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Lecture 6


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University of Toronto Mississauga
Marc Johnson

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) o In 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 (1 stage in development of speech, language) o Phonology consists of alphabet – but each letter of alphabet can have more than one sound - Semantic (meaning) o Will see in late infancy/early toddlerhood o Smallest unit of meaning = “morpheme”  Ex. dis, un, ness, ful o 2 stage = babbling (early toddlerhood) o Around 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 o In English – subject, verb, adjective o Around 5 – learn rules of language (how morphemes go together) o Rules for grammar are however broken all the time – so we have to understand the rules, and how they can be broken o Surface structure – subject, verb, adjective o Underlying structure (understanding comes in school-age)  Henry is easy to please (object = Henry)  Henry is eager to please (object = somebody else, not Henry) o One 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) o Structure 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) o Occurs in middle childhood – early adolescence; develops quite late in childhood o Context 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 o There is a disorder/psychopathology in which context is not understood – Autism/Asperger’s (can’t determine the pragmatics) LANGUAGE AND THE BRAIN -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 gyr
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