Answers to Questions Regarding Language, Psychology and Definitions

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Noam Chomsky argues against B.F. Skinner’s view of humans born as a “blank slate;” he states that this behaviorist view too simplistic. Chomsky claims humans have born-with prewired brains that enable us to acquire language easily, called universal grammar. The “critical period” of when a child needs language acquisition begins with infancy till five years old. If not confronted with language, then the child probably cannot ever acquire language. Chomsky believes the human brain contains genetically programmed blueprints or modules for language learning. Partly due to this, diverse languages show more similarities than differences. He also states that speakers of a language generate their sentences from a set of rules; his model/view is called generative grammar. During their critical stage, children need to acquire the main setting of the head parameter (English: head-initial). After this knowledge, the child can then learn the diverse rules about the language. Chomsky argues two separate modes, E-language and I-language, exist in all languages. E-language, also called pragmatics of language, exist as “external” observable words that humans make to communicate, therefore hard to study with all the complicated rules. The I-language, or “internal” set of rules that enable one to communicate in the specific exposed language, differs between each child and generations, therefore can develop new languages around the world. 2. Those with better communication abilities had a significant advantage over those who did not. Language could have helped ensure survival of their current generation such as using vocalizations as a warning sign that an animal was attacking. For hunting, communication would add a level of organiz... ... middle of paper ... ...others, are known for being fierce (peacemaking requires threat or actual use of force), but must still do the ordinary jobs (clear gardens, etc) like everyone else. Religion: Yanomamo religion dominates a majority of their lives; if someone is sick, they believe a hekura sent by an enemy’s shaman caused the sickness, and a shaman must cure the person (sometimes figuratively pull the demon out) with the help of his own demons. Their religion has ceremonies (reahu – death ceremony, a year later they eat the ashes of the deceased among other things) and a four layer cosmos. Myths: Yanomamo myths and the way Yanomamo men tell the myths have humor, differ slightly person to person (each adding their own minor twist to the story), no badabo (spirits of living things who bear the names of plants and animals), and sex dominates the myths (in general, their culture too).

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