Jul 23, 2017 Research papers

Cultural contribution towards shaping grammar and Language

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Cultural contribution towards shaping grammar and Language


Evidence for Direct Geographic Influences on Linguistic Sounds: The Case of Ejectives

We present evidence that the geographic context in which a language is spoken may directly impact its phonological form. We examined the geographic coordinates and elevations of 567 language locations represented in a worldwide phonetic database. Languages with phonemic ejective consonants were found to occur closer to inhabitable regions of high elevation, when contrasted to languages without this class of sounds. In addition, the mean and median elevations of the locations of languages with ejectives were found to be comparatively high. The patterns uncovered surface on all major world landmasses, and are not the result of the influence of particular language families. They reflect a significant and positive worldwide correlation between elevation and the likelihood that a language employs ejective phonemes. In addition to documenting this correlation in detail, we offer two plausible motivations for its existence. We suggest that ejective sounds might be facilitated at higher elevations due to the associated decrease in ambient air pressure, which reduces the physiological effort required for the compression of air in the pharyngeal cavity-a unique articulatory component of ejective sounds. In addition, we hypothesize that ejective sounds may help to mitigate rates of water vapor loss through exhaled air. These explications demonstrate how a reduction of ambient air density could promote the usage of ejective phonemes in a given language. Our results reveal the direct influence of a geographic factor on the basic sound inventories of human languages.

Cultural contribution towards shaping grammar and LanguageNameCourseInstructorDate Pirahã is a unique language that is isolated from the influence of other neighboring Amazonian languages, and shows that the notion of universal grammar is not applicable in understanding of languages. Cultural constraints and context have direct impact on grammar, as languages are culturally embedded. Everett’s claims on cultural constraints and influence on cognition and grammar are in contrast to the notion of Universal Grammar. However, cultural constraints could lead to peculiarities in languages leading to regular lexicon or syntax unique to languages. This essay supports Everett’s claim that cultural constraints and to some extent geography, have a profound effect on grammar by focusing on the Pirahã language. Everett (2005) asserts that there is no counting in Pirahã, and this could be a result of cultural constraints. To further highlight on this, is that Piranha adults find it hard to learn the numbering system because they have been brought up in a number less society. Given that the language has few speakers and the people are isolated, Everett’s claims support the view that culture influences grammar. There is a...

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