Linguistics: 1.1

Linguistics Course:



  • What is language?
  • Do Animals Have Language?
  • How many Languages are there?
  • How do we count Languages?
  • How are they related to each other?
  • What do Linguists do?
  • How do they get their Data?
  • What are informants

There are three dimensions in which language, human and animal language are different:

  • Discrete Infinity
  • Displacement
  • Joint Attention

Discrete: Limited or Countable,

          Discrete System: A system with a limited number of things in it. Ex: The Alphabet: 26 Letters.

However, those limited things can be combined to create more and more complex sentences, an infinite number. = Discrete Infinity, a limited system combined in infinite ways.

In contrast animals have discrete systems as well, however they cannot combine them to make more complex sentences.

Displacement: Talking about Time, Physical Space and Abstract Ideas. Some animals can talk about space (e.x Bees – dancing, showing honey) but most can only talk about the here and now, things they’ve seen.

Joint Attention: Language is inherently cooperative, a shared goal.

To some extent some animals can work together but not in the way humans do.


  • Humans can make an unlimited amount of messages with a discrete system
  • Humans can talk about things other than here and now
  • Language is a cooperative tool for humans

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