • The study of language as it is used in a social context, including its effect on the interlocutors.
  • The branch of semiotics that deals with the relationship between signs, especially words and other elements of language, and their users.

Semantic Properties: pieces of information associated with a word

  • semantic properties are part of the meaning of all nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, and some function words
  • represented through a notation with positive or negative semantic features (mare = +female, -human, -young, +equine)
  • language teaching example: count/noncount nouns (177) can only occur with a particular quantifier: count nouns with many, noncount (mass) nouns with much.
  • nouns in some languages are associated with specific classifiers-nyms
    (a bound morpheme, by the way!)
  • Homonyms: words that are pronounced the same, may or may not be spelled the same and have different meanings. May lead to ambiguity
  • A word with multiple meanings that are related historically is polysemous
  • heteronyms: words are spelled the same but pronounced differently
  • homographs: words that are spelled the same but have different meanings (dove- the bird & dove – past of dive)
  • synonyms;  words that have the same or nearly the same meaning
    • paraphrases: sentences which use synonyms in identical constructions
    • creates lexical paraphrase
      • antonyms: words that are opposite
        • share all but one semantic property
        • are gradable:  meaning is related to the object they modify
        • marked/unmarked members of pairs of gradable antonyms: mountain & high, not low
        • relational opposites: employer/employee
        • formed with prefixes
        • hyponyms: a word that represents the relationship between general terms and specific instances of a class; color has the hyponym red
        • metonym: substitutes for the object that is meant, the name of an attribute or concept associated with that object; i.e., Hollywood for the film industry, Washington for the US government
        • retronyns:  redundant words at an earlier time; whole milk, conventional warfare, acoustic guitar.

        (see fun-with -words)

        See Student exercises for more fun

        Proper names
        Shortcuts for a specific object or entity

        • have characteristic of being definite (this means in English they don’t need a determiner such as the to indicate definite – exceot in particular instances (there are always these pesky exceptions!)
        • can’t be pluralized (Or can they? “There are two ‘Johns’ in our class”)

        Phrase and Sentence Meaning

    Principle of Compositionality: meaning of a phrase is composed of meaning of words and how they are combined structurally

    Visiting relatives can be boring

    Phrasal Meaning

    Noun-Centered Meaning

        • reference: an object is pointed to through a noun phrase
        • referent: the object pointed to through a noun phrase
        • coreferential: phrases that point to the same object – may not mean the sentences have the same meaning
        • sense: additional meaning

    Verb-Centered Meaning

        • agent, theme, and goal: thematic roles of the verb
        • Useful chart ( 192-193)
        • represented by case in some languages

    Sentential Meaning

        • truth conditions: the conditions under which the sentence is true
        • paraphrases: sentences which have the same truth conditions
        • entailment: truth of one sentence entails (implies) the truth of another
        • contradiction: negative entailment
        • eventives/statives:  syntactic consequences result from this characteristic of sentences

    Pronouns and Coreferentiality

        • reflexive pronouns: syntax reflects identical referents in antecedents

    Meanings that are Veiled or Nonexistent

        • anomaly: syntactically correct expressions which are not interpretable semantically
        • metaphor:  nonliteral or indirect meaning (note George Lakoff’s book, and article on Metaphors of Terror
        • idioms: meaning is not related to meanings of parts of the phrase (a language teacher’s dream (if what you want is job security) or nightmare (if you are asked to explain them a lot))

    Pragmatics

    Interpretation of linguistic meaning in context.

        • linguistic context
        • situational context, or knowledge of the world

    Discourse Analysis

        • how speakers combine sentences into broader speech units
        • examines style, appropriateness, cohesiveness, etc.

    Situational Context

        • Grice’s cooperative principle
        • Conversational maxims

    Speech Acts

      • What we get done with language
      • Performatives
      • illocutionary force
      • presuppositions
      • implication
      • Deixis

CARLA’s speech act site: www.carla.umn.edu/speechacts/

____

The site where you can download software for drawing syntactic trees is:
www.ece.ubc.ca/~donaldd/treeform.htm

IMA 540 Linguistics Class 8

Deborah Tannen: Conversational Style

Chapter 2: Theoretical Background

Analysis of conversation is a subdomain of discourse analysis (which also includes written text).
CA is related to Semantics – basic question is ‘how do people communicate and interpret meaning in conversation?’

Style: Hymes described as register; Ervin-Tripp as  alternation. Tannen  refers to choices of particular linguistic devices made by speakers.

Individual & Social Differences

Sapir said: “It is always the variation that matters, never the objective behavior.” (1958:542)… and style is an “every day facet of speech that characterizes both the social group and the individual.”

Distinction between ‘unmarked’  (normal behavior for a community) and ‘marked’ (different from the norm) is important when distinguishing between individual style and a community’s style.

Acquisition of Style

Children learn by age four what conversation style is used by members of their speech community.

