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PSYCH100 Week 13 Language.doc

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McGill University
PSYC 100
Ingrid Johnsrude

Week 13 Language Key properties of language: • Semanticity to refer to the extent to which a form of communication can meaningfully represent ideas, events, and objects symbolically. • Generativity use a limited number of words and a few rules to combine words into a virtually unlimited number of sentences o The cat ate the mouse – the mouse ate the cat (contains the same words but have very different meanings) • Displacement This refers to the ability to use language to convey messages that are not tied to the immediate context (time and place). o Discussing yesterdays episode of the bachelor – it already yet we can still discuss it What comprises language? • Phonemes: component of sound o K, C, Ah • Morphemes: units of meaning o Cats (Cat and s are separate morphemes) • Under-extend: the world “ball” may mean specifically the ball that they own and not refer to any other spherical toys – his cup doesn’t know what another persons cup is called (18/30 months) • Over-extend: generalize the words they know to a wider variety of contexts – refer to any man as “dada” – or point to tape and say ouch thinking of Band-Aid (they know the name they just cant remember-3/4 years) • Syntax: rules of language-> unconscious o Example: “Is words a out it impossible it the of sentence if understand of are to order.” (If the words of a sentence are out of order, it’s impossible to understand it). • Semantics: meaning of words and the rules that govern those meanings o Crucial for comprehension o Not part of syntax – learn cup they first under generalize o Prince William put the wedding band on Kate‘s finger--- I assume none of you were concerned about Kate‘s hand under the weight of all those musician • Pragmatics: social use of language-> talk different to a friend then a boss Early Speech • Telegraphic speech: Between the ages of 18 to 24 months, the average child will start speaking in two- to three-word sentences • Vocab spurt: Two word (18 months) choose the key words “more juice” -speaking about 50 words • IDT: infant directed talk- gets the child’s attention – young kids use it as well o Repeat key words, use sweet tone, exaggerate tone Nativist vs. interactionist Describe theories of language acquisition (nativist vs. interactionist theories). • Nativist: Chomsky argues that children are born with an innate knowledge of universal grammar, the basic features that are part of all of the world’s languages. Nativists argue in favour of a system in the brain that begins to develop after our very first exposures to language. According to this perspective, there is no learning involved in early language acquisition; we have no more control at this time over the growth of our linguistic understanding than we do over the growth of our bodies, though we require exposure to words as the body requires food. • Chomsky argues for a language acquisition device (LAD) which contains rules of universal grammar o System in brain develops after first exposure to language – no learning involved in early language acquisition o Important components of LAD:  Children make hypotheses about grammar that are confirmed or disconfirmed  An LAD guides their hypotheses – will never say certain sentences because of this  LAD makes reinforcement unnecessary  Critical period for learning language – LAD words best during childhood o Learning real language triggered activity in Broca’s area – learning artificial grammar produced non-specific activity across the brain  Experiment: Germans learning Italian or Japanese • Nativist Theory Evidence: • Only humans are capable of high competency in their native language – no other species can do this o Difference between humans and non-humans may come from two mutations that are only in the human gene of FOXP2 – FOXP2 is present in all mammals o Critical periods – specific times when humans must be exposed to something for development to occur normally o Language critical period is the first few years of life  eg. Genie – rescued from isolation at age 13, severe developmental delays, never able to develop normally  eg. Nicaraguan sign language – deaf children developed their own sign language – as younger children entered the school, the language became more refined o FOXP2: Gene on chromosome 7 that is related to severe language disorder o Genie the wild child: Critical periods are times in development during which the brain is extremely respons
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