Psycholinguistics Midterm Review.docx
Course CodePSYC 3290
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-Linguistic relativity asks the question ͞does language influence cognition͟
-Communication is a means of relaying information between at least two agents.
-Language is ͞human speech͟, an artificial system of signs and symbols with rules for forming
intelligible communication for use.
-Language is a body of words and the systems for their use common to a people who are of the
same community or nation.
-Hackett͛s ͞design features͟ of human spoken language consist of:
|peech specifics ʹ vocal auditory channel, broadcast transmission and directional
reception, rapid fading, complete feedback, and specialization.
|ymbolic/Productive ʹ semanticists, arbitrariness, discreteness, openness, and duality
|Cognition/ocial ʹ learn ability, inter-changeability, displacement, tradition, reflexivity,
-A natural language must have regularity (governed by a system of rules called grammar),
productivity (generative, infinite combinations of things that can be expressed), arbitrariness
(there is a lack of resemblance between a word/sentence and it is referent), and discreteness
(the system can be subdivided into recognizable parts).
-Animal studies: symbolic and productive: an ape named washoe learned 150-200 words, strings
of words, and sensitivity to word order. Kanzi a bonobo chimp learned lexigrams (symbols) and
learned from observation.
-Many species of songbirds learn their songs through vocal learning, young birds must hear a
nonspecific song during the sensory phase in order to perform it correctly; females also exhibit
some sensitive song preferences.
- The younger you are, the better you are to acquire and learn a language.
-Language is important because it facilitates communication and social interactions, productivity
(expression of ideas), it assists in the generation and absorption of knowledge, and allows for
knowledge and organization to develop, also it provides a creative outlet and a cultural identity.
-The maturation hypothesis is that children have a superior language learning ability that
declines as maturation progresses, but should ͞level off͟ when puberty ends.
-90% of deaf children have hearing parents; there is a mismatch between language input and
means by which the child can best communicate. The earlier deaf children are exposed to sign
language, the better the ultimate achievement.
-Nicaraguan sign language NL started in the 1970͛s, the complexity of the language evolved as
cohorts of students interacted. imultaneous signs preceded sequential signs; older signers did
not display the same degree of syntactic complexity.
-The apir-Whorf hypothesis consists of:
|Linguistic determinism, which is the form and characteristics of our language determine
the way we think
|Linguistic relativism, are different languages that map on to the world in different
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-The linguistic relativity principle means that users of markedly different grammars are pointed
by their grammars toward different types of observations, and different types of evaluations of
similar acts of observation, and hence are not equivalent as observers but must arrive at
somewhat different views of the world.
-Whorf analyzed the HOPI speaker͛s use of time, he found no use of grammatical constructions
concerning time and suggested that they have a different conception of time, Whorf also
analyzed circular reasoning.
-Davies and Corbett-etswana (spoken in Botswana) has a single term BOTALA for blue and
green. When asked to sort colour chips, speakers of etswana were more likely to group blue
and green together than speakers of English and Russian.
-At the very least language can direct attention, but with the advancement of technology maybe
we have the ability of exploring a stronger position.
-The innateness debate ʹ nativist vs. empiricist
-The nativist view point is that knowledge is innate (inborn) present at birth. Believes that there
is a language acquisition device, and babies start off ͞smart͟.
-The empiricist view point is that language acquisition is developed through experience and the
-The classical behaviourist approach is that babies have a general learning ability, but it is
developed through experience. ome evidence against behaviourism is the paucity of input
argument that children are not using imitation, and that parent͛s are not explicitly teaching or
-The primitive building blocks and mechanisms of change (the development of language
production): vegetative sounds (0-6 weeks old), cooing sounds (6 weeks), laughter (16 weeks),
vocal play (16 weeks ʹ 6 months), babbling ( 6 -10 months), vegetative babbling (11 ʹ 12
-Gestures are also important for a child͛s cognitive development for communication (such as
pointing). ingle words utterances (10-18 months), vocabulary spurt (18 months), 2 ʹ word
utterances (18 months), telegraphic speech (2 years), and full-sentences (2-6 years).
-tudying language processing consists of the idea that inference cognition processing is essential
in language development.
-We must make inferences about the mental activity from observable behaviours.
-The high amplitude sucking technique consists of a pressure transducer which measures both
the pressure and frequency of the sucking behaviour. The greater the amplitude and frequency
indicates a preference for a stimulus. Babies become habituated to a stimulus and dishabituated
when the stimulus changes.
-Language in the womb: lower frequency sounds, hear muffled sounds, words cannot be heard,
but rhythm can be determined (stress in voice, etc).
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- Infants in prenatal experience prefer their mother͛s voices over other women, prefer women
over men͛s voices, and don͛t prefer their father͛s voices over other men, this all occurs in the
-Language specific knowledge in the womb, newborns were able to differentiate between
familiar and unfamiliar stories, foetuses are also able to differentiate between stories.
-A music analogy: the structure in music allows individuals to discern the structure in vocals of
the language; notes coincide with new words or syllables, even not knowing a language, the
change in notes.
-Phonology is the system of rules that determine the sound structure of a language.
-Phonemes are the smallest unit of sound that form meaning, they contrast between utterances.
English has approximately 40 phonemes.
-Categorical perception is that we are better at hearing the differences between categories than
hearing the differences with in categories.
-Adults and infants listened to non-native contrasts (Werker and Tees 1984 study), infants were
better than adults in hearing the differences, this ability declines in the first year of life.
-Word Learning: possible mechanisms are conceptual knowledge, the segmentation problem,
prosodic cues, and statistical learning.
-egmenting abilities (Aslin and Jusczyk 1995) studied 6 - 7.5 month olds who listened to words in
isolation, and then listened to familiar and unfamiliar words in stories, performance differed
between the 6 and 7.5 month olds, there was more difference with 7.5 month olds listening to
more of the familiar story.
-Infants spent more time (7.5 month olds) listening to familiar words with a trochaic pattern.
-tatistical learning: is determining which phonemes go together and which ones do not.
-egmentation of fluent speech: (offran, Aslin, and Newport 1996), studied 8 month old infants,
and presented them streams of speech, the infants were more likely to listen to novel items
rather than familiar streams of speech.
-Language learning does not occur in isolation. Learners have to create an organized conceptual
representation of an event.
-Infants can segment speech, language development and cognitive development happen in
-The mapping problem is deciding what word refers to which concept.
-Taxonomic constraint: the label refers to a category of similar things.
-The whole object assumption is when the label refers to the whole concept and not just a part.
-The mutual exclusivity assumption is that each object is assigned a label.
-Child directed speech is when adults simplify their speech, and focus on here and now concepts,
speech is simplified phonologically and syntactically, there are more pauses, and utterances are
shorter and redundant.
-Factors that characterize language acquisition are personal before non-personal, perceptually
salient first, simple and short before complex and long, here and now before displaced in time
and space, are concrete before abstract, and gross before subtle.
-Joint attention, by establishing a focus, is that the possible referents are limited from an infinite
set to a subject.
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