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MIRACLES OF HUMAN LANGUAGE: AN

INTRODUCTION TO LINGUISTICS.
MARC VAN OOSTENDORP

LEIDEN UNIVERSITY

Week 3.
3.1 Words and Sentences
Hi. And welcome to the third module. In the previous module we talked about sounds. And now we turn
to bigger things. We turn to words and sentences. For many people this is where the fun really starts,
because words and sentences are the parts of language where we start seeing meaning. In individual
sound, an ‘a’ vowel doesn't mean much usually, but a word or a sentence starts meaning things. And
this is also, therefore, where languages start differing in how they express thoughts, because they
express thoughts in words and sentences.

In some languages, you can put a lot of information in one word.


Look at this Turkish word. It has a lot of information. In other
languages, the words are very small and short. Chinese is an
example of that. Words are very short, and therefore, you don't
put a lot of information in one word. You have to put it in making
a sentence.

Languages can also differ in a way in which they organize words in a


sentence, in which they put the words in a sentence together. Take this
language. That's Dutch. Dutch happens to be my native language and what
we do is we put the person who does something, in this case killing, at the
beginning of the sentence. That's different from this language, Apalai. In
that language, the person that does the killing, in this case, is actually put right at the end of the
sentence. So, the sentence means they killed a jaguar, and the ‘they’ is expressed at the end of the
sentence.
Words and sentences each have their own sub-discipline of linguistics
studying them. Morphology is the study of the internal structure of words,
how words are composed of smaller, meaningful units in languages of the
world. And syntax is the study of sentences. How sentences are formed in
turn out of words. Now, it may seem to you that having two subdisciplines,
studying words and sentences, is a bit much. But actually, there are many,
many things to study here. And even simple concepts like words and
sentences themselves are not all that trivial if you look more closely into
languages. It will turn out that it's not actually very easy to define what the
word is, in particular if we start comparing languages. So something which
is one word in one language might correspond to several words in some
other language. And similarly, sentences can be structured very differently from one language to the
next.

But we will start with words. In the next video, we're going to look at the myriad ways in which
languages can form new words out of existing ones.

3.2 Morphology
Hi. In the previous video, we have seen that we can distinguish syntax and morphology. One is the study
of sentences, the other is the study of words. In this video, we are going to start with morphology, with
the study of words.

Suppose we have some scholar from Mars visiting the Earth and he
wants to know about human language. He asks you what does human
language actually consist of? The first thing you might say is, ‘it consists
of words.’ It seems very trivial even. We have a sentence: ‘the sun is
shining’. That's four words. ‘The sun is shining.’ But the next question
your Martian may ask you is how do you know? Why is ‘sun’ a word?
Why isn't ‘the sun’ a word? Why isn't ‘sun’ a word or ‘nis’ a word? It seems trivial, but think about it,
maybe stop the video and think about it. What makes ‘The sun is shining’ four words?

Okay, here are three criteria you might have thought of. The first criterion is
words are those things which occur between spaces. You may have thought of
that. So we write a sentence like the sun is shining. We put spaces between ‘the’,
‘sun’, ‘is,’ ‘shining’, gives us four words. Trivial. Very
easy. However, it works only for written language. It
doesn't work for spoken language. And most languages
in the world are spoken, not written at all. And even
English is spoken most of the time and not written. So how does that work
then? ‘Passion fruit’. Is that one word? When we write it, we put a space there.
Does it make it into one word in English? Ice cream, same question.
So, we may need a second criterion: meaning. One word is one concept.
Passion fruit is one thing. Passion fruit is not about feeling passion and then
eating a fruit. It's one thing, a passion fruit. It's one concept. But that leaves
us with a question, what does it mean to say one concept, what's that? And
that's not very trivial either.

So there's a third criterion, which is about pronunciation. We


cannot just really interrupt the word passion fruit. We
pronounce it together as one word. That's what we call
prosody, the way in which we pronounce words and sentences
together. So this prosodic criterion maybe gives us an idea of
saying passion fruit as one word, although of course I can say
pass sion fruit. And I have some space even right in between
‘pass’ and ‘sion,’ and ‘pass’ and ‘sion’ definitely are not two
different words.

So we have three criteria, and they don't really work. Each one of them and
linguistics are still quarreling about what is the right definition of a word? But
for us, we're going to just make do. So these three criteria, that's what we are
going to use.

So words are hard to define, and at the same time we know a word whenever we see one or hear one.

Take, for example, an English word like ‘uncovering’. That


consists of three parts. There's a base, cover. We call it a base
because cover is an independent word in its own right. We can
say ‘I cover you,’ something like that. And there are two
additions, ‘un’ and ‘ing.’ These are not words in their own right.
You cannot use them independently from some other word. You
cannot say I'm very ‘un-‘, or I'm ‘ing'ing. These things which are
not independent are called affixes. As a matter of fact ‘un’ is
called a prefix. Things occurring before the base are called
prefixes. And ‘ing’ is called a suffix, things after the base are called suffixes. All of these bits, the base
and the affixes, are called morphemes.

Different languages use morphemes, the system of putting morphemes together,


to different degrees. And that turns out to be very useful for classifying
languages.
There are different kinds of languages. The first type is called isolating. In
isolating languages, most words are exactly one morpheme, and there are
very few or no combinations of morphemes to make words.

A relevant example of this is Chinese. In


Chinese, there's almost a one to one
relationship between morpheme and
meaning. Here you see an example of four Chinese sentences. And what
you can see is that between ‘I have one book’ and ‘I have two books’,
two things change in English. ‘One’ changes into ‘two,’ and ‘book’
changes into ‘books’, but in Chinese only one things changes. Similarly,
between ‘I have one book’ and ‘he has one book’, only one thing
changes, although two things change in English. And two things change
in Chinese, but only between ‘I have one book’, and ‘he has two books’
when two parts of the idea change.

The second type of language is called agglutinative. Agglutinative languages use


a lot of morphemes, but put those morphemes together in a very transparent
way.

Turkish is an example of that. You see it here. You take ‘hand’ as a base.
You put one morpheme to make the plural, you get ‘hands’. You have
another morpheme to give the possessive as we call it, ‘my hand’. That's
one morpheme. But you can also put both together. And you can see
that they stay in the same shape.

The third type of language is called fusional. And a famous example of that is Arabic.
In Arabic, you don't just have affixes put before or after the base. But there are also
things happening within the base, internal to the base.

