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Psyc102b - Ch9 - Language and Thinking.docx

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PSYC 102
Russell Day

Psychology 102 Chapter 9: Language and thinking LANGUAGE  Mental Representations – ideas, concepts, images, principles. o Human create them and manipulate them in the form of language, thinking, reasoning, problem solving  Language – consist of system of symbols and rules for combining these symbols in ways that can generate an infinite number of possible messages and meanings  Psycholinguistics – scientific study of the psychological aspect of language, eg how people understand, produce, acquire Properties of Language  Five essential properties to any language: symbols, structure, meaning, generativity, displacement 1. Symbol: language use symbols to represent things, and symbols are arbitrary (subjective). o Eg dog, perro, chien, hund all means dog. But none looking like dog, but we call it dog, and it has an agreed-on meaning to people who speak English. 2. Structure o Grammar: set of rules that dictate how symbols can be combined to create meaningful units of communication o Eg Syntax: the rules that govern the order of worlds (Apples have sale for I) o Can provide past, future, present, negative tense 3. Meaning o Once people learning symbols and rules, they can transfer mental representations to others o Semantics: meaning of words and sentences  To understand semantics is not simple. Eg “I nailed the test” does not mean hammer and nail. Experienced English speaker and beginner speaker might perceive the sentence differently. 4. Generativity o Symbols can combine to generate an infinite number of messages that have novel meaning (26 letters into half a million words into limitless number of sentences) 5. Displacement o Language allow us to communicate about events and objects that are not physical present o Can discuss past and future, or people things that don’t exist, or happening elsewhere o Discuss imaginary situations Structure of Language  surface structure: consist of symbols that are used and their order (syntax)  deep structure: underlying meaning of the combined symbols (semantics) o can have same surface structures but the same deep strucures (same ate the cake, the cake was eaten by sam) o sometimes one surface can give two deep meaning (the police must stop drinking after midnight)  Hierarchical structure of Language o Phoneme: smallest unit of speech sound that can signal a difference in meaning (pley er z) ~40  Have no meaning, but alter meaning when combined with other elements d-og, l-og o morphemes: smallest unit of meaning (play er s) ~10000  eg dog log ball  prefixes, suffixes, pre-, un-, -ed, -ous, s o words: plays, players ~500,000 o phases: the players o sentences: limitless o discourse: sentences are combined into paragraphs, articles, books, conversation, etc Understanding and producing language  Bottom-up Processing: individual elements of a stimulus are analyzed and then combined to form a unified perception o eg Reading: analyzing the lines, pattern of letters, recognize words, phonems, morphemes  Top-down processing: sensory information is interpreted in light of existing knowledge, concepts, ideas and expectations o Eg words we see activate our knowledge of vocabulary, grammer, etc o Speech segmentation: perceiving where each word within a spoken sentence begins and ends (people don’t pause but you know where the word ends and begins)  Pragmatics: social context of language: knowledge of the practical aspects of using language o Social context and rules for how to respond (eg “is bill there?” shortened for “is bill there, if so can u please go get him to pick up”) o Takes more than knowing vocabulary and arrangement of words to understand language and communicate effectively o Use formal tone when writing professional letters, and causal vocab when talking to a friend  Language functions of the brain o Broca’s area (left hem’s frontal lobe) – production and articulation o Wenicke’s area (rear portion of temporal lobe) – speech comprehension and understanding o Aphasia: impairment in speech comprehension or production that can be permanent or temporary Acquiring a First Language Language: How is it possible?  Why do children acquire language when they do and not earlier?  Developmental Issues – limitations baby mouth designed only to eat, nursing o Physical maturation – mouth not big enough, cant control tongue, need more neural connections o Baby Have awareness for language and preference for mother’s voice Biological Foundations:  Noam Chomsky said human are born with:  Language acquisition device (LAD) – innate biological mechanism that contains the general grammatical rules common to all languages. (eg subjects, predicates, adjectives) Social Learning Processes  Child-directed speech / Mothese – high pitched intonation used with baby  Parents also point to objects and name them to child  B.F.Skinner – operant conditioning explanation of language o Said development is strongly governed by adult’s positive reinforcement of appropriate language and nonreinforcement(correction) of inappropriate verbalization o Problems: children don’t really get reinforced for saying words, and parents do not typically correct their children’s grammar as language skills are developing. They focus on the “truth value” (deep structure) of what child is trying to communicate. If it makes sense even though grammatically wrong, they don’t fix it. Interaction  Bruner – Language Acquisition Support System (LASS) – factors in the social environment that facilitate the learning of a language  Interaction between biological and environmental factors seems to be best explanation of how to acquire language. (LAD and LASS interact in a mutually supportive fashion, normal language development occurs)  Need both Cognitive precursor AND exposure to language. Cognitive precursor: o Object permanence – knowing an object is permanent is essential before you can develop a word for it o Development of concepts: Imitation – to retain imagery, Symbolic Play Developmental Timetable and Sensitive Periods  Progress from reflexive crying at birth through stages of cooing, babbling and one-word utterances.  By age 2, uttering sentences called telegraphic speech that consist of a noun and a verb “want cookie”  Speech development accelerates as vocab increases and sentences become more grammatically correct  5 years, understand basic grammatical rules and create meaningful sentences o There exist a sensitive period during which brain is most responsive to language input fro the environment o Early exposure to language is necessary for normal development Learning a Second Language  Is learned be
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