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Lecture 13

PSYCH 3GG3 Lecture 13: Lecture 13
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Department
Psychology
Course
PSYCH 3GG3
Professor
Mel Rutherford
Semester
Fall

Description
Lecture 13 – October 18 White-crowned sparrow • Has to hear older males months before producing song • Instinct to learn songs from older males Vervet Monkey • 3 alarm calls for different predators • Humans can learn things that have never been said before, monkeys can not Viki • Lived with human family and went through intense language training • Their own kids could learn language without intensive training, but viki required much more training and never really • Learned papa, mama and cup, but mixed them up if she got excited, did not really know what they meant Language is part of our psychology • Language is a human universal, anywhere there are humans, there is language • Not more complex in more complex societies - different from art, this is more primitive in primitive societies and more complex in complex societies • Language is not an artifact or innovation, unlike agriculture, the controlled use of fire, art, written language - these things you can pinpoint where it was invented in history and trace how it spread - you cannot do this with language • Language to humans is like echolocation is part of bat psychology, you don't have to ask about nature vs. nurture • Systems theory: it is a developmental resource - reliably present, species typical Language is a good case study in evolutionary psychology • We are not going to ask questions about nature vs nurture or learned vs evolved, learning and evolution work together • Children born into an English family speak English and children born into a Japanese speaking family speak Japanese - learned through the same learning mechanism • Language is clearly learned and it is reliably developing • What is the learning mechanism designed to do? Language acquisition • Rich, evolved and prepared set of psychological mechanisms designed to learn language • Viki did not learn language because she does not have the learning mechanisms for language Noam Chomsky • Father of modern linguistics • At the time, the field was dominated by behaviourists • BF skinner has just written verbal behaviour - where he claimed that language is just another behaviour and can be entirely explained by operant and classical conditioning • Chomsky argues that general purpose learning mechanisms are not sufficient to explain language acquisition • Complex abstract rule govern word order and sentence formation - instinct blindness: we're following rules we don't even know we're following, we think our common language is easy - if you learn English as a second language then you might be more aware of these rules, but if English is your first language you don't realize you're employing them • Children learn them quickly at a time when other capacities are immature - these rules are abstract but, according to behaviourists, children are not supposed to learning abstract rules at the age that they are Chomsky 1. The input is insufficient - adult language is awful, but children learn from these models 2. Children generate novel sentences - when speaking of oper
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