Week 4 Material
Week 4 Material ANTH 1004
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This 7 page Class Notes was uploaded by Sarah Chadwick on Thursday February 5, 2015. The Class Notes belongs to ANTH 1004 at George Washington University taught by Dent in Winter2015. Since its upload, it has received 139 views. For similar materials see Language in Culture and Society in anthropology, evolution, sphr at George Washington University.
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Date Created: 02/05/15
Tuesday February 3 2015 ANTH 1004 Week 4 Lecture 1 The Origins of Complex Communication Outcome of experiments Isolating children from language found that there is a critical period from language at which time if a child is not exposed to language they will never develop it brain level and physiological Language is what sets humans apart from the rest of the natural world Most argue now that animals don39t have language because they don39t have recursion creativity ambiguous nature of the sign etc more developed in humans Most linguists argue that there is no relationship between what animals and humans do The difference between human and animal language lies in difference of degree Not differences of quality differences in quantity Is there a language organ as Chomsky suggests Is there some kind of missing link that would tell us how language evolved Not really although watching how pigeons turn into creoles gives us a hint Where did language come from All answers are provisional Generational quality each theory is revised with each generation Aitchison juicy fruit just out of reach The data comes from all different kinds of places Most important Paleoanthropological record fossil record both human and primate remains current human anatomy material ethology the study of animal behavior particularly social animals basic evolutionary theory What role did play in the evolutionary process Did the brain or language come first Tuesday February 3 2015 We re calling on many academic areas so evidence rests on a vast array of evidence In order to answer this question we have to tap back and forth between the past and the present We must spend a lot of time in the present in order to answer these questions Brain diseases speech problems etc Asking where language came from demands certain assumptions about what languageis Every time someone talks about language they have a theory whether they know it or not We need to know what we are talking about in terms of language The Fossil Record Skull size Location of the larynx Tool use Contemporary studies of the brain MRls and studying the inability to use language Paul Brokaw Made important discoveries in 1861 Determined that there were specific parts of the brain that were used for specific things Left lateral cortex dominant used for language when affected language is affected 99 of the time people have a hard time articulating words at this point Also focused on motor control People damaged by this part of the brain have problems with damage or construction Brokaw s Area Problems including grammar and not being able to move mouth or breath Tuesday February 3 2015 Will have problems with imbedded clauses Rear of the Left Hemisphere of the Brain Result in problems with language but patents with legions here have problems understanding language and perhaps some auditory problems People here can usually speak with a high degree of fluency but there is not real context to what they are talking about Vernicky s Area People will switch letter and substitute inappropriate words anomic they will be speaking and cant recall a specific word Troubles with semantic languages Semantic relations they have problem knowing the difference between glass and bowl and plate They don t understand that while all of these are containers they all have different functions Semantics is the meaning and our ability to tell the differences they don t understand distinctive features Phrenology We spend too much time with the cortex Though to be where highest level of nerves is Thinking reasoning in the cortex Why we shouldn t focus on the cortex John Lobor looked at the cat scans of people with fluid in the brain which interrupts development Found the cortex never really evolved because it is highly suppressed Many were severely disable however one student has an IQ of 126 first class honor s in math but virtually had no brain Two hypotheses There is much redundancy in the human brain works with children not adults Tuesday February 3 2015 Our brains tend to be highly specialized Challenged the notion of where different kinds of functions in the brain Why is language so complicated The brain is complex Ethology how do animals communicate Closer to nonhuman primates than anything else Birds are interesting to look at too Birds make innate calls fear congregation danger etc Some birds also have songs involve learning Like language A song is a sequence of notes strung together in a pattern The note by itself is meaningless the sequence in the importance For humans individual noises don t mean anything until words are stung together Bird songs put songs together in patterns birds have actually developed dialects Ex WhiteCrowned sparrow What is the song do Used for mating complex forms are not often parts of human mating Why are the songs so complex Evolution pressures The Complexity of Language Focus on the material needs of subsistence when we study evolution Language itself was an adaptation to social life not something materialistic because some organisms lived better in groups What role did language play in evolution Some humans with language were more adapted to those without Lecture 2 Tuesday February 3 2015 Evidence for answering where language comes from Fossils nuero physiological data animal behavior and songs taught vs embedded in the brain language could have been an adaptation to deal with early social life Theories of Language Change Amoeba Theories languages derive from something simple to something complex Derek Bickerton trying to bring together Chomsky s ideas Transformational Generative Grammar and Darwin s ideas Innate bioprograms inside each human brain that caused certain aspects of language to develop Most areas used for speech were actually for other purposes however as speech evolved these brain areas headed toward language Ex larynx keeps liquid out of lungs however is crucial for speech production Hardware of the human brain curb cuts in the sidewalk of the brain Originally for wheelchairs to pass accessibility however there are now more useful purposes Uses this metaphor to show how this simple structure facilitates a much more complex network supports something more complex Language started as something disorganized and became something more structured through evolution Spaghetti junction starts jumbled ends up organized Metro Certain pathways are better worn so they get used more Several factors cause people to choose one way of speaking over another How fast did language evolution happen Periods of sudden mutation periods of stasis followed by increments of time Punctuated equilibrium sometimes fast sometimes slow What is language used for right now Tuesday February 3 2015 Mostly about the communication of information There are kinds of things that language struggles with spatial descriptions abstract sculptures emotion and sensation commentary on the arts Language is good at somethings and bad at others There are things that language is good at lying talking for the sake of talking greetings content stylistics influence Language is just as much about social interaction Why does language have to be so complicated Language diversity can be a problem From an evolutionary standpoint you would think language would try to be less complicated for survival Language birth and death happening at the same time Rigidity Animals with rigid rule sets have a hard time adapting Ex the dodo very fixed system for external stimulus too noncautious so sailors killed them Hardwiring or softwiring Is there a language organ Think about the context of skills and which ones are more easily picked up than others Ex hamsters can be taught to rear up on their hind legs to get food but you can t teach a hamster to wash their face before food Certain hardwired skills and pathways Language and thinking Makes the thinking process more complicated Links between language and intelligence There is some reason to speculate that there is some isolation between language and other forms of intelligence Tuesday February 3 2015 Ex epileptic man who cant speak during an episode yet can do many other activities without language Probably not a language organ Language kitchen language is a fourfold process production space production processor comprehension space comprehension processing Language circuit a series of overlapping networks and circuits to create language Discussion Great Rift Theory NO LONGER VIABLE Nonhuman primates were found on one side of the valley Overturned because there were other early elemental parts of language that developed elsewhere before the Great Rift Valley Theory of Mind The ability to think about other people thinking about things Degree concept most primates have a theory of mind although to different degrees lntentionintentionality aboutness you have consciousness about something
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