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Modern psychology roughly defines three types of process: cognitive, conative, and

emotive. They deal with thought, will and emotions, respectively.

Cognition - the process involved in knowing, or the act of knowing, which in its
completeness includes perception and judgment. Cognition includes all processes of
consciousness by which knowledge is accumulated, such as perceiving, recognizing,
conceiving, and reasoning. Put differently, cognition is an experience of knowing
that can be distinguished from an experience of feeling or willing. It is one of the
only words that refers to the brain as well as to the mind.
cognitive processes deal with thoughts and information processing in the brain.
After decades of neglect, the term cognitive became fashionable again in the
1960s, with the advent of a number of then-young scholars, one of whom was
Noam Chomsky. This period is today called the cognitive revolution.
Today, there is even an umbrella term cognitive science for disciplines studying
cognition from different angles (psychology, artificial intelligence, linguistics)
Today standard definitions by Sir John Lyons:

Language is a symbolic means of communication.

Linguistics is a scientific study of language.

Peirces claim is that there are three principal types of signs that human beings

Icons signs that physically resemble the object that they signify.

Indexes where the relationship between the sign and what it signifies is
that of cause and effect.

Symbols there seems to be no obvious connection between the sign and

what it stands for.

So, since language uses a variety of symbols, which have no direct and obvious
connection to what they signify, we say that language is ARBITRARY. When you see
somebody staggering, and have some basic experience, you could guess with some
certainty what might have been the cause of this condition.
Because it operates in symbols, which are arbitrary, language itself is
Caveat: when we say language (no article), we have in mind the human capacity
to communicate symbolically. When we say a language or the language, we
mean a particular language, say English or Chinese.

The difference between symbols in general and linguistic symbols is that the latter
may be combined to form meaningful units. Sequences of non-linguistic symbols
mean nothing in particular. Sequences of linguistic symbols may be creatively and
PRODUCTIVELY used to create a variety of meanings. For this reason, language is
also a discrete combinatorial system.
Language is CREATIVE in the sense that the number of meaningful combinations
it allows, on a variety of levels, is practically limitless. We can say that language is
a creative, discrete combinatorial system which utilizes arbitrary symbols
and is used in human communication.
Linguistics is a scientific study of language. As a separate discipline, it emerged in
the early 20th century. The first full-fledged book in linguistics is probably A Course
in General Linguistics by Ferdinand de Saussure (1916). Linguistic schools that
spanned most of the 20th century):





Cognitive linguistics is the scientific study of language which focuses on the

cognitive aspects of the language faculty. Cognitive linguists view language as a
part of the human cognitive apparatus, a mental ability, part of our psychology, but
also, to an extent, our biology, which enables us to communicate symbolically. By
cognitive linguistics (in the broader sense), we shall imply all schools in the
language science focusing on cognitive phenomena. In the narrower sense,
cognitive linguistics is just one of those schools.
Subsidiary branches of linguistics: Phonetics, Phonology, Morphology, Syntax,
Semantics, Pragmatics.
Phonetics: the physical, perceptual and productive properties of speech sounds
(physics, physiology), Phonology: the ABSTRACT properties of speech sounds
(distinctive features, phonemes/segments), Morphology: the ABSTRACT properties
of minimal units of meaning (morphemes vs. allomorphs!), Syntax: the ABSTRACT
properties of units larger than words (phrases, clauses, sentences vs. utterances!),
Semantics: the ABSTRACT properties of units of meaning (concept, image, symbol
vs. referent, real-life object in the extralinguistic reality), Pragmatics: the
relationship between language and the world of experience (sociology,
Slide 2