Stylistic Strategies: Involvement – Considerateness

Lakoff’s Principles:

  1. Don’t impose (distance)
  2. Give options (deference)
  3. Be friendly (camaraderie)

Tannen gives examples of how these principles are expressed in conversation. There is a tension between expressing politeness through distance and camaraderie. Lakoff sees them as points on a continuum.

|_______________________|_____________________|
distance                               deference                      camaraderie

The middle ground is deference; which is giving the other choices about how to interpret one’s message.

Another graphic representation:

Particularly relevant to the upcoming chapter is the discussion of features of the High-Involvement Style

  1. Topic
    a. Prefer personal topics
    b. Shift topics abruptly
    c. Introduce topics w/o hesitation
    d. Persist (keep introducing a topic)
  2. Pacing
    a. Faster rate of speech
    b. Faster turn taking
    c. Avoid pauses between turns
    d. Cooperative overlap
    e. Participatory listenership
  3. Narrative Strategies
    a. Tell more stories
    b. Tell stories in rounds (each person gives their own story)
    c. Prefer internal evaluation (the point of a story is expected to be interpreted by the listener)
  4. Expressive paralinguistics
    a. Expressive phonology
    b. Marked pitch and amplitude shifts
    c. Marked voice quality
    d. Strategic pauses within turns

Methods

Tannen used a tape recorder (which ran out of tape!) then later, met with each participant and had them control the recorder to pause and comment. She acknowledges that the transcription of the conversation does not capture the intonation of the talk nor the nonverbal gestures employed.

Chapter 3: The Participants in Thanksgiving Dinner

Host: Steve, 33-yr-old musician and music teacher
Peter, 35-yr-old management analyst at university
Sally, 29-yr-old musician
Deborah, 29-yr-old graduate student
David, 29-yr-old artist, sign language interpreter
Chad, 30-yr-old writer at film studio
Late arrival: Victor, 37-yr-old engineer, deaf

Origins: Steve, Peter, and Deborah grew up in NYC – Jewish heritage
Chad & David in Southern California  – Chad has Jewish heritage
Sally in London, England – Father from Poland – Jewish heritage

Sexual orientation: Steve, David & Chad are gay
Deborah, Peter, and Sally are heterosexual

Chapter 4: Linguistic  Devices in Conversational Style

  • Personal / Impersonal Topics
  • The ‘Enthusiam Constraint’
  • The Machine-Gun question
  • Overlap and pace
  • Mutual Revelation  (see also my dissertation in reference to self-disclosure)
  • Bonding through high-involvement devices
  • Expressive Phonology and Intonation (pitch)
  • Persistence
  • Tolerance for Noise vs. Silence

Questions for Tyler:

How would you define your own conversational style?

What has your experience been in interacting with people who have a different conversational style?

IMA 540 Linguistics Class 6

The Interactive Activation Model explained

Past tense Connectionists Rumelhart and McClelland were trying to model cognitive processes for computer [David Rumelhart respected in field of cognitive science]

Vs generativists generative phonology and their descendents, such as those of Chomsky and Halle

Vs The Words and Rules (WR) theory Pinker and Prince

Stephen Pinker: in Words and Rules looking at a single aspect of language and examining it from every angle.

IMA 540 Linguistics Class 5

Neurolinguistics: the study of the biological and neural foundations of language

Cortex: surface of the brain “gray mattergrey matter

white matter: connecting fibers beneath the cortex

whitemtr white matter top white matter 3

cerebral hemispheres:  left/right halves of the brain

corpus callosum: network of 2 million fibers connecting the hemispheres
corpus callosum

contralateral brain function: left side of brain controls functioning of right side of body and right hemisphere of brain controls left side of body.

Modularity of the Brain

First indications came from phrenology – practice of determining personality traits and abilities based on reading the bumps on the skull. Proposed by Franz Joseph Gall in early 1800s. Phrenology has been discarded but Gall’s concept of modularity has been upheld.

Paul Broca – 1864: related language to the left side of the brain, based on autopsies of people who had language deficits and damage to the left frontal lobes of brian. This area came to be calledBroca’s area

Broca’s Aphasia: language disorder that results from injury to Broca’s area
Aphasia: any language disorder that results from brain damage caused by disease or trauma

Carl Wernicke – 1874 – identified aphasia in patients with damage to the back left portion of brain. (Wernicke’s area) 
Wernicke’s aphasia: patients who spoke fluently but had numerous lexical errors; using jargon and nonsense words. Had difficulty in comprehending speech. 

Does everyone have language functions in the left side of their brains? How about right-handed people?
Discussion: is there an evolutionary purpose for lateralization? What do you think could be the reason behind it?

