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Title: Language as an innate phenomenon; language and psychology; behaviourism

Language as an innate phenomenon language and
psychology behaviourism
  • Language and the Mind
  • Prof. R. Hickey
  • SS 2006

Table of contents
  1. An instinct to acquire an art
  2. Chatterboxes
  3. Mentalese
  4. Baby Born Talking- Describing heaven
  5. Language, Darwin, Language Instinct and a few
    Fallacies connected with it
  6. Words, Words, Words
  7. The Tower of Babel
  8. Mind Design

An instinct to acquire an art
  • Instinct to learn, speak, and understand language
  • Language wonder of the natural world
  • Language preeminent trait
  • Cognitive science

An instinct to acquire an art
  • How do children learn language?
  • Language complex, specialized skill
  • Cognitive scientist language psychological
    faculty, a mental organ, a neural system, and a
    computational module
  • Conception of language as an instinct was first
    articulated in 1871 by Darwin

An instinct to acquire an art
  • Most famous argument that language is an
    instinct comes from Noam Chomsky
  • Every sentence is a brand-new combination of
  • Children develop complex grammars rapidly and
    without instruction and grow up to give
    consistent interpretations to new sentence

Why should anyone believe that human language is
part of human biology an instinct at all ?
  • 1920s Discovering of unexplored country
  • Jabber language

  • Myth working-class people and less educated
    members of middle class speak a simpler language
  • BEV another language?
  • He be working
  • He working

  • Language development in children
  • Children reinvent language

  • How do particular languages arose in the world
  • Mixed slaves
  • Pidgin language of the slaves
  • Creole language that results when children make
    a pidgin their native tongue

  • Sign languages no pantomimes and gestures
  • Full language using the same kinds of grammatical
    machinery found worldwide in spoken languages

  • Parents do not provide explicit grammar lessons
  • Cildren know things they could not have been
  • A unicorn is in the garden
  • A unicorn that is eating a flower is in the

  • Language and the brain
  • No one has yet located a language organ or a
    grammar gene but the search is on
  • Stroke or bullet wound
  • Intellectual functions are all preserved

You dont need to be middle class, you dont need
to do well in school, your parents needt to
bathe you in language, indeed, you can posess all
these advantages and still not be a competent
language user, if you lack just the right genes
or just the right bits of brain
Question Is thought dependent on words or Are
our thoughts couched in some silent medium of the
brain and clothed in words whenever we want to
express them?
  • Pinker says that
  • we do not think in language or in words.
  • we think in visual and auditory images.
  • we think in abstract propositions about what is
    true about what.
  • language is a way of communicating thoughts, of
    getting them out of one head and into another by
    making noise.

  • Pinker points out that
  • words can be ambiguous.
  • Example adj. tame
  • ? a tame animal, which is not afraid of human
  • ? a tame topic (tame boring)
  • ? two different subjects two different meanings
    of the same word
  • Therefore words and thoughts can't be the same

  • famous essay called "The Great Eskimo Vocabulary
    Hoax" (myth Eskimos have hundred words for snow)
  • someone went to a dictionary of the Eskimo
  • counted the number of words for snow
  • found in first dictionary only two, in bigger
    ones a dozen or twenty words for snow
  • But the English language has also a lot of words
    for snow (avalanche, blizzard, hard pack, powder,
    sleet, slush)

  • ? you think more thoughts or more finely
    discriminating thoughts
  • ? if you know a lot about sth., you invent new
    words to express them ( slang/ jargon)
  • ? Conclusion if you are an expert in something
    you are going to have more jargon words for it

  • We think in visual images
  • autobiographies of great scientists, authors,
    poets etc.
  • all of them say that their moments of inspiration
    often come from a vivid visual image
  • then they have to struggle to find the words to
    express that image in their mother tongue
  • like Einstein claimed to have come upon his
    insight about relativity theory by imagining what
    it would be like to be in a plummeting elevator
    and then to take a coin out of your pocket and
    try to drop it

  • ? Conclusion language is a very rich part of the
    mind, but only one part
  • The mind has a language of its own, independent
    of the language that the mouth uses, which is
    called Mentalese.
  • speaking translating Mentalese into English or
  • understanding translating English or Japanese
    into Mentalese depending on which language you
    actually speak

  • Pinker thinks that this is why we can understand
    each other, can translate and why we can coin new
    words when we need them.
  • If words and thoughts were the same thing it
    would be impossible to coin a new word.
  • But when speaking or writing, people often have
    the sense that they did not express themselves
  • ? there are some researches of the subtle shades
    of meaning within different word orders
  • Example "I sprayed paint on the wall
  • "I sprayed the wall with paint."

