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Chapter 8

Textbook Chapter 8 Notes

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Ayesha Khan

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Notes From Reading C HAPTER 8: LANGUAGE AND THOUGHT (PGS . 348-391) Language: Turning Thoughts into Words • Cognitive – mental processes involved in acquiring knowledge What is Language? • Language: consists of symbols that convey meaning, plus rules for combining those symbols, that can be used to generate an infinite variety of messages • Critical properties of language: • Symbolic – Spoken sounds used to represent objects, actions, events, and ideas o Flexible because different objects can be called by the same name • Semantic (meaningful) – Symbols are arbitrary (no built relationship b/w look or sound) o Ex. Pen in English, “stylo” in French and “pluma” in Spanish are arbitrary • Generative – Limited symbols can be combined in infinitive ways o Ex. You make up sentences everyday that you have never heard before • Structured – Sentences must be organized in a particular way o Rules govern the arrangement of words into phrases/sentences The Structure of Language • Phonemes - the smallest speech unit in a language that can be distinguished perceptually o We may only recognize about 100 basic sounds o Phonemes vary by language; English = approx. 40 phonemes • Morphemes - smallest units of meaning in a language o In English, approx. 50 000 morphemes including roots prefixes and suffixes o Each morpheme adds to the meaning of a word • Semantics - concerned with understanding the meaning of words and word combinations o Words meaning may consist of denotation and connotation • Syntax - system of rules that specify how words can be arranged into sentences o Simple rule of syntax is that a sentence needs both a subject and object Milestones in Language Development • Moving Toward Producing Words o 3 month-old infants can distinguish phonemes from all languages including phonemes they don’t hear in their environment o Adults and 1 year-olds (b/c curios ability goes away from 4-12 months) can’t discriminate phonemes in languages other than their own o At 8 months, infants begin to recognize and store common word forms o First six months: baby’s vocalizations involve crying, cooing, and laughter o Babbling lasts until 18 months o Petitto - babbling considered a fundamental milestone in language acquisition o Deaf babies babble with their hands • Using Words o Most infant’s first words are similar in phonetic form and meaning o In toddlers, their receptive vocabulary is larger than their productive vocabulary o Vocabulary spurt begins at around 18-24 month o Fast Mapping – process by which children map a word onto an underlying concept after only one exposure - seems to be a factor underlying their rapid vocabulary growth o Overextension - when a child incorrectly uses a word to describe a wider set of objects or actions than it is meant to 1 Notes From Reading C HAPTER 8: LANGUAGE AND THOUGHT (PGS. 348-391) o Underextensions - when a child incorrectly uses a word to describe a narrower set of objects or actions than it is meant to • Combining Words o Children begin to combine words by the end of their second year, exhibiting telegraphic speech o Telegraphic Speech – consists of mainly content words; articles, prepositions, and other less critical words are omitted o Overregularizations – when grammatical rules are incorrectly generalized into irregular cases where they don’t apply (appears after learning rules) • Refining Language Skills o Youngsters continue to learn syntax during their school-age years and develop metalinguistic awareness o Metalinguistic Awareness – ability to reflect on the use of language o Ages 6-8, children appreciate irony and sarcasm o Irony: conveying implied meaning opposite to statement’s literal meaning o Sarcasm: variation of irony directed at a particular person Learning More Than One Language: Bilingualism • Bilingualism – acquisition of two languages that use different speech sounds, vocabulary, and grammatical rules • Does Learning Two Languages in Childhood Slow Down Language Development o Some studies found that bilingual children have smaller vocabulary in each of their languages than monolingual children have in their one language o Bilinguals are better language learners • Does Bilingualism Affect Cognitive Processes and Skills? o Evidence suggest that bilinguals have a slight handicap in language processing speed because there is no way to turn off L1 when using L2, or vice versa o Bilingualism may help attenuate age-related losses in certain aspects of cognition o Mechelli: Bilingual individuals had increase in density of grey matter in left inferior parietal cortex compared to monolingual people • What Factors Influence the Acquisition of a Second Language? o Age is significant correlate of how effectively people acquire a second language o Acculturation - the degree to which a person is socially and psychologically integrated into a new culture- is another factor influencing acquisition o Language aptitude and integrative motivation (“willingness to be like valued members of the language community”) Can Animals Develop Language? • Scientists have taught some language skills to animals, such as the chimp Washoe, who has learned ASL • Washoe was able to learn 160 words and could combine them to make simple sentences • Critics have expressed doubts about whether Washoe and other animals have really acquired the rules of language • Sue Savage-Rumbaugh’s work with Kanzi suggests that there are some animals who are capable of mastering the rules of language, but there is no comparison b/w human linguistic abilities and those of apes and other animals Language in an Evolutionary Context 2 Notes From Reading C HAPTER 8: LANGUAGE AND THOUGHT (PGS. 348-391) • Universal nature of language suggests that it as an innate human characteristic • Steven Pinker: argues human’ special talent for language is a species-specific trait and a product of natural selection • Language may represent an adaptation for the “communication of knowledge and intentions” Theories of Language Acquisition • Arguments centre on nature vs. nurture issue • Behaviourist Theories o Skinner: children acquire language through imitation, reinforcement and other aspects of learning and experience o By controlling reinforcement, parents encourage their children to learn the correct meaning and pronunciation of words • Nativist Theories o Chomsky: humans are neurologically prewired to quickly acquire the rules of language o Children can’t imitate things they don’t hear they learn the rules of language o Language Acquisition Device (LAD) – an innate mechanism or process that facilitates the learning of language • Interactionist Theories o Innate predisposition and a supportive environment both contribute to language acquisition o Cognitive theories: language development is simply important aspect if more general cognitive development - depending on both maturation and experience o Social communication theories: functional value of interpersonal communication and social context in which language evolve o Emergentist theories: neural circuits supporting language are not prewired but emerge gradually in response to language learning experiences Culture, Language and Thought • Benjamin Lee Whorf: advocate of language relativity - hypothesis that one’s language determines the nature of one’s thought • The research evidence suggests that thought shapes language more than vice versa Problem Solving: In Search of Solutions Types of Problems • Problem Solving – active efforts to discover what must be done to achieve a goal that is not readily available • Jim Greeno proposed that problems can be divided into 3 basic classes: o Problems of inducing structure: finding relationship among numbers, words, symbols, or id
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