Ch9: Language Textbook Notes **Use with Lect9 Notes

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Published on 28 Apr 2011
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PSYB57 Memory and Cognition
Lecture Nine Language
Is Language Uniquely Human?
Chimpanzees can learn symbols to communicate (language is to communicate through
symbols); however could not use those symbols to express themselves in different way
Little evidence that animals’ communication systems do not form a true language, but
they do communicate
*problem* we compare animal communication to human language, but it is not fair to
judge them with ourselves as a point of reference
What is Language?
Structure: structural principles such as grammar; system of rules and principles that
specifies universal standards of thought/properties of expressions clarity;
precision/specificity; logic/validity; relevance; accuracy; depth
Phonology/Morphology
Phoneme: smallest unit of sound we can make
Morpheme: smallest unit of sound we can make that has meaning
i.e. take vs taking (2 morphemes: take and ing which is an inflectional
morpheme)
Syntax: rule for how to put together sentences and phrases
Semantics: meaning that explains:
Anomaly: something we cannot say;Ice cream coffee can take a dictation. does
not make sense
Contradictions: lacking validity; The dog is not an animal. illogical
Ambiguity: lacking precision/specificity; I need to go to the bank. which bank?
Synonym: The rabbit is not old enough. = The rabbit is too young. the equality
between the sentences are implied
Entailment: Pat is my uncle. if Pat is the uncle then, he must be male; if Pat was
the aunt, she would be a female
www.notesolution.com
Conditions for understanding the meaning of sentences:
1.Understand the meaning of every word
2.Understand the syntax of the sentence
3.Understand the truth conditions of the sentences
Pragmatics: social rules of language; verbal and non-verbal; varies from culture to
culture
Localization: various physical mechanisms; specific language centres in the brain
Use: used for expression of thought, establishing social relationships, communications of
ideas, clarifying ideas
Speech Perception
There are 2 fundamental problems with speech perception:
Speech is continuous
Psychologically sounds like there are pauses when we hear a familiar language; these
pauses are just an illusion of the mind
When hearing a foreign language, we hear the continuity
A single phoneme sounds different depending on the context
Language & Cognition
The Whorfian Hypothesis
Linguistic Relativity: the language in which we were born shapes and limits thought
i.e. Inuit have 7 different words for snow each with a slightly different meaning
The Modularity Hypothesis
John Fodor (1983) : some cognitive processes in particular, perception and language are
modular
1.Domain specific: it operates with certain kinds of input but not others
2.Informationally encapsulated: it operates independently of the beliefs and the
other information available to the processor
www.notesolution.com
Some aspects of music and speech are domain specific and others are prone to
inculturation (Whorfian hypothesis) can be seen cross-culturally
Prof Ilie believes that speech is not unimodular, but a system that is intertwined with
other modules (i.e. music)
Neuropsychology Views
The Brain
Localization of language: Brocas area, Wernickes area and motor cortex
Typically on the left side of the brain; some people are bilateral; very few are in the right
side
Language Disorders (Aphasia)
Aphasias: collective deficits in language comprehension and production that result from
brain damage
Brocas aphasia: expressive aphasia; named after Paul Broca (French surgeon)
Patient Tan comprehends, but cannot construct speech
Halting, agrammatic speech
Nouns and verbs ok; function word impaired
Difficulty comprehending reversed sentences
Damage to frontal areas of brain
Wernickes aphasia: receptive aphasia; fluent speech without content
Cannot comprehend and execute simple commands like touch your knee
Damage to left temporal lobe
Anomia: naming deficit
Alexia: visual language impairment
Agraphia: inability to write
Alexia without agraphia: can write, but cannot read what they have written
www.notesolution.com

Document Summary

 chimpanzees can learn symbols to communicate (language is to communicate through symbols); however could not use those symbols to express themselves in different way.  little evidence that animals" communication systems do not form a true language, but they do communicate.  *problem* we compare animal communication to human language, but it is not fair to judge them with ourselves as a point of reference.  structure: structural principles such as grammar; system of rules and principles that specifies universal standards of thought/properties of expressions  clarity; precision/specificity; logic/validity; relevance; accuracy; depth.  phonology/morphology: phoneme: smallest unit of sound we can make, morpheme: smallest unit of sound we can make that has meaning i. e.  take vs taking (2 morphemes: take and ing which is an inflectional morpheme)  syntax: rule for how to put together sentences and phrases.  pragmatics: social rules of language; verbal and non-verbal; varies from culture to culture.