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Talking about Talking Lesson 4: Language and Communication Communication • Communicare – Latin for “to share” • Humans communicate using a variety of systems • Language – A system of arbitrary vocal symbols – Used to communicate meaning – Transmits culture Animal Communication • All animals communicate • They will use three different methods – Sound – Odor – Movement • Though some will only use one, primates use all three Primate Vocal Communication • Though primates use all three aforementioned methods, we will focus on sound and vocal communication • Humans use sound different from all of the other primates • To see how, we will compare them to Vervet monkeys Vervet Vocal Communication • Have been observed in the wild to use various symbolic calls • Three of their calls refer to different types of predators – Bird – Cat – Snake • Each call is a unique sound Human Vocal Communication • Humans do the same as Vervets. – Sound encoding meaning • Examples: – Care – Full • Both unique sounds with unique meaning – Meaning sent, received, and decoded How Language Differs • Unlike the Vervets, human language can do this: care + full = careful • Two sounds with unique meaning combined to make a third that is not a sum of it’s parts • Human language can take small sounds and combine them to make words. – Can combine words into sentences; sentences into paragraphs. Primate Vocal Symbols • Primates used anywhere from 30 – 40 symbols • How many do humans use? • The difference: – Primate systems are closed – Human systems are open The Origins of Language • We can’t say exactly when language first appeared – Sounds don’t fossilize • We can use our biology to get an idea – Anatomy – mouth and throat – Brain • Natural selection? – FOXP2 • Can we learn from present day languages? Historical Linguistics • How language changes over time – Social causes for structural changes • Example: English and Spanish Eng Span You IF Tú ??? F Used • What is the formal in English? How are Languages Similar? • Parent language • Go back to a common language • Ex – Spanish and French derive from Latin • Contact • When two speech communities come into contact • Borrowing and corruption • Convergence • Two languages with the same word despite no contact or recent parent language • Noam Chomsky Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis • Edward Sapir – Connected language to cultural experience – Language constructs our perceptions of reality • Benjamin Whorf – Work in insurance led him to language – Worked with the Hopi • Hopi do not view time the same as Europeans Were Sapir & Whorf Right? • Tough to test this hypothesis • Words do impact how we view things – – – – – Celebrity stage names Product names Prestigious names for ordinary jobs Expletives War and Politics Sociolinguistics • William Labov explored the notion of a Standard American English • What rules do we need for a standardized spoken language? – Grammar – Vocabulary – Pronunciation • A focus on linguistic differences is a symptom of ethnocentrism – The purpose of language is to communicate Exam Review Questions • • How do animals communicate? What methods do they use (Lecture material)? How do we study language in anthropology (Chapter 3 in Core Concepts)? – What is the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis? – What is “deep structure”? Who proposed this idea about language?