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Lecture 13

PSYO 2470 Lecture 13: Language I

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PSYO 2470
Stamp Jennifer

Language I Language: system for representing and communicating information - Rules of language are learning almost instinctively when young - Involves words, gestures, writing - Multiple types of language o Spoken o Visually based language ▪ Sign language o Doesn’t have to be sound based - Guess work as to when spoken language first emerged o Thought to have arose about 100 000 years ago - About 5000 languages spoken on Earth today - Flexibility of language as a tool to communicate o More flexible than other animal communication techniques - Language experts o Very good at language o With human languages, get different interpretations from the same speeches/sentences o Language shows a lot of inter-individual variation Linguistic relativity - The language we speak influences the way we think - Structure of the language we speak allows ability to pick up on things with similar structure to the language - Masculine, feminine, neutral nouns o Biases with what we’d associate with the words Language and the brain - Input from visual and auditory systems o A lot in through sound but language is richer through seeing language o Primary auditory cortex (superior temporal lobe) and primary visual cortex ▪ Important system inputs for language processing - Motor system produces speech, writing - Most of what goes on in language involves association areas o Processing mostly in the association cortex ▪ Between the sensory and motor systems ▪ The essence of language – where processing and thinking takes place ▪ Visual input and feedback from looking at someone we are communicating with • Visual communcaition of the sounds that we male Human vocal tract - Pharynx is the largest structure - Lots of muscles, all controlled by primary motor cortex o Speaking involves over a hundred muscles - Language starts when air passes through the larynx o Larynx = voice box - Altering vibration by changing tension of vocal chords o Sounds are modified by other stages in vocal tract outside of vocal chords - Phoneme – fundamental unit of language o Building blocks of language used to build speech ▪ “sh” “ah” sounds ▪ Put in order to generate patterns o Most basic unit of sound ▪ What all sounds can be broken up into – units of sound ▪ Comes before the meaning of sound Language in animals - Animals vocalize and communicate – also use gestures o Vital for survival in lots of species o Vocalization doesn’t necessarily mean having a language ▪ Ex. Song birds have to learn vocalizations for many survival purposes - Human language allows us to transcend time and space o Other species only seem to communicate the here and now ▪ Most animals have inability to communicate about past and future ▪ Humans can communicate about future intentions and past events - Some animals have some ability to talk about things beyond the here and now o Animals can also symbolize things they want – future mentions ▪ Seen in chimpanzees ▪ Symbolic behaviours used to predict another animal’s behaviour • Can indicate where they want grooming to take place – isn’t in the here and now, is instead a future intention - Language comprehension in animals o Evidence of animals/dogs understanding human language ▪ Border collie named Ringo can understand 200 words – similar to toddler o Some species have an emotional capacity associated with language - Can demonstrate potential for communicating beyond the here and now in certain experimental conditions Language acquisition - Mechanisms in infants o Plasticity for absorbing multiple languages phonemes is lost around 6 months ▪ Instead begin to only recognize familiar phonemes o Can recognize word sounds from non-word sounds o Talking to toddlers in a very different way – motherese/parentese ▪ Enunciating and articulat
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