PSYC 101 Lecture 7: Lecture 7 Notes

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University of California - San Diego
PSYC 101
Adena Schachner

PSYC101 Lecture 7 Notes 5/2/17 - Language: what makes humans unique? o We use symbols: systems for representing thoughts, feelings, knowledge, and communicating them to others ▪ Ex: if you say hippopotamus, we picture it and think about what we know about it o No other species shows such creative and flexible use of symbols o Language is a powerful tool ▪ We have a finite set of words, but an infinite number of sentences and combination of words that we can use to share our ideas - Language is an example of instinct blindness; think that language is easy because you’re used to it, but is actually very complex o Ex: listening to a different language o Hard to understand language ▪ You perceive the individual sounds to understand the meanings and distinguish which sounds are words and what the sentence means based on syntax and the order of words ▪ Must interpret the context and how the context affects the meaning of the sentence - Do humans have an instinct for language? o Darwin: “man has an instinctive tendency to speak, as we see in the babble of our young children, while no child has an instinctive tendency to bake, brew, or write” o Every human society has language; every person (normally developing/healthy) has language o By 5 years of age, children master the basic structure of their native language - 4 components of language o phonology: learning speech sounds themselves o semantics: meanings of the words o syntax: grammar; rules of language o pragmatics: the role of context (sarcasm, emotional state, etc.) - Phonology: individual speech sounds o Phonemes: the elementary units of sound that distinguish meaning ▪ English uses just 45 of 200 sounds found in all languages ▪ Minor sound differences have big consequences ▪ Cross-cultural variation in which sounds are important (Japanese r vs. l) ▪ Phoneme perception in adults is sometimes difficult even in native language ▪ What you hear depends on what you see (BAR vs. FAR) o How does phoneme perception develop? ▪ Possibility 1: babies learn to tell different phonemes apart through experience ▪ Possibility 2 (correct reason): babies learn not to tell apart the sounds that aren’t important in their language (perceptual narrowing) ▪ How to test phoneme perception; possibility 2 • Take 2 similar sounding Native American phonemes and record them. The 8- month old is given those 2 sounds. Trained to turn head toward lit up toys when the sound changes and found that the baby can distinguish the different phonemes because the babies hear the change and turn their head before the toys light up o Perception vs. production ▪ The beginnings of production: early sounds/vocalization • 6-8 weeks of age: cooing produced; drawn out vowel sounds o overtime, increases awareness that vocalizations elicit responses from others • 3-10 months old: babbling, with repeating strings of sounds with a consonant followed by a vowel (ba ba ba) o conforms to sounds, rhythms, and intonations of language o not just about sound; can compare language development with deaf kids ▪ deaf kids with hearing parents do fine, but have slight delays if they have no exposure to sign language o not just about humans; seen across other species that have learned systems about communication (songbirds learn their calls from other birds, bats learn vocalization from other bats) - Semantics: how do children learn word meanings? o The flow of sound is continuous, so how do you determine where words start and end? ▪ Statistical learning helps babies segment words • Gave babies
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