Chapter 10: Language and Communication Learning Objectives

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Chapter 10: Language and Communication

Learning Objectives- After reading this chapter and coming to class you should be able to:

1. Understand the structure and nature of animal communication and how it differs from human communication.

2. Be familiar with nonverbal forms of communication like gestures, facial expressions, and body movements, and consider how these form an interwoven part of spoken language.

3. Be able to identify the interrelated levels of organization in language.

4. Be familiar with the central premise of Noam Chomsky’s concept of universal grammar, as well as that of the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis.

5. Know what distinguishes a focal vocabulary, and be able to identify the subject matter of semantics.

6. Know what sociolinguists study. In particular, be familiar with how social difference is organized and maintained through specific, situated linguistic practices. Even as fundamentally social linguistic practices are differentially valued and evaluated, what does the concept of linguistic relativity assert?

7. Know what BEV (Black English Vernacular) is and how it compares to SE (Standard English).

8. Know what historical linguists study and how their work contributes to anthropology.
Terms- You should understand these terms and be ready to identify them:

Black English Vernacular (BEV)

A rule-governed dialect of American English with roots in Southern English. BEV is spoken by African American youth and by many adults in their casual, intimate speech—sometimes called "ebonics."
call systems

Systems of communication among nonhuman primates, composed of a limited number of sounds that vary in intensity and duration. Tied to environmental stimuli.

cultural transmission

A basic feature of language; transmission through learning.

daughter languages

Languages developing out of the same parent language; for example, French and Spanish are daughter languages of Latin.


The existence of "high" (formal) and "low" (informal, familial) dialects of a single language, such as German.


A basic feature of language; the ability to speak of things and events that are not present.


The study of lexical (vocabulary) contrasts and classifications in various languages.

focal vocabulary

A set of words and distinctions that are particularly important to certain groups (those with particular foci of experience or activity), such as types of snow to Eskimos or skiers.

historical linguistics

Subdivision of linguistics that studies languages over time.


A term, such as "Mr." or "Lord," used with people, often by being added to their names, to "honor" them.


The study of communication through body movements, stances, gestures, and facial expressions.


Human beings' primary means of communication; may be spoken or written; features productivity and displacement and is culturally transmitted.


Vocabulary; a dictionary containing all the morphemes in a language and their meanings.


The study of form; used in linguistics (the study of morphemes and word construction) and for form in general—for example, biomorphology relates to physical form.


Significant sound contrast in a language that serves to distinguish meaning, as in minimal pairs.


The study of the sound contrasts (phonemes) of a particular language.


The study of speech sounds in general; what people actually say in various languages.


The study of sounds used in speech.


A basic feature of language; the ability to use the rules of one's language to create new expressions comprehensible to other speakers.


Language ancestral to several daughter languages.

Sapir-Whorf hypothesis

Theory that different languages produce different ways of thinking.


A language's meaning system.

style shifts

Variations in speech in different contexts.


Languages within a taxonomy of related languages that are most closely related.


The arrangement and order of words in phrases and sentences.

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