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Chapter 9

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Psychology 1000
Dr T Biggs

Language and Thinking LANGUAGE  Mental representations – include images, ideas, concepts, and principles. Through the printed words you are reading, mental representations are being transferred from our minds to yours.  Language – consists of a system of symbols and rules for combining these symbols in ways that can generate an infinite number of possible messages and meanings.  Psycholinguistics – is the scientific study of the psychological aspects of language, such as how people understand, produce, and acquire language.  Grammar – set of rules that dictate how symbols can be combined to create meaningful units of communication.  Syntax – the rules that govern the order of words.  Semantics – the meaning of words and sentences, actually is a tricky business. “howd you do on a test?.... nailed it!”, you know that your friend is not saying I hammered the test to the desk with a nail. Not all sentences are to be interpreted literally.  Generativity – means that the symbols of language can be combined to generate an infinite number of messages that have novel meaning.  Displacement – refers to the fact that language allows us to communicate about events and objects that are not physically present. You can discuss the past and the future and well as people, objects and events that currently exist or are taking place elsewhere. Can also discuss imaginary situations.  Surface structure – when you read, listen to, or produce a sentence, its surface structure consists of the symbols that are used and their order. (syntax)  Deep structure – a sentences deep structure referrers to the underlying meaning of the combined symbols (semantics)  Phoneme – most elementary building block of human language, smallest unit of speech sound in a language that can signal a difference in meaning.  Morphemes – at the next level of hierarchy, phonemes are combined in morphemes, a smallest units of meaning in a language. (ex. Dog, log, and ball are all morphemes, as are prefixes and suffixes, such as pre, un, ed, and ous)  Discourse – sentences are combined into paragraphs, articles, books, conversations and so forth. o Five-step language hierarchy: phonemes>morphemes>words>phrases>sentences (discourse)  Bottom-up processing – individual elements of a stimulus are analyzed and then combined to form a unified perception. Analyzing the hierarchical structure of spoken language as a set of building blocks that involve the use of phonemes to create morphemes and the combination of morphemes to create words reflects of bottom-up approach.  Top-down processing – sensory information is interpreted in light of existing knowledge, concepts, ideas, and expectations. Language by its very nature involves top-down processing, because the words you write, read, Language and Thinking speak or hear activate and draw on your knowledge of vocabulary, grammar, and other linguistic rules that are store in your long-term memory.  Speech segmentation – perceiving where each word within a spoken sentence beings and ends-seems to occur automatically?  Pragmatics – “I need help do you have time”. You wouldn’t respond 10:20. This example illustrates that it take more than having a vocabulary and arranging words grammatically to understand language and communicate effectively with others. It also involves pragmatics, knowledge of the practical aspects of using language.  Aphasia – impairment in speech comprehension and/or production that can be permanent or temporary. o Werknicke’s area – rear temporal lobe / speech comprehension o Broca’s area – left hemisphere, frontal lobe / word production and articulation  Language acquisition device (LAD) – innate biological mechanism that contains the general grammatical rules common to all languages.  Language acquisition support system (LASS) – represents factors in the social environment that facilitate the learning of a language. When LAD and LASS interact in a mutually supportive fashion, normal language development occurs.  Linguistic relativity hypothesis – that language not only influences but also determines what we are capable of thinking. THINKING  Propositional thought – mode of thought that take the form of verbal sentences that we say or hear in our minds. It expresses a proposition or statement such as “I’m hunger”, “its almost time for dinner”.  Imaginal thought – consists of images that we can see, hear or feel in our mind.  Motoric thought – relates to mental representations of motor movements such as throwing an object.  Propositions – much of our thinking comes from these forms of statements that express ideas.  Concepts – are basic units of semantic memory-memory categories into which we place objects, activities, abstraction (liberal / conservative), and events that have
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