Exam 3 Review
• Arbitrarily Symbolic
o No connection between symbol and concept
o Words do not have to look or sound like what they describe
• Generative Property of Language
o Using rules of language (our internalized knowledge) we can create an
unlimited number of new utterances.
o Limited number of words – but they can be combined in unlimited ways.
• Language structure
o Sentence, phrase, word, morpheme, phoneme
• Phoneme: Sounds of language
o Smallest meaningful unit of speech
o Bit – pit
o Different languages use different sets of phonemes.
o About 45 phonemes in English
o Words are sequences of phonemes
• Minimal Pair Test: Does substituting one sound for another produce a different
o Different phonemes are produced by our vocal apparatus depending on
the position of our tongues, lips, jaw, vocal cords, etc.
o Consonants vs. vowels
For consonants the airflow is partially or fully obstructed.
• Stop consonants – ba/da/ta/ - temporary blockage of airflow
and then a quick release. • Fricatives- s/z/v/f – restricted airflow
• (there also other categories of consonants)
For vowels airflow is largely unobstructed.
• Lips/tongue position matters a lot.
• Eeee vs. ahhh.
• Speech perception
o Actual physical signal created by our vocal apparatus is time varying array
of acoustic energy at different frequencies.
o Segment and Categorize these patterns of sound into a limited set of
• Sound waves
o Speech gestures produce sound waves, sound waves have two
How often the soundwave repeats itself.
Frequency is the number of cycles per second (Hertz, Hz).
High frequency sounds have higher pitch, low frequency sounds
have lower pitch.
o Amplitude. (How much the energy sound has).
• Visualizing speech
o Device called a speech spectrograph produces a visual representation of
o Shows amplitude (energy) of the sound at different frequencies over time.
o These graphs/plots are called spectrograms.
• Properties of speech sounds
o Formants: on a spectrograph, formants are represented as dark bands. Formants are the frequencies at which high levels of acoustic
energy are concentrated.
o What causes concentration of energy at these frequencies?
That’s what articulation is all about – position of our tongue, lips,
teeth, vocal cords.
o Steady State Formants: formants that do not change frequency.
o Important for vowels.
o Transitional: Formants shift from one frequency to another.
Can be rising (starts at lower frequency and move to higher
Or falling (starts at higher frequencies and moves to lower).
Transitional formants are important for consonants.
• Problems with speech recognition
No breaks between words
o Speaker variability
Different people saying the same sound, still different
o Lack of invariance
Same speaker saying same phoneme, but differs due to context
• Starting position: So, if an /i/ follows a /b/ it has to sound
different than if it followed a /k/. Bee vs. key.
• Also, the articulators start moving toward position for the
NEXT sound before first one is finished.
Pitch: If you are excited, for example, and speaking at a higher
pitch the actual frequencies of the formants will be different. Rate: If you are speaking quickly then each phoneme will be
shortened. A /w/ in fast speech may not be much longer than a /b/
in slower speech. So, a fast win, similar acoustically to a slow bin.
o Morphology is branch of linguistics that studies words and their structure.
o Morphemes are the smallest meaningful parts of words. Words are made
up of one or more morphemes. Changes in morphemes, lead to changes
in word meaning.
o One word can be made up of just one or of several morphemes.
o Cat (one morpheme, mono-morphemic).
o Cats (two morphemes, cat+plural).
o Meaning changes from one cat to more than one cat.
o One morpheme
o Two morphemes
o Three morphemes
o Four morphemes
o Free morphemes: Can appear by itself.
o Bound Morphemes
Cook, cooks, “s” cannot appear by itself.
Suffixes: attached to ends of words. • swimmer, typist, quickly.
Prefixes: attached to beginning of words.
• Undo, preview, disobey, etc.
Process by which morphemes are added to words to create new
Often changes the grammatical class of the word.
Inflection does not usually change pronunciation of the root.
• Jump, jumps, jumped.
Inflection usually applies more generally than derivation (more
Can create new words by joining to existing words.
o Rules used to put words together for a sentence
o Governs how words are combined into larger units such as phrases and
o Sentence = Noun Phrase + Verb Phrase
o Noun phrase [NP]
Contains a noun and relevant descriptors
o Verb phrase [VP] Contains at least one verb and possibly objects it acts upon
o Lexical vs Functional
• Noun, Verb, Adjective, Adverbs
• Determiners, Auxliaries
• Meanings are usually harder to define than for lexical
• Language and the brain
o Broca’s aphasia
Left frontal lobe
Difficulty with language production: Slow, halting speech.
Simple grammar: no function words (be, of, the).
Comprehension largely intact.
o Wernicke’s aphasia
Damage to left temporal lobe
Lost ability to comprehend spoken words, but language production
But this fluent speech (not halting like Broca’s) makes little sense
Made-up words, word substitutions.
o Conduction aphasia
damage to connections between Broca’s area and Wernicke’s area:
less severe damage to language ability, but trouble monitoring
speech and repeating back sentences.
o The neural pathway for repeating a heard word (auditory cortex to Wernicke’s
area to Broca’s area to motor cortex)
• Linguistic Relativity o Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis
Thoughts and behavior are determined by language
The structure of anyone’s native language strongly influences or fully
determines the worldview he will acquire as he learns the language
o Milder interpretation
Thoughts and behavior are influenced by language
Variety of interesting studies, some for, some against
o Berlin and Kay
Berlin and Kay found that there are eleven specific colors that all
languages derive their color terms from. Follows a hierarchy
Indicated that there may be universal, physiologically based principles
behind color naming.
Tribe asked to recognize color chips
Dani behaved the same as English speakers: could remember the right
color chips even though they had no words for themAND they recognized
the focal colors better than non-focal.
o Codability: How easily a concept can be described in a given language.
If you have a word for concept X it’s a lot easier to encode that concept.
o Effects of labels on memory
Kay and Kempton
• English speakers used labels, others used wavelengths of color
• Supports linguistic relativity
Hoffman Lau and Johnson
• Greater stereotype present when there is a single word for it
• Language development
o What has to be learned?
Parsing language sounds
• Learn phonemes, combine into words
Assigning meanings to words
Learning grammar rules
Nativist vs. Empiricist
• Innate vs. learned