The fact that we all speak differently further supports the thesis that language is
abstract. So, linguistics studies: Language (no article) the human capacity to
symbolically communicate in order to find out something about human
nature. Languages similarities and differences between the languages of the
world in order to compare them and give their accurate description.
Macrolinguistics studies whole-scale phenomena related to language. What is
language? What does morphology study? How is tree representation relevant to
English syntax? Microlinguistics studies linguistic particulars. Lists and describes
all compound adjectives in Bartleby the Scrivener. Studies the use difference
between On se je napio and On je se napio.
Theoretical linguistics, obviously, studies theoretical aspects of language
phenomena. Phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, pragmatics More
broadly: philosophy of language. Applied linguistics is more practically oriented.
First, second and foreign language acquisition. Methodology of teaching foreign
languages, Psycholinguistics, Sociolinguistics, Neurolinguistic.
Language is a mental capacity, part of our cognitive apparatus. It is a discrete
combinatorial system which utilizes arbitrary symbols and is used in human
communication. Cognitive linguistics is the scientific study of this cognitive
Remember physics? In it, we always discuss ABSTRACTIONS. Give me a lever
long enough, and I could lift the world Archimedes said. But you dont have
such a lever. You have little ones to help you, say, control your car; or play with your
child in a park. So, there is a big difference in natural sciences between
DICHOTOMY, in the sense that a scientific field usually discusses BOTH phenomena:
the IDEAL and the ACTUAL. Chomsky, for instance, discusses only the knowledge of
language of an IDEALIZED NATIVE SPEAKER, a sort of an abstraction, not really of a
true person. His knowledge of language is called LINGUISTIC COMPETENCE. We,
petty mortals, achieve only LINGUISTIC PERFORMANCE.
Slide 3
Jackendoffs Fundamental Arguments:
1. The expressive variety of language use implies that a language users brain
contains a set of unconscious grammatical principles (The Argument for Mental
2. The way children learn to talk implies that the human brain contains a genetically
determined specialization for language (The Argument for Innate Knowledge)
3. Our experience of the world is actively constructed by the unconscious principles
that operate in the brain (The Argument for the Construction of Experience)

Closely connected with the three fundamental hypotheses is the question what is it
that actually makes us the way we are? - are we born that way, or are we products
of our environment? This brings us to the discussion of Nature versus Nurture and
the acquisition vs. learning problem.
The fundamental arguments are based on there being some unconscious knowledge
(unconscious grammatical principles). This kind of knowledge is concerned with
acquisition of language as opposed to learning which is always conscious. It appears
that knowledge is always unconscious, and that only when you do something
without being aware that you are doing it are you actually doing it! (Idea by the
philosopher Plotinus). When you speak you are NOT aware of the complex
mechanisms (both physical and mental) that make it possible for you to speak
automatically, without a conscious realization of what you do. Language is usually
chosen as a focus for investigating the perennial question why are we the way we
are? Besides, the possession of language has always been seen as the major
difference between us, humans, and the beasts.
The expressive variety of language is the number of things we can say by
combining words in different ways, and it seems to be only available to
humans. Indeed, none of the known animal systems (birds, bees, whales, apes)
possesses an inventory of elements like words that can be combined and
recombined in limitless ways to express new messages. The number of sentences
we are capable of using is just too large to store individually. We cannot store
individual sentences in our head. What we do store is individual words plus patterns
to put those words into meaningful and grammatical sentences of a given language.
The number of both words and patterns is limited, since the capacity of our brains is
very limited. However, the point about language is that these limited numbers can
be used to make a practically unlimited number of combinations. This is what
Jackendoff calls expressive variety of language. Chomsky would say that
language is a system which utilizes finite means to create an infinite number
of sentences.
Patterns have a life of their own, sometimes regardless of the meaning of the
sentence. Meaningfulness, grammaticality, and acceptability are categories that
cannot be clearly separated from one another all the time. One of the best
examples is Lewis Carrolls poem Jabberwocky. This capacity to combine words into
acceptable patterns and create a limitless number of novel sentences is usually
called mental grammar. It is not the socially prescribed grammar that
distinguishes one dialect from another. It is largely governed by unconscious
Slide 4
Freud compared our mind to an iceberg, he claimed that parts of the mind are not
accessible and that the mind could be visualized as an iceberg. The

unconsciousness of Mental Grammar is even more radical than Freuds notion:

mental grammar is not available to consciousness under any conditions. Freud
believes that unconscious beliefs can be made conscious by way of psychoanalysis.
However, this is NOT possible with the rules of language as they are simply not
available for introspection.
The Argument for Innate Knowledge: The way children learn to talk implies that the
human brain contains a genetically determined specialization for language.
How do children do it? Many people simply assume that the parents teach them.
Obviously, parents often teach their kids words and not much more than that. Not
even all words. Or is it really easy to understand that each chair of this world
belongs to the category/concept of CHAIR? The idea that parents teach their
children language is so omnipresent, that the language is called native or mother
tongue. It comes from the environment. Regardless of the childs nationality, race,
color, or creed, the language it is immersed into in its early life will become its
native language. This raises a serious question: if this is so, then there must be
something common to all of us, a human nature which allows us to master just
about any language we are exposed to early on, regardless of our origin. The truth
is: there are no good or bad languages, and every one of us could have acquired
any of them as our mother tongue.
Poverty of the Stimulus (Chomsky) - What a child is exposed to is usually less than
perfect language. To say the least.
Three Main Approaches to Language Acquisition:
1. Empiricism - Language is learned entirely from experience. The mind of the child is a tabula rasa
(Locke). Learning through general-purpose mechanisms: habituation, conditioning, associationformation
2. Nativism - Language (and other characteristics of the human mind) is innate
3. Constructivism - language is acquired through a developmental process that leads to higher
complexity, emerging through interaction with the (social) environment, influenced by but not
determined by the genes (Kant)
Well adopt the Rationalist Concept BECAUSE we appear to know more than we
actually seem to learn. Its not clear what sorts of stimuli could lead us to our adult
language knowledge. A striking property of language acquisition is that children
attain knowledge which, quite literally, infinitely surpasses their actual
experience. As a result of parental instruction children do learn words, but not
relevant grammatical patterns as well. Children are impervious to correction and
conscious instruction. Some Prescriptive Rules are taught and they hardly work.
Such as the rule that a preposition must never end a sentence (or something you

