Official 09 Set 6

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Features of Human Language

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What does the professor mainly discuss?
  • A. The findings of a study on prairie dog communication

  • B. The way that mammals learn to make warning cries

  • C. Features that distinguish language from animal communication systems

  • D. Various types of signal used by animals to communicate with each other

显示答案 正确答案: C

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    NARRATOR:Listen to part of a lecture in a linguistics class. The professor has been discussing Animal communication systems.

    FEMALE PROFESSOR:OK, so last time, we covered the dances honey bees do to indicate where food can be found and the calls and sounds of different types of birds.Today, I'd like to look at some communication systems found in mammals, particularly in primates, such as orangutans, chimpanzees, gorillas... Yes, Thomas?

    MALE STUDENT:Excuse me, Professor. But when you talk about gorilla language, do you mean like, those experiments where humans taught them sign language or a language like...

    FEMALE PROFESSOR:OK, wait just a minute.Now, who in this class heard me use the word "language"? No one I hope.What we're talking about here, are systems of communication, all right?

    MALE STUDENT:Oh, sorry, communication, right.But could you maybe, like, clarify with the differences?

    Of course, that's a fair question.OK, well, to start with, let's make it clear that language is a type of communication, not the other way around.OK, so all communication systems, language included, have certain features in common.For example, the signals used to communicate from the bee's dance movements, to the word and sentences found in human languages.All these signals convey meaning.And all communication systems serve a purpose, a pragmatic function of some sort.Warning of danger perhaps or offering other needed information.

    But there're several features peculiar to human language that have, for the most part, never been found in the communication system of any other species.

    For one thing, learn ability.Animals...animals have instinctive communication systems.When a dog, a puppy gets to certain age, it's able to bark.It barks without having to learn how from other dogs, it just barks.But much of human language has to be learned from other humans.

    What else makes human language unique?What makes it different from animal communication? Debber?

    How about grammar? Like having verbs, nouns, adjectives?

    OK, that's another feature. And it's a good example...

    I mean I mention this cause like in my biology class last year, I kind of remember talking about a study on prairie dogs, where, I think the researchers claimed that the warning cries of prairie dogs constitute language, because they have this, different parts of speech.You know, like nouns, to name the type of predator they spotted, adjectives to describe its size and shape, verbs..., but now it seems like...

    All right, hold on a moment.I'm familiar with the study you're talking about.And for those of you who don't know, prairie dogs are not actually dogs.They're type of rodent who burrow in the ground and the grasslands of the west United States and Mexico.

    And in this study, the researchers looked the high-pitched barks a prairie dog makes when it spots predator.And from this they made some pretty... well, they made some claims about these calls qualifying as an actual language, with its own primitive grammar.But actually, these warning calls are no different from those found among certain types of monkeys.And,Well, let's not even get into the question whether concepts like noun and verb can be meaningfully applied to animal communication.

    Another thing that distinguishes a real language is a property we call "discreteness".In other words, messages are built up out of smaller parts, sentences out of words, words out of individual sounds, etc.Now maybe you could say that the prairie dog's message is built from smaller parts, like say for example, our prairie dogs spot a predator, a big coyote approaching rapidly.So the prairie dog makes a call that means "coyote", then one that means "large", and then another one to indicate "speed".But you really suppose it makes any difference what order these calls come in?

    No. But the discrete units that make up language can be put together in different ways.Those smaller parts can be used to form an infinite number of messages, including messages that are completely novel, that have never been expressed before.For example, we can differentiate between: "A large coyote moves fast." and say "Move the large coyote fast." or "Move fast, large coyote.", and I truly doubt whether anyone has ever uttered either of these sentences before.

    Human language is productive and open-ended communication system, whereas no other communication system has this property.

    And another feature of language that's not displayed by any form of animal communication is what we call "displacement".That is, language is abstract enough that we can talk about things that aren't present here and now.Things like "My friend Jo is not in the room." or "It will probably rain next Thursday."Prairie dogs may be able to tell you about a hawk that's circling over head right now, but they never show any inclination to describe the one they saw last week.

  • 旁白:请听一段语言学课上的演讲。教授一直在讨论动物交流体系的问题。

    教授:好的,上次我们讲到蜜蜂的舞蹈是为了指出食物藏在什么地方,我们还谈到不同种鸟的相互呼唤和发出的各种声音。今天,我想讲一下哺乳动物身上发现的某些交流体系,特别是灵长类动物,像猩猩,黑猩猩和大猩猩……好的,托马斯?

