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Chapter 1

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PSYC 340
Debra Ann Titone

Chapter 1 – The Study of Language What is language? - Simple definition:  Set of symbols and rules that allows us to communicate  Problems arise when comparing with other systems of “communication”  Does animal “language” count as language?  Due to various complications of this sort, formal definition is difficult - How can language be described?  Semantics: study of meaning  Syntax: study of word order  Morphology: study of words and word formation  Morphemes: smallest unit of a word  Inflectional morphology: combination of units that does NOT change the word’s category nor its meaning.  Derivational morphology: combination of units that changes category  Pragmatics: study of language use  Phonetics: study of raw sounds  Phonology: study of how sounds used in a language - What is a word?  “smallest unit of grammar that can stand on its own as a complete utterance, separated with spaces in written language”  A word can be analyzed at various levels  Lowest level: the letters and sounds making up the word  Sounds then combine to make syllables  Can be analyzed in terms of morphemes it contains - The lexicon where mental representations of words stored (mental dictionary)  Contains all information of a word, including sound, meaning, written appearance, and syntactic roles it can adopt  Recognizing a word similar = accessing this lexicon - How has language changed over time?  Around 5000 – 6000 languages, though estimates range from 2700 – 10000  Some languages appear to be related  Proto-Indo-European languages branches into…  Romance: French, Italian, Spanish  Germanic: English, German, Dutch  Indian: Hindi, Punjabi, Urdu  Observation: IE languages all have similar words for horses and sheep, but not vinorigin language must be in area where horses and sheep are found  Some languages lack being in a family, although most are.  Language change happen over time (within the same language)  E.g. developments of Chaucerian English to modern one. - What is language for?  Primarily for communication, but may play a role in non-linguistic cognitive processes (e.g. Sapir-Whorf hypothesis)? History and Methods of Psycholinguistics - Roots in linguistics and psychology  Linguistics  Early = structuralism, where the goal is to provide analysis of the appropriate categories of description of the units of language  Later = more work done on how language intuitions arise and if general rules can be formulated to account for them.  Psychology  Behaviorism: emphasized relationship between input and output (stimulus and response), and that conditioning + reinforcement can strengthen correct production.  Famous from Skinner’s Verbal Behaviour, which was later reviewed and overturned by Chomsky.  Transformational grammar: accounts for both underlying structure and also of our knowledge of a language.  Information theory: looked at probability and redundancy in language, where mind ‘translates’ input and cognition used to process it.  Processing represented in flow diagrams (which can technically be turned into a computational program)  These diagrams illustrate the levels of processing, showing how one level of representation can be turned into another - Cognitive science approach to language  Influence of AI (artificial intelligence) on the field  ELIZA program: simulates a “conversation” by matching sentences to previously stored templates.  SHRDLU program: is able to “understand” instruction given to it, although this was merely an appropriate response to simple sentences.  AI eventually led to developments of CONNECTIONISM  Connectionist networks made up of simple units that are elaborately connected with each other, and can function without explicit rules.  Activation is central to many connectionist models, where varying levels of activation possible depending on the relation of the target with the prime. - Methods of modern psycholinguistics  Priming: creating a response to a target in relation to the stimulus presented before it; can activate/facilitate or inhibit.  Semantic priming: this effect based on meaning relations Language and the Brain - Lesion Studies  Traditional neurology/neuropsychology interested in localization of function and how these modules interact  Wernicke-Geschwind model: language processing occurs from back to the front of left hemisphere (semantic processing in the back @ Wernicke’s area, sound retrival/articulation in front @ Broca’s area)  Two regions are connected by arcuate fasciculus  However, cognitive psychology wants to see how lesioned brain compares with that of normal processing  Cognitive neuropsychology different from traditional in 3 ways  Theoretical: relating neuropsychological disorders to cognitive models  Methodological: emphasis on single-case studies instead of groups  Additionally emphasizes how models of normal processing can be improved with data from lesion studies 
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