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The Linguistic Facts Of Life Notes

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Linguistics

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Introduction. English Accent. (Lippi-Green)
- Imagine a fictional United States where everybody would wake up one day and look the same:
Regardless of race or ethnicity, all adult males 18 or older will be exactly 6’ tall and weigh 175
pounds; adult females 5’9” at 140 pounds
- What are some of the social and cultural changes that would take place if everyone
looked like this?
- Now imagine that the physical change doesn’t take place spontaneously. A congresswoman
writes a well outlined proposal where every woman who is 6’2” or a man who weighs 225
pounds are violating federal law or must be labeled handicapped. She says “Let us all be one
height and weight...For we are all one nation.”
- What would be the implications, if such a federal law were passed?
Eugenicsthe science of improving a human population by controlled breeding to increase the
occurrence of desirable heritable characteristics. Developed largely by Francis Galton as a method of
improving the human race, it fell into disfavor only after the perversion of its doctrines by the Nazis.
Questions:
- Can language be compared with height and weight? Explain
- height→ parts of language you can’t control
- weight→ parts of language you can control
- What aspects of language are under our control?
- Vocabulary, tone, intonation, dialect, the message we convey, formality, breaking down
barriers, frequency
- What are some of the dimensions of language that are not under our direct or conscious control?
- Accent, your native language, your voice, cultural perception, speech perception, speech
production
- Speech perception→ phonology
- Babies can perceive all languages
- After 9 months, baby will only react to the phonemes of their own
language
- What is the relationship between language and social identity?
- Your language is a part of who you are
The Linguistic facts of life. (Lippi-Green)
- Children all over the world acquire language in a very similar ways:
- From exposure to language in their environment, they figure out phonology and
grammatical rules→ their brains are wired to acquire language. Regardless of the
language spoken, we process language in much the same way.
- Linguists agree that all spoken language are equal in terms of their linguistic potential→
- Phonology - morphology
- Lexicon - syntax
- Semantics - social-communicative function
- They also agree that all spoken languages change over time
- Written language and spoken language are historically, structurally, and functionally different

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Introduction. English Accent. (Lippi-Green) - Imagine a fictional United States where everybody would wake up one day and look the same: Regardless of race or ethnicity, all adult males 18 or older will be exactly 6’ tall and weigh 175 pounds; adult females 5’9” at 140 pounds - What are some of the social and cultural changes that would take place if everyone looked like this? - Now imagine that the physical change doesn’t take place spontaneously. A congresswoman writes a well outlined proposal where every woman who is 6’2” or a man who weighs 225 pounds are violating federal law ...
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