Emerging languages in Esotericand Exoteric Niches: Evidencefrom Rural Sign LanguagesJack J. WilsonThe University of Leeds,...
Jack J. WilsonLinguistics and Phonetics department at the University ofLeeds, England.His PhD project explores the impact ...
● Why Sign Languages● Linguistic Niche hypothesis and USLs and RSLs● Pragmatic hypotheses of language change● Kata Kolok● ...
● Theyre understudied in the currentliterature● As sign languages are moretransparent/iconic, it is easier to makegood gue...
Who knows?Population dynamics were a lot different backthen.Our prehistoric ancestors existed withoutrecourse to writing, ...
Social structure can affect linguistic structuresPopulations/languages adapt to environmentalnichesMost existing literatur...
Languages in Exoteric Niches:● larger speaker populations● greater geographical coverage● greater degree of contact with o...
Used in exoteric nichesUsed by the majority of signers within a countryEmbedded within the larger spoken communityEstablis...
● large lexicons● phonologically complex elements● syntactically complex expressionsUSLs
Languages in Esoteric Niches:● smaller speaker populations● smaller geographical coverage● less contact with other languag...
Used in Esoteric NichesFound in small villages of the developing worldHave been compared to home-sign systems(Washabaugh, ...
no access to media servicessocial events such as religious ceremoniesare not translated into signno access to any form of ...
Pragmatic Processes inLanguage ChangePragmatic processes = the inferential processesthat interlocutors make during interac...
Pragmatic Processes inEsoteric nichesWray & Grace: "[languages in esoteric nicheshave] huge reliance on shared knowledge,p...
Rural Indian Sign LanguageUses pointing to refer to:bed, people, clothes, shoes, stone(Jespon, 1991)Most common use of dei...
Providence Island Sign Language
based on the non-linguisticenvironment/contextJepsons continuumPurely arbitrary, indecipherablefrom context or iconicity(J...
Kata KolokOnly twelve generations old50 deaf individuals in a population of 2200Two general strategies for naming colours:...
Colour Terms● Do not require a technologically advanced culture● All known languages possess at least two colour terms● Th...
The use and lexicalisation of colour termsThe Munsell Colour chartFrom work on the organisation of the colour lexicon(for ...
Signing videosde Vos, 2011
Language change is cyclical and parasitic upon itself.Traugott and Dasher’s (2002)Invited Inference Theory of Semantic Cha...
ConclusionsEnvironmental niches affect individual pragmaticprocessesIndividual level processes can explain the shapeof pop...
Questions?
ReferencesBentz, C. & Winter, B. (2012). The impact of L2 speakers on the evolution of case marking. In:Scott-Phillips, T....
Emerging languages in Esotericand Exoteric Niches: Evidencefrom Rural Sign LanguagesJack J. WilsonThe University of Leeds,...
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Emerging languages in esoteric and exoteric niches: evidence from rural sign languages

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Transcript of "Emerging languages in esoteric and exoteric niches: evidence from rural sign languages"

  1. 1. Emerging languages in Esotericand Exoteric Niches: Evidencefrom Rural Sign LanguagesJack J. WilsonThe University of Leeds, Linguistics and PhoneticsHannah LittleVrije Universiteit Brussel, Artificial Intelligence Laboratory
  2. 2. Jack J. WilsonLinguistics and Phonetics department at the University ofLeeds, England.His PhD project explores the impact gestural contributionsmay have at the level of discourse and comprehension.Interests: Semantics/Pragmatics, linguistics of signlanguages, multimodality, and interactional sociolinguistics.Hannah LittleVrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium in the Artificial IntelligenceLaboratory.Her PhD topic is looking at the evolution of speech usingcultural learning experiments.Interests: Linguistic structure, Evolutionary Linguistics,Evolution of Speech, Linguistic niche hypothesisThe Authors
  3. 3. ● Why Sign Languages● Linguistic Niche hypothesis and USLs and RSLs● Pragmatic hypotheses of language change● Kata Kolok● Data● Theory● ConclusionsTalk outline
  4. 4. ● Theyre understudied in the currentliterature● As sign languages are moretransparent/iconic, it is easier to makegood guesses about origins.● New sign languages not born from otherlanguages.Why Sign Languages?
  5. 5. Who knows?Population dynamics were a lot different backthen.Our prehistoric ancestors existed withoutrecourse to writing, telephone, television,computers etc. and within a single, relativelystable socio-cultural space.Wray and Grace (2007)ARE ANY PRESENT-DAYLANGUAGES LIKE THE FIRSTHUMAN LANGUAGE?
