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26 Feb 2011
Chapter 10 - Language
Lecture 2
What are the building blocks of spoken language?
Letters are the building blocks of written language; however written language is not the same as
spoken language. More people can speak than can write.
Slide 3: The smallest unit of sound tha t language is composed of is a phoneme. Together, a
clump of phonemes form a mor pheme, which is the smallest unit of meaning in a language.
Sometimes more than one morpheme are joined to for m a single word.
Ex. Talked = 2 mor phe mes, talk/-ed
Slide 4: Phonemes
How to make sound/speech: starting with a column of air originating in the lungs, air pressure is
produced that sends the air out of the mouth. The column of air contains sound waves, which are
able to travel farther and faster than t he column of air.
The movements of the lips, tongue, and vocal cords contribute to speech. The sound that comes
out of the mouth is being modified/articulated by things being done with the lips, tongue, and
voice. (Vocal cords produce voicing).
Plosives are a type of sound in which a tiny explosion of sound is involved. Fricatives involve a
fr iction sound.
Slide 5: There are 40 phonemes in English. There are some phonemes t hat exist in other
languages but that do not occur in English.
Letters can symbolize different sounds.
Slide 7: Lexicon/Vocabulary
A lexical item is a root word. An average high school student has a vocabulary of 60,000 words.
Words accumulate with age and experience and eduation.
Memory deteriorates with age.
Wisdom is the ability to think wisely. Wisdom increases with age.
Lexicon is split into function words and content words. Function words exist for the purpos e of
making sense of relations between words. (pronouns, articles, ex. to, the, etc.) Content words are
words that have meaning (nouns, adjectives, verbs, adverbs).
Kids learn content words before they learn function words.
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