PSYC 2650 Lecture Notes - Lecture 16: Inuit Languages, Critical Period, Language Acquisition

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Tuesday, November 8/2012
PSYC 2650
Lecture 16
Start of Exam Material
There is a desire by many cognitive psychologists (including John Jonides) to resolve the problem of
ecological validity
Lab 7
Deadline soon
There are only 2 labs in this part of the course
Related to imagery
Review Lab 7 results next Thursday, November 15
Language
Of interest to many subdisciplines of psychology
Very important in research in education
What do linguists find interesting about language and how do they investigate it?
How do cognitive psychologists approach language?
Some Questions asked by Cognitive Scientists
Is language a uniquely human ability?
What are the relative roles of nature and nurture in language development?
Major topic in many areas of development, not just language
Language development story is very fruitful because we know a lot about the roles of nature
and nurture in language development (particularly nurture is important)
What is the relationship between language and thought?
eg. Linguistic determinism
Many disciplines are interested in language
Psychology
Linguistics
Computer Science
Philosophy
Psycholinguistics
Neuropsychology
Previous to our generation, there was very little cross talk between disciplines about language
There is now a lot more interrelation between the disciplines
Particularly, students are very open to evaluating many theories of language and applying
methods of value from many varying fields
Linguistics
The major difference between linguistics and psycholinguistics is captured by the study of the
structure of natural language rather than its everyday use
Some fields are very theoretical in orientation, and they approach problems from the
perspective of “theoretcally, this is how it should be”
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Psychology is on the practical side, asking not “what should people be doing” but rather “what
are people doing?”
Linguistics is a theoretical field
Economics is also a theoretcial field
People are often systematic in our behaviour (though somewhat random) but not always
systematically rational
Psycholinguistics
The study of language behaviour
Everyday use of language does not always correspond to linguistic theory
Psycholinguistcs has something unique to bring to the table because everyday use of language
does not always match linguistic theory
Linguistic Competence vs. Performance
Competence: a person's abstract knowledge of a language
The domain of linguistics
Performance: the actual application of that knowledge in speaking or listening
The domain of psycholinguistics
Debate
Does competence underlie performance?
Psychologists suggest no: making linguistic judgements has little to do with everyday language
use
If I asked you about the rules of English vs. Asking you to use language and inferring what
you know based on how you've used the language
History: Behaviourism
Empiricism/Nurture: our language abilities are learned (not innate)
Mental: Our language abilities are nothing but stimulus-response associations
Red circle around mental with a slash through
Criticisms of Behaviourist Account of Language
Evidence for innate constraints on language (nature)
Chomsky (1959)
Skinner came out with an account of language that was behavioural and Chomsky criticised it
Key point was evidence for language being innate
If you look at all the world's language, what you find is that all the languages have
something in common
You can have 2 linguistic cultures that were never exposed to each other, but have
similarities
Current theory is that we have a genetic endowment to learn language, even though our
experience determines which language we learn when we are young
Relationship Between Language and Thought
Theories relevant (not all mutually exclusive)
1. “Thought” = Language
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Document Summary

There is a desire by many cognitive psychologists (including john jonides) to resolve the problem of ecological validity. Lab 7: deadline soon, there are only 2 labs in this part of the course, related to imagery, review lab 7 results next thursday, november 15. Psycholinguistics: the study of language behaviour, everyday use of language does not always correspond to linguistic theory, psycholinguistcs has something unique to bring to the table because everyday use of language does not always match linguistic theory. Performance: competence: a person"s abstract knowledge of a language, the domain of linguistics, performance: the actual application of that knowledge in speaking or listening, the domain of psycholinguistics. Debate: does competence underlie performance, psychologists suggest no: making linguistic judgements has little to do with everyday language use, if i asked you about the rules of english vs. Asking you to use language and inferring what you know based on how you"ve used the language.

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