  6. 6. Social structure can affect linguistic structuresPopulations/languages adapt to environmentalnichesMost existing literature looks at trends inmorphological and syntactic features as the resultof second language learning etc.(e.g. Lupyan & Dale, 2010; Bentz & Winter, 2012).The Linguistic Niche Hypothesis(Lupyan & Dale, 2010)
  7. 7. Languages in Exoteric Niches:● larger speaker populations● greater geographical coverage● greater degree of contact with other languages● intergroup communication - use the languageto speak to outsiders (individuals from differentethnic and/or linguistic backgrounds)● more non-native speakersExoteric NichesWray and Grace (2007)
  8. 8. Used in exoteric nichesUsed by the majority of signers within a countryEmbedded within the larger spoken communityEstablished public services e.g.● media services such as sign interpretedtelevision● deaf clubs, which provide deaf specific events● deaf education systemsJohnston & Schembri (2007), Jepson (1991), Sutton-Spence & Woll, 1999;Urban Sign Languages (USLs)
  9. 9. ● large lexicons● phonologically complex elements● syntactically complex expressionsUSLs
  10. 10. Languages in Esoteric Niches:● smaller speaker populations● smaller geographical coverage● less contact with other languages● intra-group communication● Share:○ a culture and environment○ general knowledge of the community and itsactivities○ have a unified identity.Esoteric Niches
  11. 11. Used in Esoteric NichesFound in small villages of the developing worldHave been compared to home-sign systems(Washabaugh, Woodward, & DeSantis, 1978)Rural Sign Languages (RSLs)
  12. 12. no access to media servicessocial events such as religious ceremoniesare not translated into signno access to any form of formal educationno finger spellingRSLs
  13. 13. Pragmatic Processes inLanguage ChangePragmatic processes = the inferential processesthat interlocutors make during interactionSperber & Wilson, Levinson, Grice etc. etc.Scott-Phillips (2010): communicative systemsrequire pragmatic principles at their core.Traugott and Dasher (2002) - language changemust begin with the speaker (i.e. production)
  14. 14. Pragmatic Processes inEsoteric nichesWray & Grace: "[languages in esoteric nicheshave] huge reliance on shared knowledge,pragmatics and common practice."
  15. 15. Rural Indian Sign LanguageUses pointing to refer to:bed, people, clothes, shoes, stone(Jespon, 1991)Most common use of deictic gestures inreferring to body parts (de Vos, 2011)Pointing in RSLs
  16. 16. Providence Island Sign Language
  17. 17. based on the non-linguisticenvironment/contextJepsons continuumPurely arbitrary, indecipherablefrom context or iconicity(Jespon, 1991)
  18. 18. Kata KolokOnly twelve generations old50 deaf individuals in a population of 2200Two general strategies for naming colours:“naming an object that typically has the color”“pointing at an object within the vicinity that iscolored in the same way”(: 71)
  19. 19. Colour Terms● Do not require a technologically advanced culture● All known languages possess at least two colour terms● They are abstract○ This results interesting dilemma in terms oflexicalisation
  20. 20. The use and lexicalisation of colour termsThe Munsell Colour chartFrom work on the organisation of the colour lexicon(for a review, see Kay and Maffi, 1999)Data
  21. 21. Signing videosde Vos, 2011
  22. 22. Language change is cyclical and parasitic upon itself.Traugott and Dasher’s (2002)Invited Inference Theory of Semantic Change
  23. 23. ConclusionsEnvironmental niches affect individual pragmaticprocessesIndividual level processes can explain the shapeof population wide trendsRSLs are useful to make inferences aboutprotolanguageRSLs are useful for observing why semanticchange might happen
  24. 24. Questions?
  25. 25. ReferencesBentz, C. & Winter, B. (2012). The impact of L2 speakers on the evolution of case marking. In:Scott-Phillips, T. C., Tamariz, M., Cartmill, E. A., & Hurford, J. R. (Eds.), Proceedings ofthe 9th International Conference on the Evolution of Language (pp. 58-63). New Jersey:World Scientific.de Vos, C. (2011). Kata Kolok color terms and the emergence of lexical signs and rural signingcommunities. Senses & Society 6 (1): 68-76.Jepson, J. 1991. Urban and Rural Sign Language in India. Language and Society, 20:1, 37-57.Lupyan, G. & Dale, R. (2010). Language is Partly Determined by Social Structure. PLoS ONE:5(1): e8559.Sperber, D. & Wilson, D. 1986 [1995]. Relevance: Communication and Cognition 2ed. BlackwellPublishing, Oxford: UK.Traugott, E. C., & Dasher, R. B. 2002. Regularity in semantic change. Cambridge: CambridgeUniversity Press.Washabaugh, W., Woodward, J. C., & DeSantis, S. (1978). Providence Island Sign: Acontextdependent language. Anthropological Linguistics, 20 (3): 95-109.Wray, A. & Grace, G. (2007). The consequences of talking to strangers: Evolutionary corollariesof sociocultural influences on linguistic form. Lingua 117 (3): 543-578.Further questions? mljjw@leeds.ac.uk or hannah@ai.vub.ac.be
  26. 26. Emerging languages in Esotericand Exoteric Niches: Evidencefrom Rural Sign LanguagesJack J. WilsonThe University of Leeds, Linguistics and PhoneticsHannah LittleVrije Universiteit Brussel, Artificial Intelligence Laboratory
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