Lin-AZ Listening Exam 3 – Level B1
Prof. Peter Cullen
Winter 2014
Text
The argument so far is simply that one cannot jump from no communication straight to
conventional communication as we think of it today. When we visit a foreign country with a
very different language, we can get lots of things done by the “natural” communicative acts
of pointing and pantomiming, especially in collaborative activities such as transporting
something together or in institutionalized activities occurring in shops or railway stations
where common ground is solid. But we do almost nothing communicative in the vocal
medium, other than express a few emotional reactions to things, and we basically never
invent new vocal communicative conventions.
We could theoretically invent new and arbitrary communicative conventions with our
foreign friends even in the vocal modality, but only if there was a transition period in which
these arbitrary devices were used redundantly with other communicative devices that were
more naturally meaningful. Or perhaps , if there were a significant amount of time
involved, arbitrary communicative conventions could arise among foreigners implicitly
across a transmission chain in which the originators used naturally meaningful gestures
and later learners reproduced that usage without understanding its natural basis (typically
because of some missing aspect of common ground). These are really the only two
possibilities for the origin of communicative conventions and they both involve an
intermediate step of natural communication.
Our overall explanation, then, is an evolutionary sequence in which we go from 1)
collaborative activities to 2) “natural” action-based cooperative communication (first within
collaborative activities and then outside them), and finally to 3) conventional
communication – with perhaps some parallel developments in the latter two as natural
forms of communication began being conventionalized (and so became partially arbitrary)
and also supplied a grounding for totally arbitrary vocal conventions.
If one paints with very broad strokes, it is possible to characterize much animal social
behaviour as cooperative, as one might even say that herd animals cooperate by staying
close together, thereby discouraging predators. But the human version of cooperative
communication has unique characteristics, most clearly manifest in human cultural
institutions from marriage to money to government, which exist because and only because
of the collective practices and beliefs of human groups.
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Lin-AZ Listening Exam 3 – Level B1
Winter 2014
______/30
Prof. Peter Cullen
___________________________________________
Name, Date, and Registration Number
Questions: You do not have to use complete sentences! This is a listening exam.
SIMPLE AND CORRECT IS BETTER THAN COMPLICATED AND WRONG.
1. What is the argument so far?
2. What do we do in the vocal medium when we visit a foreign country with a very
different language?
3. What could arise among foreigners if there were a significant amount of time
involved?
4. What do the two possibilities for origins of communicative conventions both involve?
5. What characteristic is unique to human communication?
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True or False: Write “True” or “False” in the space next to each statement
1. Pointing is important in collaborative activities with foreigners.
________________
2. Inventing arbitrary communicative conventions requires a intermediate transition
period.
________________
3. The amount of time needed to develop arbitrary communicative conventions is
insignificant.
________________
4. The evolutionary sequence of communicative development goes from collaborative
activities to action based communication to conventional communication.
________________
5. Most animal social behaviour is not cooperative.
________________
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Lin-AZ Listening Exam 3 – Level B1
Winter 2014
Prof. Peter Cullen
Answer Sheet
1. What is the argument so far?
The argument so far is simply that one cannot jump from no communication straight to
conventional communication as we think of it today.
2. What do we do in the vocal medium when we visit a foreign country with a very
different language?
But we do almost nothing communicative in the vocal medium, other than express a
few emotional reactions to things, and we basically never invent new vocal
communicative conventions.
3. What could arise among foreigners if there were a significant amount of time
involved?
Arbitrary communicative conventions
4. What do the two possibilities for origins of communicative conventions both involve?
An intermediate step of natural communication
5. What characteristic is unique to human communication?
Human cultural institutions from marriage to money and government
True or False: Write “True” or “False” in the space next to each statement
1
2
3
4
5
T
T
F
T
F
3