For this work each week on Monday afternoons, copy and paste our questions into a Word document, and type your answers. Print your work using both sides of the page (if necessary), and bring it to class. It is crucial to have this assignment done for our synthesis discussions to succeed.

Weeks 9 & 10: No Synthesis questions or discussion. Monday, May 26 is a holiday and Monday, June 2 is your linguistics exam. You will also submit your LOGO exam on Monday, June 2.


Week 8 Synthesis Questions

  1. There are two languages described in Babel-17: Babel 17 & Rydra’s understanding of nonverbal communication. Choose one of these languages and explain two elements of its structure.  Then invent at least one more element that you think would improve that language.
  2. In this question we want you to reflect on the ways in which you’ve been learning LOGO.  Think back to a time when you were working in LOGO, and suddenly something you did or said (or someone else did or said) made an aspect of the language clear.  This was your “ah-ha” experience.  Explain the learning process you experienced at that time.  Next explain 1-2 barriers you’ve experienced in learning LOGO.  In order to write this essay, consider whether you work better using a synthetic or analytic approach (p. 351-2, linguistics text) to learning the language.  
  3. Create your own question that connects concepts you’ve been learning in the program and respond to it.

 Week 7, Monday May 12: Answer each of these three questions in about 200 words each.

  1. In what ways do you find yourself translating from English to LOGO as you do the workshops?  Try to find at least two examples and describe the process of how you did this.
  2. You are learning a new symbol system, the International Phonetic Alphabet.  You have learned other symbol systems, such as the alphabet, algebraic formulas, and possibly others.  Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of at least two systems.  Then discuss whether or not you will use a symbol system in the language you are designing. 
  3. Write your own question that makes a link in the learning you are doing in the program and respond.

Week 5, Monday April 28: Answer each of these three questions in about 200 words each.

  1. Review Lakoff’s chapter 17 pp. 280-281 and find the ways in which he uses semantic compositionality and mental spaces, which are both concepts from the objectivist paradigm, in his argument for ICMs.  Discuss the ways in which his experimentalist approach solves some of the problems Brian raised in his lecture on semantics.  (If you were absent, these questions are either stated or implied in the text.)
  2. Consider the image schemas Lakoff lists in chapter 17: container, part-whole, link, center-periphery, source-path-goal.  Which of these seems to fit with your conception for “seminar”?  Support your argument by thinking of metaphors you use in describing seminar discussions. 
  3. Write your own question that makes a connection between Esperanto and Klingon. You can draw on the lectures and activities we experienced and look at the official websites: and

Week 4, Monday April 21:   Answer each of these four questions in about 200 words each.

  1. How does turtle geometry relate to Lakoff’s experientialist model of cognition?  (See Papert, Ch. 3).  How is the turtle body syntonic?   
  2. Esperanto was created as a way of promoting world peace.  Given what you’ve learned about the structure, meaning, and functions of language, do you think it is possible that having a language in common, particularly an invented one, could promote world peace? Why or why not? Please note that to answer this question fully, you need to think about a full definition of language. 
  3. As in English, LOGO has a grammatical structure that you can represent in syntactic structures -- trees and rules.  Unfortunately, you are not born with a universal programming language grammar, so you have to learn it.  Understanding LOGO syntactic structures and how to parse LOGO statements will help you understand LOGO's arcane error messages, when you inevitably make a syntax error.  To test your ability to apply your understanding of linguistics to LOGO, take a crack at drawing parse trees for the following syntactically correct LOGO commands:
CNGON 3 20

CNGON 2 + 1 20

IF :times < 1 [stop] 

and for this procedure:

to JUMP 


fd 10   



   4.   Compose your own question and respond to it.


Week 3, Monday April 14: Answer each of these questions in about 200 words each.

1.  Discuss Devlin’s notion of the levels of abstraction. He places language on level 3 and mathematics on level 4 based on the amount of abstraction required of each.  Now that you have learned about the underlying syntactic structure of all languages, and you have done some work in geometry creating cngon, what is your personal understanding of these levels?  Be sure to provide examples.


 2.  In the video we saw Tuesday from The Story of English, you saw that some inflectional morphology that used to exist in Old English has disappeared from Modern English, thereby requiring a strict word order. For example in Old English, the place of subject and object of the sentence could be interchanged, but now this change would change the meaning of the sentence.  (The mouse ate the cheese v. The cheese ate the mouse.)  Given the information in the video, what may have caused this change in morphology to occur?


3.  Write your own question that explores a connection you are making as a result of your work in week 2.

Week 2: Answer each of these questions in about 200 words each.

1.Many concepts that Susan presented in her Wednesday linguistics lecture are discussed in Devlin's The Math Gene.  Choose two of these concepts and explain how they do or do not support Devlin's thesis.  

2.  Now that you have completed your first Logo project, what is one major structural difference you have noticed in Logo and human language?  Why is this important in programming and in thinking about programming?

3.  Think back to the language you designed in our Case Study workshop.  Describe its grammatical structure; that is, consider each level of linguistic complexity, beginning with sound and moving to sentences, and find at least one area where you developed grammar.