Chapter 4 language

Where does language come from?
1) The evolutionary origins of language (our biological capacity for language as a whole)

2) The historical development of specific languages (how languages are related to one another and have changed through time)

How does language actually work?
All languages are complex and highly structured, even those languages that are unwritten or spoken by very few people. Most people have little understanding of the formal structure of their language but an intuitive sense of pronunciation, syntactical, and grammatical rules. Mistakes are easily noticed by any native speaker.
Langue is the formal rules of a language. Parole is language as it is actually spoken by people.

Do people speaking different languages experience different realities?
In the 1920s, linguistic anthropologist Edward Sapir (1929) argued that a language inclines its speakers to think about the world in certain ways because of its specific grammatical categories.

Linguistic relativity

How can languages be so dynamic and stable at the same time?
Societies blended by colonialism developed dynamic new languages, such as creoles and pidgins.

How does language relate to social power and inequality?
Language ideology refers to the beliefs people have about the superiority of one language or dialect and the inferiority of others.

It links language with identity, morality, and aesthetics, shaping our image of who we are as individuals and members of social groups and institutions.

There is no universally correct way to speak any language. From an anthropological perspective, there are only more and less privileged versions of language use.

is a system of communication consisting of sounds, words, and grammar. It is a system of symbols. This definition emphasizes three features: consists of sounds organized into words according to some sort of grammar.
,used to communicate, and systematic.

Call Systems
Patterned sounds or utterances that express meaning.

Call systems vs. language
Calls communicate emotions or occur in response to immediate stimuli, stimuli-dependent, referring to nearby objects or present circumstances, Calls are distinct and not combined or modified to produce calls with a different meaning, are instinctual and generally shared across an entire species.

Language is effectively limitless, allows people to talk about the past, future, and entire worlds of the imagination, Sounds can be combined in limitless ways to produce meaningful new utterances. Humans speak between 5,000 to 6,000 different languages.

the comparative study of ancient texts and documents
Jakob Grimm (1822) hypothesized that similarities between European languages were a result of shared ancestry

hypothetical common ancestral languages of two or more living languages

cognate words
Words in two languages that show the same systematic sound shifts as other words in the two languages, usually interpreted by linguists as evidence for a common linguistic ancestry.

Today, English, German, and Dutch are mutually unintelligible—despite all being derived from Proto-Germanic.

Nongenetic Language Change
Languages also change in nongenetic ways (not based on descent).
When people are multilingual, their use of each language subtly influences the other languages’ sounds, words, syntax, and grammar.

the structure of speech sounds

Linguists studying the phonology of a language catalog its meaningful sounds by identifying minimal pairs: pairs of words that differ only in a single sound contrast.

Since there is a difference in meaning between the words “pat” and “bat,” we can label [p] and [b] as distinct sounds within the English language.

[p] and [b] are called stops because there must be some stoppage of air flow for us to produce these sounds. (In contrast, “vowel” sounds can be held continuously with no stop).

Linguists use similar characteristics of sounds to classify every sound in a given language. Many sounds employed by other languages do not occur in English—for example, the “click” symbolized by “!” in some southern African languages.

Sounds that are formed by closing of and
reopening the oral cavity so that it stops the flow of
air through the mouth, such as the consonants p, b, t, d, k, and g.

how words are formed into meaningful units

how words are strung together to form sentences and more complex utterances, such as paragraphs

Descriptive Linguistics
The systematic analysis of a language’s sound system and grammar. Linguists divide language structure into three levels: phonology, morphology, syntax

Sounds of Language
An intricate combination of moving parts is necessary for us to produce the sounds of language;
glottis, tongue, teeth, lips, and many other parts moving in concert are required to utter the simplest words and sentences.

Dialects are mutually intelligible regional or social varieties of a single language.For example, British English and American English

Regional Dialects
Prior to the 1970s linguists assumed that American English would become increasingly homogeneous, owing to the spread of mass media and its standardized, “unaccented” English.

Instead, regional dialects and sound changes between generations within communities are greater than ever.

This suggests that, despite media homogenization, peer groups play a much stronger role in the transmission of linguistic forms.

Grammar Norms
Grammatical elements learned in one cultural context can feel quite natural and “normal” to a native speaker but unusual or illogical to speakers of other languages. For example,
the use of you, gender marking, or the tenses of english(past, present or future)

Studies how social context and cultural norms shape language use among a linguistic community. Describes how language is used by people rather than prescribing how language should be used. Focuses on signs, symbols, and metaphors.

the most basic way of conveying simple meaning

Stop signs in the United States capitalize on the fact that Americans identify red as a “dramatic,” attention-getting color.

elaborations on signs, with a wider range of meanings
American flag: democracy, free enterprise, hard work, competition, progress, and freedom.

Elaborating symbols like the cow among the Nuer and Dinka peoples of southern Sudan: food, wealth, symbol of society and its parts.

Key scenarios imply how people should act. An American key scenario is the Horatio Alger myth: the idea that anyone can go “from rags to riches” with hard work and perseverance.

From the Latin metaphora, or “carrying over,” a comparison that emphasizes the similarities between things.

Often, this involves using a physical action in a more abstract sense:

“She rose to the challenge and lifted the spirits of those around her.”

Language makes use of signs, symbols, and metaphors to continually reinforce cultural values in the community.

Linguistic relativity
the idea that people speaking different languages perceive or interpret the world differently because of differences in their languages

The study of how a people classify things in the world, usually by considering some range or set of meanings.

Berlin and Kay (1969) analyzed the color terms of more than 100 languages and found that basic color terms are consistent across languages.

Speakers of vastly different languages did not appear to perceive colors differently; they just classified them differently.

Findings like this do not necessarily disprove the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis or linguistic relativity more generally, but they do argue against linguistic determinism.

a language of mixed origin that has developed from a complex blending of two parent languages and that exists as a mother tongue for some part of the population

a mixed language with a simplified grammar, typically borrowing its vocabulary from one language and its grammar from another

Language ideology
refers to the beliefs people have about the superiority of one language or dialect and the inferiority of others