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Language & Thought.docx

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Department
Psychology
Course
PS261
Professor
Don Morgenson
Semester
Winter

Description
Language & Thought – Thursday January 30, 2014 Properties of language • Creative • Structured • Meaningful • Communicative Creative • Effortlessly create new sentences o Have a finite vocabulary that can be combined in infinite ways o Example: Wanna go out for dinner? Want to fetch some grub? Would you  like to dine out? Structured • Although creative – there are some restrictions • These are regularities of language (not necessarily grammar rules) • Example: can end a sentence with a preposition and be understood, can’t say  “dinner the” Meaningful: • Each word represents an idea o Object (cat or dog), action (bites), abstraction, quality • Grammar/structure also contribute to the idea o Dog bites cat OR cat bites dog Communicative • Some language is private – for ourselves • Most language is directed at and around others, social activity • Need to know the sounds, words, sentences of language AND principles of  conversation Conversation: Pragmatics • Knowing how to speak to whom • Child, loved one, stranger, employer, enemy, expert etc.  Structure of Language • Phonemes  • Morphemes • Syntax Phonemes • Requires sounds • Sound require physiological structures • Phonemes o Smallest units of sound recognized as separate in a given language o Do not correspond to letters of alphabet o Meaningful perceptual units • Humans can produce 100s of phonemes o No language uses all o About 40 phonemes in English  Other languages may have different number Morpheme • Fundamental units of meaning o Combination of phonemes o English: 40 phonemes; more than 80,000 morphemes for the average  person • Semantics = meaning • Morphemes from words o Some are single syllable words (hat, bat) o Some are single letters (s, ed) o Example: Strangers  Strange – root word, r – person, s – people Syntax • Rules for combining words together into meaningful phrases • How you phrase, gives the meaning o Ambiguity o They are hunting dogs o Can be: They are hunting..dogs or They.. are… hunting dogs • Grammar rules Structure & Meaning • Surface structure is how you parse the sentence into meaningful units • Ambiguity – when the underlying proposition is not clear o Example: smoking
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