Tag Archives: session 7

Research in English (Linguistics) A session 7: June 3rd, 2011

  1. We read the textbook from page 23 – 26, with explanations from Ms. Aoki and Ms. Takeuchi.
  2. What were the key points of today’s lesson?
    1. The Basque people live in the Pyrenees, the mountains between France and Spain

      the Basque country (image from Wikipedia)
    2. Because the Basque’s live in the area as the Cro-Magnon cave-paintings, perhaps the Basque language is a remnant of the Cro-Magnon people?

      Lascaux cave painting
      Lascaux cave painting (image from Wikipedia, click to see a larger one)
    3. Human beings all began to develop language at about the same time: 30,000 years ago. Why? It’s a mystery.
      1. Even remote peoples developed their own languages, e.g. the Ainu, whose language is different from Japanese, and has some similarities with European languages.
    4. There are three main racial groups amongst humans: Caucasian, Mongoloid and Negroid (though the Japanese Wikipedia article claims there are 4 groups: “過去の自然人類学文化人類学では、ネグロイド、および北アフリカヨーロッパ西アジアアラブ南アジアなどに見られるコーカソイド(白色人種)、オセアニアに見られるオーストラロイド、東アジア・東南アジア・ポリネシア・南北アメリカ大陸などに見られるモンゴロイド(黄色人種)を4大人種として分類していた。” The Ainu, although they live in Hokkaido, look like Caucasians more than Mongoloid. However, according to Wikipedia, this theory has been disproved by DNA testing:

      Full-blooded Ainu are lighter skinned than their Japanese neighbors and have more body hair.[22] Many early investigators proposed a Caucasian ancestry,[23] although recent DNA tests have not shown any genetic similarity with modern caucasian Europeans.

    5. Japanese and Korean are, like Basque, unrelated to other languages.
    6. Recent studies of cognates show that the world’s languages may be related, despite their differences.
    7. There are many theories which try to explain how language began. Some of these theories have funny names: Bow-wow theory, Ding-dong theory, Pooh-pooh theory, Yo-He-Ho theory. (Actually, only the Bow-wow theory is genuine; the others were made up by Bill Bryson.)
    8. “For a long time it was believed that language was simply learned.” (Bryson, 1990, p. 25)
    9. But then came Chomsky and his idea of “universal grammar“.
    10. “To a baby, no language is easier or more difficult than any other… children seem to be programmed to learn language.” (ibid. 26)
    11. “All children everywhere learn language in much the same way.” (ibid.  26)


  1. Is music language? Why (why not)?
  2. Is art language? Why (why not)?
  3. Prepare your section of chapter 2:
    1. Give us the key points (see my summary above 例として上記に書いた要約を読んでください)
    2. Do a little bit of research (see my point about Ainu above 例として上記にアイヌについて書いた要約を読んでください)
    3. Type up, print out and bring your list of sources 参照文献 to next class. Refer to the MLA handbook or to the handout I gave you.