LINGUISTIC PRELIMINARIES PART I: WHAT’S SPECIAL ABOUT LANGUAGE? + INTRO TO PHONETICS Linguistics 187 / Cultural Anthropology 187 / English 187 / ICS 151C Variety in Language: English in the United States Duke University Erin Callahan-Price Spring 2011 SECTION I Design Features of Language LF 2.2 Language Is Unique to Humans/ Language Makes Us Uniquely Human • …It is a very remarkable fact that there are none so depraved and stupid, without even excepting idiots, that they cannot arrange different words together, forming of them a statement by which they make known their thoughts; while, on the other hand, there is no animal, however fortunate and circumstanced it may be, which can do the same. • –Descartes, “Discourse on Method” What makes human language unique?: The search for Universals ALL COMMUNICATION SYSTEMS HAVE... • 1. A Mode of Communication: Communication needs a vehicle. • We use our mouths to talk and ears to listen/understand (i.e. Vocal mode is most common for production and auditory for perception), though certainly linguistic systems can function visually (ASL). • Basic representational systems: chemical, visual, digital, kinesthetic… What makes human language unique?: The search for Universals ALL COMMUNICATION SYSTEMS HAVE... • 2. Semanticity: the cues or signals in a communication system have meaning • Sounds are meaningful as constrained by conventional usage in a community of users (Sassure 1983 ), producing signs. • When meaning is causally related to the sign, we say the meaning is transparent or iconic. The sign ceases to be a sign; it is merely a signal or cue. • Iconicity, transparency, conventionalization What makes human language unique?: The search for Universals ALL COMMUNICATION SYSTEMS HAVE... • 3. Pragmatic Function: Communication is purposeful • Communication has goals, whether it’s (i.e. for animals) to stay alive, keep their nest clean, facilitate reproduction…. or deliver an inauguration speech . What makes human language unique?: The search for Universals SOME COMMUNICATION SYSTEMS HAVE... • 4. Interchangeability: Users can both send and receive/broadcast the same message. • . What makes human language unique?: The search for Universals SOME COMMUNICATION SYSTEMS HAVE... • 5. Cultural transmission: Language is transmitted culturally rather than, say, strictly genetically*: • a baby born in Iceland will learn Icelandic words; a baby born in Iceland and adopted in Bombay will speak Hindi… or Telugu/Kannada/etc. vs. • “In most organisms, the signal code is innate…so an individual can no more learn a code different from the one it is programmed for than it can grow an extra eye.” (LF: 24) • * note that while the ability to speak human language is innate, the child’s exposure to a particular language in a particular place determines which language she will acquire. What makes human language unique?: The search for Universals SOME COMMUNICATION SYSTEMS HAVE... • 6. Arbitrariness: Form of the signal is not logically attached to its meaning • Nothing inherent in the word daffodil that points to a delicate yellow early-Spring- appearing flower. When I produce the sounds [dæf] [o] [dIl], there’s no way you could guess, if, for instance, you were an Icelandic speaker, that I was talking about the flower. • Most animals* use fairly iconic communication systems: the signals do or look like what they say: think of a dog who pants, bares his teeth, • * including us: a noticeable amount of human language is iconic… Iconic? How? Why? Why Not? • What makes human language unique?: The search for Universals SOME COMMUNICATION SYSTEMS HAVE... • 7. Discreteness: Complex messages are built out of smaller, isolated (discrete) parts • In animal communication systems, each message is an indivisible unit. Even when a parrot reproduces “Polly Want a Cracker,” it’s actually just imitating the unanalyzed string of sound paliwanacraka. • Conveniently, these isolated parts are infinitely combinable… Other parametrized, discretecombinatorial systems URAL SPIRAL NEURAL NETWORKS PERL What makes human language unique?: The search for Universals HUMAN LANGUAGE HAS... • 8. Displacement: the ability to talk about things which are not immediately present in space or time. • Thus, we can talk about our cousin Larry being born yesterday