Here you see some examples. You see, that to make ‘books’
from ‘book’, you don't add a suffix or a prefix, but you change
the vowels. And you can make another change of the vowels,
and you get ‘writer’ or ‘to write’. Actually. ‘to write’ also has an
affix.
The final type of language is called polysynthetic. In these, you can combine
bases and affixes almost endlessly. You can have enormous words which
express a lot of different kinds of meaning.

An example of that is from Mohawk. Mohawk is still


spoken by Native American people in the state of New
York in the United States. Here you see an example word
in Mohawk. This one word in Mohawk means ‘she made
the thing that one puts on one's body’, ugly for him, one
word for saying that thing, but a very long word. So,
speakers of Mohawk must have a very different concept
of what a word really is.

Classification. Now, it would obviously be great if we could


subdivide all languages in the world easily into these classes. But
usually, it's not that easy. English, for example, seems to be
somewhere in between fusional and isolating languages, and
actually also something of an agglutinative language. It's a bit
agglutinative. We have seen that it has words like uncovering, so
it has prefixes, suffixes and has affixes.
But it doesn't have very many, and in
that respect it's also isolating. And it's even a little bit fusional, because it has
words like ‘sing’, ‘sang’, ‘sung’. We change the time and we change the vowel,
just like in Arabic.

Summary, we have seen that we can distinguish four types of languages. And
you can do this according to their morphology, the way in which they treat
morphemes. And this gives us isolating, fusional, agglutinative, and
polysynthetic languages. We are going to see much more of this in the next
video.

3.3 Discussion: World of Words


Hi. In the previous video, I introduced you to the world of words, and I've shown how words are a very
fundamental concept in understanding human language. And that's because all languages seem to have
words. They seem to form words, and those words are then put together into sentences.

Now, even though this is something fundamental to all languages, languages can also differ. And we've
made a typology of languages, a typology consisting of four types, namely isolating, fusional,
agglutinative, and polysynthetic languages. I am going to discuss the world of words more now with my
students, Inge and Marten.

[Inge] Okay. So, I'll ask the first question, because I was wondering, if you look at all these languages,
they form words in different ways. But do some languages then have more words than others in the
end?
[Marc] Yes. Well, which kind of language would you think has more words than others?

[Inge] I would say that polysynthetic languages have more words maybe, because they can combine
different parts of words in different ways, and then you have more results in the end.

[Marc] So in a polysynthetic language you can say ‘I eat chicken.’ And that's one word.’ ‘ In another kind
of language, you don't typically have that word, so that would be already one word more, in the
polysynthetic language. Now, you can also say, ‘I eat bacon’, ‘I eat rice’, and ‘I eat all these different
kinds of things’. That gives you many more words. That's what you could think, and I think it makes
sense to think that. The problem is, if you would really want to be serious about comparing languages in
how many words they have, you would have to count them. You would have to count the number of
words in a language. But in all of these languages, the point about whole typology is that these
languages have ways of forming new words. So it means you never stop counting. You count. At some
point when you think you can stop counting, there are your word formation rules. And they can add new
words to the language. Okay, you count those more, but there's always going to be your word formation
rules, which gives you more opportunities of creating new words. So although, indeed, it feels like it
makes sense to think that polysynthetic languages have more words, you cannot make this very precise.

Furthermore, there would be one class of languages for which this would not be true. This would be the
isolating languages. Isolating languages don't have ways of forming new words, typically. But there are
two things to adapt. In the first place, a language can still borrow words from another language, like
‘internet’. And in the second place, truly isolating languages, in this sense, don't exist. They can always
create new words, for instance, by putting together two words. So Chinese can borrow the word for
‘internet’, and then it can still make a word for ‘internet provider’ by putting together two words to
make a new word. So, even in such a language you cannot really count the total number of words.

[Inge] Okay, so the total number of words is infinite you could say? But if you look at this from another
perspective, the perspective ‘concepts,’ I can imagine that different languages have maybe different
concepts. One language could have a concept for internet or computer. And the other maybe doesn't
have that concept, so they also wouldn't have that word. Or could you then say, that for example,
English, which has those concepts maybe has more words than other languages?

[Marc] Indeed, that's what you could think. If you take this concept of a language seriously, and we say
English, with its hundreds of millions, maybe even billions, of speakers, all of them having different
interests, being interested in different topics, being able to talk about those different interests, or some
people are interested in technology, like Internet, can talk about that. Other people are interested in
fishing, and can talk about that. So, they will have words for all of those different things, whereas if you
take a language of 100 speakers, they will have only so many interests, and they will not have words for
things which they are not interested in. So, that would be another way of counting, would give you
another kind of classification.

The problem is something that we have seen in a previous module, namely these languages themselves
are very difficult to pinpoint, to give boundaries to. So are we talking about English? Or are we talking
about American English? Or are we talking Philadelphia English? Or are we talking about the language of
an individual? And the latter might be the only one where you can really count. So, how many words
does an individual know? But at that point then, the speaker of English will not know all words of
English, because they will not be interested in fishing, so will not know the words which are related to
fishing. So, and there's no reason to think that a speaker of English will know more words than the
speaker of a language with only 100 speakers.

[Marten] So, I have a sort of different question because I was learning a new language, Catalan, but of
course, I wasn't reading a dictionary. But I was listening to it on the radio so that I can get a feel for it.
But my problem was that I really couldn't tell where the word boundaries were. So, based on hearing
alone, I couldn't determine if it was an isolating or an agglutinative language. And, of course, I had a
course book. But I was wondering, if you listen to a new language, how do you know where the word
boundaries are?

[Marc] I think that's a very good question. I have that experience myself. You try to learn a new
language. >> One of the things which is most difficult in the beginning is listening. You listen to it, you
just hear blah blah blah, you don't hear any kind of word boundary. These blah blah blah, it's not
supposed to be Catalan, but some kind of language which you don't know. You don't hear where the
individual words are. I'm sure that once you have learned a new language, you have this experience that
in the beginning you just hear people speak. You have no idea where the word boundaries are. And the
reason it's really also not clear. We don't speak with word boundaries. When I speak, I don't put spaces
like when I write, I _ don't _ put _ spaces. I don't put spaces. I put everything together. If you take the
signal of what I say, you put it in the computer, you see one signal. There's no empty space in between.
There's no silence in between two words. So, you learn this only by experience, by being exposed to it
enough. You have your course book that helps so you can see the individual words, if you've seen them
often enough maybe then you learn how to distinguish words, so don't worry.

[Marten] Okay, thanks. But, so I have a course book, but there's of course a situation where you learn a
language without a course book, and that's when you're learning your first language as a child. So, I was
wondering how children learn these word boundaries.

