West La College Language Acquisition Learning the Way to Speak Essay INSTRUCTIONS: Please answer all the questions – they are all short essay questions.

West La College Language Acquisition Learning the Way to Speak Essay INSTRUCTIONS:

Please answer all the questions – they are all short essay questions. A complete answer will be about 400 words (1 double spaced Word page) long.

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Your essays must be written entirely in your own words – no quotes, no copying of text from articles, modules, or the web – and must use only information learned from material posted as part of this class (modules – reading, links, articles). Please do not collaborate or discuss your answers to the questions with anyone – the essays you write need to be your own work.

For the questions, I will attach the articles that are needed for each one of them so that you can locate it.

Also, if questions are asking for personal examples, Ill give something that will relate to me so that it will be based on me.

Question #1:

Compare the patterns of language acquisition between the three cultures discussed in the Ochs & Schieffelin article (US, Samoa, Kaluli). Be sure to discuss when children are first treated as conversation partners, how children are socialized about proper ways to address adults vs. other children, and how cultural values are conveyed via language to the children learning that language. Relate these practices to one example from your own experience (either as a child or with children you interact with regularly).

(i attached the article for question #1 and labeled it question #1)

Question #2:

Using the elements from Dell Hymes’ ethnography of communication and the S.P.E.A.K. guidelines discussed in class, analyze the communication observed during a meal shared with your own family or friends. Your answer needs to clearly identify and define each of the SPEAK elements, as well as provide an appropriate example/description of those elements as it is found during this specific event.

** I will write about this and then send you the info to be able to answer this question properly based on me.

do question #2 last until i finish it up and send it to you to complete.

Question #3:

What is communication? Name and explain two of Hockett’s design features of language that are common to communication found in humans and other animals. Give examples of each. Name and explain two of Hockett’s design features of language that are unique to human language (or only rarely appear under special circumstances in non-human communication). Give examples of each.




Question #4:

Explain, compare, and contrast two of the theories of Language Acquisition that we discussed in class. Provide evidence either for or against each theory you select to write about. Which theory do you think is a better explanation of how we acquire language? Why do you think this one makes the most sense? This question is directly related to the Module: Week 7 – Theories of Language Acquisition – home

articles from this module:

Simply Psychology – https://www.simplypsychology.org/language.html (chomsky vs. constructivist, with a bit on behaviorist theories)

Wikiversity -Psycholinguistics: https://en.wikiversity.org/wiki/Psycholinguistics/Theories_and_Models_of_Language_Acquisition(Historical Theories: Behaviorist, Innateness, Cognitivist, and Social Interaction; Modern Theories: Usage-based, Optimality, Native Language Magnet Model)

ill upload more articles as reference for this question because there are many in the module. There, i listed a few…

if im not mistaken, maybe you could write about the innateness and behaviorist theories. i will attach more info for you.

Question #5:

Explain one of the theories of the evolution of language (New Scientist article – Week 6) that you think makes the most sense. Discuss the evidence that supports this model. Identify two elements of the anatomy of H. sapiens which are clearly associated with language, and describe the relationship between this element of anatomy and language. Given your preferred theory and the timing of anatomical and behavioral evolution in earlier species of hominins, when do you think language ability evolved and what form might it have taken in its initial stages? do use evidence from the modules to support your argument.

(the article for question #5 is attached as the name question #5 anthro)

