The Introduction of the English Language to Fern Cooke

The Introduction of the English Language to Fern Cooke

Document details
Category: Linguistics Essay
Subcategory: Psycholinguistics
Words: 625
Pages: 2

Fern Cooke the ultimate English Language Learner, or not?Fern Cooke is introduced to the English language by her parents in the exact same manner as her sister, Rosemary the only difference being that Fern is a chimp. Their behavioral psychologist father conducts an experiment from birth, observing Fern and Rosemarys close interactions in hopes of finding that a chimp is able to adopt and properly use language. Even though Fern is adopted into the Cookes home one of the family, she will never fully be one with the human race because of her lack in ability to comprehend and apply language. Their father presents the idea that there is a difference between simply communicating and correctly using language by explaining that language is more than just wordsit is the order of words and the way one word inflects another (Fowler 98). This concept can also be seen in Ferdinand de Saussures work, focusing on the study of linguistics as a science, specifically regarding the basis for human communication through constructed languages.Saussure breaks down linguistics into two main categories langue and parole. Langue being defined as a signifying system of self-contained whole and principle of classification (Saussure 9), and parole being defined as the executive side (Saussure 13) of linguistics. In other words, parole is verbalizing the signifying system to some being outside of oneself. Upon first impression, an observer may conclude that Fern has the capability of understanding and using language based on her ability to signal what she wants using sign language throughout the novel (Fowler). It appears that Fern can communicate however, she is not using her words in terms of conversable language. An effective use of language necessitates the idea that language is not complete in any speaker it exists perfectly only within a collectivity (Saussure 14). Fern uses langue, but not parole, thus the usage of her language is rendered useless in regular conversation. She simply has a conditioned response to...

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