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PSYC 1000
Benjamin Giguere

LANGUAGE AND THOUGHT  When we speak, our brain and voice apparatus conjure up air pressure waves that we send banging against another’s eardrum-enabling us to transfer thoughts from our brain into theirs  Language: our spoken, written, signed words and the ways we combine them to communicate meaning  When transmitted by reflected lights rays into your retina, printed letters off the page trigger formless nerve impulses that project to several areas in your brain, which integrate the information, compare it to stored information, and decode meaning  Language is fundamental to our experiences Language Structure  Phoneme: in a language, the smallest distinctive sound unit  English has about 40 (b, a, ch)  Morpheme: in language, the smallest unit that carries meaning; may be a word or a part of the word (such as a prefix)  Grammar: in a language, a system of rules that enables us to communicate with and understand others. In a given language, semantics is the set of rules for deriving meaning from sounds, and syntax is the set of rules for combining words into grammatically sensible sentences  Language is complexity build of simplicity Language Development st  From 1 birthday to graduation learned about 60,000 words in native language  We sample tens of thousands of words in our memory, effortlessly assemble them with near-perfect syntax, and spew them out, three words a second  Seldom do we form sentences in our minds before speaking them  While doing this we adapt our utterances to our social and cultural context, following rules for speaking and listening When do we learn Language?  Receptive language  Infants start without language but by 4 months they can recognize differences in speech sounds and read lips  Marks beginning of development of babies’ receptive language, their ability to understand what is said to and about them  At 7 months and beyond babies segment spoken sounds into individual words  Productive language  Babies productive language, their ability to produce words, matures after their receptive language  Recognize noun-verb differences  Before nurture molds babies’ speech, nature enables babbling stage (beginning at about 4 months, the stage of speech development in which the infant spontaneously utters various sounds at first unrelated to the household language  By 10 months old their babbling has changed so that a trained ear can identify the household language  Without exposure to other languages, babies lose their ability to hear and produce sounds and tones found outside their native language  One-word stage: the stage in speech development, from about 1 to 2, during which a child speaks mostly in single words.  Two-word stage: beginning about age 2, the stage in speech development during which a child speaks mostly in two-word statements LANGUAGE AND THOUGHT  Telegraphic speech: early speech stage in which a child speaks like a telegraph-go car-using mostly nouns and verbs What is the difference between receptive and productive language, and when do children normally hit these milestones in language development? Infants normally start developing receptive language skills (ability to understand what is said to and about them) around 4 months. Also at around 4 months, infants normally start building productive language skills (ability to produce sounds and eventually words). Summary of Language Development Month Stage 4 Babbles many speech sounds (ah-goo) 10 Babbling resembles household language (ma-ma) 12 One-word stage (kitty) 24 Two-word, telegraphic speech (get ball) 24+ Language develops rapidly into complete sentences Explaining Language Development  Language is diverse  Linguist Noam Chomsky has argued that all languages do share some basic elements, which he calls universal grammar  All human languages have nouns, verbs, and adjectives as grammatical building blocks  Humans are born with a built-in predisposition to learn grammar rules, which explains why preschoolers pick up language naturally  We are not born with a built in specific language  What language we experience as children we learn its grammar and vocabulary  No matter what language we learn, we start speaking it in nouns, than verbs, than adjectives  Biology and experience work together Statistical Learning  Human infants display a remarkable ability to learn statistical aspects of human speech  Their brains not only discern word breaks, they statistically analyze which syllables go together  After just 2 minutes of exposure to a computer voice spoken in unbroken, monotone string of nonsense syllables, 8-month old infants were able to recognize 3-syllable sequences that appeared repeatedly  7-month olds can learn simple sentence structures  Their detecting the difference between two patterns (ABA and ABB) supports the idea that babies come with built-in readiness to learn grammatical rules Critical Period  Childhood represents a critical period for mastering certain aspects of language before the language-l
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