in Cleaveland. We can rave about a beautiful celebrity we’ve never met (or may be long dead, into the ranks of legend). We can refer to the “house on the next block.” Animals can’t do this. What makes human language unique?: The search for Universals HUMAN LANGUAGE HAS... • 8. Productivity: the ability to produce and understand novel sentences. • Human language is an open-ended system which is “pre-engineered” to churn out a potentially infinite number of sentences. You can utter a stream of words and syllables which has never been uttered or understood before. • Animals, by contrast, don’t have a factory-installed mechanism for systematically combining discrete units to produce new signals. • Neat trick (Mad-Lib style): the rutabega located in the west foyer whimpers in slovakian tagalog SECTION II Definitions: What is Linguistics? Today, tomorrow, yesterday… What is linguistics? A polemical issue… • “SCIENTIFIC STUDY OF LANGUAGE” • At the heart of linguistics is the search for the unconscious knowledge that humans have about language(s), an understanding of the structure of language, and knowledge about how languages differ from each other (“Linguistic Society of America”) • Focuses on NATIVE SPEAKER KNOWLEDGE • For the last 50 years or so, has orbited around the work of NOAM CHOMSKY (Syntactic Structures, 1957) • Traditionally, divided into the subfields of FORMAL LINGUISTICS: • Syntax: study of the grammatical structure of sentences— why a native English speaker would never say “Bone dog the ate” • Semantics: study of meaning– or why the well known phrase “Colorless green ideas sleep furiously” is grammatically OK but semantically empty. • Phonetics: the study of speech sounds themselves– or how the vocal articulators (tongue, teeth, soft palate…) move together and coordinate like members of a symphony to produce a single, perfect [p h] • Phonology: the study of the combination of speech sounds, especially across languages– or how and why we have [ph]otato in English and [p]apa in Spanish. What is linguistics? A polemical issue… • “LANGUAGE AS A SOCIOCULTURAL PHENOMENON” • We are born with the ability to learn languages. However, the contexts in which we use them is culturally mediated…the world of social action, where words are embedded in and constituative of specific cultural activities such as telling as story, asking for a favor, greeting, showing respect, praying, giving directions, reading, insulting, praising, arguing in court, making a toast, or explaining a political agenda. (Duranti 2009, p. 1) • For the last 50 years or so, has orbited around the work of people like FRANZ BOAS, ROMAN JAKOBSON, DELL HYMES, WILLIAM LABOV, even MICHEL FOUCAULT: • Dynamically dividing into the subfields of SOCIOLINGUISTICS: • Language Variation and Change: study of how linguistic varieties (in some cases called “dialects”) correlate with social variables like region, ethnic identity, gender, class, style, etc.— why your grandfather distinguished the words “dew” and “do” and you don’t. • Linguistic Anthropology: study of language’s role(s) in (individual) social life– like how, say, language plays into “FOB” Punjabi California hip hop identity construction (Shankar 2008) • Sociology of Language: study of language use in broader socio(political) behavior– like investigating, say, “A woman's role in constructing status hierarchies…” by “…using honorific language in Pohnpei, Micronesia” (Keating, 1998) • (Critical) Discourse Analysis: the study of how language structures (“text” and “talk”) reproduce processes of social domination and institutional power SECTION II Finally! Phonetics: the sounds of human language Speech vs. Writing • Basic assumption of modern linguistics: speech is primary; writing is a cultural invention that encodes speech. Thus, linguists take spoken language as their (best) source of data. Why? • Writing is a more recent historical development than speech. • Writing probably began somewhere in Sumer 6000 years ago, whereas spoken language has been around for hundreds of thousands of years. • There are many communities in which writing does not exist. • According to Ethnologue (2004), 57% of the 6,900 languages of the world are unwritten. • No society uses only a written form and no spoken form. • Even in societies