Intro to Psych Ch 10.docx

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University of New Hampshire
Rebecca Nappa

Chapter 10 language The building blocks of language Consists of a hierarchy of unit types, which combine and recombine to form higher and higher level categories so that, with a relativity small number of basic units, each person can express and understand innumerable new thoughts. The sound units Phoneme: the smallest significant unit of sound in a language. Alphabetic characters roughly correspond to phonemes. Morphemes and words Morpheme: the smallest significant unit of meaning in a word. Content morphemes and function morphemes Content morpheme: a morpheme that carries the main semantic and referential content of a sentence. In english content morphemes are usually nouns, verbs, adjectives or adverbs. Function morpheme: a morpheme that, while adding such content as time, mode, individuation, and evidentiality, also serves a grammatical purpose. Phrases and sentences Rules of syntax or grammar: the regular principles governing how words can be assembles into sentences. The basics of syntactic organization Tree diagram: a geometric representation of the structure of a sentence. Its nodes are labeled with phrase and word class category names, and the descending branches indicate relationships among these categories. Phrase structure description: a tree diagram or labeled bracketing that shows the hierarchal structure of a sentence. How language conveys meaning The meaning of words Definitional theory of word meaning: the theory that mental representations of word meanings consist of a necessary and sufficient set of semantic features. Semantic features: a basic semantic category or concept that cannot be decomposed into smaller or gar The prototype theory of meaning Prototype theory: a theory in which concepts or word meanings are formed around average or typical values. Family resemblance structure: an overlapping set of semantic features shared by members of a category, such that no members of the category need to have all of the features but all members have at least one of them.
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