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Lecture 6

BIO342H5 Lecture Notes - Lecture 6: 18 Months, Language Acquisition, Angular Gyrus

Course Code
Marc Johnson

of 5
PSY312 : lec6 May 29, 2013
Language Development (CHAPTER 6)
*other species will communicate with each other
BUT: we are unique in that we have abstract, symbolic means of communicating with
each other = LANGUAGE
- Seems we have evolved parts of the brain that are specifically dedicated to
language, and evolved specifically for language
- Noam Chomsky – famous linguist and political activist – said we’ve evolved parts
of the brain for acquiring language
Seems to have developed chronologically in the following order:
- Phonological (sound)
oIn English language, 2 types of sounds that are first acquired in infants
are: vowels (tend to be round mouth) & consonants
Infants tend to acquire consonants first, specifically “b” & “k”
“bababa” “kakaka” – cooing (1st stage in development of speech,
oPhonology consists of alphabet – but each letter of alphabet can have
more than one sound
- Semantic (meaning)
oWill see in late infancy/early toddlerhood
oSmallest unit of meaning = “morpheme”
Ex. dis, un, ness, ful
o2nd stage = babbling (early toddlerhood)
oAround 2 = development of words, early toddlerhood
Development of words that have more than 1 meaning (ex. Bank
has more than one meaning)
Meaning holds not only a definition (denotation) but also
connotation – emotional value to content (ex. spinster, bitch)
Words not only assert meaning, they also have presupposition –
presuppose an act (ex. accuse – presupposes that an act in
question is considered bad by speaker of the word); language has
valence (emotional content & presupposition)
Words may also be part of a “fuzzy set” (schemas involve
propositional networks) ex. dog would be in the propositional
network of “animal;” but some words – unclear which propositional
network it would belong in (ex. “waste basket” – could belong in
home, outdoor, office, disposable..)
Translation – aspect of dialect – some words in particular dialects
that have different meanings or not even used at all (ex. North
American – to rent; British English – to let)
Most sophisticated form of meaning is referred to as “metaphor” –
when words that have 1 meaning are being used for another (ex.
“you’re bleeding me dry” = u cut me and left me to bleed and die;
you’re taking all my money from me)
- Syntactic (grammar) – Syntax
oIn English – subject, verb, adjective
oAround 5 – learn rules of language (how morphemes go together)
oRules for grammar are however broken all the time – so we have to
understand the rules, and how they can be broken
oSurface structure – subject, verb, adjective
oUnderlying structure (understanding comes in school-age)
Henry is easy to please (object = Henry)
Henry is eager to please (object = somebody else, not Henry)
oOne sentence can have 2 underlying meanings:
Ex. the chicken is ready to eat (chicken is hungry and ready to eat;
or chicken is cooked and we’re ready to eat it)
oStructure identifies propositional units important for our understanding
(understanding comes after age of 6/7)
Brave young Snoopy withstood the cat’s sharp blows (there are 5
propositional ideas here: Snoopy is brave, Snoopy is young, blows
are sharp, blows come from the cat, Snoopy withstood)
- Pragmatics (context/communication)
oOccurs in middle childhood – early adolescence; develops quite late in
oContext may significantly alter meaning of language
Ex. “what a beautiful day….” – have sarcasm (emotional context of
particular phrase is sarcastic)
Ex. the troops marched into battle for two hours
If speaker babysitter: saying the kids were rambunctious for
long period of time
oThere is a disorder/psychopathology in which context is not understood –
Autism/Asperger’s (can’t determine the pragmatics)
-Neurolinguistics – fast-growing field; studied not only in humans, but in other species
as well (they can use other means of linguistic communication)
- a special branch of linguistics which studies the physical structure of the brain
as it relates to language production and comprehension
*seems there’s a part of brain involved in production – Brocka’s (frontal lobe) &
part of brain involved in comprehension – Wernicke’s (dorsal temporal)
- if these areas are not exposed to language – they wither and die, or take
on different functions
- they are connected to each other (Geshwin)
- angular gyrus = written
- occipital lobe = reading
- prefrontal cortex – for understanding
- speaking the written word:
- primary visual cortex – Wernicke – Broca’s – primary motor cortex
- speaking the heard word
- primary auditory cortex – Wernicke –
- When do you learn to speak:
FIRST language acquisition
- Language acquisition is the study of the processes thru which learners acquire
language. By itself, language acquisition refers to first language acquisition,
which studies infants; acquisition of their native language
oBirth – 6 months = cooing
oBy 1 year = lang. understanding, 1-word utterances
Caregiver speech
- A characteristically simplified speech style adopted by some1 who spends a lot of
time interacting with young child
- Featured with the use of question, often using exaggerated intonation, extra
loudness, and a slower tempo with longer pauses
Cooing and babbling:
- Earliest use of speech-like sounds has been describes as cooing
- Create sounds
- Between 6-8 mnths, child is able to produce number of different vowels and
consonants such as ba-ba-ba and ga-ga-ga, referred to as babbling
One word stage
- Is characterizes by speech in which single terms are uttered for everyday objects
oBy 18 months
oSimple verbs (cant be connected by phrases yet), nouns, adjectives
oCant use words “can” “be”
oProgress in understanding is developing