[Marc] Right. So, now we have somebody who doesn't have a course book. A child actually doesn't know
what to expect, right? So the child somehow must know that she has to distinguish words to begin with.
And they do so. Well, there are various factors involved, can you think of anything?

[Marten] So the first thing that I thought was that parents will just repeat single words. So especially in
the beginning they say, ‘say Mamma, Mamma.’ And then at some point, the child gets annoyed as a
human, then just says ‘Mamma.’ And that of course works with other words like potato.

[Marc] It might be one factor, so that would be our first factor. So, it probably does play a role. It's also
known that mothers or caretakers speak slightly differently to their children than to other people. So,
that means you make certain things more precise. So that's one factor, and you may even make the
word boundaries more precise, or as you say, you say every word individually, that would be the first
factor. So caretakers will take care that you also hear individual words sometime.

Given that, once you know that you can actually use that for maybe something which would be a second
factor, which is now I know the word potato because my father says potato to me all the time so, and
then I hear somebody say "I eat potato", well I recognize this particular thing there. Same potato, and
now I know that "I eat" must be some kind of activity related to potato. Then hear somebody say, "I eat
rice." Okay, now I discover that "I eat", I don't maybe know exactly what it means, but at least this
activity is related to food. So rice must be another word. That could be a second kind of factor there.
Probably already more important than the first factor because most words definitely you don't hear like
this. It's actually very unlikely that you hear more than just a few hundred words. In the end you will
know tens of thousands of words.

The third factor is just that you will recognize statistically that certain sounds go together very often. So
you listen to these sounds and certain things go together very often. ‘I eat rice.’ Well, in "I eat rice"
there's "eat rice." Those things go together. But they don't go together all that often as "rice" does. So in
this way, by doing this kind of analysis, so that must mean, if this is true, it must mean that children do
this kind of counting in their head. And if they do, they can discover words in this stream of sounds that
they hear all around them.

In summary, we've seen that languages seem to differ in the number of words they have, but at the end
of the day we cannot really count the number of words in any language and therefore we cannot really
make that comparison. We have also seen that it's difficult to see or hear exactly what the words to the
language are. But there are various tricks, which you as a second language learner, or a baby, as a first
language learner, can use to determine what the words in her language are. In the next video we're
going to put words together in sentences.

3.4a Syntax and Word Order


In the previous video, we have looked at words. We have seen that words have some internal structure
and this can be a source of variation because the way in which languages put those pieces together can
be very different from one language to the next.

Now we move up one level, and the words themselves become the pieces of the puzzle, and we put
them into sentences. Now one unfortunate thing about the human mouth is that we cannot produce
more than one word at a time. I don’t think there is anybody that can do that.

So we have to put them in some order. We have to put them one after the other, and that give another
source of variation because you can obviously do that in different ways.

Subject, Object, Verb. Let’s take a simple sentence. Let’s take an English
sentence like ‘John eats rice.’ That has three parts. Actually, it has three words.
But they are able to correspond to traditional parts of a sentence, a subject, a
verb and an object.

‘John’ in this sentence is the subject. We are not going to go very deeply into why
that is, but some people say that is because the sentence is about John. Other
people might say John is performing the eating action. In the sentence, John is
very obviously the person who is eating. Other people might say this is because
‘eats’ is a form that changes whenever we change ‘John’. If I change ‘John’ into ‘I’, the ‘John eats rices’
changes to ‘I eat rice’
‘Rice’ in the sentence is the object. That’s basically because it is not the subject.
It’s the other thing, the other nominal thing, the other thing describing some type
of entity in the real world, and it’s clearly not the subject. For example, the verb
does not change when I change ‘ rice.’ When I change ‘rice’ into ‘meat’, you do
not say ‘John eat meat’

‘Eats’ in this sentence is the verb, the thing that changes when the subject
changes, the thing denoting the action, which is described by this sentence.

All of these are rough definitions, but they


work. It means that already in a simple
sentence like ‘John eats rice’, we have
three different things. These three
different things, we can order in six
possible ways. Do you believe that? Can you see it? Well, it’s
actually true for anything. So it’s not just true for words, but for
any three things we have to put in order. So take for instance
these cakes, which happen to be in front of me. I can put them
in six different orders very easily. Count with me, and be quick
(Marc shifts positions of the three cakes
into size possible orders.) Final point:
There are only six orders.

What is true for cakes is also true for words. I can put them in six possible orders
if I have three of them. If I have three parts of the sentence, I can put them in six
possible orders. And what is fun, all of those orders are attested in human
languages. We find some human language which has each of those orders as the
basic order.

Here they are, with examples of languages having that order.

[Transcriber’s note: there were no subtitles, so rather than type all


the spoken words, I simply include the chart showing the order and
languages. Tagalog is a language from the Phillipines, and Xavante
and Kixkaryana are languages of the American First Nation people.]

Longer Sentences. Now very often we will find sentences which


are just longer than three words. For instance, because these three
parts of speech (SVO) themselves can have more structure to them.
For example, it can be not just ‘John’, but ‘a nice man’, and that is
already three words. Let’s pick out two of those - ‘nice’ and ‘man’.
‘Nice’ we call and adjective, ‘man’ we call a noun. We are not
going into the precise definition, but nouns are entities in the
real world, and adjectives describe qualities. So ‘man’ is
something you can touch or move around, and ‘nice’ is some
quality which some men seem to have.

Those two words, we can put in two orders. Do we need a


demonstration? Here you are, two different orders. NA = Noun,
adjective. AN = Adjective noun. NA = Man nice, and AN = nice
man. Again, we can find both of them in languages of the world.

Here are two nice examples. They are actually nice because they
are from the same language families. They are both Tibeto-
Burman languages. On one hand, we have Apatani which puts the
adjective after the noun (NA), so we say something like ‘dog
small’. On the other hand, you have Mising, which puts the
adjective in front of the noun (AN), so you say ‘small village’.

That’s one example of a combination of two words. Here’s another example:


prepositions. Prepositions describe relations, like ‘in’ the house. ‘In’ is a
preposition that describes a relation to the house. Or ‘with’ Mary. ‘With’ is a
preposition that describes some type of relation. Again, the definitions are
rather rough, but hopefully it works for you.

Now ‘preposition’ – the Latin word for that – ‘ pre’ means ‘in front
of’. In English, this preposition is actually in front of the thing. ‘In’
the house. ‘With’ Mary. But obviously, logically speaking, you can
also put it on the other side. Are there any languages which do
that? There are. Here are two examples, both of them spoken in
Europe. Polish has prepositions, like English. You say ‘on the table’.
In Finnish, you say ‘Lisa with’. So Polish has prepositions, and
Finnish has postpositions.

