Language, Thought and Reality Introduction Modern linguistics as based on some basic concepts given by linguists in early twentieth century Intro (contd.) The most influential:
American school of structural anthropologists Leonard Bloomfield & after World War II, Noam Chomsky The European linguists, chiefly among them the Swiss linguist Ferdinand De Saussure Saussure's definition of semiology 1. Semiology is "A science that studies the life of signs within society..." 2. A semiological approach is synchronic and not
diachronic 3. A semiological approach studies langue and not parole. Semiological system A semiological system is a closed system of signs. Because the system is closed, part of the signs value comes from being not the values of the other
signs in the system (Saussures negative meaning). What is a sign? A sign is a unity of a signifier and a signified. Both the signifier and signified are concepts and not things. The connection
between the signifier and signified is arbitrary (nonessential). The types of signified are not fixed or given. How is human language a closed system of signs? The sentences of human language are signs. They are, in fact complex signs, i.e., consist of signs within signs within signs.
They consist of three Levels 1 Lexical Words and Morphemes 2 Tactic/Syntax 3 Representational - Phonological, Orthographic and Gestural Lexical Signs To be a sign the word must have a signified and a signifier. Each word has a signified
(meaning (value)) Each word has a signifier Either a string of letters (graphic mode) or a string of phonemes (acoustic mode). Syntactic Signs To be a sign the sentence must have a signified and a signifier.
The signified is the meaning (value) of the sentence. The signifier is spelled by parts of speech. Parts of speech are represented by words. Each word in the lexicon must be assigned a part of speech. A Syntactic Sign
Representational Signs To be a representational sign the letter or the phoneme must have a signified and a signifier. The signified of a letter or phoneme is its value - it is not any of the other members of the closed set of letters or phonemes. The signifier is the contrastive token. a. sound image (phonemes) b. graphic image (letters)
c. gestural image Representational Signs -Orthographic A G M S Y B
H N T Z C D E F I J K L O P Q R U V W X The Langue/Parole distinction &
Competence versus Performance Saussure made a distinction between two aspects of language: Langue & parole. Langue language i.e. all the rules & conventions regarding the combinations of sounds, formations of words and sentences, pronunciation and meaning Langue/ Parole distinction
All the above conventions constitute langue & are product of social agreement There is a similarity of sounds, words and meaning among the native speakers of language - they have the same images and signs in their minds Langue/parole distinctions A. Langue is social, a set of conventions shared by all the
speakers of a language B. Langue is abstract , as these particular conventions exist in the minds of the speakers who belong to that society that has created language Langue/Parole distinction Parole belongs to the individual. When the conventions present in human mind as langue are used in a concrete
form in actual speech and writing, they become instances of parole. Parole is the actual sounds and sentence produced by an individual speaker or writer. Langue/Parole distinction Parole is the concrete physical manifestation of the abstract langue that exists in mind. If we hear somebody speaking a language
that we dont know, we hear the sounds and sentences i.e. parole, but we cannot understand it because we dont share the conventions or langue behind the individual sentences and sounds Langue/parole distinction Langue is the underlying system which makes the individual performance or parole meaningful. Without langue, parole would never
be understood and could not serve a means of communication Langue/Parole distincton Parole is: (i) Individual performance of language in speech and writing (ii) Concrete and physical. It makes use of the physiological mechanism such as speech organs, in uttering words and sentences. Langue exists in the mind of each individual in the
form of word images and knowledge of conventions as an abstract form of grammar and dictionary of the language Langue/parole distinction An individual makes use of his knowledge (langue) to produce actual sentences (parole) Individuals can communicate with each other because they share the same langue
Individuals produce different sentences based on the same langue Langue/Parole distinction Parole is marked as being variable, unpredictable, heterogeneous, inventive & whimsical. Still it has to follow the stable conventions of langue if it has to communicate So, language system is Langue while
language behaviour is Parole Saussure (1916) considered Langue as legislative side of language. Like law, langue maintains social order and homogeneity of language is relatively fixed (doesnt change with each individual) Parole is executive side of language it uses the law or code of the language
(langue) for its individual ends Langue/Parole distinction Parole executes langue through individual acts of speaking and writing. Another useful comparison between langue and parole - analogy of game of chess Rules are determined and understood by all the players, but each game is different & depends on the individual performances
which differ from player to player Langue/parole distinction Saussure said Only langue can be studied and not parole Langue is a well-defined homogeneous object distinct from heterogeneous unpredictable mass of speech acts Langue has signs which bear signs of collective approval They exist as psychological associations
having their seat in brain Langue/Parole distinction Signs can be converted into conventional written symbols can be studied Individual acts of speaking cannot be accurately represented; they are variable, so they cant be studied Langue and not parole is the fit object for study
Competence and Performance Noam Chomsky, an American linguist made a distinction between competence & performance Competence- native speakers knowledge of his language (mastery of the system of rules) Performance production of actual sentences in use in real-life situations
Competence & performance Speakers knowledge of the structure of language is the speakers competence. The way a speaker uses it is his linguistic performance Competence set of principles Performance what a speaker does Competence kind of code Performance the act of encoding or decoding
Competence and performance The abstract or the internal grammar which enables a speaker to utter and understand an infinite number of potential utterances is the speakers competence Competence is free from interference due to slips of memory, lapses of attention etc. Performance shows many such lapses
Competence and performance Competence is ideal as it gives us coherent picture of the language It is difficult to keep a direct coherent record of performance Competence vs performance resembles langue vs parole but there is a difference in one respect Competence and performance Langue is the same with every langue
user but competence may be different from user to user Langue emphasizes social aspect while competence deals with psychology Speaker A may be more competent than speaker B, though they may share the same conventions of language Competence and performance As performance would also be different from that of B
Chomskys view of competence is also based on the idea of an inbuilt language acquisition device in humans that makes human acquire competence In recent years there has been some argument about these distinctions Competence and performance Some sociolinguists regard these dichotomies as unreal
Langue and parole are interrelated and not separate just as parole is not possible or effective without langue, langue also changes gradually under the effect of parole Saussure (1916) said, speech has both an individual and a social side, and we cannot conceive of one Competence and performance Sociolinguists also object that parole can
also be studied as it is concerned with the use of language in social situations which have an effect on langue We cannot keep parole, or performance out of our study of language because it also guides us into language processes Parole also has some features which are systematic and predictable in given social situations Competence and performance
Moreover, it is not easier to study performance through recording by audio and video devices. Study of parole gives us data that makes us understand langue and competence better. Competence and performance Conclusion However, the distinction is still useful, as it enables us to understand the aspects of language
and to study each of them in a more systematic manner Sapir-Whorf hypothesis The Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis revolves around the idea that language has power and can control how you see the world. Language is a guide to your reality, structuring your thoughts. It provides the framework through which you make sense of the world. To understand S-W Hypothesis, it helps to be
aware that there are two opposing ideas about language and culture. Sapir-Whorf hypothesis 1. Language mirrors reality: People have thoughts first, then put them into words. Words record what is already there. All humans think the same way, but we use different words to label what we sense. This is an example of the cloak theory: that language is a cloak that conforms to
the customary categories of thoughts of its speakers Sapir-Whorf hypothesis 2. Language dictates how we think. The vocabulary and grammar (structure) of a language determines the way we view the world (worlds shaped by words). This is an example of the mold theory: that language is a mold in terms of which thought categories are cast.
Sapir-Whorf hypothesis a) Linguistic determinism: the language we use determines the way in which we view and think about the world around us. b) Linguistic relativism: people who speak different languages perceive and think about the world somewhat differently from one another.
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