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Chapter 9

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Western University
Psychology 1000

Psychology Chapter 9 Notes (Language and Thinking) Language Properties of Language  Language consists of a system comprised of symbols and rules that are able to convey an infinite number of possible message and meanings o Girls are able to manipulate that every more than guys o Psycholinguistics is the study of the psychological aspect of language.  Language has a governed set of rules and structure: o Grammar is a set of rules of how symbols can be combined to form meaningful units of communication o Syntax is the set of rules that govern the order of words.  The arrangement of elements in a ‘meaningful’ way o Semantics is the meaning of words and sentences  Again, girls decide that they can complicate semantics o Generality says that the symbols within a language can be manipulated to generate an infinite number of messages that have a different meaning for each. o Displacement means that language lets individuals communicate about events and things that are not currently present Structure of Language  A sentence’s surface structure is the order and use of the symbols in place by that language. o A sentence’s deep structure refers to the underlying meaning.  It’s like subtext in a character’s words or a woman’s words.  Rules transform deep structure to surface structure  Language is based off of a structure and the basic unit is called a phoneme which is the smallest unit speech sound in a language that can signal a difference in meaning. o English has 45 phonemes, Hawaiian has 13  Phonemes are then combines into morphemes, the smallest unit of meaning in a language.  Morphemes then are turned into words, then phrases, then sentences then discourse is derived from the sentences. o The average dictionary has about 250-300K words, and the average student vocabulary has 150K. o Most anything in English can be conveyed in 850 words, and most infants have a vocabulary of 850 words. o The correlation of word frequency and word length is -0.75  Language is influences by both bottom-up and top-down processing. o Bottom-up being the processing of individual element analyzed first then combines them to form a whole. o Top-down processing is where sensory information is interpreted in light of existing conditions, facts, etc.  Speech segmentation is the processing of where each word begins and ends within a spoken sentence.  Pragmatics is the knowledge of practical aspects using language; the social context as well as the tone of the language itself  The Broca’s and Wernicke’s area are involved in word production and articulation, and speech comprehension, respectively. o Damage to either area results in aphasia  Humour can be defined into several categories o Phonological Ambiguity  Knock knock jokes o Lexical Ambiguity  Confusion or double meaning of words o Syntactical ambiguity  Confusion in structure o Semantic Ambiguity  Overall meaning o Kids progress from phonological and lexical humour to syntactical and semantic humour. Acquiring a First Language  Chomsky proposed that humans are innately born with a language acquisition device (LAD) which contains grammar rules that are generalized to all languages. o Language learning is not due to imitation and reinforcement  Bruner proposed a language acquisition support system (LASS) that takes into account factors within a social system that support the learning of a language.  Language acquisition follows a timeline; usually from when they are born and as they follow within developmental guidelines o Within the first minutes of life infants vocalize  The same is true for death infants, but babbling has no meaning and it takes on a social quality in hearing infants  Sensitivity to foreign contrasts drops once an infant approaches 12 months o Many adults shift to ‘motherese’ which is a high pitch, slow rate and exaggerated tone when they speak to infants.  Infants prefer this to regular ‘normal adult’ speech  Allows infants to learn about pausing, pitch characteristics, etc. o Within 5-8 months, children being to respond to parent’s words, usually in one word sentences.  The early vocabulary is simple; contains nouns, interactions and adjectives  Some words for example are mama, duck, hi peekaboo, hot, big, no  Their vocabulary is most likely contain words that the infant can manipulate o The probability of ball is greater than ceiling  They tend to undergeneralize, making understanding difficult o By the age of 2, children are saying ‘sentences’ that are called telegraphic sentences, only consisting of a verb and noun  Vocabulary at this point is several hundred words  Speech shows proper grammar; infant says “throw ball” instead of “ball throw”  By 2 ½ years, the child moves beyond two word and sentences become more complex  The infant starts to search for rules of generalization o 4-5 year olds make mistakes in tense of words such as ‘runned’ instead on ran or ‘eated’ instead of ate  Formal schooling, at this point, takes over.  Mistakes in grammar are generally not corrected, whereas facts are.  The brain seems to be hard-wired for language o However, language will not develop on its own
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