  • sound like synonyms expressing the same thought
  • The thoughts they express overlap a lot, but
    there's a little difference
  • There are two ways of understanding
  • 1.) the wall is completely covered with paint
  • 2.) there could just be a little dab in one
  • ? even tiny differences in the order of words can
    convey very subtle differences in meaning

  • - Mentalese a way of thinking that is quite
    independent of language
  • ? people who were born deaf and never learned
    language able to express thoughts using sign
    language (fully expressive, grammatical, complex
  • ? are cut off from a lot of our culture (we
    convey our culture through words)
  • ? it is clear that they have minds, which are
    capable of some abstract understanding

  • Question
  • Is our Mentalese shaped by language
    nonetheless (like when you are listening to
    someone else's speech) ?

  • the contents of Mentalese supplied by
  • language
  • learning about objects in faraway places
  • learning about abstract concepts from
    conversations with other people
  • reading.
  • like the entry port into the mind
  • The actual sentences of Mentalese often derive
    from language (we only remember the gist).

  • the evolution of the human species
  • evolution of language the evolution of
    language in thought
  • Chain think more complex thoughts ? puts
    pressure on you ? able to share them ? people
    supplying you with complex language? puts
    pressure on you ? able to have those thoughts
  • a kind of feedback loop, where each one helped
    the other

  • a question of habits
  • certain language groups habitually cultivate
    certain states that then they like to talk about
  • in the habit of dealing with different aspects of
    the world
  • ? dealing with other people who are also dealing
    with those aspects
  • ? going to invent the words to be able to
    communicate them
  • But the fact that we can invent words is what
    makes Pinker think that the experiences come

  • Mentalese a way of thinking that is quite
    independent of language the language of the mind
  • People think in visual and auditory images.
  • Thoughts are expressed with words but they are
    not determined by language.
  • Language is a way of communicating thoughts.
  • Language is an instinct, because also deaf
    people communicate in a way in which a kind of
    language is used.

  • The fact that people can invent new words shows
    that the experiences come first.
  • Mentalese is supplied by communication or reading
    and is, in some way, influenced by culture.

  • Steven Pinker, The Language Instinct
  • .
  • ..
  • ..

  • Baby Born Talking- Describing heaven

  1. Introduction
  2. The Stages of Language Acquisition
  3. Common Grammar Mistakes
  4. Conclusion

1. Introduction
  • The Sun, a tabloid daily newspaper published in
    the UK and the Republic of Ireland, has the
    highest circulation of any daily English-language
    newspaper in the world
  • On May 21, 1985 the Sun wrote
    words proof reincarnation exists.
  • On June 8, 1993
  • Why does this only occur in fiction???

2. The Stages of Language Acquisition
  • - most children do not speak until they
    are one year old - first start combining words
    with about 18 months - start speaking in fluent
    grammatical sentences until they are 2-3
  • Nevertheless Infants already have linguistic
    skills when they are born.

2. The Stages of Language Acquisition
  • Psychologists Jacques Mehler and Peter Jusczyk
  • Babies have knowledge of their mothers language
  • French Infants suck harder when hearing their
    mother tongue
  • The babies must have learned something in the
    womb of the mother and during the first days
    after their birth

2. The Stages of Language Acquisition
  • During the first year
  • Learn the sounds of their language
  • Get their speech system geared up
  • Produce sounds cries, grunts, sighs, clicks,
    stops and later laughs and coos ( ca. 2 months)
  • Play with sounds rather then expressing their
    emotional or physical state ( ca. 6-7 months)
  • Begin to babble ba-ba-ba, dee-dee-dee, ( ca. 8

