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Chapter 8

PSYC 100 Ch. 8 Textbook Notes.docx

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Department
Psychology
Course Code
PSYC 100
Professor
Samuel Reed

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CHAPTER 8: LANGUAGE AND THOUGHT A) LANGUAGE: TURNING THOUGHTS INTO WORDS - Cognition: The mental process involved in acquiring knowledge A.1) WHAT IS LANGUAGE? - Language consists of symbols that convey meaning, including rules for combining those symbols and can be used to generate an infinite variety of messages - Language is symbolic: people use spoken sounds and written words to represent object, action, event, idea - Language is semantic: meaningful - Language is generative: a limited number of symbols can be combined in an infinite variety of ways to generate an endless string of messages - Language is structured : there are rules that govern certain arrangement into phrases and sentences A.2) THE STRUCTURE OF LANGUAGE - Human languages have hierarchical structure A.2.1) PHONEMES (a unit) - smallest speech units in a language that can be distinguished perceptually - some speech units are represented by combination of letters A.2.2) MORPHEMES AND SEMANTICS - Morphemes: smallest units of meaning in a language (it works like suku kata) - Semantic: concerned with understanding the meaning of words and word combinations > word’s meaning may consist: detonation (dictionary meaning) and connotation (emotional overtones and secondary implication) A.2.3) SYNTAX - a system of rules that specify that how words can be arranged into sentences > rules: in a sentence must contain verb and subject A.3) MILESTONES IN LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT A.3.1) MOVING TOWARDS PRODUCING WORDS - infants can distinguish between all phonemes including of that they never hear in own environment - infants learn very fast in understanding the sound structure. However, before the learn to speak, this ability decreases Figure: Janet Werker - argues that babies have perceptual biases that assist the acquisition of phonology > babies attend more to speech sound rather than complex nonspeech analogue sounds - ability may come from listening to speech while in utero - also study babies in bilingual homes - suggests that: perceptual sensitivities assist infants in separating their two languages - infants can discriminates phonemes that aren’t inherent in their language context but this facility disappears without exposure -- as infants turn into 1, their language acquisition is tuned to their native language - Werker developed: PRIMIR (Processing Rich Information from Multidimensional Interactive Representations) – a model of infant speech processing - A.3.2) USING WORDS - for infants, their receptive vocab is bigger than productive vocab; they can understand more than they can use the words to express themselves > they can understand something before they can actually pronounce it -toddlers can easily understand noun than verb because to encode the noun (concrete, distinct) is easier than to encode verb (the meaning behind the action, possess abstract relationship) - vocabulary spurts at 18-24 months > they learn about 20 new vocabs every week > one of the factors: fast mapping: children map a word onto underlying concept after one exposure BUT, mistakes may occur - Overextension: children attribute the word to a wider set of function that covers larger set of object/action that it is supposed to - Underextensions: children attribute the word to a lesser set of function that covers larger set of object/action that it is supposed to A.3.3) COMBINING WORDS - Telegraphic speech: use only words that determine the content. Prepositions, articles and less critical words are omitted Overregularization: when grammatical rules are used wrongly on words that don’t use the same grammatical rules - Kids don’t master their grammar in an instant, but they acquire it gradually A.3.4) REFINING LANGUAGE SKILLS - largest mastery: initial four to five years - progress with metalinguistic awareness: the ability to reflect the use of language - Irony: conveying message that contradicts the statement’s literal meaning - Sarcasm: variation of irony with the intended meaning directed to a specific person A.4) LEARNING MORE THAN ONE LANGUAGE: BILINGUALISM - Bilingualism: the acquisition of two languages that use different speech sounds, vocabulary and grammatical rules A.4.1) DOES LEARNING TWO LANGUAGES IN CHILDHOOD SLOW DOWN LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT? - studies: bilingual kids have smaller vocab in each of the language but when combined together, the total vocab is the same or more than monolingual kids rd - recent studies: learning 2 languages can facilitate with the acquisition of a 3 language > bilingual kids are better language learners A.4.2) DOES BILINGUALISM AFFECT COGNITIVE PROCESSES AND SKILLS? - Disadvantages: raw language processing speed - Advantages: better in the measure of cognitive flexibility, analytical reasoning, selective attention and metalinguistic awareness - Figure: Ellen Bialystoks – there are some cognitive advantages to bilingual kids 1) Bilingual kids develop better control over executive process earlier than monolingual 2) Bilingual adults are better in cognitive tasks that include executive processing 3) Executive process is one the first cognitive abilities that decline with age, the rate is slower for bilingual users due to their continued reliance on this process - Other discoveries: difficult to be distracted with misleading statement, eventhough speak or write in one language, both languages remain active - Conclude: bilinguals develop the ability to juggle between the two languages - Executive processing involves selective attention, attentional inhibition to ditracting/misleading information, switching among competing alternatives - Bilingual kids don’t really perform on phonemic awareness - Figure: