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Chapter 5

Chapter 5 - Language Textbook Notes Psych 1X03
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Department
Psychology
Course
PSYCH 1X03
Professor
Joe Kim
Semester
Fall

Description
Textbook Notes Psych 1X03 Chapter 5: Language Section 1: What Sets Language Apart from other Forms of Communication?  Language is symbolic o Various language stimuli represent difference meanings and concepts o Language Stimuli – in an oral language; sounds that you emit in the form of words, in sign language; the signs that represent a different word or letter o Language gives us the ability to refer to objects in their absence  Opens the possibility to communicate about complex ideas and hypothetical concepts  Allows you to communicate memories of past events and hopes for the future  Allows us to discuss objects that we might never directly see and/or only exist in theory o Language provides an organized system to represent concept symbolically and communicate simple and complex ideas about them  Language involves arbitrary associations o The words we use for concepts are arbitrarily assigned o Arbitrary associations allow various languages to use different sounds to label he same item; if the sound is used to identify items and concepts were associated with their inherent meaning, all languages would use the same sound to identify a given item o Onomatopoeia – words whose sounds are associated with their meaning (Eg/ meow, splash, hiccup)  Language is productive o Language is designed to use a small number of components to produce and understand a wide range of symbols o Eg/ Oral language is made up of phonemes, which can be combined to form words, which can be combined to form sentences – the English languages uses only about 40 phonemes  Language is rule-governed o Each combination must follow a defined set of rules in order to make sense o Different languages have different rules about how symbols can be combined Target Study – Effects of Language on Thought  The Whorfian Hypothesis – suggests that the particular language individuals use can shape thought, a theory that breaks from traditional views of language and non-linguistic concepts and universal  Problems with the Whorfian Hypothesis o The linguistic data used to indicate that different languages differ in terms of, for example metaphors, is subjective and anecdotal; an empirical database of such language differences had not been established o There is a lack of non-linguistic data to make any inferences about how differences in language affect mental concepts  “Thinking for Speaking Theory” – we think about things and pay attention to stimuli in our environment in ways that are shaped by and match how we conceptualize them through language; our thought, abstract mental concepts in particular, is shaped by how we speak Experiment 1  In order to conceptualize abstract non-spatial phenomena, spatial metaphors are often used o Eg/ English – she is of high social class  Languages such as English and Indonesian conceptualize time in a spatiotemporal sense or in measure of distance o Eg/ He ran for a long time, she was gone for a short while Textbook Notes Psych 1X03  Languages such as Spanish and Greek tend to conceptualize time as quantity o Eg/ he was gone for much time, she had a big day at work  Variety of distance and quantity time phrases for each language was entered into Google, and the number of hits for each phrase was recorded – researchers found significant differences between English and Indonesian metaphors in comparison to Spanish and Greek metaphors that matched predictions Experiment 2 and 3  Effects of language on temporal thinking on a non-linguistic level, not just a “thinking for speaking” level  Non-linguistic, non-symbolic conceptions of time are influenced by spatial factors  Individuals were asked to estimate how far and for how long lines growing across a screen were in growing o For English speakers, lines that grew a long distance were estimated to take a longer time to grow than lines that grew a short distance even though the time taken was actually the same  Conceptions of time were influenced by spatial factors  When asked to judge the distance of line growth, individuals did not show any influences of time  Because English speaks of time in terms of distance, distance had a substantially larger influence on conceptions of duration  The English and Indonesian speakers were significantly influenced by distance  The Spanish and Greek speakers were significantly influenced by quantity Section 2: The Structure of Language  Morphemes – the smallest units of sound that contain information o Often words, but a single word can be made up of more than one morpheme  Eg/ lady (1 morpheme) vs. ladybug (2 morphemes) o Some morphemes cannot stand alone as an individual word  Eg/ bugs  bus vs. s; s cannot stand alone, it indicates plural  Phonemes – the smallest unit of sound o Eg/ the word “map” - /m/a/p/ o Can include sounds such as clicks o Not necessarily one letter  Eg/ th, sh  Syntax – refers to the rules that govern how we put morphemes and words together to form a sentence o Unique to each language o Some languages (French) assign a gender to different objects o Order in which words occur in a sentence  English uses a subject-verb-object order  Hindi and Japanese use a subject-object-verb order  Semantics – the meaning that is produced through the use and combination of certain words and morphemes o Language can have meaning and be understood without syntax Section 3: Language Development  Universal Phonemic Sensitivity – the ability to discriminate between virtually all phonemes even before language is learned; infant ability, lost into adulthood  Conditioned head-turn procedure – used to determine whether infants can distinguish different phonemes  Perceptual-narrowing – the process of losing the ability to distinguish between contrasts In sounds not used in native language Textbook Notes Psych 1X03
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