who have an established orthography, many individuals fail to learn written language. • A majority of the earth’s inhabitants are illiterate. • Writing must be taught, whereas spoken language is acquired automatically • All normally-developing children naturally learn the language of their community, whereas they may or may not learn to write when, for instance, they enter school. Speech vs. Writing • So why does writing seem “more perfect” (or at least more prestigious) than speech? • Writing happens slower in time • When we write, we can take long periods of time to deliberately organize, revise, reword, etc. • Spontaneous speech is a work in progress: some of its hallmarks are hesitations, restarts, errors, corrections, misformulations, reframings, rephrasings… • Writing is associated with education • The speech of the educated is set up as the “standard language” and writing is associated with the types of language people view as “correct.” • The type of speech that gets to get written down is educated speech: who has the money/education/resources/connections to build (or send their work to) a printing press? To submit a manuscipt to Random House? (i.e. in the first place) • Writing is more permanent • Spoken language depends on sound waves propagating through air; it’s transient, ephemeral. • Because of its physical medium (clay, flax, bone), writing tends to last. • Spelling, because it is taught, does not vary as much form individual to individual as speech does: therefore written forms (orthographies) are more stable. Sound, not spelling! • Crucially, there is not a 1:1 correspondence between sounds and letter(s) in the English spelling system: • Same sound/different letters: thief/amoeba • Same letters/different sounds: charter/character • Single sound/combination of letters: lock/book/shop/that • Single letter/more than one sound: exit/use • Letter(s)/no sound at all: know/doubt/moose • In working with linguistic data, we need a transcription system where each symbol represents one sound only, and there is only one symbol for each sound: The International Phonetic Alphabet [IPA] • Makes phonetic transcription consistent and unambiguous, (even across languages!) • Consonant set of English: The International Phonetic Alphabet [IPA] • Vowel set of English: Lots of Questions about this thing’s Engineering What’s under the hood? Design Principles • So what kind(s) of information goes into all those symbols? • How are they arranged, and why? • What patterns emerge when they’re arranged that way? • Could we posit a limited set of parameters that produces all those sounds (and just those sounds?) • …and how come we have one chart for vowels and one for consonants? Consonants and Vowels Consonants and vowels represent the evolution of a maximally contrastive (and thus efficient) system : CLOSED vs. OPEN Consonants are sounds in which the air flow through the vocal tract is either mostly or totally obstructed Vowels are sounds made with the vocal tract open Beyond this basic “setting,” there are several variable parameters for consonants and vowels that allow us to make different sounds. Beyond Basic OPEN-CLOSED Just like a musical instrument (clarinet, tuba, whatever), which varies the size, shape, and character of sound by changing the size of its internal cavities, the vocal tract changes the size, shape, and character of the resonant chambers of our throats and heads in order to make distinct speech sounds. Just like……..a pipe organ! . Vocal Tract Anatomy A first look Parameterization in Speech Sounds: How do we vary Cs and Vs? For consonants, the “levers” are 1. VOICING: whether or not the vocal cords are vibrating. Only 2 levers*: a. b. voiced vs. unvoiced 2. PLACE: where the airstream is most obstructed by the articulators. 