(Lecture 3-4b continues next page)


3.4b Syntax and Word Order (continued)
Sentences, obviously, have many more parts. And that means we can have many different possible ways
of ordering them. If I would not just have 3 cakes here, but 15, there would be many, many, many
different ways of ordering 15 cakes.

Now, again what's interesting is that we find a lot of variation also in real
languages. So many of these different possible orders are actually also attested
in real languages.

But what's even more exciting is that there is some structure to this. It's not all
completely random. That's the topic for typologists. Typologists are linguists
who study many languages and compare them in certain dimensions. A famous
typologist, maybe the most famous typologist ever, was the 20th century
American linguist Joseph Greenberg. He studied correlations between different
word orders, the kinds of word orders we have just seen. He discovered that
whenever we find a language in which the verb comes before the object, we
can make a prediction about where the adjective will be with respect to the
noun. The prediction will be that it will be like French, that the
adjective will follow the noun. You can see it here. So ‘blanche’ is the
adjective ‘white’, ‘maison’ is the noun ‘house’, and you say ‘maison
blanche’, or you say ‘house white’ in French. And French also has the
verb before the object.

So that's very nice. Okay. It's very nice, but it doesn't always work. It's
a tendency. English doesn't have it like that. English is therefore,
typologically kind of strange in this respect. French is a language like
many other languages are. Some other languages have it the other
way around, but then they have everything the other way around.
Japanese, for instance, is the mirror image of French in many different
respects. So it has the object before the verb, as you can see. And it
also has the adjective before the noun, as you can see again. That's
the other possibility. You put everything in the opposite order.

Even the third factor we mentioned, prepositions, postpositions, correlates. So French type languages,
which have VO and adjectives after the noun, also tend to have prepositions. Again, not all of them do,
but most of them do. And Japanese type languages tend to have postpositions. Again, they are the
mirror image. It's almost like you take a French sentence, you write every word in the opposite order,
and you get a Japanese sentence. It's not completely like that, but almost.

Question Words. There's one last factor I want to


mention which influences word order. And this is that in
some languages, question words, words like ‘what’ or
‘who’ or ‘how’, behave a bit funny. English is actually such
a language, so it's easy to demonstrate. I say ‘John eats
rice’. We've seen that. So the object typically comes after
the verb. But there's an exception. If I ask about an object,
if I ask "what does John eat", "what" is the object, but it's
no longer there at the end of the sentence. It now is at the
beginning of the sentence. And all question words in English have this tendency of occurring right at the
beginning of the sentence. "What does John eat?" "Who eats?" "How does John eat?" "Where does
John eat?" Et cetera.

English is not alone in this. There are many languages all around the
world which do this, which put question words just at the beginning of
the sentence. But not all languages do. So some languages just keep
those question words in the place where they're supposed to be. So if
it's an object, it's in the place that it's supposed to be as an object.
"What does John eat" is an English sentence. If we translate it now into
Japanese for instance, we have seen that in Japanese the object comes
before the verb, and the subject actually comes before the object. So we have an SOV word order. That
doesn't change if you make it a question. So, in Japanese, you say the equivalent of ‘John rice eats’, and
the equivalent of ‘John what eats?’

Summary. We have seen that words are like cakes, we can order them in many different ways. And
languages explore the possibilities this gives to them and we find many different kinds of orders in many
different languages. But we have also seen that typologists have discovered that there are certain
correlations between word orders at different levels. So if we have a language where the verb comes
before the object, that implies something for the order of adjective and noun. In the next video, I'm
going to discuss these issues of word order more with Marten and Inge and they are going to force me
to say that things are actually really more subtle than this.

3.5 Discussion: World of Word Order


Hi. In the previous video, we ordered our words. We've seen that the specific word order is a
characteristic of an individual language. For instance, if you divide a sentence into a subject, a verb, and
an object, we can order those three things in six possible ways. There are six possible word orders. And
we have seen that all of those word orders are actually attested in some language. I'm going to discuss
word order more now with my students Marten and Inge.

[Marten] So the first question that I had is you said all word orders are actually attested in languages.
But I was wondering if these word orders are divided equally among languages of the world.

[Marc] That's a good question. Actually, we don't really know, because there are so many languages
which have not been described yet. But from the languages we know, and I think we can say it is still
some kind of representative sample, the answer seems to be clearly, no. If you just take two out of
these six orders, SVO and SOV, we have already covered 90% of the languages we know. If you take the
third word order, VSO, that covers another 8 or 9% even. So that means that the other three word
orders, together, they're about 1%. They're a very small minority. They're not all equal, no.

[Inge] But why is it that some word orders are more frequent than others.

[Marc] Why is that? Well, one thing which can, if we look at these six different orders. So, look at them
until you see something which is special about the first three, SVO, SOV, and VSO?

[Inge] I don't know, if I look at the structure, I would say that they all have S before O?
[Marc] Actually that's completely correct. That's exactly the answer I wanted to hear. So this is what
distinguished these first three from the last three. It's the subject coming before the object. So
apparently that's an order which languages like. And actually it seems to be something which really
humans like. Linguists have been doing experiments quite recently where they try to make people
gesture. So people would just use spoken language. They didn't know any sign language. You can still ask
them to imitate some type of story, to tell a story by just making movements with your hands. So you
show them a girl who is catching a fish. It didn't matter what the language was, so whether they were
Japanese or Turkish or English or Italian. It didn't matter what their word order in their language was.
They would all do the same thing in a sentence like this. They would first do the girl. I don't know how
you do a girl, it's some, long hair or something like that. And then they would do the fish. Let's do it like
that. And then, they would do the catch. So then, always in this order. So, the girl, fish, catch, so,
subject, object, verb. So even if the language would do something differently, they would do it. So that
order seems to come natural.

Now you might wonder, why is that? What makes this order come natural? Linguists are divided about
this. There are, I think, two main hypotheses. One is that some important part of grammar is innate,
children are born with it. Children are born in this case with this preference for subjects to come before
objects. The other linguists would say that there are other factors, there are other things in our brains,
in our way of perceiving the world which cause this, that we just tend to think first about who is doing
the thing, which would be subject, and then what is affected by the particular action which is taken,
which would be expressed by the object.

[Inge] Okay, so either because it was innate or because of the logical order. But there are still sort of
exceptions, because there are languages which have the other, less frequent basic word orders. So why
are there languages that do not have these most frequent basic word orders?