must never end a sentence with!) This rule has been mocked by no less a persona
than Winston Churchill: This is a rule up with which we should not put.
Only humans have a form of communication which we call Language. There are
approximately 6,000 languages in the world. Any normal child growing up (say,
from prenatal to infancy to 5 y.o.) in any language environment will master the
local language. Many exceptional children, i.e. blind, deaf, cognitively deficient,
neurologically impaired, etc. may exhibit essentially normal language
development. The opposite is also possible: perfectly intelligent children and
adults may suffer from such conditions that they end up with insurmountable
language problems. Mastery of Language is achieved without explicit
Normal adults have great difficulty achieving competence, let alone fluency, in a
second Language, despite greater cognitive sophistication than children and explicit
instruction in classrooms. This means that children have something that
adults lack!
There are some very complex rules which are never taught:
A. Joan appeared to Moira to like herself.
B. Joan appeared to Moira to like her.
C. Joan appealed to Moira to like herself.
D. Joan appealed to Moira to like her.
How do we get to know which interpretation is correct, without any prior thinking? It
appears that we possess some special, unconscious, knowledge about ordinary and
reflexive pronouns, and about the two verbs such as appear and appeal. Yet, no
one would ever bother to teach native speakers something like this in an English
language course. So, this particular piece of their knowledge of language does not
come from conscious instruction. No one is ever taught about contrasts between
these issues (pronouns and verbs such as ordinary vs. reflexive, or appear and
appeal). Regardless, this aspect of English grammar appears to be deeply
ingrained, much more so than the already played out proscription about not placing
prepositions at the end of a sentence.
Another striking example of deeply ingrained knowledge: How many times do I have
to tell you that the book is not by Thomson, but by Martin-bloody-net! The guy who
screwed us was not the retailer but the manu-fuckin-facturer, remember! What is
interesting in such examples is that we have very clear intuitions how to use the
infixes, without ever being taught on the topic. This phenomenon in English is
known as expletive infixation and is very interesting from a purely linguistic
perspective. The Principle is that the infix sounds right only when it immediately
precedes the syllable of the word with the main stress. Thus we can conclude that

much that we know about the grammatical patterns of English has not been taught.
Children simply have to figure out the patterns of language. In other words they
have to construct their own mental grammar out of any input they get (and this
input is usually very impoverished, remember. So their task is twice that
The way children learn to talk implies that the human brain contains a genetically
determined specialization for language. What weve seen so far suggests that a
child is able to figure out something that thousands of linguists throughout the
world have been trying for decades to figure out. This may well be called the
Paradox of Language Acquisition. First: what the child ends up with is a mental
grammar that is inaccessible to consciousness. Second: a substantial part of the
language-learning process is also unconscious, so linguists can neither directly
observe it nor ask children about it. All children hear are sentences, they must
unconsciously discover for themselves the patterns. Yes, they have a head start on
linguists and thats why they can construct their mental grammars. They appear to
have some sort of hint about how to go about constructing the grammar. Thats
why it takes only about 5-8 years of work for an average kid, while linguists havent
been able to come up with anything so far.
Children are equipped with a body of innate knowledge pertaining to language.
Using that knowledge they can find patterns in the stream of language they are
exposed to, and they can use these patterns as mental grammar. Because this
innate knowledge must be enough to construct a mental grammar for any language
of the world, it is called UG (universal grammar).
Universal grammar: our biological, genetically-transmitted capacity to pick
up just any language.
Mental grammar: our perfect knowledge of the language that has become
our mother tongue (when we are five years old or above).
Transformational-generative grammar: the currently dominant linguistic
theory trying to formally describe the two human capacities above.
Like the teeth, or body hair, or walking, Universal Grammar could just as well
develop at some time after birth (conditioned by a biological timetable; grammatical
patterns start getting acquired about the age of 2). So, it seems to be a part of our
biological heritage. In other words, it is genetic. Determination of brain structure by
genetic information, Determination of mental functioning by brain structure. The
brain is determined by the DNA (its anatomical structure and organization).
Chomsky: we dont learn to have arms rather than wings. The same goes for
language. The ability to learn language is rooted in our biology, a genetic
characteristic of the human species. Just like an opposable thumb and a pelvis
adapted for upright stance.

