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lectures 1-18

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University of Toronto Scarborough
John Bassili

LECTURE 2: CHAPTER 10 (LANGUAGE) The building blocks of language: it can be broken down into several levels Phonemes are the smallest significant units of sound in a language. How do we produce sound? Our vibration of vocal chords. Producing area pressure that sends air out of the mouth, the column of air contains sound waves. Pah and bah are Bilabial Plosives (uses lip and has an explosion) and s and z are Alveolar Fricatives (uses the tongue and there is a friction sound). There are 40 phonemes in English, yet only 26 letters to capture these The normal rate of speech is about 180 words per minute which is equivalent to 14 phonemes per second. Morphemes are the smallest units of sound that denote meaning in a As an example, the word talked has two morphemes: talk and the suffix - Lexicon or vocabulary: A lexical item is a root word in the vocabulary. Most English-speaking high school students have a vocabulary of over 60,000 Most English-speaking university students have a vocabulary of well over 120,000 words. Content words (things you can find in dictionary) and function words (making sense of relations between words like to the) are linked to language. Syntax or grammar refers to the way users of a particular language put words together in sentences. Where it comes from is complex. Each language has rules of grammar. The players to the fans talked is The rules differ across languages. John drives the car orange sounds wrong in English, but that order of words is correct in French. Language is a complex skill that humans excel at: It is symbolic, allowing us to communicate concrete or imaginary thoughts. 1 It has structure because it is governed by rules. It is generative so that symbols can be combined in an infinite number of ways. Language has been described as: The last bastion of human uniqueness Is it true that only humans possess the ability to: *Use symbols to communicate. *Arrange the symbols in a structured way. *Generate an infinite number of combinations of symbols. Language is learned. It is argued that the only reason animals cannot speak is because they havent experienced the same learning methods of language. Others argue that language is set in our brain and we effortlessly learn grammar and language, thus, animals are enabled to learn language. SHORT LECTURE 3: CHAPTER 10 (LANGUAGE) The example video: Vicky the Chimp. She learned 4 words (mama, papa, up and cup) in three years. Chimps dont have the vocal apparatus which humans do that helps in pronouncing sounds. Does the experiment with Washoe convince us that he could: Learn to use signs to label things? String together signs into grammatical sentences? Generate new combinations of signs to communicate new ideas? LECTURE 4: CHAPTER 10 (LANGUAGE Teaching chimps language is a controversial issue. What happens to the brain when we speak? 2 Hemispheric specialization: Language is mostly localized in the left hemisphere. This is more the case for men than women (fMRI scan). Rhyming Task When men engage in a rhyming task it is situated in the left hemisphere. For women, when they are engaged in a rhyming task, activity is situated some activity to the right and left. fMRI (Functional magnetic resonance imaging)- It measures the hemodynamic response (change of blood flow related to the neural activity in the brain, and spinal cord). BOLD: blood oxygenated level blood. fMRI: It is very good with spatial resolution but not very good with temporal resolution. Brain damage can be caused by accidents or strokes (embolism or blockage or hemiledge) Aphasia refers to problems of speech. Some aphasias involve difficulty with the production of speech. They are known as non-fluent aphasias Other aphasias involve difficulty with understanding speech. They are known as fluent aphasias. Comprehension: Recognizing sequences of sounds and words. Wernickes Aphasia (receptive aphasia): Poor comprehension. Produce fluent gibberish. Use function words but few content words. 3
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