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Chapter 9

chapter 9 language.docx

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University of Toronto Scarborough
Steve Joordens

PSYA02H3 CHAPTER 9: LANGUAGE 2013 Language and Communication - language is a system for communicating with others using signals combined according to rules f grammar and convey meaning, - grammar is a set of rules that specify how the units of language can be combined to produce meaningful messages, - language allows to exchange information about the world, coordinate group action, and form strong social bonds - complex structure of human language distinguishes it from simpler signaling systems - humans use words to: - refer to intangible things, like a UNICORN - to name, categorize, describe things to ourselves when we think, which influences how knowledge is organized in brain Complex Structure of Human Language - relatively recent evolution, emerging from no more than 1-3 million years ago Basic Characteristics - smallest units of sound that are recognizable as speech rather than as random noise are phonemes - every language has phonological rules that indicate how phonemes can be combined to produce speech sounds - phonemes are combined to make morphemes, smallest meaningful units of language - all languages have grammar rules that generally fall into two categories: rules of morphology and rules of syntax - morphological rules indicate how morphemes can be combined to form words, - content morphemes refer to things and events (cat, dog, take) - function morphemes serve grammatical functions, like tying sentences together, ( and, but) - both can be combined and recombined to form an infinite number of sentences, which have to follow syntax rules, which indicate how words can be combined to form phrases and sentences - every sentence in english must contain one or more nouns, which can be combined with adjectives or articles, is an example of a syntactical rule Meaning: Deep Structure vs Surface Structure - deep structure refers to meaning of a sentence - surface structure refers to how a sentence is worded Language Development Distinguishing Speech Sounds - at birth, infants can distinguish among all of the contrasting sounds that occur in all human languages, - within first 6 months of life, they lose ability, and like parents, can only distinguish among contrasting sounds in language they hear being spoken around them. - infants can distinguish among speech sounds, but they cannot produce them reliably, relying mostly on cooing, cries, laughs, and other vocalizations to communicate Language Milestones - 10 to 12 months, babies begin to utter their first words PSYA02H3 CHAPTER 9: LANGUAGE 2013 - fast mapping occurs, which is when children can map a word onto an underlying concept after only a single exposure, - 24 months, children begin to use telegraphic speech, a devid of function morphemes and consist mostly of content words - like saying "more milk" \"throw ball" even though these sentences ae not functional, thet are still grammatical, follow the syntactical rules Language Milestone Average Age Language MileStone 0-4 months can tell the difference between speech sounds, cooing, especially in response to speech 4-6 months babbles consonants 6-10 months understands some words and simple requests 10-12 months begins to use single words 12-18 months vocabulary of 30-50 words (simple nouns, adjectives, action words) 18-24 months two words phrases ordered according to syntactic rules, vocab of 50-200 wods, understand rules 24-36 months vocab of 1000 words, production of phrases and incomplete sentences 36-60 months vocab grows to more than 10,000 words, production of full sentences, mastery of grammatical morphemes (such as -ed for past tense_ and function words ( the and but_ can form questions and negations The Emergence of Grammatical Rules - very young children memorize the particular sounds, that express what they want to communicate, but as children acquire grammatical rules of language, they went o over generalize, for instance, when children say "runned" "ranned" instead of ran - children learn grammatical rules by listening to the speech around hem and using the rules to create verbal forms they've never heard Language Development and Cognitive Development - infants start with one word utterances before moving to telegraphic speech and then to simple sentences that include function morphemes PSYA02H3 CHAPTER 9: LANGUAGE 2013 Theories of Development Behaviourist Explanations - we learn to talk the same way we learn any other skill" reinforcemene, shaping, extinction and other basic principles of operant conditioning - as infants mature, they begin to vocalize, - so when they say something like prah, parents dgaf, but when they mumble words close to da-da or something, then parents get all cheery and happy about it - this theory cannot account for many fundamental characteristics of language development - parents don't spend much time teaching their children to speak grammatically - children generate many more grammatical sentences than they ever hear - errors children make when learning to speak tend to be overgeneralizations of grammatical rules Nativist Explanation - linguist Noam Chomsky, language learning capacities are built into the brain which is specialized to rapidly acquire language through simple exposure to speech - humans have particular ability for language that is separate from general intelligence - nativist theory says taht language development is best explained as innate, biological capacity - LAD is a collection of processes that facilitate language learning - people with normal or nearly normal intelligence can find certan aspects of human language difficult or impossible to learn known as genetic dysphasia, a syndrome characterized by an inability to learn the grammatical structure of language desire having otherwise normal intelligence, tends to run in families - as predicted by nativist view, people with genetic dysphasia are normal children learn grammatical rules of human language with ease in part because the are wired to do so - if we learn language through imitaion, as behaviourists theorized, infants would only distinguish the phonemes theyd actually heard - nativist thepry also explains why deaf babies babble speech sounds they have nevr heard and why the pattern of language development is similar in children throughout the world - language can be acquired only during a restricted period of development, Genie is a good example of this - some cases report that after puberty, acquiring language becomes extremely difficult Intertactionist Explanations - nativist theories do not explain how language develops, only explains why - interactionists point out that parents tailor their verbal interactions with children in ways that simplify the language acquisition process, - speak slowly, enunciate clearly, use simpler sentences than they do when speaking with adults Language Development and the Brain - language processing becomes more and more concentrated in two areas, Broca's area and Wernicke's area - as brain matures, those areas become increasingly specialized for language, so damage to them resukts in serious condition called aphasia, difficulty in producing or comprehending language - Broca's area - left frontal cortex, production of the sequential patterns in vocal and sign languages PSYA02H3 CHAPTER 9: LANGUAGE 2013 - damage results in broca's aphasia, where patients speak in short staccato phrases taht consist mostly iof content morphemes - function morphemes are missing and grammatical structure is impaired - Wernicke's area, - left temporal cortex, involved in language comprehension, - patients differ than broca's they can prodce grammatical speech, bu it tends to be meaningless, have considerable difficulty comprehending language - normal language processing, higly active when we make judements abour word meaning, therefore damage causes impairs comprehension fo spoken and signed language - four evidence indicating that right cerebral hemisphere contributes to language processing - when words are presented to the right hemisphere of healthy participants, right hemisphere shows some capacity for processing meaning - patiens with damage to right hemisphere hae problems with language comprehension - neuroimaging studies revealed evidence of right hemisphere activation during language tasks - some children with left hemisphere removed during adolescence as treatment can recover many of their language abilities Can Other Species Learn Human Language? - attempts to teach apes to speak failed bc their vocal tracts cannot accommodate the sounds used in human languages - later attempts were a success, but they can only do mostly signs and stuff - apes acquire sizable vocab, string words together to form short sentences, process sentences that are grammatically complex - skills are especially impressive because human language is hardly their normal means of communication - limitations include: - size of vocabulary - type of words they can master, primarily names of concrete objects and simple actions - apes can learn signs for concepts they understand, but their conceptual repertoire is smaller and simpler than that of humans - complexity of grammar that apes can use and comprehend - comparing the grammatical structures produced by apes wih those by humans highlights the complexity of human language as well as ease and speed with which we generate and comprehend it Language and Thought: How are they Related? -linguistic relativity hypothesis maintains taht language shapes the nature of thought, benjamin whorf coined it, - example is inuit in canada, their language has many different terms for frozen white which we call snow. the think of snow different than we do - recent studies on colour processing and time judgement point to an influence of language on th
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