Psychology 2134A/B Lecture Notes - Fricative Consonant, Affricate Consonant, Epiglottis
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September 14th 2010
What This Course is About
How is language learned and used?
What makes human language special?
How does language relate to other aspects of cognition?
What are the social aspects of language?
How is language represented in the brain?
Cognitive science the study of the mind
o We have not just a brain, but also mental states that are superimposed on that
o We reason our way through the world in various ways
Brings different areas of research into a unified effort to understand how the brain works
o Cognitive psychology
Attempt to look at how the mind works
o Computer science
Try to come up with computational formulations for language
The nature of language
o What is language and how does it relate to other forms of communication
What do we know when we know language?
o “Mental grammars” your mind‟s representation of language
o Phonemes, morphemes, etc.
Descriptions of the different units of representations of language
Biology of Language
o How does the mind/brain create language?
o How do children learn language?
Why do we care anyway?
o Understanding spoken words
o Understanding written words
How are they similar
How are they different
o Sentence comprehension
o Language production
Language and the brain
o How the brain creates language
Patients with brain damage
o Language disorders
o Reading disorders
o Sign language
Part 1: Fundamentals
Cats run after dogs
*run cats dog after
The second sentence has the same words as the first sentence but the order that you are
saying the words seems to matter
There is something about your experience with language that allows you to decide
whether the order in which words are said makes a good sentence or not
Noam Chomsky: “what do we know when we know language”
He became very interested in the fact that as you look at different languages of the world
there are similarities
Languages are not random assemblies of words
o They are all governed by a grammar
Even though all languages are very different, the grammars that seem to underlie the
languages all have interesting and important similarities to each other
He proposed that we know a lot more about language than we are able to express
o We have learned a mental grammar in an implicit way that allows us to recognize
grammatical sentences and produce them too
o Goal: produce grammatical utterances and not produce ungrammatical utterances
o We have mental grammars that allow us to do this
Prescriptive grammar rules rules of grammar you might learn in school, prescriptive
in the sense that you are telling someone to do something
o Ex. don‟t end a sentence in a preposition
o Ex. don‟t say “ain‟t”
o Ex. never split an infinitive
o Speakers frequently violate these rules
Because they aren‟t rules of grammar as much as they are rules of
Rules that identify you as being well schooled
Descriptive grammar focus on understanding what people actually know about
What rules of language people learn that allows them to know whether a sentence is
We want to describe what language users know, not what is “right”
There are lots of principles that all English users abide by:
o Herman isn‟t threatening to leave, isn‟t he?
o Mathematicians many are thought to be odd
We don‟t have to explicitly think of those sentences to know that they are ungrammatical
Cognitive science the study of the mind: we have not just a brain, but also mental states that are superimposed on that brain, we reason our way through the world in various ways. Brings different areas of research into a unified effort to understand how the brain works. Attempt to look at how the mind works: linguistics, philosophy, computer science. Try to come up with computational formulations for language: engineering. The nature of language: what is language and how does it relate to other forms of communication. What do we know when we know language: mental grammars your mind s representation of language, phonemes, morphemes, etc. Descriptions of the different units of representations of language. Language processing: understanding spoken words, understanding written words. How are they different: sentence comprehension, language production. Language and the brain: how the brain creates language. Exceptional cases: language disorders, reading disorders, bilingualism, sign language.