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Psych of Language Lect sept 18.docx

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Psychology 2134A/B
Marc Joanisse

Psych of Language Lec Sept 18 Lecture 3 slides Problem with speech Look at sign language instead Primate sign language Teach them in a fairly structured way the manual signs that correspond with words, see if they learn this, if they can form sentences Sarah: an adult chimp that learned sign with extensive training. a lot of this work was done using the principles of behaviorism, operant training, Produce signs in order to get a reward. Learned a fairly large vocabulary (human is about 1000 of signs, but nevertheless this is a lot of signs) Other famous primates Washoe: they wanted him to be able to string together signs into novel sentences. Created a compound word: water-bird; evidence of language creativity, however its hard to be able to determine the significance, could have been subjective. Koko: symbol for gorilla conversation, these animals are smart enough to use human language they must be important. BUT, human language does not necessarily mean intelligence? Animals can be brilliant but there are different forms Kokos internet chat She can sign out but does she comprehend what penny is saying? She’s not responding really so…. Theres a lot of signing about things in the present space, no time travel (displacement) language. Koko may not be able to understand that someone in the here and now is in a different place. Very little evidene than a chimpanzee will spontaneously produce a sign that indicates something or transmits an idea, don’t seem to use language in the same way that humans do- for communication. Nim study Most constructive study Way of trying to look more closely at the training by applying what we know about how humans learn language and trying to teach a chimp in that way Everything nim did was recorded (video), yes nim is capable of learning a vocabulary, but nim was not singing in a way that was creative or new, didn’t use signs spontaneously, very rewards based, knowing if he produced a sign at a certain time he would get a reward. Syntactic rules don’t seem to apply; grammatical rules are broken and errors are made that a human child would not make; not sure how to sequence things to make meaningful sentences, don’t have that mental grammar. Using the best methods possible you couldn’t get very far teaching these animals to sign Studies of Bonobos More docile, more social, may be able to solve types of problems that make them seem more human. Savage rumbaugh lady suggested that sign language may not be the best source of communication as well (hand dexterity, etc) Yerkish is a big board, press different buttons on the board, each button is a different word in English Have to produce a sequence, in order, to get the reward. Yerkish Train kanzie to produce increasingly more thought invoking sentences Some conclusions Still not clear how language evolved Continuity: language should look like what happens in other species Language is where the limiting factor is; why did langua
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