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Chapter 9

Chapter 9: Language and Thinking

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Psychology 1000
Terry Biggs

Chapter 9 Language and Thinking y Humans have a remarkable ability to create mental representations of the world and to manipulate them in the form of language thinking reasoning and problem solving y Mental representations include images ideas concepts and principles Language y 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 y Psycholinguistics is the scientific study of the psychological aspects of language such as how people understand produce and acquire languageAdaptive Functions of Language y The use of language evolved as people gathered to form larger social unitsy Humans have evolved into highly social creatures who need to communicate with one another and have the physical characteristics eg a highly developed brain a vocal tract that allow them to do so in the most flexible way known through language Properties of Languagey Language is Symbolic and StructuredLanguage uses sounds written characters or some other system of symbols to represent objects events ideas feelings and actions Symbols used in any language are arbitrary A languages grammar is the set of rules that dictate how symbols can be combined to create meaningful units of communicationSyntax is the rules that govern the order of wordsy Language Conveys Meaning Semantics is the meaning of words and sentencesy Language is Generative and Permits DisplacementGenerativity means that 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 The Structure of Languagey Surface Structure and Deep StructureWhen you read listen to or produce a sentence its surface structure consists of the symbols that are used and their order A sentences deep structure refers to the underlying meaning of the combined symbols Sentences have different surface structures but the same deep structure
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