Language is: regular, arbitrary, and productive.
o Regular regulated by the rules of grammar.
o Arbitrary sounds assigned to concepts are random; words arbitrarily
o Productive there are limitless ways to combine words.
o Language influences our perception of the world, alongside how we
Ex: Piraha tribes simplistic numbering system. 1, 2, and
many couldnt match proper amounts of nuts together because
they didnt know how we count; we need language to perceive
objects in life.
Counter-evidence relative labels in different countries. Ex:
Indian tribes use a single word to describe any senior male
relative showing how less language still has the same effect.
Ex: Korea they have a word for mothers older brother instead
The Structure of Language:
Morpheme the smallest unit of sound that contains some sort of info; can be
a single word, or a multiple morpheme word.
o Each provides a chunk of information about a word.
o Ex: (Table), (table)(cloth), (table)(s)
Phoneme smallest units of sound in a word; the broken-down sounds of a
morpheme; /d/ /o/ /g/.
Syntax rules that dictate how sentences should be composed; grammar.
Semantics the meaning of a word (noun, verb, etc.)
Development and the Segmentation Problem:
Language development in Infants:
o 12 weeks cooing sounds.
o 16 weeks responds to outside voices.
o 6 months imitates sounds.
o 1 year babbles
o 2 years 50-250 words; 2-word phrases.
o 2.5 years - >850 words.
o Drawn-out sounds made up of repetitive vowels/consonants in
o Infection/rhythm makes it seem like a question/response.
o Combinations eventually become real words.
Language Explosion:o 1.5-6 years: major increase in vocabulary, mastery of various aspects
of language; syntax complexity improves.
o Someone speaking another language can sound like its being spoken
o Infants who have good speech segmentation skills have larger
expressive vocabularies as children.
o Can lead to screening tests to predict future language development
Universal Phonetic Sensitivity:
Ability of infants to discriminate between various sounds that they might
encounter in a test; includes foreign sounds.
Infants can distinguish more phonemes than adults.
Children develop phonemic sensitivity based on the language they grew up
Head-Turn Procedure measures perception of phonemes
o Infants perform equally as well as native speakers when distinguishing
between foreign phonemes.
Disappears by the end of their 1 year of living.
o Adults need more practice than infants to find phonemes in a new
language. Adults ability to discriminate phonemes worsens with age.
o Easier to learn a language