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While enrolled at Ohio State , Hockett became interested in the work of Leonard Bloomfield , a leading figure in the field of structural linguistics. Hockett continued his education at Yale University where he studied anthropology and linguistics and received his PhD in anthropology in Murdock , and Benjamin Whorf. In his dissertation was published as a series in the International Journal of American Linguistics. Career[ edit ] Hockett began his teaching career in as an assistant professor of linguistics in the Division of Modern Languages at Cornell University where he was responsible for directing the Chinese language program.

In , he took up an adjunct post at Rice University in Houston, Texas , where he remained active until his death in In addition to making many contributions to the field of structural linguistics , Hockett also considered such things as Whorfian Theory , jokes , the nature of writing systems , slips of the tongue, and animal communication and their relativeness to speech. Outside the realm of linguistics and anthropology, Hockett practiced musical performance and composition.

View on linguistics[ edit ] In his "Note on Structure" he argues that linguistics can be seen as a game and as a science. A linguist as player has a freedom for experimentation on all the utterances of a language, but no criterion to compare his analysis with other linguists. Late in his career, he was known for his stinging criticism of Chomskyan linguistics. His book The State of the Art outlined his criticisms of the generative approach.

In his paraphrase a key principle of the Chomskyan paradigm is that there are an infinite number of grammatical sentences in any particular language. The grammar of a language is a finite system that characterizes an infinite set of well-formed sentences. More specifically, the grammar of a language is a well-defined system by definition not more powerful than a universal Turing machine and, in fact, surely a great deal weaker.

It is currently fashionable to assume that, underlying the actual more or less bumbling speech behavior of any human being, there is a subtle and complicated but determinate linguistic "competence": a sentence-generating device whose design can only be roughly guessed at by any techniques so far available to us. This point of view makes linguistics very hard and very erudite, so that anyone who actually does discover facts about underlying "competence" is entitled to considerable kudos.

Within this popular frame of reference, a theory of "performance" -- of the "generation of speech" -- must take more or less the following form. If a sentence is to be uttered aloud, or even thought silently to oneself, it must first be built by the internal "competence" of the speaker, the functioning of which is by definition such that the sentence will be legal "grammatical" in every respect.

But that is not enough; the sentence as thus constructed must then be performed, either overtly so that others may hear it, or covertly so that it is perceived only by the speaker himself. It is in this second step that blunders may appear. Just if there are no such intrusions is what is performed an instance of "smooth speech".

I believe this view is unmitigated nonsense, unsupported by any empirical evidence of any sort. In its place, I propose the following. All speech, smooth as well as blunderful, can be and must be accounted for essentially in terms of the three mechanisms we have listed: analogy, blending, and editing.

Speech actualizes habits--and changes the habits as it does so. Speech reflects awareness of norms; but norms are themselves entirely a matter of analogy that is, of habit , not some different kind of thing. There are many situations in which bracketing does not serve to disambiguate. As already noted, words that belong together cannot always be spoken together, and when they are not, bracketing is difficult or impossible.

He attempted to distinguish the similarities and differences among animal communication systems and human language. In turn, that differentiates human spoken language from animal communication and other human communication systems such as written language. Hockett viewed this as an advantage for human primates because it allowed for the ability to participate in other activities while simultaneously communicating through spoken language.

Additionally, a listener has the ability to determine the source of a sound by binaural direction finding. Rapid Fading transitoriness : Wave forms of human language dissipate over time and do not persist.

A hearer can only receive specific auditory information at the time it is spoken. Interchangeability: A person has the ability to speak and hear the same signal. Anything that a person is able to hear can be reproduced in spoken language. Total Feedback : Speakers can hear themselves speak and monitor their speech production and internalize what they are producing by language.

Specialization: Human language sounds are specialized for communication. When dogs pant it is to cool themselves off. When humans speak, it is to transmit information. Semanticity : Specific signals can be matched with a specific meaning. Arbitrariness : There is no limitation to what can be communicated about and no specific or necessary connection between the sounds used and the message being sent.

Displacement : People can refer to things in space and time and communicate about things that are not present. Productivity : People can create new and unique meanings of utterances from previously existing utterances and sounds.

Traditional Transmission : Human language is not completely innate , and acquisition depends in part on the learning of a language. Duality of patterning : Meaningless phonic segments phonemes are combined to make meaningful words, which, in turn, are combined again to make sentences. While Hockett believed that all communication systems, animal and human alike, share many of these features, only human language contains all 13 design features.

Additionally, traditional transmission , and duality of patterning are key to human language. Broadcast Transmission and Directional Reception : An auditory audible human language signal is sent out in all directions but is perceived in a limited direction. For example, humans are more proficient in determining the location of a sound source when the sound is projecting directly in front of them, as opposed to a sound source projected directly behind them.

