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Chapter 10


Course Code
Mark Schmuckler

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Phonemes combine to form morphemes, which are the smallest units of meaning in
language. The syntax of a particular language determines how phonemes can be combined
to form morphemes. Ex: FASTEST, made up of FAST which is a FREE morpheme (cuz it stands
on its own and still has MEANING) and IST which is a BOUND morpheme (can't stand on its
own, has to be attached to other morphemes to provide meaning)
We are able to recognize the sounds in speech because of the CONTEXT. Context affects the
perception of words through top-down processing.
All languages have a syntax, or grammar. They follow certain principles, which linguistics
call Syntactical rules, for combing words to form phrases, clauses or sentences. Syntax
prvides imp. info. Our understanding of syntax is automatic. FMRI studies showed that as
syntax becomes more difficult/complex, our brains become more active.
Synactical cues help us understand what others are saying. These S. Cues are signalled by:
word order, function and content words, affixes, word meanings, and prosody.
Word order(basically order of words - boy hit the ball, diff. than the ball hit the boy)
Does noty play the same role in all languages however.
Word Class-grammatical categories (noun, pronouns, verbs, and adjectives). Words can also
be classified as either FUNCTION or CONTENT words.
Function words ex: (a, then, to, some, but etc.) they convey little meaning of a sentence, but
very imp in specifying gram. structure. Content words: ex(nouns, verbs, adjectives like
apple, rug, book, mysterious, angry). These express meaning whereas function words
express the relations b/w content words.
Affixes- sounds that we add to the beginning or ends of words tat alter their grammatical
Semantics- word meanings, (like bear, and bear) help us understnad the syntax of a
Prosody- use of stress, rhythm, and changes n pitch that accompany speech. Imp in
communicating emotion Extremely imp in the language comprehension, cuz so much of our
comm relies on the spoken form.
Noam Chomsky: a noted linguist, said that newly formed sentences are represented in the
brain in terms of their meaning, which he called Deep structure. This is the point/meaning
of the sentence. In order to say the sentence, the brain must transform the deep structure
into surface structure: the particular form the sentence takes.
Knowledge about the world is organized into scripts; which specify various kinds of
events and interactions that ppl have learned/witnessed.
The neural mechanisms that control speech production appear to be located in the
frontal lobes. Damage to a region of motor association cortex in the left frontal lobe
(Broca's Area) disrupts the ability to speak: it causes Broca's Aphasia, a language
disorder characterized by slow, laborous, non-fluent speech.
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