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Language Development.docx

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Steve Joordens

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PSYA02 Jan. 9, 2013 Language tends to mean words, something that is exclusively human. However, it is used for communication – something that most animals do. However, human language is special because it allows for ‘complex mind sharing’ – allows the transport of knowledge and ideas across time and space (this means learning does not have to be by one person then re-learned and re-learned: it can be passed on). Three things are key to human domination of the planet (a) our bi-pedalism, freeing up our hands (b) our frontal cortex which figures out useful ways to use our hands (c) language … the ability to transmit all this across generations Animals, like dogs, have receptive language: this means they have learned a constrained set of objects  Example: Chaser the Border collie, who has learned words that she will respond to. o However, it is unclear whether she actually knows what the words mean (language) or is it just a form of operant conditioning? Scientists believe that, in order for an organism to be considered to be ‘using language’, the organisms must use language in a flexible way. This means using words as symbols of abstract and complex ideas. Abstract symbol system.  Words can have different meanings based on where they are used, how they are placed in a sentence/phrase, qualifiers etc.  Deep structure: the actual meaning of the word  Surface structure: how the meaning is being shown Language, Consciousness, Learning Animals generally learn after numerous learning trials. However, in the case of a deer who has had her baby eaten, she learns to avoid the circumstances of that incident after just one occurrence. This may be caused by the fact that the deer replays this tragic act over and over in her mind, acting as a sort of multiple learning experience as provided by her consciousness. The d
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