• Most psychologists only consider human communication as language
Criteria for a True Language
• Regular; governed by rules or grammar
• Arbitrary; lack of resemblance between words and their meaning
• Productive; almost limitless to describe things
Whorf-Sapir Hypothesis: Language influences our thoughts and the way we perceive
and experience the world
Morpheme: The smallest unit of sound that contains information. In sign language, signs
replace it. Often a word, but some words contain multiple morphemes.
E.g. Table is a single word that contains a single morpheme. Tablecloth however has 2
Phonemes: Morphemes can be broken down into its constituent sounds called phonemes.
E.g. Dog - /d/ /o/ /g/ or Chair /ch/ /ai/ /r/
Syntax: The rules that govern how sentences are put together.Also known as grammar.
Differs based on culture the language originated on.
Semantics: The meaning of each individual word.
12 weeks Makes cooing sounds
16 weeks Turns head towards voices
6 months Imitates sounds
1 year Babbles
2 years Uses 50-250 words; uses 2 word phrases
2.5 years Vocabulary > 850 words
Babbling: Characterizes 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 of sounds progress
to become real words.
▯1 PSYCH 1X03
Language Explosion: Vocabulary increases linearly from the ages 1-6.
The Segmentation Problem: Humans segment sentences naturally into word units. The
difficulty to do so when listening to a foreign language explains why they sound like they
are speaking very fast.
• Testing an infant’s segmentation ability could be a screen for future language
• Infants that can segment language well tend to have a strong vocabulary later in
Universal Phoneme Sensitivity: The ability of infants to discriminate between any
sounds they’re tested on. Includes sounds from non-native languages. The fact that adults
cannot do so indicates that there may be some developmental basis for phoneme discrim-
ination that is influenced early in life.
• It i