Contextualization in sociolinguistics refers to the use of language (both spoken language and body language) to signal relevant aspects of an interaction or communicative situation. This may include clues to who is talking, their relationship, where the conversation is occurring, and much more. These clues can be drawn from how the language is being used, what type of language is being used (formal versus informal), and the participants tone of voice (Andersen and Risør 2014). Contextualization includes verbal and non-verbal clues of things such as the power dynamic or the situation apparent from a conversation being analyzed or participated in. These clues are referred to as "contextualization cues". Contextualization cues are both verbal and non-verbal signs that language speakers use and language listeners hear that give clues into relationships, the situation, and the environment of the conversation (Ishida 2006). An example of contextualization in academia is the work of Basil Bernstein (1990 ). Bernstein describes the contextualization of scientific knowledge in pedagogical contexts, such as textbooks.
As previously mentioned, contextualization cues are a crucial in that they are the clues that allow observers to better understand the interaction being presented. Some contextualization cues include: intonation, accents, body language, type of language, and facial expressions (Anderson and Risør 2014). Intonation refers to the rise and fall of speech. By observing this, excitement, anger, interest, or other emotions can be determined. Accents indicate a person's place of origin, so in a conversation this can give clues to not only where a person is from but also the values or cultural beliefs. Furthermore, when body language and facial expressions are combined, more clues about the relationship of the speaker, their feelings towards the topic or other participant, or emotions become evident (Ducharme and Bernard 2001). Finally, whether a person uses formal or informal language, allows the relationship between the two speakers to be clear. Most likely, when an interaction between two people who are peers and/or familiar with one another will utilize the informal form of language. The reverse is true for people unfamiliar with each other or those in an unequal power dynamic (Masuda 2016).
Contextualization has the overarching benefit of granting people the ability to understand. Zana Mahmood Hassan details the usefulness of contextualization in his paper, "Language Contextualization and Culture." Contextualization in sociolinguistics can allow those learning a language to begin to understand the culture by the cues found in the nuances of the language (Hassan 2014). Generalized, Hassan's findings reveal that language and context go hand in hand. Scholars have said that it is important to include culture studies into language studies because it aids in students' learning. the informational and situational context that culture provides helps language "make sense"; culture is a contextualization cue (Hassan 2014). In all, contextualization, when implemented properly, can make learning a language easier. Ducharme and Bernard make a similar argument in their article. They say that when students are given the tools and space to utilize contextualization, they are better able to learn a second language (Ducharme and Bernard 2001). Contextualization does not only ease everyday understand of language and language interactions, but it also aids in language learning and comprehension in an academic setting. Contextualization takes language just one step further by proving the intricacies of language and by filling in the gaps.
John Gumperz (1982a) gives the following example. He suggests that in the following interaction the linguistic style used by the interviewer signals a context different from that expected by the husband. The interviewer, an African-American graduate student in educational psychology, has been sent to interview a woman at her home in a low-income neighborhood. The interviewer rings the door bell and the woman's husband opens the door.
The husband addresses the interviewer in an informal style, marking their interaction as friendly. When the interviewer responds in a more formal style, the context becomes more formal. As a result, the interviewer reports that the interview was "stiff" (Gumperz 1982a: 133).
Fixed-effect estimates (top) and variance estimates (bottom) for GLMER of recall for contextual alternatives (recall probability ~ focus * sex + poly(trial number,2) + (1+sex | item) + (1| word) + (1+poly(trial number,2) | participant), n = 8271, log-likelihood: -4705), coding scheme: sum coding
Model predictions for recall probability of contextual alternatives. Bar charts split by focus. Left: Pooled results. Middle: Female data. Right: Male data
Here, I will take a cross-species, comparative approach to studying language evolution by examining three core abilities underpinning language which are, to some extent, shared with nonhuman species (Fitch 2017; Fitch and Zuberbühler 2013; Rendall et al. 2009; Townsend et al. 2018): (a) the ability to identify and produce phonemes; (b) the ability to process compositional rules underlying vocal utterances; (c) the ability to associate vocal sounds with meanings. Importantly, I will highlight the importance of a key communicative factor, namely emotional intonation of the voice, with the aim to shed light on its facilitating effect on the evolution of these three cognitive abilities underpinning language.
