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Language and Linguistics

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Language and Linguistics


Steven Pinker, who is a renowned linguistics professor at Harvard University, proves that indeed language is worth a thousand pounds through his lecture. In the video, the lecturer provides an insightful introduction to linguistics and explains the evolution of spoken language. Also, he deliberates on the actuality of an innate universal grammar. What is more, the lecture recounts why language is an integral part of humankind's evolution, biology, and social relationships by deriving cues from geography, psychology, history, biology, and neuroscience. The professor also references findings from Noam Chomsky's widely popular research on an innate universal grammar, the nature of syntax with the inclusion of meaning and content, creativity in language and language acquisition in children. Pinker finalizes his lecture by teaching a variety of ways in which linguistics is applied. The applications of linguistics range from how writing and reading are trained to how it is used in the interpretation of literature, politics, and law.  

Pinker explains how language works by delving into the different areas of linguistic studies and uses cognitive psychology to prove his findings. He asserts that the study of pragmatics, phonology, semantics, and syntax is paramount when trying to understanding how language works. Steven also highlights the rules governing sound production and grammar. Furthermore, he explains how language is initially acquired and how it is subsequently processed and encoded in the brain. He further clarifies the dissimilarities between language and thought. Steven Pinker points out the ambiguities associated with language use and its humorous consequences. Through this study, a clarification on why computers do not understand language yet it is easy and almost automatic for humans is given.


Language features vastly as a topic in the lecture. Taking into consideration that there are approximately 6000 languages spoken in the world today, it is essential to learn how the brain works in language processing. The lecture advances that the typical human does not recall a word but can only remember the meanings attached to the words upon retrieval from the memory where it is stored. Language interfaces and language production play a significant role in the sequence by which the brain comprehends speech comprehension. Notably, the brain follows a defined sequence in the reverse process of speech production when answering to a conversation or giving feedback when communicating. Moreover, I find it essential to understand the open-ended creativity of language considering that familiar words could be used in varying combinations to express diverse meanings.

I found the difference between languages and thought to be very interesting and chose it as the second topic. This topic is important as the origins of language as a grassroots phenomenon help in disassociating it with thought. I learned that a human being is capable of thinking without language as these are separate functions carried out in different parts of the brain. People's desire to find new words to express their thoughts is the foundation of language. Over a duration of time, thousands of contributions by people taking the form of new word construction, jargon, and slang are accumulated to form a particular language. This insightful discovery has helped me understand why children can think without prowess in speech. It serves as a confirmation that children are pre-wired with an innate universal language that develops with the active use of language in everyday life.  



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