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Chapter 9

Chapter 9 - Language & Thinking summary

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Psychology 1000

Language Consists of a system of symbols and rules in order to combine them to generate an infinite number of possible messages and meanings Psycholinguistics o Scientific study of the psychological aspects of language o How people understand, produce, and acquire language Adaptive Functions of Language Human thought and behaviour depend on more than physical structure of brain Evolution humans adopted a socially oriented lifestyle Use of language evolved as people gathered to form larger social units Every human culture, no matter how isolated, has developed language Brain has inborn capacity to acquire any of the languages spoken Conscious thinking takes the form of self-talk, or inner speech Language - extremely powerful learning mechanism Properties of Languages Language is Symbolic and Structured Symbols Uses sounds, written characters, or other systems of symbols (e.g., hand signs) to represent objects, events, ideas, feelings, and actions Symbols used are arbitrary o Ex. Spanish, French, and German for dog: perro, chien, and hund None of the words looks like dog When spoken, nothing about the words sounds that makes it an intrinsically correct choice for representing the concept of dog Structure Has a rule-governed structure Grammar o Set of rules that dictate how symbols can be combined to create meaningful units of communication Ex. How to change present tense to past How to change sentence into negative Syntax o Rules that govern the order of words Language Conveys Meaning Once symbols and rules are learned - form and transfer mental representations to mind of another person Semantics o Meaning of words and sentences o Can be tricky: metaphors, similes etc. Language is Generative & Permits Displacement Generativity o Symbols of language can be combined to create many messages o Ex. English has 26 letters, combined into many words, phrases etc. Displacement o Communication about things that are not physically present o Not restricted to focusing on events & objects that are present at the time o Can Discuss Past and the future Things that currently exist or are taking place elsewhere Imaginary situations Structure of Language Surface Structure Surface Structure o Consists of the symbols that are used and their order when you read, listen to or produce a sentence Deep structure o Studying the meaning of combined symbols Different surface structures but the same deep structure o Sam ate the cake o The cake was eaten by Sam o Eaten by Sam the cake was ** syntax wrong but understandable Single surface structure can give rise to two deep structures o The police must stop drinking after midnight Officers need to prevent citizens from drinking after midnight Officers go out for a few drinks, need to stop drinking by midnight Read or hear moving from the surface structure to deep structure Express thoughts to other people deep structure into a surface structure Hierarchical Structure of Language Phoneme o Smallest unit of speech sound that can signal a difference in meaning o 100 different phonemes no language uses all English uses 40 vowel and consonant sounds and letter combinations (th) o No inherent meaning but alter meaning when combined with others Ex. Phoneme d creates a different meaning from the phoneme l when it precedes og (i.e., dog versus log) Morphemes o Smallest units of meaning in language o Combines phonemes Ex. Dog, log, ball & prefixes and suffixes o Not always syllables Ex. s is not a syllable, but final s on a noun is a morpheme that means plural Fans has one syllable but two morphe mes Words o Morphemes combined to form words Phrases o Words combined to make phrases Sentences o Phrases combine into sentences Discourse o Sentences combined into paragraphs, articles, books, conversations etc. Understanding & Producing Language Context plays a key role in understanding language Understanding Language o Brain must recognize and interpret patterns of stimuli Sounds of speech, shapes of letters, movements that create hand signs, or tactile patterns of dots used in Braille o Extracting information from linguistic stimuli involves top-down and bottom-up processing Role of Bottom-Up Processing Individual elements of stimulus - analyzed & combined to form unified perception Hierarchical structure of spoken language - set of building blocks o Ex. Reading Specialized cell groups in your brain are:
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