Previous research has suggested that the expression of emotions through voice modulation or musical communication, which has been attested across multiple animal species, might have paved the way for the emergence of language in the first hominids (Altenmüller et al. 2013; Brown 2017; Darwin 1871; Filippi 2016; Filippi and Gingras 2018; Filippi et al. 2019; Fitch 2010; Panksepp 2009; Thompson et al. 2012). However, empirical studies addressing the facilitating effect of emotional intonation on each of these three core abilities within a cross-species and evolutionary perspective have never been conducted. In fact, finding this facilitating effect in animal species would provide support for the hypothesis suggested here, namely that emotional intonation might have boosted the evolution of the ability to process phonemes and combinatorial structures, and to associate words with meanings out of comparable abilities reported in animal species. Specifically, in the present work, I suggest that emotional intonation might have boosted the evolution of these abilities, facilitating cognitive processes such as selective attention, perception, memorization, and learning.
In support of this hypothesis, I will firstly review research attesting the presence of the ability to identify and produce phonemes, process compositional rules, and associate vocal sounds with meanings in animals. Secondly, I will review studies indicating that emotional vocalizations are used as a communication code across a wide variety of animal species (cf. Darwin 1872). Thirdly, I will link this research to recent work on the facilitating effect of emotional intonation of the voice on the human ability to perceive speech sounds within compositional structures and associate words with meanings. Finally, I will integrate these studies within a unified framework on the facilitating effect of emotional intonation on language evolution, suggesting specific research questions that can be addressed empirically within a cross-species perspective.
Within the comparative approach proposed here, studies on emotional expression through voice intonation are particularly relevant to the study of the evolution of the ability to associate arbitrary vocal utterances with their meaning. Indeed, as I will describe in the next sections, emotional expressions are widespread across a wide variety of vocalizing animal species (Darwin 1872), and, within humans, across cultures (Barrett and Bryant 2008; Sauter et al. 2015; Scherer et al. 2001). This makes emotional expresssions a good candidate for enhancing our understanding of the dynamics underpinning the evolution of the human ability for speech processing and word-meaning associations.
The study of emotional expression through voice intonation in animals may provide crucial insights to reconstruct the dynamics underpinning language evolution (Darwin 1871; Filippi 2016; Filippi and Gingras 2018; Filippi et al. 2019). Across animal species, emotions serve adaptive functions, favoring actions that promote survival, such as a fight-or-flight response to an attacking predator in the surroundings (Nesse 1990). In addition, emotional stimuli engage selective attention (Kret et al. 2016) and favor associative learning in animals (McGaugh 2004; Seymour and Dolan 2008).
Finally, the ability to identify emotional activation in the signaler (conspecific or heterospecific) may determine survival of newborns, who can express their needs very effectively through voice intonation, thus enabling their caregivers to respond appropriately (Marmoset monkey, Callithrix jacchus, Tchernichovski and Oller 2016; Zhang and Ghazanfar 2016; human, Fernald 1992). Interestingly, Lingle and Riede (2014) found that mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus) and white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) mothers are sensitive to high arousal, negatively-valenced vocalizations of infants of a variety of mammalian species (e.g., mule deer, Odocoileus hemionus, bighorn sheep, Ovis canadensis, marmots, Marmota flaviventris, bats, Lasionycteris noctivagans, Australian sea lion, Neophoca cinerea and Subantarctic fur seals, Arctocephalus tropicalis), if the F0 values are within the frequency range produced by infants of their own species.
In light of the evidence reviewed in this section, it is worth addressing how emotional intonation, as a communication code used across a wide variety of animal species, affects language processing in humans. This line of investigation will provide insights into the dynamics underlying the emergence of language from nonhuman animal communication systems. 2b1af7f3a8