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.We are interested in how the names are pronounced. Therefore, describe in any way you can how to say the words you list. Suppose, for example, you named one detergent Blick. You could describe the sounds in any of the following ways:2. Consider the following sentences. Put a star (*) after those that do not seem to conform to the rules of your grammar, that are ungrammatical for you. State, if you can, why you think the sentence is ungrammatical.a. Robin forced the sheriff go.b. Napoleon forced Josephine to go.c. The devil made Faust go.d. He passed by a large pile of money.e. He drove by my house.f. He drove my house by.g. Did in a corner little Jack Horner sit?h. Elizabeth is resembled by Charles.i. Nancy is eager to please.j. It is easy to frighten Emily.k. It is eager to love a kitten.l. That birds can fly flabbergasts.m. The fact that you are late to class is surprising.n. Has the nurse slept the baby yet?o. I was surprised for you to get married.p. I wonder who and Mary went swimming.q. Myself bit John.r. What did Alice eat the toadstool with?s. What did Alice eat the toadstool and?3. It was pointed out in this chapter that a small set of words in languages may be onomatopoeic; that is, their sounds “imitate” what they refer to. Ding-dong, tick-tock, bang, zing, swish, and plop are such words in English. Construct a list of ten new onomatopoeic words. Test them on at least five friends to see whether they are truly nonarbitrary as to sound and meaning.4. Although sounds and meanings of most words in all languages are arbitrarily related, there are some communication systems in which the “signs” unambiguously reveal their “meanings.”Describe (or draw) five different signs that directly show what they mean. Example: a road sign indicating an S curve.Describe any other communication system that, like language, consists of arbitrary symbols. Example: traffic signals, in which red means stop and green means go.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 if not, why not?6. An African grey parrot named Alex who was the subject of a 30-year experiment was reported to have learned the meanings of 150 words. There are many reports on the Internet about Alex’s impressive abilities. In the light of evidence presented in this chapter, or based on your own Internet research, discuss whether Alex’s communications were the results of classical operant conditioning, as many scientists believe, or whether he showed true linguistic creativity, as his trainers maintain.7. A wolf is able to express subtle gradations of emotion by different positions of the ears, the lips, and the tail. There are eleven postures of the tail that express such emotions as self-confidence, confident threat, lack of tension, uncertain threat, depression, defensiveness, active submission, and complete submission. This system seems to be complex. Suppose that there were a thousand different emotions that the wolf could express in this way. Would you then say a wolf had a language similar to a human’s? If not, why not?8. Suppose you taught a dog to heel, sit up, roll over, play dead, stay, jump, and bark on command, using the italicized words as cues. Would you be teaching it language? Why or why not?10. Noam Chomsky has been quoted as saying:It’s about as likely that an ape will prove 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, or based on your own Internet research, comment on Chomsky’s remark. Do you agree or disagree, or do you think the evidence is inconclusive?18. With regard to the “euphemism treadmill”: Identify three other situations in which a euphemism evolved to be as offensive as the word it replaced, requiring yet another euphemism. Hint: Sex, race, and bodily functions are good places to start.
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