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Wetenschapsfilosofie Engels W6 Cheat Sheet by

Wetenschapsfilosofie Engels

Encycl­opedia Britannica

Functi­ona­lism, in lingui­stics, the approach to language study that is concerned with the functions performed by language, primarily in terms of cognition (relating inform­ation), expression (indic­ating mood), and conation (exerting influence). Especially associated with the Prague school of linguists prominent since the 1930s, the approach centres on how elements in various languages accomplish these functions, both gramma­tically and phonol­ogi­cally. Some linguists have applied the findings to work on stylistics and literary criticism.
“Language does not function in isolation: it is an integrated part of a living human (psych­olo­gical and social) reality”

Sample Functi­onalist Questions

• How does the natural language user work?
• How do speakers & addressees succeed in commun­icating with each other through the use of linguistic expres­sions?
• How can we build a model of the NLU (M.NLU) in such a way that M.NLU can do the same things that real NLUs can?

Basic tenets of Functi­onalism

Functi­onalism is an overar­ching term and includes many different frameworks / theories.

1. Commun­ication is the primary function of language and shapes its forms
2. External factors are attributed great importance in explaining linguistic phenomena
➝ languages are shaped by external factors and therefore cannot be explained without them
language external motivating factors: biological endowment of human beings & socioc­ultural contexts
3. Syntax is not autonomous from semantics & pragmatics
➝ morpho­syntax is intimately bound up with the kinds of meaning that it serves to express

• attempt to account for the full range of lingui­stics phenomena rather than merely a ‘core grammar’
• authentic linguistic produc­tions as data
• attention to discourse and the sentence
• interested not only in individual languages but also in ‘language’ as a whole
• interested in simila­rities & differ­ences between languages in functional terms

Functi­onalism vs Genera­tivism

➝ function vs formal properties
➝ across vs within languages
➝ universals in cognit­ive­/so­cio­cul­tural abilities vs universals in language specific innate abilities
➝ both concerned with what consti­tutes a possible human language & posit universal constr­aints

Functi­onalist Theory of Language Acquis­ition

• Children acquire language through commun­icative intera­ctions between them and their enviro­nments
• do not necess­arily deny innate­ness, but only regard them as a last resort
• believe in a set of general cognitive principles & predis­pos­itions to learn instead of UG

The five functions

Several human functions are involved in the commun­icative use of language other than the linguistic function:
1. linguistic capacity: NLU is able to correctly produce & interpret linguistic expres­sions
2. epistemic capacity: NLU is able to build up, maintain & exploit an organized knowledge base - derive, file, retrieve & utilize knowledge from linguistic expres­sions
3. logical capacity: ability to derive further pieces of knowledge, i.e., the ability to reason
4. perceptual capacity: ability to perceive enviro­nment, derive knowledge from percep­tions & use this in producing expres­sions
5. social capacity: what to say and how in commun­icative situations

Mnemonic: S.P.E.L.L. ➝ social / perceptual / epistemic / logical / linguistic

Standards of adequacy

Descri­ptive adequacy: provide a complete account of the gramma­tical organi­zation of connected discourse in a language
Pragmatic adequacy: language as instru­ments of intera­ction between S and A
Psycho­logical adequacy: relate to psychology of humans: production model, interp­ret­ation model & store of elements
Typolo­gical adequacy: developed on basis of facts from a wide variety of languages

Functional paradigm

• language is an instrument of social intera­ction among human beings
• language is used with the intention of establ­ishing commun­icative relati­onships
• attempts to reveal the instru­men­tality of languages with respect to what people do and achieve with it in social intera­ction
• language is an integrated part of the commun­icative competence of NLU
➝ social intera­ctions & establ­ishment of commun­icative relati­ons­hips, reveal of instru­men­tality of language, part of NLU comm. competence

Principles of functional explan­ation:
• It should display rules & principles underlying the constr­uction of linguistic expres­sions to explain rules & principles in terms of their functi­onality with respect to the ways in which these expres­sions are used
• divise a theory of linguistic expression so that it can most easily & realis­tically be incorp­orated into a wider pragmatic theory of verbal intera­ction.
Natural language unders­tanding (NLU) concerns with process of compre­hending and using languages once the words are recogn­ized. The objective is to specify a comput­ational model that matches with humans in linguistic tasks such as reading, writing, hearing, and speaking.

Structure of pragmatics

Pragmatic inform­ation: full body of knowledge, beliefs, assump­tions, opinions and feelings available to an individual ➝ all inform­ation

General inform­ation: long-term inform­ation concerning the world, natural & cultural features, and other possible or imaginary worlds ➝ deep-r­ooted inform­ation about the world and imaginary worlds
Situat­ional inform­ation: inform­ation derived from perception or experience in the situation of intera­ction ➝ inform­ation about what we see and experience
Contextual inform­ation: inform­ation derived from linguistic expres­sions exchanged during verbal intera­ction ➝ inform­ation about what we hear and say

Constr­aints on FG

• Avoid transf­orm­ations (deletion of specified elements, substi­tutions of one specified element, permut­ations of specified elements)
• Avoid filtering devices
• Avoid abstract semantic predicates


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