[Marc] Why are there any languages at all which put an object before a subject, right? That's because
this is probably, whatever the factor is, probably not the only factor. There might be other factors which
have worked in the history of this language, which might have been because there was something funny
about objects, such that these objects were better expressed at the beginning of the sentence. You like
to have shorter words at the beginning or the sentence more, or something like that. And then that
might have become part of the grammar in the course of time. And this might have given us some of
these other word orders.

[Marten] So, now, actually what you say is that there are certain factors that may be very important.
But then there may also have been all these other factors that may have played a role? So how does
that work for linguistics as a science? Because there does not seem to be a certain law that says okay
this is the way it is. There's only endless exceptions to everything.

[Marc] Right. Is linguistics a real science? Like physics? Because physics has real laws…

[Marten] …like gravity for example. If I take my pen then it will fall, always.

[Marc] To some extent, always, no. If you put some kind of wire there, and you attach it to the ceiling, it
doesn't fall. So there are exceptions there as well. If there is something else going, on it doesn't fall. The
thing is with physics, physics we can easily do in a lab. We can just isolate the important circumstances,
or we can say, we can make sure that it's not attached to anything. With language, we cannot do that.
Language is spoken by human beings. We cannot make sure that it's not attached to other things, that
there's not always some kind of other factor which is playing a role. We cannot put language in the lab
in that exact same way. So you have exceptions. But if you think about it, in physics you have exceptions
as well. It's just that we understand more clearly why you would have those exceptions.

Summary. If you're looking for a 100% law about word order, maybe you don't find it. But we find
something which is very close to that. We find that tendency which tends to be very strong, and which
covers 99% or 98% of all languages. We know subjects come before objects in almost all of those
languages. And we have seen that linguists have various explanations for this. Maybe they don't
completely agree about what the precise explanation is but we do find something which comes as close
to a law as we can, in the study of human behavior and human language. Now, knowing this, in the next
video, we are going to look at the word order of the languages of our informants.

Informant Videos.
Basque.
[Marc] We are now going to look at structure in some real languages. The fun thing is you can study
word order in a language without even understanding the language. You don’t have to know what the
words are and you can still figure out what the basic word structure or patterns are. For example, if we
take the major subdivision into subject, verb and object (SVO), that we can figure out by just asking a
few simple questions. Varun has graciously offered to help me figure out what is the word order in
Basque, his language. And I ask Varun, how do you say in your language, ‘the woman eats rice’?

(At this point, refer to the table of basic statements, followed by the words of a language and the English
form.)

[Marc] So notice what I do. I take two English sentences in which the words were the same except for
the object of the sentence, bread and rice. Those are the objects. In English, they are at the end
because English is an SVO language. But Varun did not change anything at the end of the sentence. But
he also didn’t change anything at the beginning of the sentence. What changed was something in the
middle of the sentence. We don’t know exactly what those words are, or the boundaries, but we
observed something in the middle changed when the object changed. Conclusion: the object must be
in the middle in Basque. So Basque is either SOV or VOS. Those are the possibilities.

And the other aspect of word order, we can find out in a similar way, by asking him just a few more
questions.

(Transcriber’s note: the basis list is the questions for each informant. They will give you clues to SVO
order, use of adjectives, prepositions or postpositions. The puzzle is yours to solve.)

Basis:
The woman eats rice. The beautiful plant
The woman eats bread. The ugly plant
The woman cooks rice. In the city
The man cooks rice. In the village
The beautiful flower Towards the city
The ugly flower Towards the village
Who eats rice? Who cooks bread?
What does the man eat? What does Mary cook?

Abbruzese:
La femmənə sə magnə lu risə The woman eats rice.
La femmənə sə magnə lu panə The woman eats bread.
La femmənə cocə lu risə The woman cooks rice.
L’ommənə cocə lu risə The man cooks rice.
Lu fiorə bbellə The beautiful flower
La pianda bbellə The ugly flower
La pianda bbellə The beautiful plant
La pianda bbruttə The ugly plant
A la cità In the city
A lu paesə In the village
Versə la cità Towards the city
Versə lu paesə Towards the village
Chi sə magnə lu risə? Who eats rice?
Chi ssə magnə l’ommenə? What does the man eat?
Chi cocə lu panə? Who cooks bread?
Chi ccocə Marijə? What does Mary cook?

Basque:
Emakumeak arroza jaten du The woman eats rice.
Emakumeak ogia jaten du The woman eats bread.
Emakumeak arroza egosten du The woman cooks rice.
Gizonak arroza egosten du The man cooks rice.
Lore ederra The beautiful flower
Lore zatarra The ugly flower
Landare ederra The beautiful plant
Landare zatarra The ugly plant
Hirian In the city
Herrian In the village
Hiriruntz Towards the city
Herriruntz Towards the village
Zeinek jaten du arroza? Who eats rice?
Zer jaten du gizonak? What does the man eat?
Zeinek erretzen du ogia? Who cooks bread?
Zer erretzen du Maryk? What does Mary cook?

Tarifit Berber
ṯamɣaaṯ ttett aṛṛuẓ The woman eats rice.
ṯamɣaaṯ ttett aɣṛum The woman eats bread.
ṯamɣaaṯ tessnenna aṛṛuẓ The woman cooks rice.
aryaz issnenna aṛṛuẓ The man cooks rice.
ṯanewwašt ṯaṣeḇḥant The beautiful flower
ṯanewwašt ṯaɛeffant The ugly flower
nnwaṛ aṣeḇḥan The beautiful plant
nnwaṛ aɛeffan The ugly plant
ḏi ṯendint In the city
ḏi ḍḍšaa In the village
ɣaa ṯendint Towards the city
ɣaa ḍḍšaa Towards the village
wi itetten aṛṛuẓ? Who eats rice?
min itett waryaz? What does the man eat?
wi issnennan aɣṛum? Who cooks bread?
min tessnenna Mary? What does Mary cook?

Mandarin Chinese
这/那个女人吃米饭 The woman eats rice.
这/那个女人闷米饭。 The woman eats bread.
这/那个女人吃面包。 The woman cooks rice.
这/那个男人做米饭。 The man cooks rice.
漂亮的花儿 The beautiful flower
难看的花儿 The ugly flower
美丽的植物 The beautiful plant
难看的植物 The ugly plant
市里 In the city
村子里 In the village
向市里 Towards the city
向村子里 Towards the village
谁吃米饭? Who eats rice?
这/那个男人吃什么? What does the man eat?
谁做面包? Who cooks bread?
玛丽做什么饭? What does Mary cook?