— The Evolution
of Language
W. Tecumseh Fitch
Linguists define language as any system which
allows the free and unfettered expression of thoughts
into signals, and the complementary interpretation
of such signals back into thoughts. This sets human
language apart from all other animal communication
systems, which can express just a limited set of
signals. A dog’s barks, for example, may provide
important information about the dog (how large or
excited it is) or the outside world (that an intruder is
present), but the dog cannot relate the story of its
puppyhood, or express the route of its daily walk.
For all its uniqueness, human language does
share certain traits with many animal communication
systems. A vervet monkey, for example, produces
different calls according to the predators it encounters.
Other vervets understand and respond accordingly –
running for cover when a call signals an “eagle”, for
example, and scaling the trees when it makes a
“leopard” call. This characteristic, known as functional
”The ability to learn
referentiality, is an important feature of language.
the meaning of
Unlike human languages, however, the vervets’ system
new signals is
is innate rather than learned. This makes their system
inflexible, so they cannot create a new alarm call to
widespread in the
represent a human with a gun, for example. What’s more,
animal kingdom”
vervets do not seem to intentionally transmit novel
information: they will continue producing leopard calls
even when their whole group has moved to the safety
of the trees. Thus, although the vervet communication
system shares one important trait with human
language, it still lacks many other important features.
Building time lines
vincent j. musi/aurora
Similarly, the honeybees’ complex dance routine offers
some parallels with human language. By moving in
certain ways, bees can communicate the location
of distant flowers, water and additional hive sites to
their hivemates – a system that is clearly functionally
referential. More importantly, the bees are also
communicating about things that aren’t present.
Linguists call this characteristic “displacement”, and
it is very unusual in animal communication – even
vervets can’t do this. Nonetheless, since bees can’t
communicate the full range of what they know, such
as the colour of a flower, their system cannot be
considered a language.
Unlike other animals,
Alex could use words
Looking at shared traits helps biologists to work
out how those traits might have first evolved.
Different animals might exhibit the same features
simply because a common ancestor had the trait,
which then persisted throughout the course of
evolution. Such traits are called “homologies”. Obvious
examples include hair in mammals or feathers in birds.
Alternatively, similar traits can evolve independently
without being present in a common ancestor, a process
called convergent evolution. The emergence of wings
in both birds and bats is an example of this kind of
evolution, as is the displacement seen in the bee’s
dance and human language.
Homologies allow us to build a time line of when
different features first evolved. The fact that fish,
mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians all have
skeletons, for example, suggests that bones evolved
before lungs, which most fish lack but the other
groups all share. Comparing creatures with convergent
traits, by contrast, helps identify the common
selection pressures that might have pushed the
different species to evolve the trait independently.
This “comparative approach” has been instrumental
in understanding where our abilities to learn,
understand and produce new words came from.
Together, these distinct traits allow free expression
of new thoughts, so they are fundamental to human
language, but they are not always present in other
types of animal communication. Which other creatures
share these abilities, and why?
Three kinds
of evolution
Language develops through time
at three different rates, all of which
have sometimes been termed
“language evolution”. The fastest
process is ontogeny, in which an initially
language-less baby becomes an adult
native speaker. Then there’s glossogeny:
the historical development of
languages. This guide to language
evolution, however, focuses on human
phylogeny: the biological changes that
occurred during the last 6 million years
of our lineage through which our species
Homo sapiens evolved from an initially
language-less primate.
ii | NewScientist
101204_F_IE_Language.indd 18
26/11/10 12:43:29
How do we study language evolution?
top: Phil Ashley/stone+/getty right: vincent j. musi/aurora
Humans have wondered about the origins of our unique capacity for
language since the beginnings of history, proffering countless mythic
explanations. Scientific study began in 1871 with Darwin’s writings
on the topic in The Descent of Man. For nearly a century afterwards,
however, most writing on the subject was highly speculative and the
entire issue was viewed with distrust by reputable scholars.
Recently, we have moved towards specific, testable hypotheses.
Because language does not fossilise, only indirect evidence about key
past events is available. But the situation is no worse off in this respect
than cosmology or many other mature empirical sciences and, as with
these other disciplines, scientists studying the evolution of language
now combine many sources of data to constrain their theories.
One of the most promising approaches compares the linguistic
behaviour of humans with the communication and cognition of other
animals, which highlights shared abilities and the characteristics that
make human language unique. The comparisons allow us to build
theories about how these individual traits might have evolved.
The ability to learn to understand new signals is
the most common. Typical dogs know a few words,
and some unusual dogs like Rico, a border collie, can
remember hundreds of names for different objects.
The bonobo Kanzi, who was exposed from an early
age to abundant human speech, can also understand
hundreds of spoken words, and even notice differences
in word order. This suggests that learning to understand
new signals is widespread and broadly shared with most
other mammals – a homology. But neither Kanzi nor Rico
ever learned to produce even a single spoken word,
as they lack the capacity for complex vocal learning.
