Chapter 9 Language and Thinking.docx

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8 Mar 2013
Chapter 9 Language and Thinking
- Language: consist of system of symbols and rules for combining them in
ways to make messages and meanings
- Psycholinguistics: scientific study of psychological aspect of language
- Human thought and behavior depend a lot on physical structure of brain
- Language helped people gather and form social units
o Made it easier to communicate and live in social groups
- Properties of language
o Symbolic
o Structured
o Rule-governed
Grammar: set of rules that tell how symbols are combined to
create meaning
Syntax: rules for order of words
o Convey meaning
Semantics: meaning of words and sentences
o Generative
Generativity: symbols of language combined to make infinite
number of massages that have meaning
o Displacement
Allow us to communicate about stuff that isn’t physically
- Structure of language
o Surface structure: symbols that are used and the order
o Deep structure: underlying meaning of combined symbols
o Phoneme: smallest unit of sound that can signal a difference in
No meaning by itself but combined to create morphemes
o Morpheme: combination of phonemes
Co mbined to create words
o Discourse: sentences combined into paragraphs, articles….etc.
- Understanding Language
o Bottom-up Processing: individual elements analyzed then combined
to get perception
o Top down processing: information interpreted with existing
o Speech segmentation: knowing where each word in spoken sentence
begin and ends
Use certain sequences of phonemes that we know are unlikely
to be in same word to know them as beginning or endings of
adjacent word
Use context
o Pollack/Pickett: conversations of female/male
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Showed availability of context made it easier to identify
individual words
o Pragmatics: knowledge of practical aspects of using language
Example of top-down processing
Depends on social context
- Language functions, brain, and sex differences
o Broca’s area – word production, articulation
o Wernicke’s area – speech comprehension
o Aphasia: damage in one or two of the above areas; impairment in
speech comprehension/production
o Visual cortex recognize written words
o Rossell: men = greater left-hemi activation in language task where
women has both left and right activation
- Acquiring First Language
o Joint influences of nature and nurture
o Many think humans are born linguists
Human children begin to master language early in life with no
All languages seem to have common underlying structural
Between 6-12 months of age, begin to discriminate sounds
only specific to native tongue
o Chomsky proposed humans born with language acquisition device
LAD: innate biological mechanism that has general
grammatical rules common to all languages
Compared it to a huge electrical panel
o Skinner said children’s language development governed by adult’s
positive reinforcement
BUT children learn so much quicker, and parents usually don’t
correct their language skills but help with the meaning of what
the child is trying to communicate
o Bruner proposed language acquisition support system (LASS)
Represent factors in social environment that facilitate learning
of language
o Telegraphic speech: speech with just noun and verb (what children
usually start off with)
o Think there’s a sensitive period between infancy and puberty where
brain is most responsive to language input from environment
- Bilingualism
o Second language learned best when learnt at sensitive period of
Tested by Johnson and Newport
Early and late arrival (Korean and Chinese) immigrant
groups had nearly identical years of exposure to English
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