Language and Thought
- cognition refers to the mental processes involved in acquiring knowledge
Language: Turning Thoughts into Words
What is language?
- A language consists of symbols that convey meaning, plus rules for combing those symbols,
that can be used to generate an infinite variety of messages.
- Language is symbolic
- People use spoken sounds and written words to represent objects, actions, events, and ideas
- Language is semantic, or meaningful
- The symbols used in a language are arbitrary in that no built-in relationship exists between the
look or sound of words and the objects they stand for.
- Language is generative
- A limited number of symbols can be combined in an infinite variety of ways to generate to
endless array of novel messages
- Language is structured
- Although people can generate an infinite variety of sentences, these sentences must be
structured in a limited number of ways
The Structure of Language
- phonemes are the smallest speech units in language that can be distinguished perceptually.
- A letter in the alphabet can represent more than one phoneme if it has more than one
Morphemes and Semantics
- Morphemes are the smallest units of meaning in language
- Semantics is the area of language concerned with understanding the meaning of words and
- Learning about semantics entails learning about the infinite variety of objects and actions that
words refer to.
- Syntax is a system of rules that specify how words can be arranged into sentences
- Sentence must have both a noun phrase and a verb phrase
Milestones in Language Development
www.notesolution.com Moving Toward Producing Words
- long before infants utter their first words, they are making remarkable progress in learning the
sound structure of their native language
- Children’s receptive vocabulary is larger than their productive vocabulary.
- They can comprehend more words spoken by others than they can actually produce to express
- Fast mapping is the process by which children map a word onto an underlying concept after
only one exposure.
- Overextension occurs when a child incorrectly uses a word to describe a wider set of objects or
actions that it is meant to
- Underextension occurs when a child incorrectly uses a word to describe a narrower set of
objects or actions that it is meant to.
- early sentences are characterized as “telegraphic” because they resemble telegrams
- Telegraphic speech consists mainly of content words; articles, prepositions, and other less
critical words are omitted
- MLU (mean length of utterance) is the average length of youngster’s spoken statements
(measured in morphemes).
- Over-regularizations occur when grammatical rules are incorrectly generalized to irregular
cases where they do not apply.
Refining Language Skills
- metalinguistic awareness is the ability to reflect on the use of language
Learning More Than One language: Bilingualism
- Bilingualism is the acquisition of two languages that use different speech sounds, vocabulary,
and grammatical rules.
Does Learning Two Languages in Childhood Slow Down language Development
- Some studies have found that bilingual children have smaller vocabularies in each of their
- The available evidence suggests that bilingual and monolingual children are largely similar in
the course and rate of their language development
www.notesolution.com Does Bilingualism Affect Cognitive Processes and Skills?
- When middle class bilingual subjects who are fluent in both languages are studied, they tend to
score somewhat higher than monolingual subjects on measures of cognitive flexibility, analytical
reasoning, selective attention, and metalinguistic awareness.
What Factors Influence the Acquisition of a Second Language?
- age is a significant correlate of how effectively people can acquire a second language
- acculturation is the degree to which a person is socially and psychologically integrated into a
Can Animals Develop Language?
- Scientists have taught some language-like skills to a number of species, including dolphins, sea
lions, African gray parrot, but their greatest success has come with the chimpanzee, an intelligent
primate widely regarded as human’s closest cousin
- ASL (American Sign Language) is a complex language of hand gestures and facial expressions
used by thousands of deaf people in the United States
- The ability to use language may not be unique to humans, as has been widely assumed.
- Even if language is not unique to humans, they do appear to be exceptionally well suited for
- The talent for language is a product of evolution.
Language in Evolutionary Context
- language is a valuable means of communication that has enormous adaptive value
- Dunbar agues that language evolved as a device to build and maintain social coalitions in
increasingly larger groups.
- Although the adaptive value of language seems obvious, some scholars take issue with the
assertion that human languages is the produce of evolution
Theories of Language Acquisition
- B.F Skinner argued that environmental factors govern language development
- Skinner argued that children learn language the same way they learn everything else: through
imitation, reinforcement, and other established principles of conditioning.
- By controlling reinforcement, parents encourage their children to learn the correct meaning and
pronunciation of words
- Children learn how to construct sentences by imitating the sentences of adults and older
www.notesolution.com Nativist Theories
- Chomsky pointed out that there are infinite number of sentences in language and therefore it is
unreasonable to expect that children learn language by imitation
- According to Chomsky, children learn the rules of language, not specific verbal responses, as
- Nativist theory proposes that humans are equipped with a language acquisition device (LAD),
that is an innate mechanism or process that facilitates the learning of language
- Language development is determined by biological maturation more than personal experience.
- Nativist theories have been undermined by evidence that parents do provide their children with
subtle corrective feeding about grammar
- Biology and experience both make important contributions to the development of language.
- Incremental changes in connectionist networks underlie children’s gradual acquisition of
various language skills
- Interactionist theories maintain that a biological predisposition and a supportive environment
both contribute to language development
Culture, Language, and Thought
- Linguistic relativity is the hypothesis that one’s language determines the nature of ones thought
- Different languages lead people to view the world differently.
- A given language makes certain ways of thinking easier or more difficult rather than the
original hypothesis that language determines thought
Problem Solving: In Search of Solutions
Types of Problems
- Problem solving refers to active efforts to discover what must be done to achieve a goal that is
not readily attainable
- 1) Problems of inducing structure require people to discover the relations among numbers,
words, symbols, or ideas
- 2) Problems or arrangement require people to arrange the parts of a problem that satisfies some
- Insight is the sudden discovery of the correct solution following incorrect attempts based
primarily on trial and error.
- 3) Problem of transformation requires people to carry out a sequence of transformations in
order to reach a specific goal.
www.notesolution.com - Sternberg points out that people often incorrectly assume that all the numerical information in
a problem is necessary to solve it
- Effective problem solving requires that you attempt to figure out what information is relevant
and what is irrelevant before proceeding.
- Functional fixedness is the tendency to perceive an item only in terms of its most common use.
- A mental set exists when people persist in using problem-solving strategies that have worked in
- The tendency to let one’s thinking get into a rut is a common barrier to successful problem
- People often make assumptions that impose unnecessary constraints on problem-solving efforts
Approaches to Problem Solving
- Problem space is the set of possible p