2. The Stages of Language Acquisition
  • Children who cannot use their speech system
    during their first years, are retarded in speech
  • Deaf children babble later and simpler, but if
    their parents use sign language, they babble with
    their hands!!!
  • Why is babbling so important?
  • Infants have a very complicated piece of audio
    but no manual that shows them how to use it
  • By experimenting with the articulator children
    learn how to produce all kinds of sounds

2. The Stages of Language Acquisition
  • During the 2nd year
  • Babies begin to understand words and start to
    produce them ( ca. 12 months)
  • One-word stage
  • Infants first words are to 50 objects (food,
    clothing, body parts, )
  • Words for actions, motions and routines up,
    off, peekaboo, eat,
  • Modifiers, like hot, more, dirty,
  • Routines, like yes, no, want ,

2. The Stages of Language Acquisition
  • With about 18months language starts to develop
    very fast
  • Syntax begins with strings of two
  • All dry. All messy. All wet.
  • I sit. I shut. No bed.
  • Our cat. Papa away. Dry pants.
  • In 95 the word order of the Two-Word Strings is
  • There is more going on in children minds then
    that what the say

2. The Stages of Language Acquisition
  • During the 3rd year
  • All Hell Breaks Loose
  • Children's language suddenly becomes
    grammatically fluent
  • Sentence length increases steadily and becomes
    more complex
  • The number of syntactic types reaches the
    thousands before the 3rd birthday
  • e.g. before Give doggie paper and Big doggie
  • now Give big doggie paper

3. Common Grammar Mistakes
  • No matter what grammatical rule is chosen,
    three-year-olds obey it most of the time!!!!
  • Errors in sentences like Can you broke those,
    Button me the rest only occur in 0.1-8
  • In more then 90 the children are right
  • They are not only grammatically correct in
    quantity but also in quality
  • The errors children make often follow the logic
    of grammar
  • The most common mistake is to overgeneralize
  • e.g. irregular verbs holded, heared,
  • plural -s tooths, mouses, mens

3. Conclusion
  • Babies are born with linguistic skills
  • They need an input to learn a language
  • Language Acquisition happens in different stages
  • 1st Language Acquisition happens very rapid and
    is complete
  • Infants only make few grammar mistakes
  • 1 Language acquisition is only guaranteed for
    children up to 6 years
  • Babies arent born talking!!!

  • Pinker, Steven 1994. The language instinct 
    the new science of language and mind. Lane,
    Penguin Pr. 

Language, Darwin, Language Instinct and a few
Fallacies connected with it

Nonhuman communication
  • A fine repertory of calls
  • A continuous analog signal that registeres the
    magnitude of some state
  • A series of random variations on a theme

The design of human language
  • Infinite
  • Digital
  • Compositional

The seat of the brain
  • Primates
  • Vocal cords controlled by the older neural
    structures in the brain stem and limbic system
  • Humans
  • Vocal cords controlled by the cerebral cortex

Teaching language to animals
  • Chimpanzees Gua - cross fostering Viki - cross
    fostering Washoe - American Sign Language -
    about 130 signs Lana - about 130 symbols Sarah -
    Premackese Nim Chimpsky - American Sign Language
  • Bonobo (Pygmy Chimpanzee) Kanzi - Yerkish,
    best 'language learner' so far - learnt about 400

KoKos case
  • The claims that an ape is capable of acquiring
    ASL(American Sign Language)
  • Language is no longer the exclusive domain of
  • Francine(Penny)
  • Patterson (Kokos trainer)

Nim Chimpskys myth
  • Every time the chimp made a sign, we were
    supposed to write it down in the logThey(the
    hearing people) were always complaining because
    my log didnt show enough signs.() I watched
    really carefully. The chimps hands were moving
    constantly.() Every time the chimp put his
    finger in his mouth, theyd say Oh, hes making
    the sign for drink,()Sometimes the trainers
    would say,Oh,amazing, look at that, its exactly
    like the ASL sign for give!It wasnt.

Typical sentences from a language-trained chimp
  • Nim eat Nim eat.
  • Drink eat me Nim.
  • Me gum me gum.
  • Tickle me Nim play.
  • Me eat Me eat
  • Me banana you banana me you give .
  • Banana me me me eat.
  • You me banana me banana you.
  • Orange give me you.

