Language and Culture
Select two of the following three prompts and answer each with a two-page essay for a total of
around 4 pages (size 12 Times New Roman, double-spaced, 1” margins).
Prompt 1: Humpty Dumpty
Consider the following excerpt from Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass:
Humpty Dumpty took the book and looked at it carefully. ‘That seems to be done right’ he began.
‘You’re holding it upside down!’ Alice interrupted.
‘To be sure I was!’ Humpty Dumpty said gaily as she turned it round for him. ‘I thought it looked a little queer. As I was saying, that seems to be done right — though I haven’t time to look it over thoroughly just now — and that shows that there are three hundred and sixty-four days when you might get un-birthday presents —’
‘Certainly,’ said Alice.
‘And only one for birthday presents, you know. There’s glory for you!’
‘I don’t know what you mean by “glory”,’ Alice said.
Humpty Dumpty smiled contemptuously. ‘Of course you don’t — till I tell you. I meant “there’s a nice knock-down argument for you!”‘
‘But “glory” doesn’t mean “a nice knock-down argument”,’ Alice objected.
‘When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.’
‘The question is,’ said Alice, ‘whether you can make words mean so many different things.’
‘The question is,’ said Humpty Dumpty, ‘which is to be master — that’s all.’
Why is Humpty Dumpty’s position on language use — “When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean” — absurd? Use at least two of the authors we have read so far to explain the flaws in Mr. Dumpty’s language philosophy.
Prompt 2: Computer communication
Read the short science fiction story “A Senseless Conversation,” posted on Dropbox(Reading for Prompt 2). Imagine that the story were true; does the “senseless conversation” that the story recounts constitute true communication? Compare and contrast how you think two of the authors we have read (but not Hockett) would respond to this question, and explain which viewpoint you are more inclined to agree with and why.
Prompt 3: Icon, Index, Symbol
Your significant other leaves you a note that reads, “You need to get more milk.” This instance
of “you” has iconic, indexical, and symbolic dimensions. What are they? What is this instance of
“you” an icon of, what is it an index of, and what is it a symbol of? Make sure you explain why you have classified each dimension as such. Use readings where applicable.
(Hint: the following concepts will probably be useful: deixis, arbitrariness of the sign, token vs.
Tips for writing your paper
• Be concise! Two pages is not very long, so avoid filler. Don’t quote long passages from
texts; you can assume I’ve read the texts and simply refer to sections, quoting short
snippets and paraphrasing longer arguments.
• For citation purposes, just provide the author and page number in parentheses, e.g.
(Saussure, p. 65).
I have uploaded all the readings you need in my dropbox(cuz it’s too difficult to upload through the website), and the Prompt 2 reading as well, Please use the materials which I give you as much as you can because it covers 30% of this paper, thank you in ahead. And last is my dropbox account and password you can just log in and find the folder “ANSC 118”, all the readings you need are there.
ORDER THIS ESSAY HERE NOW AND GET A DISCOUNT !!!