Gungbe
Náwè l n ~ ɖù lɛ!sì The woman eats rice.
Náwè l n ~ ɖù blɛ!ɖì The woman eats bread.
Náwè l n ~ ɖà lɛ!sì The woman cooks rice.
Dáwè l n ~ ɖà lɛ!sì The man cooks rice.
Vòvó ɖàgbèɖàgbè l The beautiful flower
Vòvó kànnyrán l The ugly flower
Àtín ɖàgbèɖàgbè l The beautiful plant
Àtín kànnyrán l The ugly plant
Tò l mɛ~ In the city
Tò l mɛ~ In the village
Tò l kpá Towards the city
Tò l kpá Towards the village
Mɛnù wɛ~ n ~ ɖù lɛ!sì? Who eats rice?
Étɛ wɛ~ dáwè n ~ ɖù? What does the man eat?
Mɛnù wɛ~ n ~ ɖà blɛ!ɖì? Who cooks bread?
Étɛ wɛ~ Màrí n ~ ɖà? What does Mary cook?
Turkish
Kadın pilav yer The woman eats rice.
Kadın ekmek yer. The woman eats bread.
Kadın pilav pişirir. The woman cooks rice.
Adam pilav pişirir. The man cooks rice.
Güzel çiçek The beautiful flower
Çirkin çiçek The ugly flower
Güzel bitki The beautiful plant
Çirkin bitki The ugly plant
Şehirde In the city
Köyde In the village
Şehire doğru Towards the city
Köye doğru Towards the village
Kim pilav yer? Who eats rice?
Adam ne yer? What does the man eat?
Kim ekmek pişirir? Who cooks bread?
Mary ne pişirir? What does Mary cook?

3.6 Summary: Structure Beyond Sentences


Hi. In this module, we looked into words and sentences. We have seen how we can classify languages
according to how they structure their words, and how they structure their sentences. Now I'm sure
there are still many questions you have, many questions you can discuss with each other. And I would
like you to come over to our forum and discuss them with each other, and with us. As a matter of fact,
Marten has already prepared a question for us now.

[Marten] Yes, my question has to do with structure. So far, we've looked at sounds, words, and
sentences. And I was wondering if there is some higher level of organization that linguists study?

[Marc] Well, that's a very good question. Partly the answer is yes. There's a field like fixed linguistics,
and, we're not really discussing that in this course, but it is an interesting topic of study. What would be
bigger than a sentence? What do you think would be bigger than a sentence? Come over to our forum
and discuss this with us. And definitely come to the next module. Because there we're going to talk
about meaning, how we give meaning to words and sentences in human language.

Interview with Noam Chomsky

[Maten] Hello, and welcome to our expert interview for the third module. Today we're honored to have
with us maybe a linguist who needs no introduction, Professor Noam Chomsky. Thanks for scheduling us
in. So, we'll just start right away if that's okay? So first of all, and I'm sure you've answered this question
many times before, but I think it's something that really interests the participants of this course, which is
the reason that you got into linguistics in the first place.

[Noam] The real reasons? I was a 16-year-old undergraduate at the University of Pennsylvania, and I had
gone to the university with great expectations. The catalog looked really exciting. High school had been
very boring, but this looked like a way out, but practically every course I took was just more of boring
high school material, and I lost interest. There was one course that I was quite interested in, Arabic.
There was a fine professor, fine scholar, an Italian anti-Fascist emigree (this was 1945.) Sure got a way
with the but I was ready to practically ready to drop out of college. I was so bored with it. When I
happened to meet Zellig Harris through separate, common political interests, he was a very impressive
person, and I always enjoyed talking to him. He suggested to me that I proof read a draft of his, the book
of his that was coming out. It came out later as Methods in Structural Linguistics. It was my introduction
to the field. Then he suggested that I start taking his graduate courses, which I did. Then he suggested
other graduate courses with other faculty members, philosophy, mathematics, and I started doing that.
Ended up with a very weird undergraduate education, which consisted of a scattering of graduate
courses, with no professional credentials, but I just kind of got more and more interested in the field.

There was some background involved. My father was a Hebrew scholar. His doctoral dissertation had
been on Kimhi, the medieval Hebrew grammarian. When I was maybe 12 or 13, I'd read his doctoral
dissertation, and some work on the history of Semitic(??). I was interested in that, and all of that fed
into these common interests.

[Marten[ Yeah. So it all just came together at some point? >> Yeah. >>

[Noam] It just felt- True credentials and linguistics or any other field would never be admitted to any
respectable department.

[Inge] Okay, so well you've been studying linguistics all of your life, I think. What is about language that
you think is so fascinating that you've kept on studying it?
[Noam] Well, language has been recognized for centuries by philosophers, by scientists; Decartes,
Darwin the whole list, as the central, unique human endowment, the striking faculty that distinguishes
humans from other organisms. That's the traditional view, and I think there's considerable evidence for
it. It is kind of the human essence in a way. It's the source of their creativity or originality or ability to
think and what-not, plan in ways that are unique in the animal world. It also has some very strange
properties when you look at it carefully. So language is what's called a digitally infinite system. It's
infinite. There's no limit to the number of expressions that you can produce and understand, which is
already interesting because how do you gain an infinite capacity from finite data?

And it's also digital, it's not continuous, like say the communication system of bees is a continuous
system. The language is a digital system; five word sentences, six word sentences, but no five and a half
word sentences. And digital infinity is an interesting property. By the mid 20th century it had become
quite well understood, the mathematical theory of computation and so on. And it became possible,
then, really for the first time, to try to capture accurately what the nature of this property is. And it's
quite unusual in the biological world. You don't find such systems. And traditionally it had been pretty
hard to study because the concept of digital infinity computability was not really clearly understood
theoretically until pretty much early mid 20th century. Within mathematics and then it was..

[Marten] So would I be correct it summarizing when I say that it's both the mathematical elements of
the system and the way in which, by studying language, you can study the way that we are, the essence
of humanity, the kind of creature we are.

[Noam] It’s not the whole story, but that combination of accessibility to careful formal inquiry, and
human significance is, I've found, a kind of irresistible combination.

[Marten] Yeah, yeah. Well we, of course wholeheartedly agree. As you know, budding linguists…

[Inge] Yeah, another question we have is what is the most surprising thing that you know now, but that
you didn't know when you started doing linguistics?