Darwins theory and the big bang
  • If the basic principles of language cannot be
    learned or derived, there are only two possible
    explanations for their existence either
    Universal Grammar was endowed to us directly by
    the Creator, or else our species has undergone a
    mutation of unprecedented magnituide, a cognitive
    equivalent of the Big Bang
  • Elizabeth

The Wrong Theory
  • Amoebas
  • Sponges
  • Jellyfish
  • Flatworms
  • Trout Frog
  • Lizards
  • Dinosaurs
  • Anteater
  • Monkey
  • Ape

(No Transcript)
Analogy and Homology
  • Analogous traits are ones that have a common
    function but arose on different branches of the
    evolutionary tree
  • (wings of a bird and the wings of a bee)
  • Homologous traits are those that were inherited
    after the same ancestor and hence have some
    common structure that bespeaks their being the
    same organ (the wing of a bat, the hand of a

Homology in nature
The DNA fallacy
  • The findings show that chimpanzees and humans
    share 98 to 99 of their DNA, a factoid that has
    become widely circulated

The evolution of the chimp-human common ancestor
  • Complex artifacts are thought t o reflect a
    complex mind which could benefit from complex

The beginnings of language
  • 30,000 years ago-the age of the gorgeous cave art
    and decorated artefacts of Cro-Magnon humans in
    the Upper Paleolithic (the date most commonly
    given in magazine article and textbooks for the
    origin of language)

The Traces of Language
  • Australopithecus afarensis-5 to 7 million years
    ago(probably the first traces of language)
  • Homo habilis-2,5 to 2 million years ago(caches of
    stone tools,imprints of the wrinkle patterns of
    the brain)
  • Homo erectus 1,5 to 500,00 years ago(control of
    fire, well-crafted hand-axes)
  • Homo sapiens-thought to appear 200,000 years
    ago(biologically they were us)

  • Can the problem of the evolution of language be
    addressed today? In fact, little is known about
    these matters. Evolutionary theory is informative
    about many things, but it has little to say as of
    now, about questions of this nature. The answers
    may well lie not so much in the theory of natural
    selection as in molecular biology, in the study
    of what kinds of physical systems can develop
    under the conditions of life on earth and why,
    ultimately because of physical principles. It
    surely cannot be assumed that every trait is
    specifically selected. In the case of such
    systems as language . . . it is not easy to
    imagine a course of selections that might have
    given rise to them.

  • Chomsky

  • Words, Words, Words

  • - sentences are built out of words (syntax) -
    words are built out of smaller units
    (morphology) - small units of words are called
    morphemes English morphology noun two forms
    (ball, balls) verb four forms (kick, kicks,
    kicked, kicking)

  • inflectional morphology
  • - modifying a word to fit into a sentence (e.g.
  • derivational morphology
  • - create a new word out of an old one (e.g. add
    a suffix)
  • compounding
  • - glue two words together (e.g. noun noun
  • word)

First rule
  • A noun can consist of a noun stem followed by a
    noun inflection.
  • N
  • Nstem Ninflection
  • ball

Second rule
  • A noun stem can consist of a noun stem followed
    by another noun stem.
  • Nstem
  • Nstem
  • foot

Third rule
  • An adjective stem can consist of a stem joined to
    a suffix.
  • Astem
  • Vstem
  • crunch

  • - verb -able adjective
  • - verb -er noun
  • - adjective -ness noun

Fourth rule
  • A noun stem can be composed of a noun root and a
  • Nstem
  • Nroot
  • electric

  • messy patterns in irregular plurals
  • - mouse-mice, man-men
  • messy patterns in irregular past-tense forms
  • - drink-drank, seek-sought
  • - irregular verb forms often come in families
  • - irregular forms must be learned

  • when a big word is built out of smaller words,
    the big word gets all its properties from one
    special word sitting inside it at the extreme
    right the head
  • V
  • P V
    N N
  • over shoot
    work man

  • 1. Words consist of morphemes 2. Regular forms
    can be formed easily 3. Irregular forms must be
    learned 4. New words have the properties from
    their heads.

