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Lecture4PsychofLanguageLecture.docx

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Department
Linguistics
Course
01:615:371
Professor
Karin Stromswold
Semester
Fall

Description
Lecture 09/19 Extra Credit Talk Friday @ 1pm Gateway transit building Rm 524 (AB) Trahumara “Whorfian” prediction (that language used affects in some way thought processes) 1.) Discrimination between colors with different names FASTER in RVF (right visual field) 2.) Discrimination between colors with same name slower in RVF 3.) Laterality effect disappear with verbal task This is determined by laterality of the brain and where language/speech information is processed. Language is found in the left hemisphere of the brain. The faster you are, the lower your reaction time in the graph of the Tarahumara experiment. Second prediction would all be labeled as Green by English speakers, although one of them is visually different. Language is tricking you even though visually one of them may be an A and one a B. Your language is only in your right hemisphere, can only trick you if information goes to your language hemisphere first. Basically if the oddball has same color name, it is within category (lexical), you will be slower when it is presented in the right visual field as opposed to the left visual hemisphere. Third prediction is based on the idea that brain can only do one language task at the same time. Stacking up a bunch of assumptions; if you ask someone to do this, to find the oddball color swatch and it is between categories, between green and blue, the right hemisphere advantage only happens if someone doesn’t make you do another language task, the left vs right visual field will disappear. The reaction time slows down significantly. Information has to cross the collosum highway from one hemisphere of the brain to another. There are patients who have this cut because they have neurological problems…information visual stimuli presented in the right visual field goes to left hemisphere and it just gets stuck there and vice versa. Between vs within category distinction matters with these patients especially. Syntax: Counterfactuals English has a tense, a part of grammar that can indicate that something is counter to fact. Not all fluent spekaers of English has mastered; the English subjunctive. Chinese has no subjunctive tense. Having a different name helps with post-factual perception (at the decision level, not perceptual level) You can’t tell whether it is a strong version or a weak version, it is post perceptual. It isn’t that we have the labels for things, attributes, but that we can take symbols for things and we have rules about the order in which these symbols are, and that can change the meaning (another word for grammar). This is something no non-human animal can do. This is syntax. If we found that grammar of a language affected people the way people process the world, thought about it, that would be amazing. English subjunctive: for things that aren’t true: If I were Kermit the Frog, I would be green Chinese: no subjunctive tense Bloom: Thus, Chinese can’t think counterfactually because they do not have the subjunctive tense. He did some experiments to prove this. A few sentences that contained the subjunctive and then asked students whether or not X was true. When he gave this test in English to American college students they got 98% correct, when he gave it to Taiwanese version, they got 7% correct. Au: Performance reflects the quality of translation She took Bloom’s stories and translated them into good Cantonese. These translations were given to Chinese students and had one of her siblings whose English was not that great, translate the document into English. The subjunctive is hard. The result was not great in English, it did not get the subtleties. This translation was given to students at Harvard, and they did very badly, about 10% correct. Her conclusion was that the Chinese can think in counterfactually. See Videos on tense-less language and behavior: Linguistic determinism and PC talk: Implicit assumption of PC talk: Words shape/mold thinking. That the use of these words wil shape your view of that person. In some sense, the belief in linguistic relativism that language affects though
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