CHAPTER 10 – LANGUAGE
-True verbal ability is a social behaviour.
Crucial role in day-to-day communication.
Used as a tool in our remembering and thinking.
It enables us to think about very complex and abstract issues by encoding them as
words and then manipulating the words according to logical rules.
-We often encode information in memory verbally.
-Psycholinguistics: a branch of psychology devoted to the study of verbal behaviour.
Concerned more with human cognition than with the particular rules that describe
Psycholinguists are interested in how children acquire language: how verbal behaviour
develops and how children learn to speak from their interactions with adults.
oThey also study how adults use language and how verbal abilities interact with
other cognitive abilities.
SPEECH AND COMPREHENSION
Perception of Speech
-When we speak to someone, we produce a series of sounds in a continuous stream,
punctuated by pauses and modulated by stress and change in pitch.
-Sentences are written as a set of words with spaces between them.
-We say sentences as a string of sounds, emphasizing (stressing) some, quickly sliding over
others, raising the pitch of our voice on some, lowering it on others.
-A regular rhythmic pattern of stress is maintained.
-There are pauses at appropriate times (such as between phrases) but there are no pauses after
pronouncing each word.
-Speech does not come to us as a series of individual words but rather we must extract words
from a stream of speech.
Recognition of Speech Sounds
Enables us to recognize speech sounds.
Human vocalizations can be clearly distinguished from other sounds around us (we
can recognize people by their voices).
We can filter out non-speech sounds (e.g., coughs, sneezes, laughs, etc.)
Recognizes the patterns underlying speech rather than just the sounds themselves.
-Belin, Zatorre, and Ahad (2002)
Used MRI scans and found that some regions of the brain responded more when
people heard human vocalizations than when they heard only natural sounds.
oRegions in which there was a large difference were located in the temporal
oWhen it comes to analyzing the detailed information of speech, the left
hemisphere plays a larger role.
-Phoneme: the minimum unit of sound that conveys meaning in a particular language such as
/p/. Also known as the elements of speech.
-Voice-onset time: the delay between the initial sounds of a consonant (such as the puffing
sound of the phoneme /p/) and the onset of vibration of the vocal cords.
Voicing is the vibration of the vocal cords.
-“pa” and “ba” example
oA little pressure builds up in your mouth.
oWhen you open your lips, a puff of air comes out.
oThe “ah” sound doesn’t come immediately.
oYou don’t build up pressure first.
oVocal cords start vibrating as soon as you open your mouth.
-Phonemic discriminations begin with auditory processing of the sensory differences, and this
occurs in both hemispheres.
-Regions of the left auditory cortex seem to specialize in recognizing the special aspects of
-Syllables have importance in speech.
The perception of a phoneme is affected by the sounds that follow it.
Sounds between /g/ and /k/. (e.g. “gift” and “kiss”)
-Morpheme: the smallest unit of meaning in language.
Phonemes are combined to form morphemes.
Important component of language.
-The syntax of a particular language determines how phonemes can be combined to form
“fast-” is a free morpheme because it can stand on its own and still have meaning.
“-est” is a bound morpheme because it cannot stand on its own and must be attached
to other morphemes to provide meaning.
Recognition of Words in Continuous Speech: The Importance of Learning and Context
-Larger units of speech are established by learning and experience.
-A special electrical signal, called the N100 wave, appears shortly after people hear the onset
of a word.
-In addition to learning the units of speech we also learn its content.
-Even though speech is filled with hesitations muffled sounds, and sloppy pronunciations, we
are able to recognize sounds because of the context.
-Context affects the perception of words through top-down processing.
Understanding the Meaning of Speech
-The meaning of a sentence (or a group of connected sentences that are telling a story) is
1.The words that are chosen,
2.The order in which they are combined,
3.The affixes attached to the beginning or ends of the words,
4.The pattern of rhythm and emphasis of the speaker, and
5.Knowledge about the world shared by the speaker and the listener.
-For a listener to understand our speech, we must follow the “rules” of language.
-All languages have a syntax or grammar.
-Syntactical rule: a grammatical rule of a particular language for combining words to form
phrases, clauses, and sentences.
-Syntax is to put together. It provides important information.
-Our understanding of syntax is automatic.
-As syntax becomes more complex or ambiguous, our brains become more active.
-The syntactical rules are learning implicitly (cannot be described verbally).
-Learning syntax and word meaning involves different types of memory—and consequently,
different brain mechanisms.
-Syntactical Cues are signalled by:
Important in English.
Does not play the same role in all languages.
e.g., “the boy hit the ball”...“the ball hit the boy”
oThe word order tells us who does what to whom.
Grammatical categories (such as, nouns, pronouns, verbs and adjectives).
A person need not learn to categorize these words deliberately in order to
recognize them and use them appropriately.
3.Function and Content Word
Function word: a preposition, article, or other word that conveys little of the
meaning of a sentence but is important in specifying its grammatical structure.
True verbal ability is a social behaviour. used as a tool in our remembering and thinking. it enables us to think about very complex and abstract issues by encoding them as words and then manipulating the words according to logical rules. We often encode information in memory verbally. Psycholinguistics: a branch of psychology devoted to the study of verbal behaviour. concerned more with human cognition than with the particular rules that describe language. When we speak to someone, we produce a series of sounds in a continuous stream, punctuated by pauses and modulated by stress and change in pitch. Sentences are written as a set of words with spaces between them. We say sentences as a string of sounds, emphasizing (stressing) some, quickly sliding over others, raising the pitch of our voice on some, lowering it on others. A regular rhythmic pattern of stress is maintained.