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Chapter 6


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PSYC 315
Andrew Baron

LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT Chapter 6 – Development of language and symbol use (p215-223) Use of Symbols: 1. Represent thoughts, feelings & knowledge 2. Communicate them to other people Language comprehension: understanding what others say, sign or write Language production: actually speaking, signing or writing to others  Comprehension precedes production Components of language  Generativity: use of finite set of words in vocabulary we can put together finite number of sentences and express finite ideas 1. Phonemes: elementary units of sound/meaning used to produce language o EX. /r/, /l/ o Phonological development: mastery of the sound system of language 2. Morphemes: smallest units of meaning (composed of one or more phonemes) o EX. Dog (1 morpheme) Dogs (2 morphemes) o Semantic development: learning system for expressing meaning in language including work learning 3. Syntax: rules in language that specify how words from different categories can be combined o Syntactic development: acquiring rules for combining words 4. Pragmatic development: acquiring knowledge about how language is used 5. Metalinguistic knowledge: knowledge about language, properties & function of language Human brain  Language is species-specific – only humans acquire language  Species-universal – all humans learn language  Try to teach chimps language, they cannot produce vocally, can sign basics  Kanzi – a bonobo ape was very successful at using keyboard to communicate o She was also sensitive to word order o Still lack syntactic structure Brain-language relations  90% right handers language is controlled by left hemisphere of cerebral cortex o Discovered by Broca o EEG studies: when listening to language  greater activity in left hemi  Broca’s aphasia: damage to Broca’s result in difficulty PRODUCING speech o Broken speech, repeat words, incoherent…  Wernicke’s aphasia: damage to area next to auditory cortex  able to produce speech but lack sense, language comprehension also impaired o Fluent speech production but makes no sense (word salad) Critical period for language: time during which language develops readily and after which (b/w 5 to puberty) language acquisition is much more difficult  Wild child Victor & Genie nd  Second language acquisition: when people learn 2 language after age 4  there is less left-brain activity  Length of exposure to language doesn’t determine the proficiency, however the time of initial learning does (earlier = the more proficient at language) Human environment: children must be EXPOSED to language (p244-251) Conversational skills  Most child speech is directed to themselves (private speech)  Private speech serves a
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