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Chapter 9

Psych 1000 Chapter 9 Review Notes.docx

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Psychology 1000
Wolfe/ Quinlan

Chapter 9 – Thought and Language Language The Nature and Structure of Language  Language – a system of symbols and rules for combining these symbols in ways that can produce an almost infinite number of possible messages and meanings o Three critical properties of language:  Symbolic: Uses sounds, written signs, or gestures to refer to objects, events, ideas, and feelings  Displacement – capacity of language to represent objects and conditions that aren’t physically present  Structure: Has rules that govern how symbols can be combined to create meaningful communication units  Generative: Symbols can be combined to generate an almost infinite number of messages Language Structure  Surface structure – consists of the way symbols are combined within a given language o Syntax – the rules for the combination of symbols  Deep structure – refers to the underlying meaning of the combined symbols o Semantics – the meaning of words and sentences  Phonemes – smallest units of sound recognized as separate in a given language (46 in English)  Morphemes – smallest units of meaning in a language o Include base words, prefixes, suffixes, etc.  Bottom-up processing - individual elements combined for a unified perception  Top-down processing - using existing knowledge/experiences to interpret things  Speech segmentation - perceiving where each word spoken in a sentence begins and ends  Pragmatics - knowledge of the practical aspects of using language Acquiring a Language  Biological Foundations o Language acquisition support system (LASS) – factors in social environment that facilitate the learning of language o Language acquisition device (LAD) – biological mechanism that contains the general grammatical rules (universal grammar) common to all languages o Between 1-3 months: infants vocalize entire range of phonemes found in world’s languages (cooing) o By 2 months, infants show phoneme discrimination o About six months: infants begin to make sounds of their native tongue and to discard the phonemes of other languages o After about 2 years: children produce telegraphic speech – noun + verb (“want cookie”) o Linguists believe there exists a critical period between infancy and puberty when language is most easily learned o Sex differences:  Men who suffer left hemisphere strokes are more likely than women to show severe aphasic symptoms (disruption in speech comprehension and/or production)  Suggests that women may share more language function with right hemisphere  Social Learning Processes o B.F. Skinner developed operant conditioning explanation for language acquisition  Children’s language development is strongly governed by adults’ reinforcing appropriate language and non-reinforcing of inappropriate verbalization  Problems:  Children learn much too fast  Parents typically do not correct grammar as much as “truth value”  Bilingualism: Learning a Second Language o Learned best and spoken most fluently when learned during critical period of childhood o If both languages are learned at early age, they often function in the same brain region Linguistic Influences on Thinking  Linguistic relativity hypothesis – language not only influences, but also determines what we are capable of thinking o Multiple studies have disproved the determination part  Modern view is that language can influence how we think, categorize information, and attend to our daily life experiences  Language also influences how well we think in certain domains o English children consistently score lower than Asian children in mathematical skills due to words and symbols used in each language to represent numbers  Chinese uses easier system to learn numbers (11 = “ten one”)  English speakers must use more complex system (11 = “eleven”)  Propositional thought – verbal facts we say/hea
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