# Language and the Brain

fall 2021 classes

## Class 1

• What do linguists do?
• Linguists as part of cognitive science
• There exists some sentences of setnences such that it allows for recursive composition
• So once we setup the idea that English cannot be a FSM, what is the data?
• Langauges that use case markings
• case markings allow it to mtaintain a more consistent structure modulo case marking
• chomsky is unconcerned with the statistical metadata that arises from a corpus
• “internalist” - grammars and structures within a single sentence
• “externalist” - set of sentences within a corpus
• for sentences to make sense, we assign a phoronlogical structure to pronounce sentences
• which then means a sentence makes sense iff:
• syntax (chomsky is here) is correct
• phoronological sufficent (this can be derived from statistics)
• “there exists a faculty of language” - but is there a single faculty of langauge

## Class 2 - 9/13

• what is the neo-durkheimian relationship between langauge and thought?
• is language just a set of sentences?
• in the 70’s, they thought that sentences are a sequence of words or sounds
• what does this leave out? -> hidden syntax and semantics
• syntax cannot directly be seen
• semantics sometimes contain a truth value
• oftentimes this forms the $$\{form/sound, meaning\}$$
• chomsky identified this as a triplet of $$\{form, syntax, meaning\}$$
• sentences in english are infinite due to recursion (aka not finite structured)_
• chomsky also distinguished between “lists” and “conjunctions”
• lists as $$\mathbb{N}$$
• however, langauge (or at least english) is “uninterestingly” infinite
• as you push further out and generate more sentences, the sentences themselves become regularized
• for chomsky, grammar is the compression of language, and if you memorize words you can generate an infinite set of sentences
• also must make a distinction between “actual” and “potential”
• “actual” sentences are bound by the maximum speaker time or computation time
• “potential” sentences are the infinite set of all sentences generatable
• what are the grammatical rules for telling us if a word is an actual word?
• “moak” -> is this a word?
• we have grammars to say this is a potential word, but to reject a word, we actually do a semi-exhaustive search through our internal dictionaries to find out
• some words enter the vernacular after it is used
• “jabberwocky”, for example
• how do we distinguish words that are archaeic/low frequency from words that are incorrect?
• what was the theory of cognitive science before the 60’s?
• behavioralism
• learning is the intentional modification of the environment in order to produce different future behaviors
• what is actually being “learned” when you acquire a langauge?
• a child does not do a blind word/object association (i.e. this is a ball)
• the faculty of langauge extends beyond this into “teaching” or “learning” a grammar and a generative capacity
• grammars have variance built in