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Steven Pinker and Ray Jackendoff

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Jenny Lee

on 7 February 2014

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Transcript of Steven Pinker and Ray Jackendoff

The Faculty of Language: What's Special About It?
What is special about language?
's point:

Thank You!
Authors: Steven Pinker and Ray Jackendoff
Steven Pinker
Specializes in visual cognition and psycholinguistics.
Professor of Psychology at Harvard University
Won several awards from the National Academy of the Sciences, American Humanist Association, Royal Institution
Ray Jackendoff
Specialized in the semantics of language
When he was at MIT getting his masters for linguistics, he studied under Noam Chomsky, and Morris Halle
Professor of Psychology at Brandeis University

Noam Chomsky
The Minimalist Program
"Father of modern linguistics"
What Pinker and Jackendoff agree on
Agree that recursion is useful to:
Distinguish between FLB and FLN
Examine the FLB in different focuses

Agree that language is for mental representations
in conceptual structure

Agree that recursion is not unique to language
1. Concepetual Sturucture

HCF explains that there is a part of conceptual structure in chimps are similar with those that are uniquely human but are not necessarily language-based
they are subsystems depending on language
eg. numbers
2. Speech Perception
HCF rejects Alvin Liberman's hypothesis that "Speech is Special"
Professor of linguistics at MIT
Political Activist
The theory of generative grammar
Language Development
1. Cooing Stage
6 - 8 weeks
2. Babbling Stage
6 - 10 months
3. Holophrastic Period
10 - 15 months
4. Telegraphic Speech
end of 2nd year
FLN: Narrow Language Faculty
FLB: Broad Language Faculty
Language and Brain Relations
Faculty of Language
All of the neural and biological mechanisms involved in the uniquely human ability to do language.
Left hemisphere of cerebral cortex shows some specialization of language
Broca's area
Front part of the left hemisphere
In charge in the production of speech
Wernicke's area
Next to the auditory cortex
In charge of language comprehension
Brain - Language Relations
Generative grammar
Aim of grammatical studies:

Seeks to understand how all grammatical structures and rules come into being
A branch of theoretical linguistics that works to provide a set of rules that can accurately predict which combinations of words are able to make grammatically correct sentences
Only the representations of sound, the phonetic form and the representations of meaning, the logic form are important
Chomsky says that...
Sound + Meaning
For example, the sentence I like dogs. If it has no meaning to it then the sentence is not significant.
Why did they write this article?
Chomsky - "All the phenomena of language appear to refute it just as the phenomena of the world appeared to refute the Copernican thesis." (124)
Chomsky, N. (2000b). On nature and language. New York: Cambridge University Press.
any theory can be saved from falsification if inconvenient phenomena were to be ignored
Empirical status rather than logical status
HCF is based on...
suggests that speech recognition makes us distinct from our inherited primate auditory analyzers (eg.chimpanzees)
recovery of articulatory intentions of a human speaker
argues that no has been no evolutionary changes to the mammalian auditory system of speech perception
3. Speech Production
states that the human anatomy of the voice tract was selected for size exaggeration, also explains ability of vocal imitations present in some birds, and ability thought to be uniquely human
4. Phonology
organization of sounds that make speech in language
Speech is made up of speech segments including syllables, feet, prosodic phases in different patterns of stress and pitch
Jackendoff and Pinker test HCF's
hypothesis by pointing out that recursion does not occur in phonological structure
some combinatorial properties of phonology provide evidence that phonology is uniquely human
(eg. music)
Jackendoff and Pinker opposes this and says that the vocal tract was adapted to enhance speech
5. Words
6. Syntax
Evolution of Language
a word is a shared, organized linkage of phonological, grammatical and conceptual structures
the combining of words create more complex words (like compounds) according to morphology , is an ability that makes humans unique
believes that our capacity to learn words is part of general knowledge that we adapted for evolution of the demands of language
Jackendoff and Pinker describe it as determining how meanings of words that are combined to form the meaning of a phrase
important factors of the language
language is not for communication and maybe even poorly designed for communication
suggests that FLN evolved for the purpose of other cognitive abilities
's point:
faculty of language was evolved for purposes of communication in response to adaptive value for knowledge-using social communications
DNA -> Development

Theory of Evolution -> All things move forward

The Present is the Key to the Past

HCF Summary

HCF based on Theory of Evolution, requires an “advanced” set of genetics.

Chimps -> Humans?

Cons of HCF

Importance of Speech Recognition

Cons of HCF

Cons of HCF
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