Chapter 8- What are the four key properties of language?
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Chapter Eight Study Notes
What are the four key properties of language?
-Language is symbolic (people use spoken sounds, written words to represent an object, action, event or
-Language is semantic or meaningful (random symbols used in a language that have no relationship that
exists between the look or sound of the words and the objects they stand for).
(Ex) pen in English, is stylo in French, and pluma in Spanish. These words are random, although they
have shared meaning for people who speak English, French, and Spanish.
-Language is generative (symbols combined to generate an endless array of novel messages).
-Language is structured (allows people to be inventive with words and still understand each other).
How is language structured?
-Human languages have hierarchical structure. There are basic sounds combined into units with meaning,
which are combined into words. Words combined into phrases, which are combined into sentences.
-At the base of the language hierarchy are phonemes, the smallest speech units in a language that can be
distinguished perceptually. (Example), strange = s t r e y n j, and to = t u. There are 40 in the English
language and 100 in the human language.
-morphemes are the smallest units of measuring language which are the root words.
(Example) fire, guard, friend. The word unfriendly would have three morphemes.
-the English language is composed of 40 phonemes, about 26 letters of the alphabet, and 7 variations.
How do children progress in their use of words and sentences?
-Around 6-18months, children are babbling words. After their first birthday (10-13 months), they utter
their first words. At around 18-24 months, they have vocabulary spurts. The children usually combine
words by the end of their second year.
Do learning two languages at the same time affect language or cognitive development?
-Bilingualism slows language development and has a negative effect on the cognitive development.
-Bilingualism is associated with higher level of controlled processing and may slow down some of the
decline in some cognitive abilities often associated with old age.
What age is best for learning a second language?
-A young age, especially before age 7.
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