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Psychology - Language and Thought.docx

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York University
PSYC 2510
Richard N Lalonde

November 21, 2012 Psychology – Lecture 11 Language and Thought Historical context of “Cognitive Revolution” in Ψ th  19 century focus on the mind o Introspection  Early 20 century o Psychoanalysis & unconsciousness o Behaviourists & overt responses  Cognitive science – 1956 MIT conference o Simon and Newell – Problem solving o Miller – memory o Chomsky – new model of language Language – Hierarchical Structure  Phonemes – smallest speech units o About 100 possible, English – about 40  Morphemes – smallest unit of meaning o Root words, prefixes, suffixes (50,000 in English)  Semantics – meaning of objects & actions to which words & word combos refer  Syntax – system of rules for arranging words into sentences o Different rules for different languages Language Development – Milestones  Initial vocalizations similar across languages o Crying, cooing, babbling  6 months o Recognize their names & repetitive words o Babbling sounds begin to resemble surrounding language  1st year st o 1 words similar cross-culturally o More receptive than expressive language  18-24 months o Naming explosion & fast mapping (1 trial) o Telegraphic speech  Speech which sounds like a telegram & often gets the message across  Only the main words of a sentence (nouns, verbs) are present; the small words (ifs, ands, buts,) are missing rd  End of 3 year – rules, complex ideas, tenses o Overregularization – Children extend regular grammatical patterns to irregular words o The child uses a regular morpheme in a word that is irregular o Most common morphemes overregularized: plurals & past tense o Eg. mouses (plural overregularized), comed (past tense overregularized)  Age 6: vocabulary between 8000 & 14,000 words Can Animals Develop Language?  Not spoken language  Gardners (1969) o Chimpanzee – Washoe – singing o 160 word vocabulary  Sue Savage-Rumbaugh o Bonobo chimpanzee – Kanzi  Uses symbols on computer  Good receptive language – 72% of 660 requests Video – Kanzi the Talking Ape  Sue taught Kanzi language by speaking to him and around him; he picked it up like a human child  Uses lexigrams on a computer to say what’s on his mind & answer some questions  Has control of his own breath; it was thought that only humans had control of their own breath  Communicating with Kanzi was like talking to a toddler  Kanzi’s son, Teco, is being raised by both humans and apes; they hope she will develop an even more sophisticated language skills than his father; Teco might be able to talk one day  An attempt to cross the boundary and understand the species’ differences and the role of language in the development of rational thought. Video – Laura-Ann Petitto & Nim Chimpsky (Project Nim Chimpsky)  Nim Chimpsky is a chimpanzee who was brought up as a human (named after Chomsky)  Columbia University (mid 1970s)  Laura-Ann Petitto was to be the ape’s primary teacher, Head Project Coordinator o She was to be Nim’s “mother” and had to raise him just like a child, while attempting to teach him sign language. (  Nim mastered only some, not all, of human language...He taught us that parts of this remarkable thing we call language is special to humans  He informed all chimp studies that followed to focus on the richness of chimpanzees' own communicative system rather than on drilling them in our own tongue.  Nim's successes laid the foundation for the truly exciting chimpanzee research of today, showing us that chimps can provide an exciting glimpse of the evolutionary precursors of human language. (The Washington Post – Nim Chimpsky: A Life That Was Rich Beyond Words) Theories of Language Acquisition  Behaviourist (Skinner o Learning of specific verbal responses  Nativist (Noam Chomsky) o Evidence of innate Language Acquisition Device (LAD) that helps learning of language  Children cannot imitate what they do not hear (goed)  Adults do not consistently correct children’s syntax  Critical period for normal language development Sensitive period for language development  Ability to discriminate between sounds o Most languages use about half of existing phonemes o Adults have difficulty discriminating some phonemes from another language  Japanese cannot distinguish “la” & “ra”  WW2 – “Lollapalooza”  Age of immigration & SL ability Age and second language learning. Immigrants to the US mastering English as a second language. Nicaraguan Sign Language  Nicaraguan revolution 1979 o Deaf children go to school  New sign language evolved in school – to end deaf children’s isolation  Attempts to teach an existing sign language failed, but the children made a new one (comprised of mimicry/mime actions) o Because they wanted to share things with each other  Language appears to have a need to emerge! Bilingualism – Benefits  Practical o Range of expression, access to culture, employability  Psychological research o Increase in grey matter density (Mechelli et al) o Child’s ability to focus attention & avoid distraction (Bialystok) o Greater metalinguistic awareness  Ability to view language as a thing, process & system o Defence against age related cognitive decline Buffer against dementia Bilingualism teaching strategies:  One parent, one language  Home language, outside language  Both parents, both languages o Baby sign langua
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