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Chapter 8

Chapter 8 Summary Textbook.doc

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Don Morgenson

Chapter 8 Psychology Textbook Cognition refers to the mental processes involved in acquiring knowledge. (thinking) Language - Language consists of symbols that convey meaning, plus rules for combining those symbols that can be used to generate an infinite variety of messages - Is symbolic. The symbolic nature of language greatly expands what people can communicate about - Symbols allow one to refer to objects that may be in another place and to events that happened at another time - Language symbols are flexible in that a variety of somewhat different objects may called by the same name - Language is also semantic, or meaningful - And it is generative. A limited number of symbols can be combined in an infinite variety of ways to generate an endless array of novel messages - Language is structured - People can generate an infinite variety of sentences, these sentences must be structured in a limited number of ways - The structure of language allows people to be inventive with words and still understand each other. Structure of Language Phonemes - the smallest speech units in a language that can be distinguished perceptually - different languages use different groups of about 20 to 80 phonemes - English language is composed of about 40 phonemes Morphemes - smallest units of meaning in a language - approx. 50, 000 english morphemes Semantics w - is the area of language concerned with understanding the meaning of words and word combinations - learning about semantics entails learning about the infinite variety of objects and actions that words refer to Syntax - is a system of rules that specify how words can be arranged into sentences - a simple rule is that a sentence must have both a subject and verb - it underlies all language use Using Words… - fast mapping is the process by which children map a word onto an underlying concept after only one exposure - over extension occurs when a child incorrectly uses a word to describe a wider set of objects or actions than it meant to. - Under extensions which occur when a child incorrectly uses a word to describe a narrower set of objects or actions than it meant to be - For example a child might use the word doll to refer to only a single, favourite doll. Combining Words… - telegraphic speech consists mainly content words; articles, prepositions and other less critical words are omitted - researchers sometimes track language development by keeping tabs on subjects’ mean length of utterance - MLU – the average length of youngsters’ spoken statements (measured in morphemes) - Over regularizations occur when grammatical rules are incorrectly generalized to irregular cases where they do not apply Refining language skills - metalinguistic awareness is the ability to reflect on the use of language - as it grows, children begin to “play” with language - sarcasm is a variation on irony in which there is acaustic element directed at a particular person Bilingualism - is the acquisition of two languages that use different speech sounds, vocabulary and grammatical rules - some people have bilingualism hampers language development and has a negative impact on youngsters’ educational progress - research is an extremely active area - critics argue that bilingualism has a negative effect on children’s language and cognitive development but, there is a relatively little empirical support for this assertion. - The issue of the potential cognitive benefits of bilingualism has been at centre of Ellen Bialystoks recent research - Since cognitive executive processes are necessary to deal successfully with the use of two languages, she suggests that bilingual children should develop control over executive - Second, the enhanced executive control characteristic of bilinguals should afford them advantages in cognitive tasks implicating executive processing - Bilingualism associated with higher levels of controlled processing - According to Bialystok, some of the executive processes implicated in these differences between bilingual and monolingual children are those involving selective attention, attentional inhibition to distracting/ misleading information and switching among competitive alternatives. - This research suggests that while bilingualism may not confer an advantage in all aspects of cognitive and linguistic processing, it is important to note that there are some documented advantages and few demonstrated disadvantages even for children with some specific language impairments - One of the objectives of research was to determine if bilingualism “would provide a defense against the decline of executive processes that occurs with normal cognitive aging…the present results suggest that it does - The results of these neuroscience investigations have proven to be intriguing - For example, mechelli found that bilingual individuals show an increase in the density of grey matter in the left inferior parietal cortex as compared to monolingual individuals, and that the density increases with earlier ages of second language acquisition and with language proficiency - Bilingualism and the processes of second language acquisition continue to be important research topics in Canada - It is important to note that literacy and cognitive flexibility are not the only benefits to be derived from second language immersion What factors influence the acquisition of a second language? - Age is a significant correlate of how effectively people can acquire a second language and the younger the better - Acculturation is the degree to which a person is socially and psychologically integrated into a new culture. - Language lies at the very core of a nations culture which is probably why the debate about bilingualism has been so vigorous Review of Key points: - languages are symbolic, semantic, generative and structured - human languages are structured hierarchically - the initial vocalizations by infants are similar across languages but their babbling gradually begins to resemble the sounds from their surrounding language st - children typically utter their first words around their 1 birthday - research does not support the assumption that bilingualism has a negative effect on language development or on cognitive development - the learning of a second language is facilitated by starting at a younger age and by acculturation Can animals develop language? - Scientists have taught some language skills on dolphins, sea lions and an African gray parrot. - The greatest success has come with chimpanzee ( human’s closest cousin) - ASL is a complex language of hand gestures and facial expressions used by thousands of deaf people Language in an evolutionary context - According to Pinker, language is a valuable means of communication that has enormous adaptive value - An obvious advantage is one can avoid having duplicate the possibly time-consuming and dangerous trial and error process that won that knowledge - Dunbar argues that language evolved s a device to build and maintain social coalitions in increasingly larger groups - Human language is the product of evolution Theories of Language Acquisition - nature vs. nurture debate - Skinner argued that environmental factors govern language developemnet Behaviourist Theories - Skinner argued that children learn language the same way they learn everything else: through imitation, reinforcement and other established principles of conditioning - Vocalizations that are not reinforced gradually decline in frequency, the remaining vocalizations are shaped with reinforcers until they are correct - Behaviourists assert that by controlling their reinforcement, parents encourage their children to learn the correct meaning and pronunciation of words. - According, to behaviourist’s view, children learn how to construct sentences by imitating the sentences of adults and older children Nativist Theories - Noam Chomsky pointed out that there are infinite numbers of sentences in a language - For example, in English, we add ed to the end of a verb to construct past tense. Children routinely over regularize this rule, producing incorrect verbs such as goed, eated and thinked. - According to Chomsky, children learn the rules of language, not specific verbal responses - Native is a variation on the word nature as its used in the nature versus nurture debate - Nativist theory proposes that humans are equipped with a language acquisition device (LAD) – an innate mechanism or process that facilitates the learning of language - Humans learn language for the same reason birds learn to fly Interactionist Theories - Critics argue that the LAD concept is terribly vague - They assert that it isn’t fair to compare the rapid progress of toddlers who are immersed in their native language against the struggles of older students who may devote only 10-15 hours per week to their foreign language course - These theories assert that biology and experience both make important contributions to the development of language - Interactionist theories come in at least three flavours - Cognitive theories assert that language development is simply an important aspect of more general cognitive development which depends on both maturation and experience - Social communication theories emphasize the functional value of the interpersonal communication and the social context in which language evolves - Emergentist theories argue that the neural circuits supporting languages are not prewired but emerge gradually in response to language learning - Interactionists believe that the human organism is biologically well equipped for learning language - They believe that social exchanges with parents others play a critical rol
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