Language and Societies

ANT/LIN 5320 at Wayne State University

What do whining dogs have to do with universal grammar?

What do whining dogs have to do with universal grammar?

Leah R. Shapardanis

Universal Grammar contends that language universals are necessary for child language acquisition and syntactically evident in spite of surface-level diversity. Evans & Levinson challenge UG and argue that incidences of linguistic diversity must be acknowledged at “face-value.” This paper seeks to evaluate interrogative rising pitch cross-culturally using Evans and Levinson’s approach. By examining the varied realizations of interrogative pitch manipulation, as well as non-pitch question markers in spoken and signed languages, empirical evidence is brought against a universal of interrogative pitch marking. Further discussion about diversity in pitch use and interrogative marking addresses the influence cognitive functions have on language and how, using Evans and Levinson as a jumping-off point, linguists can reveal more about the universals of human cognition by disregarding language universals.

Keywords: Language Universals, Evans & Levinson, Cognitive Linguistics, Phonology (Cognitive Phonology), Linguistic Diversity, Pitch (Rising Pitch), Fundamental Frequency Code, John J. Ohala, Ulrike Zeshan

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April 23, 2010 - Posted by | abstract

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