    学生:不好意思老师,当你讲到大猩猩的语言时,你是说像人类进行的教会大猩猩手语或其他语言的实验吗?

    教授:嗯,你先等一下在座的有听到我用了“语言”这个词吗?我想没人吧。我们这里讲的是,交流的体系是吧?

    学生:哦,对不起,交流,对。但你能否,将两者区分一下?

    当然,这问题合情合理。好的,嗯,首先,我们需要清楚语言是一种交流方式,而不能反过来说。那么所有的交流体系,包括语言,都有共同的特征。比如说,从蜜蜂做出的跳舞动作的信号,到人类语言中的单词和句子。所有这些信号都传递出某些信息。而所有的交流体系都是有目的的,某种实用主义的功能。也许是对出现危险的警告或提供其他需要的信息。

    但是在人类语言中有几种特征,在其他任何物种的交流体系中从来没有发现过。

    一方面,学习能力。动物有本能的交流体系。当一只小狗长到一定岁数的时候,它便能够吠。它不用从其他狗身上学什么就会吠了。然而,人类语言很多都需要从他人那里习得。

    还有什么其他特征让人类语言独一无二呢?什么让动物交流与众不同呢?Debber?

    语法?比如有动词名词形容词之分?

    好的,这是另一种特征。是个好例子……

    就像我去年在生物课上说到的,我记得当时讲到一次关于草原犬鼠的研究。我想研究人员宣称草原犬鼠发出的警告声构成了语言,因为它们这种不同的说话的能力。你知道,像名字,说出它们发现的捕猎者的类型,描述大小和外形的形容词,动词等……但现在似乎……

    好的,等等我对你说的研究很是熟悉而你们中可能有人不知道,草原犬鼠不是狗它们是藏在美国西部和墨西哥洞穴和草原中的啮齿类动物.

    而在研究中,研究人员研究的是当它们发现捕猎者时,发出的高亢的吠叫声.而从中他们会发出一些挺…呃,他们发出的呼唤宣称了这是一种真实的语言,运用他们自己原始的语法。但事实上,这些警告声与在某一种类猴子上发现的别无他样。嗯,我们不要卷入这样的问题:像名词或动词的概念是否会被有意义地运用在动物的交流中。

    另一种我们将真正的语言区分开来的因素是一种我们称为“间断性”的特质。换句话说,信息是由各种小部分信息组成的,句子是由各种单词组成的,单词是来自于各个音素组成的,等等。而也许你会说草原犬鼠发出的信息是来自更小部分的信息,比如,草原犬鼠发现捕猎者,一只草原狼正在迅速靠近。因此一只草原犬鼠会发出表示“草原狼”和“大只”的信号,而还有另一个信号,表示其靠近速度有多快。但你会真的认为这些呼唤信号的次序不同意义也不同?

    不,然而这种组成语言的间断的单元不能以不同的方式组合起来。单位小的信息能够用来组成无限数量的信号,包括那些全新的信号抑或那些以前表达过的。比如,我们可以讲一下两者区分:“一只草原狼快速移动”和“将草原狼移动得快点”或者“动作快点,大只草原狼”。而我真的怀疑是否有人曾经说过以上这些句子。

    人类语言是一种多产而自由开放的交流体系,而其他语言交流体系没有这种特质。

    另一种任何动物交流都没有显示过的语言特征叫做“位移”。那就是,语言是抽象的,我们所讲的东西可以此时此刻此地并不在场的。比如“我的朋友Jo 不在房间里”或“下周四很可能下雨”草原犬鼠也许能够跟你说你的上空有一只老鹰正在盘旋,但是他们从来没有能够描述上周看到的东西。

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    题型分类:主旨题
    原文定位:I'd like to look at some communication systems found in mammals, particularly in primates, such as orangutans, chimpanzees, gorillas...
    选项分析:
    这篇文章的主旨需要全文的总结概括。教授开头说要讲some communication systems found in mammals,但是这样选择证据还不充分,往下面听内容。下面教授讨论了几个 features,人类的 unique,如此,C选项正确。其他的选项太片面。

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Features of Human Language

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