Four Languages • A Swiss guy visiting Sydney, Australia, pulls up at a bus stop where two locals are waiting. "Entschuldigung, koennen Sie Deutsch sprechen?" he asks. The two Aussies just stare at him. "Excusez-moi, parlez vous Francais?" he tries. The two continue to stare. "Parlare Italiano?" No response. "Hablan ustedes Espanol?" Still nothing. The Swiss guy drives off, extremely disgusted. The first Aussie turns to the second and says, "Y'know, maybe we should learn a foreign language." "Why?" says the other. "That guy knew four languages, and it didn't do him any good." Polyglot animals • A mother mouse and a baby mouse are walking along, when all of a sudden, a cat attacks them. • The mother mouse goes, "BARK!" and the cat runs away. • "See?" says the mother mouse to her baby. "Now do you see why it's important to learn a foreign language?" “Language is the dress of thought” th 18 century lexicographer Samuel Johnson: “The sayable defines and organises the thinkable” • Emil Benveniste, French linguist (1902 – 1976) “He gave men speech, and speech created thought.” Percy Shelly the 19th century poet: “Thought is no more identical with language than feeling is identical with the nervous system.” Lecture in London on ‘Thought and Language” Samuel Butler, writer satirist 1890 “If thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought.” George Orwell 20th century novelist and essay writer “ The words of the language, as they are written or spoken, do not seem to play any role in my mechanism of thought.” Einstein, 1945 “Language is the light of the mind.” John Stuart Mill, writer philosopher (1806-1873) “If we clearly consider what our intention is when we speak, we shall find that it is nothing else but to unfold to others the thoughts of our own mind.” And “Since language is as necessary an instrument of our thought as a horse is of a knight, and since the best horses are suited to the best knights, … the best language will be suited to the best thoughts.” Dante, c. 1304, De vulgari eloquentia (trans. A.G. Ferrers Howell) The language a person speaks determines the way that a person thinks. Language organises our experience of the world Edward Sapir, linguist in Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences: Language “Language … makes progress possible.” Language Thought and Action Ch 1 S. I. Hayakawa, psychologist, semanticist, teacher 1939 “ Language, the most valuable single possession of the human race” C. F. Hockett, in A Course in Modern Linguistics. 1958 Ch. 1 “Man does not live on bread alone: his other necessity is communication” Ibid Ch. 64 “Language is a great force of socialization, probably the greatest that exists.” Edward Sapir, linguist in Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences: Language “It is only by language that we rise above them [the lower animals] – by language, which is the parent, not the child, of thought.” Oscar Wilde, 1891 Without language, we could hardly have created the human world we know. Our development, of everything from music to warfare, could never have come about in the absence of language.” “ R. L. Trask 1999 Language the Basics Ch 1 “Man invented language to satisfy his deep need to complain” Lily Tomlin, quoted in Steven Pinker, The Language Instinct 1994 “Knowledge of a language enables you to combine words to form phrases, and phrases to form sentences... Knowing a language means being able to produce new sentences never spoken before and to understand sentences never heard before.” V. Fromkin and R. Rodman 1974 in An Introduction to Language. Ch 1 ‘impeccably well formed [language] is typical of casual spontaneous speech (including that of children)’ Halliday, 1985, Dimensions of discourse analysis:grammar, p. 35 All surface language depends on a subconscious framework of “abstract language universals” Noam Chomsky, American linguist Chomsky als assumes that actual language is ‘degenerate’ and deviates from these subconscious rules of grammar. “The language instinct” Influential book published by linguist Steven Pinker (1994) “No two languages are ever sufficiently similar to be considered as representing the same social reality. The worlds in which different cultures live are distinct worlds, not merely the same world with different labels attached.” • B. L. Whorf, American linguist On the relationship between language and national character: ‘No greater harm can be done to a nation than taking away its national character and the idiosyncrasies of its language’ (Immanuel Kant, over 200 years ago) Liking or loving vs piacere or amare “…we don’t use language according to strict rules – it hasn’t been taught us by means of strict rules, either.” 20th century Philosopher Wittgenstein, 1933 in The Blue Book 1965 “What I have most at heart is that some method should be thought on for ascertaining and fixing our language for ever, after such alterations are made in it as shall be thought requisite. For I am of opinion, it is better a language should not be wholly perfect, than that it should be perpetually changing.” Swift, 1712 “May the lexicographer be derided who shall imagine that his dictionary can embalm his language… With this hope, however, academies have been instituted to guard the avenues of their languages…but their vigilance and activity have hitherto been vain…to enchain syllables, and to lash the wind, are equally the undertakings of pride.” Samuel Johnson English author, critic, & lexicographer, (1709 – 1784) “The richness of the English vocabulary, and the wealth of available synonyms, means that English speakers can often draw shades of distinction unavailable to non-English speakers.” . Bill Bryson, 1992 Mother Tongue page 3 “One cannot but be impressed by the hospitality of the English language.” Robert Burchfield, Linguist in The English Language 1985 The English language is like a fleet of juggernaut trucks that goes on regardless. No form of linguistic engineering and no amount of linguistic legislation will prevent the cycles of change that lie ahead. Ibid. “Every quotation contributes something to the stability or enlargement of the language” Samuel Johnson, English author, critic, & lexicographer (1709 1784) Which English? Americans spell words differently, but still call it Enlgish. Brits pronounce their words differently, but still call it English. Canadians spell like the Brits and pronounce like Americans. Aussies add ‘G’day’ ‘mate’ and a heavy accent to everything they say. GB vs US • Have you eaten? • Have you ever seen Harry Potter and the Philisopher’s Stone? • You’ve already told me. • Have they come home yet? • I’d been watching the film for 20 minutes before I realised I’d already seen it. • Did you eat? • Did you ever see Harry Potter and the Sorecerer’s Stone? • You already told me • Did they come home yet? • I watched the film for 20 minutes before I realised I already saw it. An American in England • An American visiting in England asked at the hotel for the elevator. • The portiere looked a bit confused but smiled when he realized what the man wanted. • "You must mean the lift," he said. • "No," the American responded. "If I ask for the elevator I mean the elevator." • "Well," the portiere answered, "over here we call them lifts". • "Now you listen", the American said rather irritated, "someone in America invented the elevator." • "Oh, right you are sir," the portiere said in a polite tone, "but someone here in England invented the language."