Many other species do have this ability, however.
Almost everyone has seen a talking parrot, but there
are more unusual examples. Hoover, an orphaned seal
raised by fishermen, learned to produce whole English
sentences with a Maine accent, and scientists have
uncovered complex vocal learning in a wide variety of
other species, including whales, elephants and bats.
The fact that close relatives of these animals lack
vocal learning indicates that this trait is an example of
convergent evolution. Crucially, most animals who learn
to speak do not understand the meaning of what they
say. Hoover mostly directed his sentences at female
seals during the mating period, for example, suggesting
that vocal production and meaning recognition are two
distinct traits that use different neural machinery. Only
with specific training can animals learn to both produce
and appropriately interpret words. Alex, the African
gray parrot (pictured, left) of psychologist Irene
Pepperberg, provides one example
of a bird that used words for shapes,
colours and numbers meaningfully.
In terms of creating a time line
for human evolution, the evidence
suggests our ability to recognise
sounds – the homology – probably
arose in a mammalian common
ancestor, while our ability to produce
complex sounds arose more recently
in prehistory. Even more importantly,
studying the various convergent
examples of vocal learning have
uncovered what was necessary
for one important aspect of
human language: speech.
Kanzi, a bonobo,
can understand the
meaning of hundreds
of spoken words
4 December 2010 | NewScientist | iii
101204_F_IE_Language.indd 19
26/11/10 12:29:20
Speech is just one aspect of human language, and is
not even strictly necessary, since both sign language
and written language are perfectly adequate for the
unfettered expression of thought. However, since it
is the normal medium of language in all cultures, it is
reasonable to assume that its emergence must have
represented a big step in the evolution of language.
Because no other apes apart from us can learn to
speak, some change must have occurred after we
diverged from chimpanzees, about 6 to 7 million years
ago. The nature of the change has been somewhat
unclear. Darwin suggested two possible explanations:
either it was a change in our vocal apparatus, or there
is a key difference in the brain. In each case, biologists
have gained fundamental insights by examining
other animals.
”A lower larynx allows the
free movement of the
tongue that is crucial to
make complex sounds”
Let’s start with anatomy. Humans have an
unusual vocal tract: the larynx (or voicebox) rests
low in the throat. In most other mammals, including
chimpanzees, the larynx lies at a higher point, and
is often inserted into the nasal passage, creating a
sealed nasal airway. In fact, humans begin life this
way: a newborn infant can breathe through its nose
while swallowing milk through its mouth. But as the
infant grows, the larynx descends, and by the age of
3 or 4 this feat is no longer possible.
The reconfigured human vocal tract allows the free
movement of the tongue that is crucial to make the
many distinct sounds heard in human languages. For
a long time, the descended larynx was considered
unique to our species, and the key to our possession
of speech. Researchers had even tried to place a date
on the emergence of language by studying the
position of the larynx in ancient fossils.
Evidence from two different sources of comparative
data casts doubt on this hypothesis. The first was
the discovery of animal species with permanently
descended larynges like our own. We now know that
lions, tigers, koalas and Mongolian gazelles all have
a descended larynx – making it a convergent trait.
Since none of these species produce anything vaguely
speech-like, such changes in anatomy cannot be
enough for speech to have emerged.
The second line of evidence is even more damning.
X-ray observations of vocalising mammals show that
dogs, monkeys, goats and pigs all lower the larynx
during vocalisation. This ability to reconfigure the
vocal tract appears to be a widespread, and probably
homologous, feature of mammals. With its larynx
retracted, a dog or a monkey has all the freedom
of movement needed to produce many different
vocalisations (see diagram, right). The key changes
must therefore have occurred in the brain instead.
Direct connections
christopher dibble/getty/C. J. GUERIN PhD, MRC TOXICOLOGY UNIT/spl
The human brain is enormously complex, and differs
in many ways from that of other animals. We expect
different neural changes to underlie each of the
different components of language, like syntax,
semantics and speech. Others presumably underlie
abilities like improved tool use or increased
intelligence. Determining the specific neural changes
that correspond to particular capabilities is often very
difficult, and in many cases we don’t even have good
guesses about what changes were needed.
Biologists have been more fortunate when studying
the neural machinery of speech, however. Motor
neurons that control the muscles involved in
vocalisation – in the lips, the tongue and the larynx –
are located in the brainstem, and after decades of
painstaking research we now know that humans
have direct neural connections between the motor
cortex and these brainstem neurons which nonhuman
primates lack. Could these direct neural connections
Brainstem nerve cells explain our enhanced ability to control and coordinate
help the motor cortex the movements necessary for speech? The
explanation seemed plausible. Fortunately, we can
control speech
iv | NewScientist
The mechanics of speech
Speech comes so easily to adult humans that it’s easy to forget the
sheer amount of muscular coordination needed to produce even the
most basic sounds. How we came to have this ability, when most
other animals find it so difficult, is one of the key questions in language
evolution – and one of the few that has yielded to empirical studies.
Michael K. Nichols/national geographic/getty
The human larynx at rest
is placed
in the throat than in
most other
human larynx
rest us to move
more in
is important
placed lower
the throat
in themammals.
of complex
most other
allows ussounds
to move
the tongue more freely, which is important
in the production of complex sounds
Lions have some of
the vocal apparatus
used for speech
