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PSYC2500 - Chapter 9

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PSYC 2500
Monique Senechal

Chapter 9 – Language and Communication Language differs from simple communication in 4 ways 1. It has arbitrary units and is therefore symbolic 2. It is structured and meaningful 3. It shows displacement- one can communicate about events distant in time and space, not just here and now 4. It is characterized by generativity – one can produce an infinite number of utterances from a language’s vocabulary, provided that one follows the structure Elements of Language 1. Phonology: refers to the sound of a language 2. Morphology: refers to the rules of meaning within the language 3. Semantics: the study of words and their meaning 4. Grammar: refers to the rules used to describe the structure of a language. (its most important element is syntax- the rules that specify how words are combined to form sentences) 5. Pragmatics: the study of how people use language to communicate effectively Perceiving Speech Note - The basic building blocks of language are phonemes, unique sounds that can be joined to create words - One of the biggest challenges for infants is identifying recurring patterns of sounds – words - In infant-directed speech, adults speak slowly and with exaggerated changes in pitch and loudness First steps of speech - At 2 months, infants begin to produce vowel-like sounds, such as “oooo” or “ahhh” – this phenomenon is known as cooing - After cooing comes babbling – speech-like sound that has no meaning (A typical 6-month-old might say “dah” or “bah”, utterances that sound likea single syllable consisting of a constant and a vowel) - Babbling is a precursor to real speech - Pattern of rising or falling pitch is called intonation Learning the Meaning of Words Understanding words as symbols - 9 month old sometimes babbles “bay-bay”, at 9 months this is simply an interesting set of sounds that she made for no reason - As a 13 month old however, ‘bay-bay’ was her way of saying ‘baby’ - What happened between 9 and 13 months? - The baby begun to understand that speech is more than just entertaining sound, and that sounds form words that refer to objects, actions and properties. Fast Mapping Meanings to Words - Children’s ability to connect new words to their meanings so rapidly that they cannot be considering all possible meanings for the new word is called fast mapping - a typical 15 month old may learn two to three new words each week – however at about 18 months, many children experience a naming explosion during which they learn new words – particularly names of
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