The Tower of Babel
  • And the whole earth was of one language, and of
    one speech. .... And they said, Go to, let us
    build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach
    unto heaven and let us make us a name, lest we
    be scattered aboard upon the face of the whole
    earth. . And the Lord said, Behold, the people
    is one, and they have all one language and this
    they begin to do and now nothing will be
    restrained from them, which they have imagined to
    do. Go to, let us go down, and there confound
    their language, that they may not understand one
    anothers speech. So the Lord scattered them
    abroad from thence upon the face of all the
    earth and they left off to build the city. .
    (Genesis 111-9)

Differences vs. Universals
  • 1957
  • Linguist Martin Joos
  • - Joos declared that languages could differ from
    each other without limit and in unpredictable
    ways, so God had gone much farther in confounding
    the language.
  • Chomoskyan-Revolution -gt publication of
    Syntactic Structures
  • -a visiting Martian scientist would conclude that
    aside from their different vocabularies,
    Earthlings speak a single language

  • Linguist Joseph Greenberg
  • -1963 he examined a sample of 30 languages from 5
    continents, including Serbian, Italian, Basque,
    Finnish, Swahili, Nubian, Masaai, Berber,
    Turkish, Hebrew, Hindi, Japanese, Burmese etc.
  • -In the first investigation, which focused in the
    order of words and morphemes, he found more than
    45 universals.
  • Example No language forms questions by reversing
    the order of words within a sentence

  • Chomskys claim is based on the discovery that
    the same symbolmanipulating machinery, without
    exception, underlies the worlds languages
  • -Languages use the mouth-to-ear channel
  • -a common grammatical code
  • -words have stable meanings, linked to them by
    arbitrary convention
  • -speech sounds are treated discontinuously
  • a sound that is acoustically halfway between bat
    and pat doesnt meaning something halfway between
    batting and patting
  • -languages can convey meanings that are abstract
    and remote in time or space from the speaker
  • -all languages have a vocabulary in the thousands
    or tens of thousands, sorted into part-of-speech
    categories including noun and verb

  • A few properties of language are simply not
    specified in Universal Grammar
  • -it is upon to each language to choose whether
    the order of elements within a phrase is
    head-first or head-last (eat sushi and to Chicago
    versus sushi eat and Chicago to)
  • -whether a subject is mandatory in all sentences
    or can be leave out when the speaker desires

We need to understand why there is more than one
  • Darwin himself expressed the key insight We find
    in distinct languages striking homologies due to
    community of descent, and analogies due to a
    similar process of formation. Languages, like
    organic beings, can be classed in groups under
    groups and they can be classed either naturally,
    according to descent, or artificially by other
    characters. Dominant languages and dialects
    spread widely, and lead to the gradual extinction
    of other tongues. A language, like a species,
    when extinct, never ... reappears.

  • -English is similar to German for the same reason
    that foxes are similar but not identical to
  • English and German are modifications of a common
    ancestor language spoken in the past.
  • And foxes and wolves are modifications of a
    common ancestor species that lived in the past.
  • Differences among languages, like differences
    species, are the effect of three processing
    acting over long spans of time

1. Variation-Genetic- Inheritance
  • -learning is an option like camouflage or horns,
    that nature gives organisms as needed
  • -evolutionary theory has shown that when an
    environment is stable, there is a selective
    pressure for learned abilities to become
    increasingly innate
  • -why might it pay for the child to learn parts of
    a language rather than having the whole system
  • -a reason for language to be partly learned is
    that language inherently involves sharing a code
    with other people
  • -an innate grammar is useless if you are the only
    one possessing it
  • -evolution may have given children an ability to
    learn the variable parts of language as a way of
    synchronizing their grammars with that of the

2. Variation-Mutation
  • -some person, somewhere, must begin to speak
    differently from their neighbours
  • -this innovation must spread and catch on like
    contagions disease
  • -Change can arise from many sources
  • words can coined
  • borrowed from other languages
  • stretched in meaning
  • and forgotten
  • -new speech styles then infiltrate the mainstream
  • -people are occasionally apt to reanalyze the
    speech they hear
  • orange -gt borrowed from the Spanish naranjo
  • a creative speaker reanalyzed a norange as an

3. Separation
  • -separation among groups of speakers is the cause
    that successful innovations do not take over
    everywhere but accumulate separately
  • -at all times, in all communities, language
    changes in different ways
  • -some old dialects are still spoken elsewhere