[Noam] First of all I should say in connection with what you said before, that this is not the way language
was looked at, at that time. In fact the general view of language was that languages can vary arbitrarily,
and each one is different from every other one. You shouldn't approach any particular one with any
preconceptions and that language simply... A good illustration of how language was conceived was
actually Harris' book the Methods in Structural Linguistics. It was a collection of procedures that a
linguist can use in the field to organize the materials that he collects from an informant. That's what
linguistics was. There was nothing much to say theoretically, and maybe some things about the
structure of phonology, which kind of features there are. But beyond that, not very much. That was
because of the inability, at the time, it's not really a criticism, to capture what a generative procedure is.
What is an infinite generative procedure? It was pretty clear at the very beginning, say around 1950,
that each language has a kind of a basic property which ought to be common to all languages, that is,
that a generative procedure which yields an infinite array of hierarchically structured expressions, each
of which has a determinate fixed interpretation at the interface with two other biological systems, the
sensory motor system for externalization and the internal, conceptual, planning thought systems that
sometimes go to conceptional, intentional system. So there are these two external conditions that the
generative procedure must satisfy. And this system had to evolve somehow. There was a time when it
wasn't there. Now it's there. It's apparently uniform among humans. There are no known differences in
linguistic capacity in the human species. So for example, if you take someone from an Amazonian tribe
which hasn't had contact with other humans for 20,000 years and bring them up in say, Boston, they'll
be like my grandchildren. And conversely, there's no known linguistic or other cognitive differences. So
somehow, something arose, which is fixed. And it seems to be pretty recent, but we didn't know that at
the time. But by now it's pretty clear, reasonably clear that it hasn't evolved for at least 50 or 60,000
years, since humans left Africa. And that if you go back, not long before that in evolutionary time,
there's no evidence that existed, that this was not anachronistic. What I'm saying is now reasonably well
known. It was then not known. What was known was that it somehow evolved, and that it seems to be
the same for all people.

Now that raises a very serious question. It suggests that when you try to write a linguistic, a grammar of
a particular language. It looks extremely complex. Each one looks very different from the last one you
tried. And therefore, the mechanisms that you have to propose for this basic principle appear to be
extremely complicated. If you look at early generative grammars, 1950s, 1960s, the theoretical
framework allowed for very complex operations, interactions of operations. And that seemed to be
necessary for just descriptive adequacy, to try to capture the data. But it was obvious that it couldn't be
correct. For one thing, there's no way in which they could have been learned. And for another reason, it
couldn't have evolved, the system this complex. So the right answer somehow has to be that there's an
extremely simple system which somehow yields this diversity and complexity just for the interaction of
extremely simple principles and general laws of nature, which are probably laws of computation. But
that looked like an idle dream at the time.

The most interesting discovery is that it may not be an idle dream. There's no reason today, I think, to
take seriously a thesis which can't prove, but I think we're kind of approaching, that language is an
almost perfect system, meaning, a perfect system would be one that satisfies universal and linguistic
conditions of computational efficiency. These are essentially laws of nature that use the simplest
possible generative operation, combinatorial operation. We know what that is. And then just the way it
works, it yields the apparent diversity and complexity of languages through small modifications here and
there. That sometimes builds a strong, minimalist thesis. And it would have looked crazy 20 years ago,
hopelessly impossible 50 years ago, and now, more or less plausible.

[Marten] So, what you're saying is that actually, it's all surprisingly simple. Or it's surprisingly orderly,
maybe?

[Noam] It's a possible thesis, which maybe your generation will prove, that language is close to a perfect
system. At its core, it's close to the optimal way of satisfying the interface conditions. There's more. By
now, I think, (I'm not speaking of a consensus in the field by any means, this is my personal opinion, and
a few other people) there's mounting evidence that the relation to the interfaces is as measured, that is
that in particular the relation to the sensory motor system to externalization is ancillary. It's a secondary
property. The core system of synthetics and semantics and thought and so on, is independent of the
properties of externalization. In particular, for example, it's independent of linear order of words. We
have to speak. The words have to come out in linear order. But I think that's just a property of the
articulatory system. But it isn't a language. It's a filter through which language has to pass. And in fact if
you look at other systems of externalization, like sign, we now know (it wasn't known 40 or 50 years
ago, but it’s now known) that sign is essentially the same as spoken language. It has remarkably similar
properties, but the externalization is different because it's a different modality. So you can use
simultaneity in sign or spatial orientation in ways that you, say anaphora for a reference and so on, that
you can't use in the linear, spoken language. And if you had other modalities it, different conditions. But
if this is correct, and I think there's good reason to believe it is, then virtually all actual linguistic work is
on a peripheral system.

It's on a system of externalization. And that makes practical sense. And so for example, if somebody
wants to learn, say Dutch, they don't have to learn, they can't learn the fundamental principles. Nobody
knows them to teach them. What you learn is the pronunciation, the vocabulary, the facts about word
order or things like that, which seem to be extremely superficial. Very complicated, but extremely
superficial. And apparently don't feed don't yield consequences for the core syntax and semantics,
which it's independent of. And so for example, say the relation between a verb and an object, a
transitive verb and an object is the same semantically whether the verb precedes or follows the object,
it doesn't care, you know. And that seems to generalize quite, quite widely to some interesting
properties of language.

So if this is correct, as I suspect it is, then the core principle, the basic principle that I mentioned at the
beginning, generating an infinite array of hierarchic structures mapping to the interfaces should really
be mapping to one interface - the thought, the conceptual interface.

Then there's another system, which is, has to do with externalization, putting in public what's going on
internal to your mind. Which is probably mostly unconscious. Now there's another possibility, I think,
which looks to me increasingly plausible is that much of the mental operations that are going on when
you interpret, understand, create, produce expressions is not only unconscious, but beyond the level of
consciousness.

[Inge] Yeah. Actually we were, this sort of ties in with another question we had. because you're currently
also involved in bio-linguistics. What is the focus of that field, we would like to know. And could you
maybe explain something about it? About bio-linguistics?

[Noam] Well this again sets us back about 65 years, around 1950 when this kind of work began. There
was kind of a party line if you like, a broadly accepted consensus in the field. It was essentially
behavioral science. You study behavior, organizational behavior. In linguistics you study the
arrangement and organization, the patterns of data that you pick up, and language acquired by training,
by habit, by this evolution. It wasn't maybe natural selection, or something, but, nothing to say…

But there were a few of us who had a different view, actually three graduate students. One of them is in
the adjacent office, Morris Halle, another is Eric Lenneberg, who went on to found Biology of Language.
The three of us were graduate students at Harvard around early 50s. And we just disagreed sharply with
the consensus view. A part of the disagreement was the recognition of what seems to me a truism that
is widely contested. And that is that your language is an internal property of you, that it is inside you. It's
not in the world. It's inside your brain, represented somehow. Nowadays something's wrote in pie
language and internal language. If language is an internal property of a person, then it's a biological
system. And you ask yourself what kind of a biological system is it? That's bio-linguistics, and at that time
there wasn't a lot to say about it. But over the years it’s become a richer topic. Eric Lenneberg's book
Foundations of Biology of Language, or something like that, came out in 1967. In many ways, it's still
onto the best. I think he has the best discussion of evolution of the language, one of the best.