11 levers, e.g.: a. b. bilabial (consonants made with both lips in contact) vs. labiodental (consonants made with contact between the lower lip and upper teeth); etc. 3. MANNER: the particular way the airstream is obstucted: 8 levers, e.g.: a. plosive (or stop) consonants (air-flow is stopped b. abruptly by the articulators) vs. fricatives (friction is created by the air passing through lightly touching articulators, etc.) ANATOMY OF A PIPE ORGAN • An Vocal Tract Anatomy Slices of a real human Voicing Demo Put two fingers on your voice box Alternately say the sounds /s/ and /z/ a few times. Where is the (almost) obstruction occurring? These two sounds “happen” at the same place, but they are voiced differently, so they're distinct sounds. Manner Demo Try /s/ and /z/ again. The sound is made roughly at the alveolar ridge. Now, instead of squeezing everything through a small opening, let's completely obstruct the air flow. What's the resulting sound when it's unvoiced? Voiced? When we change from partial to complete obstruction of the air flow, that's a change of manner. Place Demo Now let's try /d/ and /g/ Both made by completely obstructing air flow. Both voiced. What's the difference? Make each sound a few times and see where your tongue touches. Try to make it as natural as possible. Paramaterization in Action! Classes of Consonants So what happens when we pull each individual “lever” (PLACE + MANNER + VOICING)? A bunch of kinds of fresh-off-the-circuit-board consonants: Stops: flow of air through the vocal tract is completely obstructed. Fricatives: air flows through a narrowed area in the vocal tract Affricates: stops followed by fricatives at the same place of articulation Nasals: consonants where part of the air flow is redirected through the nose Approximants: situated between vowels (no turbulence) and fricatives (high turbulence) What levers do you have to pull to make the sounds of human language(s)? Vowels: • Basic “levers” are the • 1. rounding of lips (round vs. unround) • 2. height of tongue (highness vs. low-ness of tongue) • 3. front-ness vs. backness of tongue 1962 X-Ray Speech Organs in Action Also: http://www.uiowa.edu/~acadtech/phonetics/english/frameset.html Quick examples Broad Transcription • Guessing game! • Notes: • The slashes indicate that this is a phonemic, or idealized, transcription– it’s the way we think of the word, not the way it “really” sounds coming out of someone’s mouth. • Stress is marked with what looks like a straight apostrophe that comes before the stressed syllable. A Course in Phonetics • Peter Ladefoged Transcription English orthography Exercise I: Plantersville, AK KEY: gender =‘dialect’ feature race class region style …? Speech Accent Archive Project [English] C, V, and CC distribution Speech Accent Archive Project Transcription English orthography Exercise I: Brooklyn, NY OK, so she has an accent. But what about him…? Transcription English orthography Exercise I: Brooklyn, NC stressed unstressed SECTION III Phonology: “Sounds in the Mind” (Finegan 2004) Notes on Blog Responses • Remember, it’s a “mock assignment.” You get the grade you would have gotten. • Attention to prompt • Organization • “Tightening up” sentence structure (edit/write multiple drafts) • Use of linguistic terminology (NOT ‘good/bad’ but ‘descriptive/prescriptive’). Use terms wherever you can. • Proofreading • Take note of notes; come to office hours Phonetics vs. Phonology • We’ve just finished studying phonetics, which was an enterprise of looking at the “bricks and mortar” or sounds– how they’re built. • If linguists were not linguists– phoneticians would be the mechanics …phonologists would be the physicists. • Phonology is this study of which sounds are distinct enough to produce different meanings– how they are stored in the mind, as evidenced by how they are organized in words. Baby’s-eye-view on phonemes ourconstitutiondeclaresthatfromtimetotimeth epresidentshallgivetocongressinformationab outthestateofourunion • We learned before that there’s seldom a 1:1 correspondence between the number of letters in a word and the number of sounds. • We take it for granted that words are made up of a series of discrete [acoustic] sounds. Babies don’t know this. • What is it like to hear a radio broadcast in a foreign language? Can you tell where word boundaries are? The Spectrogram: A (Continuous)Picture of Sound • When we look at the acoustic speech signal, this lack of separation for individual sounds becomes clear. • One important reason for this is (for example) coarticulation: a “single sound”’s features (voicing/nasalization) do not all neatly start and end at the simultaneously. • Instead, individual features of one sound continue into the next sound, are anticipated and show up too early one sound back, or are deleted entirely… The Language-ing Mind as Sieve • So– what kind of critical information does a child need just to recognize a word? • What noise must be filtered “out” (e.g. passing truck/cough/false start) • What generalities must be filtered “in”? What similarities between speakers of a common language (who all talk different) must be in place before we can “understand” someone new? • Speed • Pitch • Volume, etc. Coarticulation Demo • Take the words <cop> and <keep> • Where does your tongue touch for each word? • Position your tongue like you’re going to say <keep.