Rapid Fading of a signal in human communication differs from such things as animal tracks and written language because an utterance does not continue to exist after it has been broadcast. With that in mind, it is important to note that Hockett viewed spoken language as the primary concern for investigation.

Written language was seen as being secondary because of its recent evolution in culture. That differs from many animal communication systems, particularly in regards to mating. For example, humans have the ability to say and do anything that they feel may benefit them in attracting a mate. That design-feature incorporates the idea that humans have insight into their actions. Specialization is apparent in the anatomy of human speech organs and our ability to exhibit some control over these organs.

For example, a key assumption in the evolution of language is that the descent of the larynx has allowed humans to produce speech sounds. Additionally, in terms of control, humans are generally able to control the movements of their tongue and mouth.

Dogs however, do not have control over these organs. When dogs pant they are communicating a signal, but the panting is an uncontrollable response reflex of being hot [1]. Semanticity : A specific signal can be matched with a specific meaning within a particular language system.

For example, all people who understand English have the ability to make a connection between a specific word and what that word represents or refers to. Hockett notes that gibbons also show semanticity in their signals, but their calls are far more broad than human language. Arbitrariness within human language suggests that there is no direct connection between the type of signal word and what is being referenced.

For example, an animal as large as a cow can be referred to by a very short word Archived October 27, , at the Wayback Machine.

Discreteness : Each basic unit of speech can be categorized and is distinct from other categories. In human language, there are only a small set of sound ranges that are used and the differences between these bits of sound are absolute.

In contrast, the waggle dance of honey bees is continuous. For example, humans have the ability to communicate about unicorns and outer space. Productivity : Human language is open and productive in the sense that humans have the ability to say things that have never before been spoken or heard.

In contrast, apes such as the gibbon have a closed communication system because all of their vocal sounds are part of a finite repertoire of familiar calls.

Traditional Transmission :: suggests that while certain aspects of language may be innate , humans acquire words and their native language from other speakers. That is different from many animal communication systems because most animals are born with the innate knowledge , and skills necessary for survival. Honey bees have an inborn ability to perform and understand the waggle dance. Duality of patterning : Humans have the ability to recombine a finite set of phonemes to create an infinite number of words, which, in turn, can be combined to make an unlimited number of different sentences.

Design feature representation in other communication systems[ edit ] Honeybees Foraging honey bees communicate with other members of their hive when they have discovered a relevant source of pollen , nectar , or water.

In an effort to convey information about the location and the distance of such resources, honeybees participate in a particular figure-eight dance known as the waggle dance. Semanticity : Evidence that the specific signals of a communication system can be matched with specific meanings is apparent because other members of the hive are able to locate the food source after a performance of the waggle dance.

Displacement : Foraging honeybees can communicate about a resource that is not currently present within the hive. Productivity : Waggle dances change based on the direction, amount, and type of resource. Gibbons are small apes in the family Hylobatidae. While they share the same kingdom , phylum , class , and order of humans and are relatively close to man, Hockett distinguishes between the gibbon communication system and human language by noting that gibbons are devoid of the last four design features.

Gibbons possess the first nine design features , but do not possess the last four displacement, productivity, traditional transmission , and duality of patterning. Displacement, according to Hockett, appears to be lacking in the vocal signaling of apes. Productivity does not exist among gibbons because if any vocal sound is produced, it is one of a finite set of repetitive and familiar calls. Hockett supports the idea that humans learn language extra genetically through the process of traditional transmission.

Hockett distinguishes gibbons from humans by stating that despite any similarities in communication among a species of apes, one cannot attribute these similarities to acquisition through the teaching and learning traditional transmission of signals; the only explanation must be a genetic basis. Later additions to the features[ edit ] In a report published in with anthropologist and scientist Stuart A. Altmann, Hockett derived three more Design Features , bringing the total to These are the additional three: Prevarication : A speaker can say falsehoods, lies, and meaningless statements.

Reflexiveness: Language can be used communicate about the very system it is, and language can discuss language Learnability : A speaker of a language can learn another language Other additions[ edit ] Cognitive scientist and linguist at the University of Sussex Larry Trask offered an alternative term and definition for number 14, Prevarication : Chomsky theorized that humans are unique in the animal world because of their ability to utilize Design Feature 5: Total Feedback, or recursive grammar.

This includes being able to correct oneself and insert explanatory or even non sequitur statements into a sentence, without breaking stride, and keeping proper grammar throughout. While there have been studies attempting to disprove Chomsky, Marcus states that, "An intriguing possibility is that the capacity to recognize recursion might be found only in species that can acquire new patterns of vocalization, for example, songbirds, humans and perhaps some cetaceans.

Rather, their utterances would have been halting and even quite confusing to us, today.


Charles F. Hockett



A course in modern linguistics


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