L103 Discussion: Week 2

L103 Discussion, Week 3:
Idealization, towards a definition of human language, learning (1)

What makes something a human language

  • It has to be produceable, understandable, and learnable
  • Productivity
  • Rules
    • Grammatical rules and productivity
    • Phonological (pronunciation) rules
      • lick it, liquor, liver in Southern accent
      • tuba, tuber in Received Pronunciation
  • Structure at two levels
  • Ability to refer to things that are not present or even existing and to abstractions
  • Universals
  • Are there human languages that are deficient in some way or another?

Idealizations and simplifying assumptions in linguistics

  • A language as an ideal
  • The ideal speaker
  • Time
  • Processing

Language learning 1

  • Examples of a grammatical rule, the realization of a morpheme, and the meaning of a noun
  • Figuring out what a word refers to
  • Figuring out what the bounds on a semantic category are
  • The usefulness and the apparent absence of negative evidence
  • The "poverty of the stimulus"
  • Figuring out what the bounds on a rule are
  • The need for constraints
    • Genetic constraints
      • innatist (nativist) perspective
      • Relationship to the search for universals
    • Other constraints
      • Communicative constraints
      • General cognitive constraints
      • Constraints from regularity in the world
      • Constraints from language itself