The Genetic Hypothesis: The mechanism for acquiring innate knowledge is genetic
transmission, through the medium of brain structure. Knowledge of language is
determined by brain structure, so it is present only when the supporting brain
structures are present. This is the most famous hypothesis in Chomskian linguistics.
It is also sometimes referred to as the null hypothesis (a more general name for
the starting hypothesis in any theory).
Slide 5
The paradox of LA shows which one is ultimately stronger: nature or nurture.
Children are equipped with a body of innate knowledge pertaining to language.
Using that knowledge they can find patterns in the stream of language they are
exposed to, and they can use these patterns as mental grammar. Because this
innate knowledge must be enough to construct a mental grammar for any language
of the world, it is called UG (universal grammar).
Mental grammar = innate part (universal grammar) + acquired part
Innate part = the general part + the part specialized for language
So, language is a complex combination of nature and nurture. In terms of its
nature, language seems to be a genetically determined human faculty. Part of
this determination has to do with a more general cognitive capacity (say,
intelligence), while another part has to do with a more domain-specific ability
(genetic endowment specialized for language). This is the Chomskyan position: not
everybody agrees.
How speech is produced: The brain uses neural activity. The brain moves the
vocal tract via neural activation of the muscles. The speakers brain
creates patterns of neural firings that drive the muscles of his vocal tract.
As a result appears a corresponding acoustic pattern that is heard as
The hearer re-creates for himself the semantic (neural) form from which the
speaker's utterance originally started. The form is then interpreted by the receiver
who, if the transmission is successful, will have a structured neural patterning
corresponding to the neural patterning from which the word-string was constructed
in the first place.
The general amount of understanding when using language is indeed remarkable!
Since this is so, we must conclude that the form of the thought must be neutral
between spoken and heard language. One can have a thought without speaking it,
so the thought shouldnt directly drive the vocal tract. Thought must be
independent of what language it is spoken in.

But how does the brain represent words and associate them with semantic
meanings? How does it categorize words and represent syntactic rules? According
to our model, the brain accomplishes this with cortical images, representations of
the activity within the brain itself.
Le chien est mort, Der Hund ist tot, The dog is dead - Even though the above
sentences in three different languages are different, as well as their auditory
patterns (neural firings), still they convey the same thought. Of course, that same
thought relates to speakers of French, German and English. Thus in order for us to
be able to translate there must be a constancy in a pattern of neural firings that is
distinct from the motor and auditory patterns. Within the brain, all representation
consists of electrochemical activity. For example, the abstract idea
neurolinguistics, the picture of a tree, and speaking are all represented by
different patterns of neural activity. The representation of the visual image of a tree
might consist of a pattern of cortical activations relating depth, spatial geometry,
color, and brightness. The image of the tree does not exist in the brain; only a
pattern of neural firings representing that image. Fundamentally, everything that
comes into our minds reduces to patterns of neural activities. For instance, the word
neurolinguistics triggers an array of connections: the phonetic sound of the word,
the motor movements necessary for pronunciation, the faces of people in the
neurolinguistics class, the grammatical category for nouns, etc.
Language is the brains means of translating between thoughts and auditory and
motor patterns. We can think of different languages as different ways of converting
thought into motor patterns and auditory patterns back into thought.
Three steps in the conversion are:
Phonological structure (sound structure)
Syntactic structure (phrase structure)
Conceptual structure (semantic structure)
Strictly speaking, thoughts and motor instructions are not language, and they are
not legitimately studied in linguistics. What linguistics studies are the three tiers
mentioned above!
Speech Production and Language
Thought === Syntactic structure === Phonological structure ====
Motor instructions
Speech Perception and Language
Auditory patterns === Phonological structure === Syntactic structure

Language is not contained in any external physical entities (soundwaves,

movements of the jaw, patterns of light on a piece of paper). It is internal. A fully
mental phenomenon. Generative linguistics accepts three levels of language
analysis as standard: Phonology, Syntax, Semantics.
Functionalism is an approach to cognitive mechanisms (such as phonological and
syntactic structures in our mind) that does not necessarily have to know much
about how these are encoded in the brain in the form of neural firings.
Functionalism is a leading strategy in the cognitive sciences today.
Functionalism, in linguistics, the approach to language study that is concerned with the functions performed by
language, primarily in terms of cognition (relating information), expression (indicating mood), and conation (exerting
influence). Especially associated with the Prague school of linguists prominent since the 1930s, the approach centres
on how elements in various languages accomplish these functions, both grammatically and phonologically. Some
linguists have applied the findings to work on stylistics and literary criticism.
Slide 6

