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Joe Kim

Psychology Language Review 10/9/2011 6:16:00 PM Section One: What Sets Language Apart from Other Forms of Communication? Criteria that outline a “true” language:  Language is symbolic o To communicate using language, a user must understand that various language stimuli represent different meanings and concepts. Words are not necessarily concrete examples of the concept but rather, represent the concept as a whole. This allows for communication of abstract and hypothetical concepts as well as ideas, things, etc that are not present.  Language involves arbitrary associations o One consequence of the symbolic nature of language is that words we use for concepts are arbitrarily assigned.  Language is productive o Language is designed to use a small number of components to produce and understand a wide range of symbols. For example language has a limited set of rules that can be used to combine a limited set of symbols in infinite ways.  Language is regular o Each combination must follow a defined set of rules in order to make sense. It is important to note that different languages have different rules about how symbols can be combined. o Meaning that it is governed by rules and grammar. Whorf-Sapir Hypothesis  Language influences our thoughts and the way we perceive and experience the world.  Evidence in support comes from the Piraha of Brazil.  The study of the Arapacho has brought counterevidence though: although they had one word for a number of family members, they could still discriminate their relations to each member.  English and Indonesian were considered distance languages, and Spanish and Greek were considered quantity languages. The Structure Of Language Morpheme  The smallest unit of sound that contains information.  Often a word, but some words contain multiple morphemes.  In sign language, morphemes are identified in units of signs rather than sound.  Example: Table/cloth/s Phonemes  When you break up a morpheme into its constituent sounds.  Various languages typically use a set of between 30-50 phonemes. Transparent Orthographies  A given letter will always make the same sound. Children learning to read languages with transparent orthographies tend to have a much easier time than children learning to read English and master reading relatively quickly. Syntax  The rules that govern how sentences are put together (aka grammar).  Differences in syntactic rules between languages are common.  This includes gender assignment, the order of types of words and so on. Semantics  Refers to each individual meaning to each word.  May follow syntax, but may have to semantics. Language Development Babbling  Characterized by drawn-out sounds made up of a variety of combinations of vowels and consonants.  May sound like a real sentence or question because of the use of inflection and rhythm in the production of the babble.  Combinations progress to become real words. Production Vs. Comprehension  Language production and comprehension may be limited by cognitive development.  Language production may be limited by factors such as vocal anatomy.  An infant who does not yet speak, may still have some comprehension but be unable to express it. Universal Phonemic Sensitivity  Present in infants; the ability to discriminate virtually all phonemes even before they learn language. This is an ability that is lost into adulthood.  Includes sounds from non-native languages.  Can be tested by using the head turn procedure.  Infants can discriminate non-native sounds that are absent from the language of the culture they are being raised in.  This ability disappears after the first year of life. Perceptual Narrowing  The process of losing the ability to distinguish between contrasts in sounds not used in native language. Infant-Directed Speech  The tendency for mothers to use higher pitch and exaggerated changes in pitch when speaking to infants.  May help infants learn to segment speech.  Can help 6-month-old infants discriminate between different vowel sounds present in their native language. Accents  When the cerebellum (part of the brain that deals with motor control) is affected, this can cause the individual to sound as though they have an accent. This is because a lack of fine motor coordination can affect the individuals ability to pronounce phonemes specific to their native language. This is called Foreign Accent Syndrome (FAS).  When the Broca’s area (a small area in the left frontal lobe) is affected this leads to difficulty in speech production.  Damage to the Wernicke’s area (located in the left temporal lobe) allows individuals to speech fluently but their speech makes no sense. Still-Face Procedure  An adult looks at an infant while maintaining a non-responsive neutral facial expression.  Infants who are only 2-3 months old will become distressed during this procedure indicating that even at this young age, they have
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