  • afeared - afraid
  • yourn - your
  • hisn - his
  • et - eat
  • holp - help
  • clome - climb

  • From the Proto-Germanic (1st millennium B.C.)
  • The tribe splits into groups and came to speak
  • -Anglo-Saxon
  • -German and offshoot Yiddish
  • -Dutch and offshoot Afrikaans
  • -Swedish
  • -Danish
  • -Norwegian
  • -Icelandic

4) Languages are perpetuated by the children who
learn them
  • -when a language is spoken only by adults, it is
  • The linguist Michael Krauss estimates
  • -150 North American Indian languages (80 of the
    existing ones) are going to die
  • -40 languages in Alaska and northern Siberia
  • -160 in Central and South America
  • -45 in Russia
  • -225 in Australia
  • -perhaps 3000 worldwide
  • -only about 600 are reasonable save

The Language Mavens
  • Hannah Heinrichsen
  • Language and Culture
  • Prof. R. Hickey
  • SS06
  • Hauptstudium LN

  • Rules
  • Correct English
  • Language Mavens
  • 3.1 Types of Mavens
  • 3.2 History of the Mavens
  • Standard English vs. Non Standard English
  • Conclusion
  • References

1. Rules
  • Prescriptive rules prescribe how one ought to
  • Descriptive rules describe how people do talk
  • Fundamental rules create sentences, define the
    infinitives and list the words

2. Correct English
  • What is correct English? Who tells us so?
  • no English language Academy
  • no Founding Fathers at some English Language
    Constitution Conference at the beginning

2. Correct English
  • Legislators of correct English
  • network of copy-editors
  • dictionary usage panellists
  • style manual and handbook writers
  • English teachers
  • Essayists
  • Columnists
  • pundits

3. The Language Mavens
  • Maven? from a Yiddish word meaning expert
  • make prescriptive rules or keep them alive

3.1 Types of Mavens
  • The Wordwatcher
  • The Jeremiah
  • The Sage
  • The Entertainer

3.1 Types of Mavens
  • The Wordwatcher
  • Wordwatchers train their binoculars on the
    especially capricious, eccentric, and poorly
    documented words and idioms that get sighed from
    time to time

3.1 Types of Mavens
  • 2. The Jeremiah
  • Jeremiahs express their bitter laments and
    righteous prophecies of doom

3.1 Types of Mavens
  • 3. The Entertainer
  • The entertainer shows off his collection of
    palindromes, puns, anagrams, rebuses,
    malapropisms, Goldwysms, eponyms, sesquipedalian,
    howlers, and bloopers.

3.1 Types of Mavens
  • 4. The Sage
  • The sages are known for taking a moderate,
    common-sense approach to matters of usage, and
    they tease their victims with wit rather than
    savaging them with invective

3.2 History of the Language Mavens
  • 18th century
  • London? political and financial centre of England
  • England? centre of a powerful empire
  • London dialect suddenly became an important world
  • Unprecedented social mobility for anyone who
    desired education
  • demand for handbooks and style manuals
  • Competition manuals tried to outdo one another
    by including greater numbers of increasingly
    fastidious rules that no refined person could
    afford to ignore

4. Standard vs. Non Standard
  • The American Language (H.L. Mencken)
  • dialect of English spoken throughout the country
  • didnt become the standard of government and
  • the language maven claims that non-standard
    American English is not just different but less
    sophisticated and logical

4. Standard vs. Non Standard
  • e.g. the notorious double negative
  • Non Standard EnglishI cant get no
    satisfaction.? The two negatives chancel each
    other out
  • I cant get no satisfaction. I am
  • Standard English I cant get any satisfaction

4. Standard vs. Non Standard
  • Logical grammatical errors
  • Everyone returned to their seats.
  • Everyone means every one, singular subject which
    may not serve as the antecedent of a plural
    pronoun like them
  • Everyone returned to his seat.

4. Standard vs. Non Standard
  • Logical grammatical errors
  • If anyone calls, tell them I cant come to the
  • Anyone means any one, singular subject which may
    not serve as the antecedent of a plural pronoun
    like them
  • If anyone calls, tell him I cant come to the

4. Standard vs. Non Standard
  • Further Errors
  • Hopefully, the treaty will pass.
  • Mavens say, it should be used only when the
    sentence refers to a person who is doing
    something in a hopeful manner
  • Mavens suggestions
  • It is hoped that the treaty will pass.
  • If hopes are realized, the treaty will pass.