New ways to discover brain functioning:

MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging):   Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is a noninvasive method which utilizes the properties of magnetism to create nondestructive, three dimensional, internal images of the soft tissues of the body, including the brain, spinal cord and muscle. (How MRI works)


PET (Positron Emission Tomography):
 shows metabolic activity of the brain (How PET works)
Images from PET scans

SPECT/CT scans: SPECT  studies combine nuclear medicine (the use of radioisotopes  in the diagnosis of disease) with computed tomography.   In this technique, the patient either swallows or is injected with a radioisotope, which travels to a target  organ.  Concentrating in the target organ, the  radioisotope emits radiation, which is detected by a gamma  camera that rotates around the patient.  The  information obtained via the gamma camera is analyzed by a computer, which creates a cross-sectional image of the  target organ.  SPECT scans are frequently used to  determine if a specific area of the body is receiving  adequate blood flow.

Childhood brain lesions
Hemiplegic children: have lesions on one side of the brain; shows differing cognitive abilities
Split brains
surgical severing of the corpus callosum – no communication between two side of brain

Dichotic Listening
contralateral stimuli (opposite side) outweigh ipsilateral stimuli 
reason: stimuli don’t have to cross the corpus  callosum  

EEG – based evidence: Event-related Brain Potentials (ERPs)


 Cognitive neurophysiology is the study of changes in brain function and the relationship of such changes to thought processes. The primary physiological signal that we measure is the electroencephalogram or EEG. The EEG reflects summated potentials generated by the electrochemical signaling processes by which networks of neurons process information. The EEG changes in predictable ways as a function of level of alertness, type and/or intensity of mental activity, and particular forms of brain pathology. We record the EEG by arrays of electrodes attached with conductive gel to many locations across the scalp. Similar sensors are attached to the face in the region of the eyes to record the electro-oculogram or EOG, that is, the electrical potentials generated by eye movements and blinks. The EOG can also provide useful information about mental state. 
(Gevins 1997)


For a more in-depth explanation of ERPs: Coles & Rugg 1995
Other interesting applications of ERPs:
Brain Fingerprinting for Counter-Terrorism
Language Perception & learning strategies
Neural basis of musicality

Historical Evidence for Brain Modularity: Studies of Aphasia Carl Linnaeus (1745) studied jargon aphasia, a disease in which the patient substitutes a semantically similar word for the intended word. 

Johannes Gesner (1770) attributed language difficulties to specific impairment of language memory. He observed bilingual asymmetry in which an abbot who had brain damage could read Latin but not German.

Broca’s aphasics – agrammatic aphasia: utterances without function words, problems understanding syntactic structure

Wernicke’s aphasics – may produce fluent but unintelligible speech, substitute one sound for another (table -> sable) or one word for another. (chair -> table) Also jargon aphasia.

One way that has been tried to help such patients communicate is to have them write the words they want to communicate. In England a Lightwriter has been used to help aphasic patients communicate. Words can be typed and show up on two screens, one for the writer and one for the person they want to communicate with.

Acquired dyslexics: people who lose the ability to read after brain damage 

Genetic Evidence for Language Autonomy

Linguistic savants: individuals who are handicapped in certain spheres but remarkably talented in others

Specific Language Impairment: Seems to have genetic basis, affect identical twins – support modular view of language facility

FoxP2 is the first identified gene that is specifically involved in speech and language development in humans (not in book)

Language and Brain Development

male chaffinch

Male Chaffinch

The Critical Period: period from birth to puberty when language acquisition proceeds easily
evidence: “wild” children, Genie, Chelsea
Bird Songs: some species learn calls, like these:
 

female chaffinch

Female Chaffinch

cuckoo

Cuckoo

 

 

But the other’s calls, like that of the cuckoo, seem to be biologically determined

Origins of Human Language

Problem: spoken language existed long before written records are preserved.
Beliefs cloud the topic: monogenetic – belief that all langauges originated from a single source (Tower of Babel story)

Quentin Atkinson’s theory – number of phonemes Tower of Babel

Ullman & Pinker: Words/Rules Theory vs. Connectionist Model

Declarative/Procedural Memory

Types of Knowledge

Types of Knowledge

Exercises:
1.  Roger Sperry biography
     Eccles biography

Fun with electrodes! Probe the brain

IMA 540 Linguistics Class 4

Screen Shot 2014-09-16 at 10.41.54 PM

Joseph Greenberg

About Joseph Greenberg

Comprehensive Biography

Terms in Greenburg (relevant to language typology)

Diachronic: looking at something (i.e., language) in respect to the passage of time

Synchronic: looking at something at a given moment in time.

See explanations here in regard to linguistics.

Ways to Categorize Languages:

Genetic (historical or diachronic)
Morphology
Word order (Syntax)
Phonology
Types of Nouns or Verbs or Prepositions/adpositions

Types of languages in relation to the number of morphemes in a word:

Type Morpheme to Word ratio  Examples
Isolating a word is usually one morpheme  Chinese, English
Synthetic there is usually more than one morpheme per word German, Japanese
Polysynthetic there are a large number of morphemes per word Mohawk, Yup’ik Inuit

 

Linguistic Typology Resources from the Association of Linguistic Typology (what did I say about geeks with specific interests?)
(includes a database of universals)