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Linguistics Lakoff

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Stephani Mueller

on 5 February 2013

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Transcript of Linguistics Lakoff

Data Methods Conclusions “Whenever a Dyirbal speaker uses a noun in a sentence, the noun must be preceded by a variant of one of four words: bayi, balan, balam, bala” (1987:92) Myth-and-belief principle How did the categorization occur? Centrality – basic members of the category are central
eg moon versus men

Chaining – central members are linked to other members and so forth
eg women linked to sun, linked to sunburn linked, to hair mary grub

Experiential Domains – basic domains of experience, which may be culture-specific. These can characterize links in category chains

Idealized model – of the world
eg myth that can influence category chains Analysis of Human Categorization The Other – everything else category

No Common properties – categories don’t need to be defined by common properties. No reason to believe that the Dyirbal find anything in common among women, fire, dangerous things, etc although common properties play a role in characterizing the basic schema within a given category (edible plant, human male, human female)

Motivation – the general principles given make sense of Dyirbal classification, but they do not predict exactly what the categories will be Analysis (cont.) "the theory of categorization makes predictions about what human category systems can and cannot be like. It does not predict exactly what will be in a given category in a given culture or language." (1987:96) George Lakoff Born on May 24th, 1941 Evaluation How effectively did the author argue his position? Studied under Noam Chomsky Is an American cognitive linguist and professor of linguistics at the University of California, Berkeley He is known for his ideas on Cognitive Semantics: - his ideas about the centrality of metaphor to
human thinking: metaphors are primarily a
conceptual construction, and central to the
development of thought For example, in intellectual debate the
underlying metaphor is usually that
argument is war •He won the argument.•Your claims are indefensible.•He shot down all my arguments - and for his connection with the concept of the embodied mind. When Lakoff claims the mind is "embodied", he is arguing that almost all of human cognition, even the most abstract reasoning, depends on "low-level" facilities as the sensorimotor system and the emotions. "We are neural beings," Lakoff states, "Our brains take their input from the rest of our bodies. What our bodies are like and how they function in the world thus structures the very concepts we can use to think. We cannot think just anything — only what our embodied brains permit Main Thesis Cognitive Semantics grammar is
conceptualisation; conceptual structure is embodied; the ability to use language draws upon general
cognitive resources and not a special language model Classical categories
some categories are only connected to one another by way of family resemblances But there are two other categories Generative taking central cases and applying certain principles to designate category membership. The principle of similarity is one example of a rule that might generate a broader category from given prototypes Radial motivated by conventions, but not predictable from rules ex: concept of "mother" : a variety of conditions such as
being female, caregiver, giving birth ... make up this
concept. However one of the conditions might not be
met like "giving birth" - and yet a cluster of these
conditions put together makes up the meaning
of mother http://www.linguistics.ucsb.edu/faculty/cumming/ling50/radial_categories.htm Dyirbal – a traditional aboriginal language in Australia In short: eg fish are in class 1 - by extension fishing lines and fishing spears are also in class 1 eg birds are animate beings but are believed to be the spirits of dead human females and thus are inc lass II eg “one must learn which domains of experience are relevant to categorization and which are not” fish are in 1 and water in 2 – the habitat of the fish isn’t important for Dyirbal classification Limitations or weaknesses Domain-of-experience principle I feel that the position of the author became stronger when he interviewed young members of the Dyirbal community who grew up speaking primarily English and thus learnt a very simplified version of traditional Dyirbal. The categorization system degenerated and this degeneration provides evidence that the analysis given of the categorization of the language is correct for traditional Dyirbal. The degeneration was on the level of the radial structures - children learned the system according to principles related to the radial structures, and these were precisely the ones that decayed.
For ex whilst fishes continue in class 1 with other animates, fishing spears and fishing lines are now in class 4 with other inanimate objects
dogs and bandicoot were no longer exceptional animals in class 2 and were not placed in class 1 with other animals "Furthermore, the analysis given by Dixon was not his own, the explanation he gives are just those that native speakers told him about i.e. they are the accounts given by the Dyirbal theemselves to explain those parts of their classification system for which they had a conscious explanation" (1987:97) - they told him nothing about why animals were categorized with human males, nor why fire, water, and fighting were categorized in class 2 with with human females (1987:99) Women, Fire, and Dangerous Things What categories reveal about the Mind Lakoff wrote this article, based on the research made by a person called Dixon :- Dixon wanted to learn how the categories of the mind made sense to Dyirbal speakers, using it so unconsciously and automatically. And that the categories were learned through general principles instead of learning them individually. Dixon retrieved his field data through questioning the Diyrbal speakers themselves in 1963 - and from their explanations alongside with his speculations he created a table with rules on how to use the nouns in Dyirbal language.
Then later Annette Schmidt did a research in the Dyirbal community in 1985 at a time when English speaking culture had entirely pervaded the Dyirbal.
Through the comparison of Dixon's and Annette's findings, Dixon's analysis makes sense and is proven correct. I feel that the approach Dixon used is similar to that of Saussure and Levi Strauss - searching a connection between inter-relatedness of concepts, concerned with the conception instead of perception of reality Noun classifiers (1987:93) (1987:95) (1987:96) (1987:102) (1987:100) References Lakoff, George
1987 Women, Fire, and Dangerous Things. Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Lakoff Wikipedia
Stephanie Mueller George Lakoff
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