> Once your tongue is in this initial position, say <cop> instead. Introducing Ladefoged… • http://www.phonetics.ucla.edu/course/chapter1/consonant s1.html Vowel Variation Plotted for a speaker of British English F1 (openess) vs. F2 (front/backness) What are formants? [i] beed bid [ɪ] bade [eɪ] bed [ɛ] bad [æ] Coarticulation in English: The Acoustic View • Articulation of a vowel depends on what consonant comes before it Effect of Cumulative (English) Formants on Comprehension http://www.phon.ucl.ac.uk/courses/spsci/SSC_talking/mater ial/week_02/ReviewOfLab2.pdf Word-initial aspiration in English • Now try <spot> vs. <pot> Skipping to the Punch Line Lexical Item Phonetic Transcription pill [phıl] poker [phokər] spill [spıl] spine [spaın] • It turns out that aspirated [ph] occurs only word-initially in English and unaspirated [p] occurs word-medially. • They can’t occur in the same place in a word (we call this “complementary distribution”) and therefore can’t distinguish one word’s meaning from another. • Thus, we say that [ph] and [p] are not distinctive sounds in English. They are part of one “master unit” in English– the phoneme. Definitions Herein • Phoneme: structural element in the sound system of a language. CAN create a meaning difference (“contrastive”). • Allophone: different phonetic realizations of a single phoneme. CAN’T create a meaning difference (non-contrastive). • So! In English, despite the physical differences…. • …we perceive each gesture as “the same sound.” • You can whether a sound is phonemic in a given language by inserting it to see if it creates a meaning difference (i.e. in a fixed environment): cop vs. keep pop vs. mop Back to the PTE References Duranti, Alessandro. 2009. “Linguistic Anthropology: History, Ideas, and Issues.” In Linguistic Anthropology: A Reader. Malden, MA: Blackwell. Finegan, Edward. 2004. Langauge: Its structure and use, 4th ed. Boston: Wadsworth. Hockett, Charles F. and Altmann, Stuart. 1968. “A note on design features.” In Sebeok, Thomas A., (ed.), Animal communication; techniques of study and results of research, pp. 61–72. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. Jackendoff, Ray and Fred Lerdahl . 1981. "Generative Music Theory and Its Relation to Psychology." Journal of Music Theory 25(1): 45-90. Keating, Elizabeth. 1998. “A woman's role in constructing status hierarchies: using honorific language in Pohnpei, Micronesia.” International Journal of the Sociology of Language 129: 103-115. Krauss, Robert M. 2002. “The Psychology of Verbal Communication.” In the International Encyclopedia of the Social and Behavioral Sciences (edited by N. Smelser & P. Baltes). Oxford: Elsevier. Linguistic Society of America. “What is linguistics?” From LINGUIST List Student Portal. < http://linguistlist.org/studentportal/whatis.cfm> retrieved 1/19/2011 Ladefoged, Peter. A Course in Phonetics. Pinker, Steven. 1994. The Language Instinct. New York: William Morrow and Company References, cont. Shankar, Shalini. 2008. “Speaking like a Model Minority: ‘FOB’ Styles, Gender, and Racial Meanings among Desi Teens in Silicon Valley.” Journal of Linguistic Anthropology 18(2): 268-289. Tserdanelis, Georgios, & Wai Yi Peggy Wong. 2004. Language Files: Materials for an Introduction to Language and Linguistics. Columbus: The Ohio State University Press. Weinburger, Steven H (administrator). George Mason University Department of English and Program in Linguistics. THE SPEECH ACCENT ARCHIVE. Plantersville, AK Speaker (ID 107?) accessed at http://accent.gmu.edu/searchsaa.php?function=detail&speakerid=107 on 1/18/2011. Brooklyn, NY speaker (ID 121?) accessed at http://accent.gmu.edu/searchsaa.php?function=detail&speakerid=121 on 1/18/2011.