We know very little about how the brain works, so, at the present stage of science,
we do not have so many options. Two possible extremes:
1. Behaviorism the mind is a black box, we know what comes in and what
goes out, but we (deliberately) skip anything occurring inside.
2. Modern neuroscience the mind is a collection of billions of neurons.
Studying how an individual neuron works, and also which cortical areas are
active during particular mental tasks, can help us get a general idea of how
the brain works.
And Functionalism, which is an approach to cognitive mechanisms (such as
phonological and syntactic structures in our mind) that does not necessarily have to
know much about how these are encoded in the brain in the form of neural firings.
Functionalism is a leading strategy in the cognitive sciences today. In functionalism,
it doesnt matter much how a thing works, as long as it works. If the output of a
system is full-fledged language, it is irrelevant whether this output comes from
protoplasm, series of networked neurons, or silicon microchips. For a functionalist,
living machines are possible.
Chomskyan linguists are functionalists! Typically, they wish to say something about
language and the brain. Also typically, they know little about how the brain actually
works. However, they do not want to just skip the brain, as if nothing was inside
(behaviorism). So, they postulate theories on how the brain might work. In other
words, they guess By comparing the brain to something they are familiar with,
something that seems to function in a similar fashion. This is functionalism.
In late 20th century, a typical metaphor of the brain was that of a computer. This is
now known as the first-generation cognitive science. Hence the talk of processors in
the brain, including parallel processing, computations, parsing, hardware (brain)

and software (information to process), input, output. Among linguists, this is still the
leading approach to the relationship of language and the mind/brain. The firstgeneration cognitive science fails to conduct reliable studies on consciousness,
because it confounds conscious with mind processing, such as perception, attention,
memory and thinking. This tendency of replacing consciousness with psychology
should be avoided. The dynamic system model used by the second-generation
cognitive science is more likely to help us uncover the mystery of how the
consciousness comes into being.
Today, Cognitive scientists create computer programs that do not assume that the
brain is a computer, but rather simulate the work of neurons directly. These are
known as neural networks and the whole movement is labeled connectionism. Some
call it second generation cognitive science. The second-generation cognitive science
highly features embodiment and situatedness. It will lead cognitive neuroscience
into a new era and create potentials of eventually combining the scientism and
humanism in psychology. It is based on the dynamic system model, which might
result in the revolution of psychological methodology because the relationship
among variables (factors) in this model is completely different from the interaction
relationship among variables in the traditional analysis of variance.
One motivation behind functionalism can be appreciated by attention to artifact
concepts like carburetor and biological concepts like kidney. What it is for
something to be a carburetor is for it to mix fuel and air in an internal combustion
engine--carburetor is a literal, actual, mechanical concept. In the case of the
kidney, the scientific concept is functional--defined in terms of a role in filtering
the blood and maintaining certain chemical balances. So, in a way, the carburetor
does to the car what the kidney does to the body.
The Information in the brain is not stored in some readable form and when we talk
about rules of grammar and terms such as subject and object or a rule the
subject of a sentence precedes the verb we only state a relation among various
parts of the sentence. This relation is supposedly stored in the same relational
manner in the brain, irrespective of how and where.
So, virtually all linguistic concepts are functional. We cant find the S, NP, VP, or
passivization in the brain. All these, and many others, are theoretical constructs,
devised to functionally explain an instance of the activity of the mind. If we group
those concepts into a coherent whole, a system that formally works, we get a
linguistic theory. Generative grammar is such a theory.
Yet, how do we know that our theory makes sense, and is not just metaphysical
speculation? Experiment! This is how all science works. You postulate a hypothesis
and then you should test it somehow. The best way is to arrange for an experiment,
which is a means to study unobservable phenomena by means of things that we

can observe. For instance, dropping a pencil is observable, and it proves that there
seems to be a force dragging the pencil downward, which is unobservable.
Studying unobservable phenomena of language (e.g. the rule banishing
prepositions from ends of sentences)by relating them to things that can be
observed (actual utterances with prepositions that native speakers use). There are
generally three types of experiments in linguistics, by complexity:
1. Native speakers intuition
2. Psycholinguistic experiments
3. Neurolinguistic experiments