Chapter 8: language and Thought done at 364
Cognitive refers to the mental processes involved in acquiring knowledge.
What is language?
A LANGUAGE consists of symbols that convey meaning, plus rules for combining
those symbols, that can be used to generate an infinite variety of messages.
• Language is symbolic spoken sounds and written words used to represent
objects, actions, events & ideas.
• Semantic, or meaningful. The symbols used in a language are arbitrary in that no
builtin relationship exists between the look or sounds of words & objects they
• Is Generative. A limited # of symbols can be combined in an infinite variety of
ways to generate an endless array of novel messages.
Basic sounds are combined into words.
Words are combined into phrases, which are combined into sentences
At the base of the language hierarchy are PHONEMES, the smallest speech units in a
language that can be distinguished perceptually
• Humans are capable of recognizing only about 100 basic sounds
• English language composed of about 40 phonemes
Morphemes & Semantics
MORPHEMES are the smallest units of meaning in a language.
• Approximately 50 000 English morphemes, which include roots,
prefixes & suffixes
SEMANTICS is the area of language concerned with understanding the meaning of
words and word combinations
• A word’s meaning may consist of both its DENOATION, which
includes its emotional overtones and secondary implications
SYNTAX: is a system of rules that specify how words can be arranged into sentences. • a simply rule of syntax is that a sentence must have both a subject
Toddlers usually can say 3 and 50 words by 18 months. However, their receptive
vocabulary is larger than their productive vocabulary.
That is, they can comprehend more words spoken by other than they can actually
produce to express themselves.
Fast mappingthe process by which children map a word onto an underlying concept
after only one exposure.
Overextension occurs when a child incorrectly uses a word to describe a wider set of
objects or actions than it is mean to.
• E.g) a child might used the word ball for anything round oranges,
apples, & even the moon
• Occur between ages one & twoandahalf
Underextensions occur when a child incorrectly uses a word to describe a narrower set
of objects or action than it is meant to .
• E.g) A child might use the word doll to refer only to a single,
Children typically begin to combine words into sentences near the end of their second
Telegraphic Speech consist mainly of content words; articles, prepositions, and other
less critical words are omitted
• Child might say give doll instead of, please give me the doll
By the end of their third year, most children can express complex ideas such as the plural
or the past tense.
Overregularizations: occur when grammatical rules are incorrectly generalized to
irregular cases where they do not apply
• E.g) Children will say things like “the girl goed home” or “I hitted
• This begins to occur after children begin to learn grammatical rules
Refining Language Skills: Schoolaged children begin to appreciate ambiguities in language. They can for e.g.
recognize two possible meanings in a sentence. This interest in ambiguities indicates that
Metalinguistic awareness the ability to reflect on the use of language
• Children begin to play with language, coming up with puns & jokes
• Use metaphors
Learning more than one language: bilingualism
Bilingualism is the acquisition of two languages that use different speech sounds,
vocabulary and grammatical rules
• Common in Europe & many other regions not so much north America
• Nearly half of the world’s population grows up bilingual
The bilingual children followed the normal pacing of language milestones, except in this
case it was accomplished in both languages.
Taken as a whole, the available evident suggests that bilingual & monolingual children
are largely similar in the course and rate of their language development
Comparing bilingual & monolingual subjects suggests that the experience of becoming
bilingual can enhance the learning of another language
Bilinguals may have a slight disadvantage in terms of raw languages rocessing speed
When middleclass bilingual subjects who are fluent in both languages are studied, they
tend to score somewhat high than monolingual subjects on measures of cognitive
flexibility, analytical reasoning, select