The exam consists of two essays and four short answers.  I will pick one essay and one short answer.  You pick the remaining essay and three more short answers.  Look at the board  for instructions; use the provided lined paper. WHENEVER POSSIBLE, USE EXAMPLES TO ILLUSTRATE YOUR ANSWERS.

essays

These will be graded, 10 points each, on the basis of completeness and details.  Two pages for each of two essays.

1. “Language Instinct?”

Outline and briefly discuss Pinker's arguments and evidence that there is a "Language instinct." Follow this outline—abc-- in your answer.

a) First say what it means that something like language is an instinct.

b) What are Pinker's four arguments for "instinct?" Be complete here and include examples of relevant evidence supporting EACH of those arguments.

c) What do you think of this idea -- an instinct for language --so far? Is there additional evidence, pro or con, that you think he should be aware of? (Briefly characterize that evidence or say why you think the case is closed.)

2. functions of language

In class we have discussed these functions from three perspectives—individual, social, and cultural.  Discuss each of these with at least three examples of each perspective.

3. the language of thought, mental representation, and natural language

a) Explain the idea of a “language of thought” (Mentalese) and the kinds of mental representations that might be used in thinking.  Use examples from readings and class discussion and videos to make your points clear. 

b) Explain—using at least three of his arguments-- why Pinker doesn’t believe we think “in” English or any natural language dialect.

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Short answers (I pick one (See board); you pick any other 3.)  Two pages for four short answers. 

1

We have seen a video of a woman from Iowa who had a stroke that left her unable to understand a sentence “The bird that the cat watched was hungry.” despite knowing about birds, cats, watching and hunger.  In regard to her ability to process language, what seemed to be her basic problem? ? 

2

Explain the difference between a pidgin and Creole language.  What does this suggest about human language acquisition?

 

3

How does FOXP2 appear at present to play a role in human language?

4

What are Chomsky’s “two fundamental facts” about human language?

5

How does mechanoelectrical transduction play a role in human language.

6

We have seen how humans and animals might be involved in communication regarding the danger of a tsunami.  What is fundamentally different about these two systems of communication?

7

How does the study of deaf individuals significantly inform us about the relationship between human language and thought?

8

Pinker explains that human language works using “two tricks.”  What are they?

9

What evidence do we have on how two to three year old children’s language interacts with their mental representations? Briefly describe one research finding that bears on this issue.