WEEK 13 OBJECTIVES: LANGUAGE
Describe the differences between language and communication.
Language is a method for communicating information, including ideas, thoughts, and
emotions. Language is differentiated from communication because of semanticity,
generativity, and displacement.
Language can be defined as a socially agreed-upon, rule-governed system of arbitrary
symbols that can be combined in different ways to communicate ideas and feelings
about both the present time and place and other times and places, real or imagined.
Identify the three key properties of human language.
Semanticity: the ability of the system to meaningfully represent ideas, events, and
Generativity: the ability to use a limited number of words and rules to combine words
into a virtually unlimited number of sentences.
Displacement: the ability to use language to convey messages that are not tied to the
Describe the components of language: phonemes, morphemes, syntax, semantics, and
Phonemes: The basic distinctive speech sounds in a language that distinguish one word
(e.g., rice) from another (lice). [Phonemes are combined to form morphemes]
Morphemes: The smallest unit of meaning in language.
Free morphemes are meaningful on their own and can stand alone as words.
Bound morphemes are meaningful only when combined with other morphemes to form
e.g.) “Engagement” contains the free morpheme “engage” as well as the bound
Syntax: Grammatical rules of a particular language for combining words to form phrases,
clauses, and sentences.
Semantics: The relationship between words and their meanings.
Pragmatics: The social rules of language that allow people to use language appropriately for different purposes and in different situations.
Explain how speech is produced, and what this might mean for how speech is
represented in the brain (ie speech sounds are not sequentially produced, but the
system must anticipate and accommodate upcoming sounds in motor programming at
the same time as current sounds are being articulated).
Articulators: Mouth structures that make speech sounds (jaw, tongue, lips, and soft
Speech requires very rapid movements of the articulators. They’re so fast that the
articulators are getting ready to produce the next sound before the last one is finished.
Coarticulation: Speech sounds for words are not produced in a discrete sequence.
Instead, the articulators are effectively shaping multiple sounds at any moment in time,
so that different instances of a particular phoneme (e.g., "b") are acoustically different,
depending on the sounds preceding and following them.
Coarticulation means that information about speech sounds is spread over time, and
that information about different sounds overlaps in time. Coarticulation also means that
the sound associated with an phoneme varies depending on its context - on the other
sounds preceding and following it.
Discuss the categorical perception of phonemes.
Categorical perception: the tendency of perceivers to disregard physical differences
between stimuli and perceive them as the same, such that a continuous change in a
physical attribute is perceived not as continuous, but as a discrete change at a category
Discriminating between adjacent items in a set of stimuli that you perceive categorically
depends crucially on whether you perceive those adjacent stimuli as the same thing or
as different things.
Auditory categorical perception depends on your ability to ignore acoustic variability in
speech sounds that is irrelevant in your language, while making use of meaningful
variability to distinguish phonemes.
e.g.) “Lake lake lake lake rake rake rake rake”
Telling the difference between the last stimulus you heard as lake and the first one you
heard as rake is much easier.
Identify the skills required in learning how to read. First, they learn the letters of the alphabet and the sounds they can make.
Second, they begin to analyze phonemes in ways that are not required for language
comprehension (phonemic awareness).
The ability to recognize words with the same ending sounds (e.g. cat, bat, mat) or vowel
sounds (e.g. bike, time, fine) isn’t necessary for understanding spoken language but it’s
important when learning that certain sounds are spelled certain ways.
Take together, alphabetic knowledge and basic phonemic awareness form the
foundation for beginning to read phonetically.
Describe the sequence of language development milestones (cooing, babbling, single
word and two word stage).
Cooing: Sometime around the ages of 8 to 10 weeks, infants begin cooing, making their
first speech-like sounds. These often take the form of long drawn-out vowels - “ooh” or
“aah” - or blowing bubbles or smacking lips. During this time, infants will make sounds
with their mouths seemingly for their own amusement.
Babbling: The next phase in the infant development of speech is called babbling. This
occurs around seven months of age, with some variability, when infants begin to mix
consonant and vowel sounds. These sounds usually take the form of “bababa”,
(resulting in the premature excitement of their parents) “mama” or “dada”.