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Chapter 10 Language
Language permits us to communicate perceptions, thoughts and memories. Words have
meanings (semantics) and they’re arranged into sentences that follow specific rules
(syntax). Context plays an important role in the complex task of indentifying individual
words from continuous speech.
Reading allows words to be transmitted anywhere in the world and to be preserved for
future generations. Reading is accomplished by whole word recognition and by decoding the
sounds that are represented by letters and groups of letters. Brain damage can acquire
dyslexia which involves abnormal development of parts in the left hemisphere that play an
important role in language abilities.
By the time babies are born, they’ve already learned something about language from what
they’ve heard while in their mother’s uteruses. Language is a social behavior; babies learn
to carry on “conversations” with care givers even before they say words and use movements,
facial expressions and sounds to communicate.
Do animals have language?
Washoe 1 yrs old female chimpanzee, began to learn sign language; at the age of four she
had a vocabulary of 130 signs. However just like previous attempts to teach language to
chimps failed, Washoe was unable to control her tongue, lips, palate, and vocal cords that
humans have and she couldn’t produce a variety of complex sounds that characterize
human speech. Her learning ability was a lot like a child and made correct generalizations
Language: flexible systems that use symbols to express many meanings.
Psycholinguistics: Branch of psychology devoted to the study of verbal behavior.
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Speech and comprehension: the ability to engage in verbal behavior.
-Advantage to humans; through listening and reading we gain experience of us and others
who are living and the ones that have passed away.
-through talking and writing we express ourselves and share results of experiences with
-When we speak to someone, we produce a series of sounds in a continuous stream by
sentences with the use of words. We maintain a regular rhythmic pattern of stress.
Recognition of speech sounds
-auditory system enables us to recognize speech sounds. Human vocalizations differ for
-left hemisphere analyzes detailed information of speech.
-Analysis speech begins with phonemes elements of speech. It’s the smallest units of
sound that allow us to distinguish the meaning of a spoken word. (e.g) the word pin has
three phonemes p+i+n.
-voice onset time: delay between initial sound of a consonant and the onset of vibration of
-Voicing is the vibration of vocal cords.
-distinction between voiced and unvoiced consonants permits us to distinguish between “ p
and b” “ t and d”.
-Pa- builds up pressure in the mouth. Ba don’t build up pressure first, however vocal cords
start vibrating immediately.
-Phonemic discriminations begin in auditory processing of sensory differences, which
occurs in both hemispheres.
-Ganong (1980) suggests we recognize speech sounds in pieces larger than individual
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