What is representative of randomness?
Actual randomness vs.
Believers - Natural coincidences happen more often then they should
Attribute particular meaning to coincidences - misrepresentation of chance
Language is a system of communicating using sounds and symbols - allows us to convey
It is communicative - a message is conveyed
It is arbitrary - i.e. wicked evil vs. awesome!
It is structured - it is governed by rules that dictate what is and isn't allowed
It is generative - language is hierarchical (broken down into smaller components)
Different words can be combined to form and endless number of meanings
It is dynamic - changing slowly (new words get added every year to the lexicon)
i.e. Is Jennifer Lawrence really nice?
i.e. They wed in Barrie vs. They wedded in Barrie
Both are correct (irregular vs. regular verbs) - irregular verbs become
regularized over time
The more frequently the verb is used, the less likely they are to be
Language is a biological ability - children acquire language
If you don't teach deaf children sign language, they will create their own. These children
go through the same stages of language development as hearing children. They coo and
babbled at the same stages that hearing children do. These stages are consistent across
There are some striking similarities between languages - nouns, indicating negatives, indicating
past and future tense, asking questions
Chomsky's book was inspired by Verbal Behaviour, written by Skinner was a behaviourist
Skinner said that children learn to speak because it is rewarding - the making of sounds
when cooing is itself rewarding. With babbling, there are external rewards and they learn
words because they can get what they want. Seems to make sense on the surface but
Chomsky was asked to critique Skinner's book. At this time, cognitive psychologists
were looking for a way to look at mental events outside of behaviour. Chomsky said that
children utter sentences that are never rewarded (i.e. "Mommy I hate you!"), thus they
can't learn language simply because it is rewarding.As well, children are capable of
uttering sentences they've never heard before.
Units of language
Phonemes - the smallest unit of sound that can serve to distinguish words in a language
Each language has its own set of phonemes ("huh" is a universal phoneme with
universal meaning) that are not necessary totally unique (32 in Mandarin)
Babies recognize all phonemes - one of the few skills babies come into the world
knowing more and learning less with age (at a certain age babies lose the
ability to distinguish phonemes that are not found in their native language - approx. at 7 months of age). Phonemes are difficult to perceive in isolation -
people in different locations pronounce phonemes differently. There
is a difference in accents in different speakers, thus although the phoneme
might be considered the same, they might be pronounced differently.
Spectrogram - plots sound frequency as a function of time when a word is spoken
Even though /b/ in bet and bird are the same phoneme, there are physical differences in the
frequency recorded on the spectrogram - yet they are perceived to be the same sound
This is due to co-articulation. These things happen in sequence but start before the preceding
event is complete. This diagram shows the influence pronunciation of certain phonemes - they
have a certain amount of overlap. How do we solve the problem of invariance?
An illusion that occurs when what you see clashes with what you hear. You are presented with a
phoneme and a viseme (visual representation of language) - you end up with a percept that is
unrelated to the original phoneme. This reveals to us how much we rely on vision to interpret
language when face to face. Even if you know about it, you cannot help perceiving its effects - it
is a bottom-up effect that can't be stopped even if you want it to. This is part of a larger stream of
research called multi-sense integration - how different sense combine to form perception.
Note: Speaking a second language on the phone because you are missing that second source of
ResolvingAmbiguity - The Phonemic Restoration Effect
Context becomes important to eliminate ambiguity.
Participants were presented with an audio recording
People can use context to fill in a missing phoneme
Only 5% of people noticed the cough, and even less were able to tell where it had occurred in the
There is a huge proportion of participants that can fill in the gap using context that comes later
Similar to phonemes, it is difficult to perceive words due to the many individual ways you can
pronounce specific words. An experiment was done where participants were aske
Participants can only identify half of the isolated words they spoke themselves - speaking th