This might be boring to some…but interesting to others. These are a few of the exercises I have to do for my descriptive linguistics class [plus an extra one, just for kicks]. Let me know what you think of the questions and/or my answers.
1. An English speaker’s knowledge includes the sound sequences of the language. When new products are put on the market, the manufacturers have to think up new names for them that conform to the allowable sound patterns. Suppose you were hired by a manufacturer of soap products to name five new products. What names might you come up with? List them. –An Introduction to Language, Fromkin, 38, exercise 1
Here are my [less than five] names for ‘soap products.’ What are some of yours?
1. Consooth. [con as in congress, sooth as in sooth]
2. Relishable [relish as is relish, able as in constable]
3. Silksy [silks as in silks, y as in Molly]
5. Consider these two statements: I learned a new word today. I learned a new sentence today. Do you think the two statements are equally probable, and id not, why not? –An Introduction to Language, Fromkin, 39, exercise 5
I do, actually. I learn new words on a regular basis. And then just a couple days ago someone got a fortune cookie that said, “You will find treasures where you least expected.” That, to me, looks wrong. Come to find out, it’s entirely correct. The way it is worded and the way the words are ordered is a style of sentence construction that I hadn’t ever used or seen before. I learned a new sentence with that fortune cookie.
10. Noam Chomsky has been quoted as saying, “It’s about as likely than an ape wil rpove to have a language ability as that there is an island somewhere with a species of flightless birds waiting for human beings to teach them to fly.” In the light of evidence presented in this chapter, comment on Chomsky’s remark. Do you agree or disagree, or do you think the evidence is inconclusive? –An Introduction to Language, Fromkin, 40, exercise 10
That’s definitely a tough one. I think that apes [monkeys] have a language ability. Here’s the thing, though; I don’t think it’s human language, meaning speech, words, and sentences. I think every animal has its own ‘language’, but that language is significantly different from what humans consider language. Although, if you think about it, we consider body language an aspect of language–hence the name–and animals [including insects, marine animals, etc] do have a definite body language side to things. So yeah, I think apes have an ability for language–just not the language we speak, the words we use, and the sentences we construct. I think they can learn to recognize those things, though, just as dogs know what ‘sit’ and ‘stay’ and ‘roll over’ means after a time.