Mark Howard - as proficiency increases, conceptual stores for both languages increasingly overlap - Similar performance between mono and bi: task involving representational processes: encoding problems in sufficient detail and gaining access to relevant information - Bilingual inherits dementia later than monolingual - Figure: Mechelli: bilingual shows an increase in the density of grey matter in the left inferior parietal cortex - Figure: Laura-Ann: early bilingual experience helps with the language organization in brain and it has positive effects on the brain development A.4.3) WHAT FACTORS INFLUENCE THE ACQUISITION OF A SECOND LANGUAGE? - age: younger is better- language acquisition is more effective before 7 and improves to the age of 15 - acculturation: degree of association where a person is socially and psychologically integrate with a new culture - learner’s motivation and attitude: integrative motivation (willingness to be like the valued members of the language community) - Subsequent research: social psychological factors: +ve attitude toward the learning situation and an interest in the other language group A.5 CAN ANIMAL DEVELOP LANGUAGE? - the subject (chimps) don’t have the appropriate vocal apparatus - proceed with American Sign Language (ASL). The experiment succeed but doubt whether the animal really understands the language > argue: the result is a product of operant conditioning rather than spontaneous generation based on linguistic rules - Figure: Sue-Savage Rumbaugh, star pupil: Kanzi - bonobos are trained to communicate with their caretaker touching geometric symbols that represent words - Kanzi manages to use the word combination spontaneously that seem to follow the rule of language > seem to understand the normal utterance - flaws: the scoring system used is extremely generous - brain scan using PET shows some development in the hemisphere - Conclusion: language isn’t entirely exclusive to the human But: there’s never a direct comparison between humans linguistic abilities and those of apes or other animals A.6) LANGUAGE IN EVOLUTIONARY CONTEXT - Figure: Steven Pinker - special talent for language is a specific-specific trait that is the product of natural selection - language is a valuable means of communication that has enormous adaptive value - very small adaptive disparities could affect a significant evolutionary change - language may represent an adaptation for the communication of knowledge and intentions - Argument: language evolved as a device to build and maintain social coalitions in increasingly larger groups A.7) THEORIES OF LANGUAGE ACQUISITION - concern about how language is acquired - whether it is by nature of nurtured? A.7.1) BEHAVIOURIST THEORIES - Figure: Skinner in Verbal Behaviour - use the principle of imitation and reinforcement to explain - language is learned through imitation - vocalizations that are not reinforced gradually decline in frequency and they are then reinforced to be correct - controlling reinforcement: parents that encourage their children to learn the meaning of language, correct pronunciation etc A.7.2) NATIVIST THEORIES - Figure: Noam Chomsky - Argue: infinite number of sentences in a language, impossible to learn by imitation - BUT: children learn the rules of language - Alternative view: humans have inborn (natural) ability to develop language - Nativist theorists proposed that: language acquisition device (LAD) is an innate mechanism or process that facilitates the learning of language > Chomsky believes so because: children seem to acquire language quickly and effortlessly A.7.3) INTERACTIONIST THEORIES - They question what exactly is LAD as the concept is very vague - believes that biology and experience make important contribution to the development of the language - There 3 types of interactionist theorists: a) Cognitive theories: language development is simply an important aspect of more general cognitive development that depends on maturation and experience b) Social communication theories: emphasize the functional value of interpersonal communication and the social context in which language evolves c) Emergentist theories: neural circuits supporting languages are not prewired but emerge gradually in response to language learning experiences. > this theory tends to assume that incremental changes in connectionist networks underlie children’s gradual acquisition of various language skills A.8) CULTURE, LANGUAGE AND THOUGHT - Figure: Benjamin Lee Whorf - Linguistic relativity: one’s language determines the nature of one’s thought > How Inuit people perceive snow versus how the white perceives snow > this describes language gap - culture’s colour categories shape subjects’ similarity judgments and groupings of colours - Conclusion: culture does affect how you think of a subject B) PROBLEM SOLVING: IN SEARCH OF SOLUTIONS B.1) TYPES OF PROBLEMS - Problem Solving: active efforts in achieving goals that are not attainable -Figure: Jim Greeno – 3 basic classes of problems 1) Problems of discovering structure: failure to make relations between variables. Example: series completion problem and analogy problems RELATIONSHIP 2) Problems of arrangement: arrange information so as to fulfill a criterion. Example: string problems and anagrams - often solved with insight: sudden discovery of solution after several unsuccessful attempts by using the trial and error method STRUCTURING 3) Problem of transformation: needs several sequence of transformation to reach a specific goal. Example: hobbits and orcs problems and water jar problem TRANSFORMATION B.2) BARRIERS TO EFFECTIVE PROBLEM SOLVING B.2.1) IRRELEVANT INFORMATION - Sternberg: often incorrectly assume that all numerical information in a problem is necessary to be solved B.2.2) FUNCTIONAL FIXEDNESS - Gestalt psychologists: functional fixedness is the tendency to perceive an item only in it terms of what is commonly used as (us
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