But all of these topics were thought about, but there wasn't much to say about them. So they say
‘evolution of language,’ these are topics that were discussed right away. You had to recognize that
somehow the system evolved, and it has to be simple enough so that it could have evolved. It's a
condition a kind of over-arching condition on construction of linguistic theories. And it showed that
every one of them just has to be wrong, because they're much too complex to have possibly evolved.
That's actually the motivation for searching for something like what I call the strong minimalist thesis. It
could have evolved, the question now is ‘is this possible?’ But there wasn't much literature about it.
There were lots of meetings, conferences, symposium, courses. I taught joint courses with a laureate in
Biology at MIT for years, but very little came out because there wasn't much to say. Linguistic theories
were too complex for a sensible approach, either to acquisition or to evolvability.

In the 1980s, 1990s that began to change. There were things you could say. One change that was
significant was around 1980 when what's called the principles and parameters approach crystallized.
That actually opened up lots of possibilities. The earlier approach to linguistic theory within this general
framework was that linguistic theory provided a kind of a format for grammars. Each grammar of each
particular language had to fit that format. And you picked the grammar on the basis of some evaluation
measure, given data. So the idea is a child has data, there's a fixed format in its head, which is
genetically determined. And then it picks the simplest grammar in terms of the fixed technique of
measurement, given the data. That does, in principle, yield an answer to how language can be acquired,
but it doesn't work, because it requires astronomical calculations. So it's totally unfeasible. If
understood, it's, in principle, possible. But it can't be right.

The principles and parameters approach, which was pretty much crystallized in the early 80's, offered a
different way of looking at it. The principles are fixed, they're part of the genetic endowment, and we
hope to make them simple enough, so that they could have evolved, that's the, what became called the
minimalist program it's just the continuation of the effort since the early 50s, heading hopefully to the
strong minimalist thesis or something like as the answer to be reached. The parameters are the options
available to the trials to fix given data, and there's quite interesting work on parameter setting and the
choices and arrangements of parameters and so on. There is incidentally an interesting evolutionary
problem on the side. Where'd the parameters come from? And, there are some interesting ideas about
that. One possibility which is being explored is that there really aren't any parameters. It's just that the
principles are underspecified in certain respects. And that specification of what is underspecified gives
the various options. If that turns out to be true, it'll solve the evolvability problem. But this is really hard
work, to try to show in detail that the strikings, the superficial diversity and complexity that you see, is
actually misleading, And that it's reducible to some fundamental, simple principles. And this is pretty
familiar in the sciences.

And I think any science you look at the data just looks hopelessly complex. In physics say that was true in
the, when Galileo and his associates tried to find simple principles of motion, they were pretty much
ridiculed because it's obvious that it's hopelessly complex. Just look at the leaves blowing in the wind
and so on and so forth. And it took a long time for the understanding to be reached that you can
account for diverse and complex phenomena in terms of simple principles if you can discover what they
are and how they function.

The same in biology. Now, in fact, at the time, when it was generally assumed in linguistics that
languages are arbitrarily different from one another and no limit on diversity, then pretty much the
same is assumed about biological organisms, that the diversity and complexity of organisms was so
great, that each one had to be studied on its own. Over the years, it's been found that that's not true,
that there's striking uniformities conservation of fundamental forms limited possibilities for organisms
and something. In fact, it's gotten so far that there's even a proposal which is taken seriously, though
not accepted, that there's a universal genome, one genome for everything, just minor variations of it.
It's not an outlandish proposal by now, it's just like the strong minimalist thesis.

[Marten] Yeah. So, I'm afraid we're, I suppose that we're running out of time soon. And I'm sure that you
have, many other obligations today. So, just to wrap it up, of course, there's people watching this video
who are already interested in linguistics, they're taking this introductory online course. So, after this
course they will know a little bit about linguistics. What would you recommend for them? Would they,
should they read your, your oeuvre? Or is that maybe one step too far at this point?

[Noam] Everything I've been saying is a minority opinion. I'm not giving a consensus in the field, and that
should be understood. All my life, in fact I've been part of a small minority of linguists that go kind of
against the stream. So that has to be taken into account. It's the way it looks to me, it's not the way it
looks to the field. But that's for students have to figure that out for themselves. There's a diversity of
opinion which are the right ways to think about these things

[Marten] But that's a good thing, I suppose. Right? Sorry, to interrupt. That's a good thing, I mean-.
differences of opinion lead to interesting new..

[Noam] Exactly, that's what makes the field exciting. And this one is a very exciting one, both because of
the significance of the study of language (as we said it's kind of the core of human nature,) and the
apparent conflict (and I think it's apparent0 between the diversity and complexity of the data and the
recognition that there's got to be a core fundamental simple explanation for it, because of the
conditions of learnability, vulnerability, and so on. And that kind of superficial contradiction makes an
extremely interesting field.

[Marten] Good. Yeah. Thanks very much.

Required Reading:

 Bernard Comrie. "Linguistic Typology". in Annual Review of Anthropology. 1988: vol. 17. pp
145-159.

http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/2155909?uid=3739592&uid=2&uid=4&uid=3739256&sid
=21106450187843

Please note you will have to make an account at Jstor to access, but this is free. Ask help in
the forum if you are unsure how.

These transcripts were produced by a course student without compensation. The intellectual property
belongs to Leiden University. Errors are the responsibility of the transcriber.

Editor’s Notes: During week 2, a number of links were placed in the forum to websites assisting in
understanding sounds and the IPA. The editor found the following sites to be helpful in digesting and
recording the material. I include them here as references for further study by my fellow students.

Online IPA audio website: http://teaching.ncl.ac.uk/ipa/consonants-pulmonic.html Highlight the


phonetic symbol of interest and listen to two speakers make the sound.
An online keyboard for IPA phonetic symbols: http://ipa.typeit.org/
Online keyboard for Arabic IPA: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Help:IPA_for_Arabic
YouTube video on the pronunciation of consonants:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jF9qTJD25Ig&feature=youtu.be
Online Virtual Linguistics studies: http://linguistics.online.uni-marburg.de/welcome.php

I also found the following article interesting. It is by the expert interviewed this week.
The Faculty of Language: What Is It, Who Has It, and How Did It Evolve?
http://www.chomsky.info/articles/20021122.pdf