PS366 Chapter Notes - Chapter 2: Animal Communication, American Sign Language, English Verbs

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2 Feb 2013
Psycholinguistics Chapter 2
o fluently speaking a language does not guarantee explicit knowledge of the language
speaking comes naturally to people, though we don't consciously think of how we construct
sentences, it is very autonomous
basic grammatical concepts
o word order
English is strict about word order
syntactic rules including those pertaining to word order are taught relatively early
basic word order is subject->verb->object (SVO)
girl chased boy
Japanese uses subject-object-verb (SOV)
taro ga hanako ni sono hon o yatta
taro to hanako that book gave
in Russian, meaning is conveyed less by word order than by the affixes (suffix and prefixes)
(pre-, -ed)
affixing is more complex in most languages than in English
verbs would need to include the tense as well as whether the subject was male or
in Turkish, speakers must emphasize if the action was witnessed or emphasized, on top of
word order
in Mandarin Chinese, indicating the tense is optional
o research shows that even with all the differences in languages, there are underlying similarities
every language contains declarative sentences that express subject, verb and object
all languages have a preferred word order, even though some might be more flexible than
o list of properties that are commonly agreed to be evident among the world's languages
duality of patterning
two levels
1 - large number of meaningful elements or words
2 - relatively small number of meaningless elements that are combined to
form words
in spoken language, meaningless elements are individual speech
phones and phonemes
phones - speech sounds
two sounds are different phones if they different in physically
specifiable ways
difference between the p sound in pill and spill
separated by brackets [p]
aspiration is puff of air for the p sound in pill
phonemes - differences in sound that make contribution to meaning
big and dig
separated by slashes /b/ig and /d/ig
only phonemes can change the meaning of words
distinctive features
characteristic of a speech sound whose presence or absence distinguishes
one sound from another
phoneme /b/ is similar to /p/ but different physical parts are used to
produce /b/ but not /p/
presence of feature indicated by + while absence is indicated by -
phoneme /b/ is said to be +voicing while /p/ is said to be voicing
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Psycholinguistics Chapter 2
/b/ is also +bilabial and +stop
sound is articulated at the lips
airflow from the lungs is completely stopped during
word cannot begin with two stop consonants
p, b, t, g, d, k are all +stop
voiceless stop consonants are aspirated when they occur at the
beginning of a word
till - [s]till
kill - [s]kill
languages differ in their phonemes and rules by which phonemes are to be
combined to form words, but they all have duality
system of rules that govern how we use different forms of the same word to
convey the different shades of meaning
morphemes - smallest meaningful units in a language
truck - single morpheme
bedroom - two morphemes
two different types of morphemes
free morphemes - morphemes that can stand alone
bound morphemes (grammatical morphemes) - which contribute to
word meaning but are not words
insert 2.1
although languages have morphological system, languages differ in
grammatical distinctions they make and in way in which they make them
phrase structure
intuitively, we know that sentences can be broken up into groups of words
sentences consist of noun phrases and verb phrases
NPs can be replaced by NPs and VPs can be replaced by VPs
phrase structure rules
syntactic rules that specify the permissible sequences of
constituents in a language
insert 2.2-2.3
provide good account of one type of sentence ambiguity called
phrase-structure ambiguity
they are eating apples
are eating = V in VP
are = V, eating adj in NP
linguistic productivity
no limit to number of sentences in a language
most sentences we say are novel but grammatically acceptable
linguistic productivity / linguistic creativity: ability to produce and
comprehend novel utterances
given that human brain is finite, how the brain can master a language with
finite sentences is still a problem psycholinguists are trying to solve
impossible for the human brain to store infinite sentences
most psycholinguists assume that the brain does not store
sentences, but rather, stores rules, as rules are finite
recursive rule
rule where a rule refers to itself
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