Class/Chapter Notes Part Four
Only humans have the capacity for language
Psycholinguistics = study of the cognitive and neurobiological mechanisms underlying the acquisition, use, and
understanding of language
You're not bound to your immediate environment, with language! If I say I have a blue SUV, you know what I'm
talking about without there being a blue SUV around << perception of speech
Language = ...
o Symbols! These symbols convey meaning (we agree on the meaning of the word "house," for ex)
o Rules for combining those symbols that can be used to generate an infinite variety of messages (aka
o Is semantic, aka has meaning, generative, creates new meaning, structured and symbolic
Language can be characterized by the fact that it's symbolic, the symbols are semantic (they have meaning), and
it's generative (generates meaning) and structured (g-g-g-grammar!)
There are three basic structures of every language
o Phonemes -- basic units of sound in the spoken language...there are around 50 in English
o Morphemes -- the smallest unit of meaning in a language - when we combine different phonemes
ex: Cat << these letters make a word with a certain meanings
o Syntax -- grammar! A system of rules that specify how words can be arranged (into phrases and sent.s)
Language development... what is acquired and what are we born with?
o < 1-5 months old = random vocalizations, crying
Only happens when there is another human around... so. It must be a lot acquired
o 6-12 months = babbling/sounds correspond to phonemes. Approximates human speech patterns
A child in Canada and a child in Africa will babble in the same way. Once they start using
phonemes though, their pronunciation changes a bit
^^ Exposure to other humans helps language skills (language production) to increasing
significantly over time, as the brain matures/develops, along with physical structures like the
voice box. Language understanding is a bit of a different story though...
o 12 months = use of words that refer to objects. First words!! Usually Mommy or Daddy or juiceeeeeeee
o 12-18 months = slow development, but vocab expands...~50 words, one word sentence stage
Holophrases are single word utterances that appear to function like sentences. The kids don't
have the ability to use grammar yet
o 18-24 months = vocab spurt time! Suddenly, the child's vocab expands rapidly
Fast mapping = children map a word onto an underlying concept or object after only one
exposure to the word. Now it's forever part of their vocabulary. Often incorrect...see below
Error --> overextension happens when a child incorrectly maps a word on a wider set of objects.
They lack the appropriate word to describe the object (the infant knows what a ball is, and what
an apple is. He/she sees the moon and calls it an apple, or a ball)
o Two-year-old = two word sentence stage. Telegraphic speech, use of pronouns and verbs (ex: Dog eat)
o Two and a half years = three word sentence stage; speaks to a listener, elicits responses from others o 3-5 years = complete simple active sentence structure; uses plurals! Speaks in the present and past
tense, have expanded grammatical forms
Sometimes the kids incorrectly learn grammatical rules, and/or generalize them to irregular
cases falsely... called overregulation (ex: I hitted the ball)
Imaginary speech refers to when you're talking to no one, but having a conversation... like to an
imaginary friend (when an adult does it, it could be schizophrenic)
o 6 years = complete syntax, 10,000 words -- metalinguistic awareness (ability to reflect on the use of
Theories of language acquisition... we have no idea.
o Chomsky says we learn through imitation, conditioning (learning). LAD, or language acquisition device is
a biological, brain structure that plays a key role in the foundation of our grammar abilities
ex: languages like Creole can get lost when people relocate, they can also move << all about the
children, who generate the structure for language
No one knows what brain structure does this, but they're pretty sure there is something...
Nativist theory -- language capabilities are inborn << Chomsky
o Behaviorist theory of language acquisition -- imitation and reinforcement by adults << con: are children
really conditioned for every single matter of syntax?
Aphasia means difficulty with language (spoken and written), like alexia (reading issues, like dyslexia) and
agraphia (writing issues). There are a whole bunch of different kinds of aphasia
o Broca's aphasia = difficulty with full sentence speech (Says "walk dog" to mean "I take the dog for a
walk" or "the dog walked out of the yard") -- uses as few words as possible
o Wernicke's aphasia = problems with language understanding (cannot communicate the meaning of what
they want to say) -- ex: "You know that smoodle pinkered and that I want to get him round and take
care him like you want before" could mean "the dog needs to go out so I will take him for a walk"
Zygote = union of sperm and egg
Prenatal development = from conception to birth (~9months) -- THREE stages
o Germinal stage -- first two weeks of pregnancy. Rapid cell division, cell mass migrates through the
fallopian tube to uterine wall. The placenta also develops, allowing oxygen and nutrients from the
mommy to get to the baby
o Embryonic stage -- after 2 weeks, up to the 2nd month of pregnancy. Basic structures form, like the
heart, spine and brain, arms, legs, eyes, and ears. The embryo is VERY vulnerable. This is when
miscarriages and structural birth defects occur
o Fetal stage -- from 2nd month up until birth. Muscles and bones develop, and physical movement is
noticeable. During the last 3 months, brain cells multiply vigorously. After about 6 months, the fetus is
viable, which means it can survive premature birth
Things that can affect your baby!
o Eating habits (malnutrition)
o Drug use (fetal alcohol syndrome)
o Physical health (measles, cholera, syphilis)
Infant mortality is the number of deaths in the first year of life, per 1,000 babies. So pre/postnatal care is vital!
Babies have poor vision at birth -- after 6 months, acuity is 20/100 (sees object at 20 feet as sharp as a normal
adult does at 100 feet). At age 2, acuity is 20/20!
Hearing is pretty good at birth already - sound localization (a baby hears the door and turns toward the door) Maturation: gradual unfolding of the genetic blueprint... specialized motor skills are cultural expression. There
are two trends in motor development
o Cephalo-Caudal Trend -- head to foot direction (child gets control over its head first, and