test the hypothesis with the help of other species that
exhibit complex vocal learning.
If direct neural connections are necessary for vocal
learning, we predict they should appear in other vocal
learning species. For birds at least, this prediction
appears to hold true: parrots or songbirds have the
connection while chickens or pigeons, which are not
vocal learners, lack them. For many vocal learning
species, including whales, seals, elephants and bats,
we don’t know, because their neuroanatomy has yet
to be fully investigated, providing untapped sources
to test the “direct connections” hypothesis.
An ability to produce the correct sounds for speech
is one thing, but complex vocal control in humans also
relies on our ability to control the different articulators
in the correct, often complicated, sequences. The
discovery of the FOXP2 gene has recently provided
insights into the origins of this ability (New Scientist,
16 August 2008, p 38). Modern humans all share a
novel variant of this gene which differs from the one
most primates have, and disruptions
of this gene in people create severe
speech difficulties. But what does
it do? Various studies have found
that the gene seems to be crucial
for memory formation in the basal
ganglia and cerebellum, which are
involved in coordinating the patterns
of movements that are crucial for our
complex vocalisations. Recently, fossil
DNA recovered from Neanderthals
has shown that they shared the
modern variant, suggesting that they
already possessed complex speech.
Speech is just one component
of language, though, and similar
questions must be asked about syntax
and semantics before we can hope
to understand the evolution of
language as a whole.
scans, however,
that many
lower the
scans, however,
sets the
the larynx
many mammals
which would
sets the
the production
tongue free,of
allow– the
of speech
lies in the
– suggesting
source of speech lies in the brain
(at rest)
(at rest)
(during calling)
(during calling)
4 December 2010 | NewScientist | v
Jim Richardson/National Geographic/Getty/robert caputo/aurora
Speech and music are
universal characteristics
of our species – but did
they evolve together?
This prominent model of protolanguage was offered
by Darwin in 1871, and focused on the origins of vocal
learning, a capability assumed (but not explained) by
word-based, or lexical, protolanguage. Darwin realised
that in most vocal learning species, complex learned
vocalisations are not used to communicate detailed
information, but rather provide a display of the singer’s
virtuosity. While the songs of some birds or whales rival
human speech in acoustic complexity, they convey only
a very simple message, roughly “I’m an adult of your
species and want to mate.”
Based on this analogy, Darwin suggested that
human vocal learning originated in the context of sexual
selection, territoriality and mate choice, and initially
resembled song more closely than speech. Only later,
by this model, did the individual notes and syllables of
these vocal displays take on meaning, probably in an
initially holistic manner. Since Darwin, many others have
taken up the musical protolanguage hypothesis, and it is
attracting increasing support today. One virtue of this
hypothesis is that it also provides an explanation for
music: another universal characteristic of our species.
By this model, music is a living reminder of an earlier
stage of human evolution, preceding true language.
Homo erectus, The
protolinguistic ape?
The earliest writing, providing clear evidence
of modern language, dates from just 6000 years
ago, but language in its modern form emerged
long before then. Because all modern humans come
from an ancestral African population, and children
from any existing culture can learn any language,
language must have preceded our emigration
from Africa at least 50,000 years ago. But can
we put a date on the emergence of the first
rudimentary protolanguages?
Whether gestural, musical or lexical,
protolanguage considerably surpassed modern
ape communication in the wild. With all the
cognitive challenges, and benefits, this would
bring, we would expect these early humans to
differ considerably from their forebears in both
anatomy and culture. Using this logic, Homo
erectus, which originated almost 2 million years
ago, appears to be the most likely candidate.
H. erectus were larger than their predecessors,
and had brain sizes of 900 to 1100 cubic centimetres.
These approach the size of our own brains, which
vi | NewScientist
average about 1350 cubic centimetres.
This suggests a capability for flexible
intelligence and culture. Their stone
tools were vastly more sophisticated
than those of Australopithecus,
suggesting they may have had more
advanced communication, though
the tools were less sophisticated
than tools made by Neanderthals
and modern humans.
Importantly, the H. erectus tools
appeared to reach a kind of stasis –
their iconic Achulean hand axe, which
was a symmetrical all-purpose tool,
persisted for a million years. This
suggests they did not have full
language, which would have
accelerated cultural and technological
change. Hence they might have had
some, but not all, of the linguistic
capacities modern humans possess –
a protolanguage, in other words.
Could gestures have
provided the beginnings
of language?
When viewing language as a collection of many distinct components, it
becomes clear that the different linguistic traits must have appeared at
different periods of human evolution, perhaps for different reasons. But
while most theorists agree that early humans passed through multiple
stages en route to modern language, there are major differences of
opinion concerning the order in which the different components appeared.
A system which possesses some, but not all, components of language
can be termed a “protolanguage” – a term introduced by anthropologist
Gordon Hewes in 1973. Three potential protolanguages dominate
theories of language evolution.
another well-established model of protolanguage
suggests that language was originally conveyed by
gestures, rather than speech. one avenue of evidence
comes from observations of apes, which lack vocal
learning and speech, but use manual gestures in
an intentional, flexible and informative way. While
attempts to teach apes spoken language fail
completely, efforts to teach apes to commun…
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