PSY 105 Chapter Notes - Chapter 7: Theory Of Multiple Intelligences

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7 Apr 2011
Chapter 7
What is Language?
A system for communicating with others using signals that convey meaning and are
combined using the rules of grammar.
Comprised of phonemes forming morphemes, which form words that are organized into
phrases & sentences by grammar.
Language Organization :
Phonemes : The smallest unit of sound that is recognizable as speech rather than as
random noise. (15 to 85 depending on language; English 40, French 37;) 
k-at (cat), f-u-d (food)
Some languages do not have certain sounds, which is why they are difficult to learn in a
new language. e.g. « th » in English vs. French, « r » in English vs. Japanese
Morphemes : The smallest meaningful units of language.
e.g., cat, fly, fly-ing (2 morphemes)
Grammar: A set of rules that specifies how units of language are organized
Morphology: how words are formed
Syntax: how words are combined into sentences such as order of words- subject,
verb, complement
Surface structure vs. deep structure
John hit Bill. vs. Bill was hit by John.
John thinks he passed the exam. vs. He thinks John passed the exam.
Language: Innate or Learned?
« Language learning is doubtless the greatest intellectual feat anyone of us is ever
required to perform. » Bloomfield, 1933
Noam Chomsky: Innate mechanisms to learn language (nativist theory)
Language acquisition device: We have process to faciliatate language
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B.F. Skinner: Language is learned (behaviourist explanation)
Language Development :
Interactionist explanation: Explain language development through nativist theory and
behaviourist explanation.
Parents simplify their language, speak more slowly, repeat,...
Interaction of predisposition and social interactions
Brocas area: Production of language
Wernickes area: Comprehension of language
Aphasia: Difficulty in understanding or producing language depending on the area
Influence of Language on Thought :
Linguistic relativity: The limits of a given language can influence our thoughts.
e.g., literature
Ross et al. (2002): At the University of Waterloo, sense of self in English vs. Chinese.
Depending in what language people were describing themselves, descriptions were different,
influenced by cultural norms
Thinking: Concepts :
A mental representation that groups or categorizes shared features of related objects,
events, people or other stimuli = building blocks of thought
We like using hierarchies and classifying things.
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