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Chapter 9

Chapter 9- Language and Adaptation.docx

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Psychology 1000
Laura Fazakas- De Hoog

Chapter 9­ Language and Thinking Mental representations- cognitive representations of the world, including images, ideas, concepts, and principles that are the foundations of thinking and problem solving LANGUAGE Language- a system of symbols and rules for combining these symbols in ways that can generate an infinite number of possibly messages and meanings Psycholinguistics- scientific study of the psychological aspects of language, such as how people understand, produce, and acquire language ADAPTIVE FUNCTIONS OF LANGUAGE • Human thought and behaviour depend on more than the physical structure of the brain  human cognitive and linguistic skills have • Development of language made it easier for humans to adapt to environmental demands • Conscious thinking often takes form of inner speech/self-talk • Learning mechanism- i.e. – rather than using trial and error, just ask someone PROPERTIES OF LANGUAGE 4 Properties of Language: 1+2. Symbol/Structure • Sounds, written characters, system of symbols to represent objects, events, ideas, feelings, and actions • Symbols are arbitrary Grammar- set of rules that dictate how symbols can be combined to create meaningful units of communication Syntax- rules that govern the order of words • Grammars of all languages share common functions (providing rules for how to change present tense into past tense 3. Meaning Semantics- the meaning of words and sentences 4. Generative and Permits Displacement Generativity- the symbols of a language can be combined to generate an infinite number of messages that have novel meaning Displacement- language allows us to communicate about events and objects that are not physically present • Language frees us from being restricted to focusing on events and objects that are right before us in the present STRUCTURE OF LANGUAGE Surface Structure and Deep Structure Surface structure- consists of symbols that are used and their order Deep structure- the underlying meaning of the combined symbols Hierarchal Structure of Language Phoneme- the smallest unit of speech sound in a language that can signal a difference in meaning Morpheme- the smallest units of meaning in a language (not always syllables) Discourse- sentences are combined into paragraphs/articles/books/conversations, etc. Bottom-Up Top-Down Processing Bottom-up processing- individual elements of a stimulus are analyzed and then combined to form a unified perception Top-down processing- sensory info is interpreted in light of existing knowledge, concepts, and expectations Speech segmentation- perceiving where each word within a spoken sentence begins and ends • The availability of context makes identifying individual words much easier Pragmatics: the Social Context of Language • It takes more than having a vocabulary and arranging words grammatically to understand language and communicate effectively with others Chapter 9­ Language and Thinking Pragmatics- knowledge of practical aspects of using language (i.e., would not respond to ‘do you have the time?’ by saying ‘yes’) • An example of top-down processing influences language use • Social rules guide communication between people: messages should be as clear as possible, depend on other aspects of the social context • For job interview—use formal tone, for email with professor, formal tone Language Functions, the Brain, and Sex Differences • Broca’s area- centrally involved in word production and articulation • Wernicke’s area- involved in speech comprehension Aphasia- as a result of damage to either Broca/Wernicke’s area, an impairment in speech comprehension and/or production that can be permanent or temporary • Men who suffer left-hemisphere strokes are more likely than women to show severe aphasic symptoms • Females language function is shared with their right hemisphere ACQURING A FIRST LANGUAGE Biological Foundations • Language acquisition represents the unfolding of a biologically primed process within a social learning environment Language acquisition device (LAD)- an innate biological mechanism that contains the general grammatical rules common to all language (universal grammar) • Languages contain noun phrases and verb phrases that are arranged in particular ways, such as subjects, predicates, and adjectives • Universal grammar becomes calibrated to the grammar and syntax of one’s native tongue Social Learning Process *Child-directed speech- a high-pitched intonation that attracts and maintains young children’s attention Language Acquisition Support System (LASS)- according to Jerome Bruner, the factors in the social environment that facilitate the learning of a language Developmental Timetable and Sensitive Periods • Language acquisition proceeds according to a developmental timetable that is common to all cultures Schedule: ~2 years telegraphic speech- sentences consisting of a noun and verb (e.g., want cookie)  words added (e.g., Daddy go car)  speech development accelerates as vocabulary increases • Sensitive period from infancy to puberty during which the brain is most responsive to language input from the environment • Language-deprived children who were found when they were past puberty seemed unable to acquire normal language skills despite extensive training • Importance of early language exposure applies to any language, not just spoken language Bilingualism: Learning a Second Language • Learned best/spoken most fluently when learned during sensitive period of childhood • Mastery of syntax, grammar depends on early acquisition • Concern: early learning will result in confusion of two languages • Bilingual children: show superior cognitive processing, better understand symbolic nature of print, perform better on perceptual tasks that require them to inhibit attention to an irrelevant feature of an object and pay attention to another object Learning a Second Language: Is Earlier Better? • “Age of acquisition: can easily be confounded with “years of exposure and practice” • Early arrivals perform better than late arrivals • B/c late arrivals had missed critical period for learning a second language, it mattered little at what age they started to acquire English Chapter 9­ Language and Thinking LINGUISTIC INFLUENCES ON THINKING Linguistic relativity hypothesis- that language not only influences but also determines what we are capable of thinking • Language can influence how we think, categorize info, and attend to our daily experiences • Language can help to create/maintain stereotypes • The English language appears to hamper the development of skills in using numbers, whereas Asian languages seem to facilitate the development of mathematical skills THINKING THOUGHT, BRAIN, AND MIND Propositional thought- thinking t
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