PSYCH WEEK 13: Language
Identify the three key properties of human language
Language is a method for communication information, including ideas, thoughts and
1. Semanticity: the extent to which a form of communication can
meaningfully represent ideas, events and objects symbolically (using
language to transmit meaningful messages)
- For example: a bee doing a “waggle dance” portrays a low level of
semanticity because of the limited amount of symbols and only
conveys distance and direction information. The bee can’t indicate
more varied or complex messages.
2. Generativity: language combines a limited number of words and a few rules to convey
many ideas. TO GENERATE language.
- For instance, “the boy hit the ball” and “the ball hit the boy” contain the same number of
words, but have different meanings
To be considered language, a form of communication must contain the property of
3. Displacement: the ability to convey messages that are not tied to the immediate time and
Bidding cards is not displacement, sign language may show displacement, as it can refer to
past events or places.
Describe the components of language: phonemes, morphemes, syntax, semantics, and
- Psycholinguists study verbal behaviour and cognition
1. Phonemes: They are distinct units of sound that distinguish one word from another (in
english R and L are phenomes, for example: rice and lice)
2. Morphemes: Formed of phonemes; the smallest meaningful units of language, two types: PSYCH WEEK 13: Language
- Free Morphemes: meaningful on their own and can stand alone as words.
Bound Morphemes: meaningful only combined with other morphemes to form words. Think
of these as lego bricks adding endings to words such as “-ed” and the s on the endings of
- Example: The word “Engagement” contains the free morpheme “engage” as well as the
bound morpheme “-ment”.
3. Semantics: The meanings of words and the rules that govern those meanings. Crucial for
comprehension (ex: wedding band as in ring, or musical band?).
4. Syntax: Determines how we combine words to form sentences and phrases.
5. Pragmatics: The knowledge of the world as it relates to understanding and using language.
Pragmatics helps you to interpret what others say to you.
Explain how speech is produced, and what this might mean for how speech is represented
in the brain (ie speech sounds are not sequentially produced, but the system must
anticipate and accommodate up coming sounds in motor programming at the same
time as current sounds are being articulated).
Comprehension of Speech:
i) Recognize the sounds (phenomes) in the utterance
ii) Identify the words and associate their meanings (using semantics and morphemes)
iii)Analyze the syntax of the message (word order, class, function, content words, affixes etc.)
Movements made by articulators (parts of the human mouth) define how we produce the
words we speak.
*look at textbook…online sucks. PSYCH WEEK 13: Language
Discuss the categorical perception of phonemes
Coarticulation: The sound associated with any phoneme varies depending on its context - on
the other sounds preceding and following it.
Some sounds can correspond to more than one phoneme (ex: the “k” in candy and the “p” in
Categorical perception: Allows us to perceive sounds as one phoneme or another, when in
reality the sound might be quite ambiguous. (ex: calling a group of similar colours “orange”)
- Discriminating against adjacent stimuli is easy, while discriminating against adjacent items in a
set of stimuli is hard! (Male face 1 vs Male face 2 in a group of M v. F)
Identify the skills required in learning how to read
There are two ways of approaching a written text: phonetic reading (sounding out words) and
Knowledge of morphology can help a reader break a word into smaller parts.
- Semantics (a reader’s vocabulary) play’s a key role in comprehending a text
- Reader must identify the rules of written language (Spaces,