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PSYCH 1X03 (260)
Joe Kim (247)
Chapter 5

Chapter 5 - Language Video Lecture Psych 1X03

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Joe Kim

Video Lecture Psych 1X03 Chapter 5: Language  Language is: o Regular – it is governed by rules and grammar  A sentence can be reorganized and still retain its meaning because a system of rules detail how each word its with fits with the ones around it o Arbitrary  Eg/ There is nothing about the word cat to indicate that it refers to a furry animal with whiskers and a tail  If the sounds we used to identify an object had to relate or describe that object in some way, it would not make sense to call the same object a cat in English and a goyangee in Korean  Productive – there are almost limitless ways to combine words to describe objects, situations and actions The Whorf-Sapir Hypothesis  Language is not only used to communicate with others, but also to form thoughts o When thinking to yourself, you run through a private dialogue in your native language o Thought and language are not the same – but some thoughts take the form of language o Some researchers have suggested that language may influence how we perceive and experience the world o Eg/ Evidence for - Piraha language contains only three counting words – one, two and many  According to the Whorf-Sapir hypothesis – this tribe would have trouble understanding fine numerical concepts because the language lacks words for these fine distinctions  Peter Gordon asked members of the tribe to match group of objects according to how many items were in each group  Piraha performed well on this task when there were groups of one or two objects, but performance worsened with test sets greater than three objects o Eg/ Evidence against – cultures that lack specific words to different relatives  Wyoming Arapaho, Indians – use a single word to differentiate relatives  Single word for any senior male relatives (brother, father uncle etc)  Despite this, they clearly understand the differences between these individuals and are able to understand precisely how they are related to each one  Korean language – very specific terms for each member of the extended family  Fathers older brother and mothers older brother have different names – in English both are called uncle  Despite this, Anglophones have no problem differentiating these individuals The Structure of Language  Morphemes: The smallest unit of sound (or symbols/signs) that contains information o Often a word, but some words contain multiple morphemes o Eg/ Table is a single word that contains a single morpheme o Eg/ Tablecloth contains two morphemes “table” and “cloth” o Eg/ Tables contain two morphemes “table” and “s”  “S” – indicates that the object is plural; cannot stand alone  Phonemes – constituent sounds, smallest unit of sound o Various languages contain different libraries of useable phonemes and rules about how they can be combined o Eg/ D/O/G o Eg/ Ch/Ai/r  Syntax – the rules that govern how words are grouped together to form sentences o Also known as grammar o Differences in syntactic rules among languages are as varied as the cultures they originate from o Eg/ French – assign gender to objects Video Lecture Psych 1X03  Semantics – the meaning of each individual word o A sentence may have perfect syntactical structure yet have no semantic meaning Development and the Segmentation Problem o Babbling – characterized by drawn-out sounds made up of a variety of combinations of vowels and consonants o May sound like a real sentence or question because of the use of inflection and rhythm in the production of the babble o Combinations progress to become real words 12 weeks Makes cooing sounds 16 weeks Turns head towards voices 6 months Imitates sound 1 year Babbles 2 years Used 50-250 words; uses 2 word phrases 2.5 years Vocabulary > 850 words o Language explosion – occurs at the age of about one and a half to 6 years of age  Vocabulary increases very rapidly and most children have mastered the major aspects of language  Throughout childhood, the complexity of their syntax continues to improve  Production vs. Comprehension o An infant may progress to gain language comprehension, language production can be limited by factors such as vocal anatomy  The Segmentation Problem o Eg/ Listening to a lecture in Korean – do not understand the meaning of the words used, sounds like lecturer is speaking very quickly o Cannot separate words – difficulty you have segmenting the speech stream into word units o Children who had earlier demonstrated good speech segmentation skills as infants, have large expressive vocabularies, while children who demonstrated poorer speech segmentation skills as infants have small expressive vocabulary  Infant-Directed Speech o The tendency for mothers to use higher pitch and exaggerated changes in pitch when speaking to infants o May help infants learn to segment speech o Play audio clip of examples of infant directed speech  Different Phonemes o Young infants can discriminate more phonemes than adults can o Eg/ Japanese and Korean languages do not contain the /ra/ and /la/ phoneme distinction that’s present in English (radio and ladio) o Eg/ English does not have the phonemes /ja/ and /jja/ - difficult to differentiate if you do not speak Korean or Japanese Universal-Phoneme Sensitivity  The ability of infants to discriminate between any sounds they’re tested on  Includes sounds from non-native languages  They test this by observing infants turning their heads toward speakers o When an infant hears a new sound, they turn their head toward the speaker and is rewarded with a toy o A particular phoneme becomes habituated by playing it over and over again – infant stops looking Video Lecture Psych 1X03 o A new phoneme is presented and if they infant turns its head, it means it has distinguished between the old phoneme and the new  Sensitivity changes within the first year of life  Experiment: The researchers compared three groups of subjects on their ability to discriminate two different /t/ sounds which are present in Hindi, but not in Englis
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