4. Standard vs. Non Standard
  • 2 kinds of adverbs
  • verb phrase adverbs, e.g. carefully ? refer to
    the actor
  • noun phrase adverbs, e.g. frankly ? indicate
    the attitude of the speaker toward the content of
    the sentence
  • some other sentence adverbs
  • accordingly curiously oddly
    admittedly generally honestly

5. Conclusion
  • The whole presentation is based on Steven
    Pinkers book "The Language instinct. In his
    chapter about the language Mavens it becomes
    obvious that not all rules the Mavens prescribe
    make sense, nor are they useful.

6. References
  • Steven Pinker The Language Instinct The New
    Science of Language and Mind, Penguin 1994

Mind Design
  • 3 models of how the mind is designed
  • Standard Social Science Model (SSSM)
  • Integrated Causal Model
  • Folk Biology

Standard Social Science Model
  • there is no universal human nature
  • there is no existence of a language instinct
  • BUT
  • behavior is determined by culture and an
    autonomous system of symbols and values
  • babies are born with only a few reflexes and the
    ability to learn

  • Margaret Mead
  • human nature is almost unbelievably malleable,
    responding accurately and contrastingly to
    contrasting cultural conditions
  • John Watson
  • Give me a dozen healthy infants, well-formed,
    and my own specified world to bring them up in
    and Ill guarantee to take any one at random and
    rain him to become any type of specialist I might
    select, , regardless of his talents, penchants,
    tendencies, abilities, vocations, and race of his

  • all behavior based on interaction between nature
    and nurture
  • But
  • - heredity factors cannot be ignored

pre scientific model
  • Heredity causes
  • Behavior
  • causes
  • Environment

Pinker says
  • language instinct is more than dichotomies of
    heredity environment, nature nurture,
  • innate acquired, ...
  • ? following model is much better

  • Environment

  • provides input to
  • develops and
  • builds
  • Heredity innate psychological mechanisms, skills
  • including learning mechanisms values,
  • knowledge
  • causes
  • Behavior
  • ?learning is not an alternative to innateness

  • important roles for heredity and environment are
  • no two peoples behavior is the same
  • a persons potential behavior is infinite
  • language comes naturally to us but mental
    language mechanisms must have a complex design
  • ?underlying machinery of the Universal
  • Grammar

  • learning without the basic design built into the
    mechanism impossible
  • learning mechanisms designed for particular areas

Integrated Causal Model
  • language requires its own wellengineered
  • there is no learning without some innate
    mechanisms that makes the learning happen
  • learning accomplished by different modules keyed
    to different domains
  • language process whereby the different speakers
    in a community acquire highly similar mental

  • language is universal among human societies
  • assumption of an infinitely acquisitive learning
  • - least important pedagogy
  • - most learning takes places through
  • generalization
  • - generalization according to SIMILARITY

  • similarity mainspring of the hypothetical
  • general-purpose-learning
  • device
  • similarity spaces must be innate

?concerning language acquisition
  • similarity analysis of speech inot nouns,
    verbs, phrases
  • ?computed by the Universal
  • Grammar
  • e.g.
  • John likes fish. similar to Mary eats apples.
  • John might fish. not similar to John might apples.

  • learning a grammar from examples requires a
    special similarity space
  • ?there must be many similarity spaces to
    generalize in a particluar domains of knowledge

Folk Biology
  • cognitive study of how people classify and
    reason about the organic world
  • people classify plants and animals into
    species-like groups
  • ?gives peoples intuitive concepts a logical
  • reasoning about natural kinds differs from
    reasoning about artefacts

Special intuitions about living things begin
early in life
  • 3-6-month infants
  • - know about objects and their possible
  • motions and their number
  • before 12 months
  • - know distinction between living and
  • nonliving things
  • little children
  • - generalization follows the similarity defined
  • category membership

  • The language instinct
  • - is innate
  • - suggests a mind of adapted computational
  • modules
  • - people all have the same minds
  • ?existence of a single universal mental
  • design

The end