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Chapter 8

Chapter 8 Notes

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PSYC 1010
Rebecca Jubis

Readings – Chapter 8 What is 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 Language is symbolic; sounds & written words are used to represent objects, actions, events & ideas Language is semantic; they are meaningful Language is generative; symbols combine to generate a message Language is structured; a limited number of ways to structure language rules The Structure of Language: Phonemes Phonemes: the smallest speech units in a language that can be distinguished Humans are capable of recognizing only about 100 basic sounds English dictionary uses about 40 phonemes The Structure of Language: Morphemes & Semantics Morphemes: the smallest unit of meaning in a language Approximately 50 000 English morphemes including prefixes and suffixes Semantics: the area of language concerned with understanding the meaning of words/word combinations The Structure of Language: Syntax Syntax: a system of rules that specify how words can be arranged into sentences Must have a subject + verb Moving Toward Producing Words 3-month old infants can distinguish phonemes from all of the world’s languages This ability gradually disappears between 4-12 months www.notesolution.com In a bilingual home, an infant can distinguish the two languages before speaking them There are optimal periods in language acquisition By 7.5 months, infants begin to recognize common word forms By 8 months they can understand the meanings of familiar words Babbling lasts until around 18 months Babbling is a motor achievement in which the babbling reflects the brain’s maturation in controlling the motor operations needed to eventually produce speech Babbling is a key linguistic achievement Deaf babies exhibit “manual babbling” with their hands instead of mouth Age General Characteristics Month s 1-5 Reflexive communication: vocalizes randomly, coos, laughs, cries, engages in vocal play, discriminates language from non-language sounds 6-18 Babbling: verbalizes in response to the speech of others; responses increasingly approximate human speech patterns 10-13 First words: uses words, typically to refer to objects. Ie, ball 12-18 One-word sentence stage: vocabulary grows slowly; uses nouns primarily; overextensions begin 18-24 Vocabulary spurt: fast mapping facilitates rapid acquisition of new words Years 2 Two-word sentence stage: uses telegraphic speech; uses more pronouns & verbs 2.5 Three-word sentence stage: modifies speech to take listener into account; overregularizations begin 3 Uses complete simple active sentence structure; uses sentences to tell stories that are understood by others; uses plurals 3.5 Expanded grammatical forms: expresses concepts with words; uses four-word sentences 4 Uses five-word sentences 5 Well developed & complex syntax: uses more complex syntax; uses more complex forms to tell stories 6 Displays metalinguistic awareness Using Words Toddlers say between 3-5 words by 18 months Their receptive vocabulary is greater than their productive vocabulary They can comprehend more words they hear, than saying the actual words www.notesolution.com Toddlers can understand 50 words way before they can say 50 words Easier to say nouns than verbs first Vocabulary spurt is between 18-24 months st th By the 1 grade, the average child has a vocabulary of 10 000 words, and 40 000 by 5 grade Some two year olds can learn 20 words a week Fast mapping: the process which children map a word onto an underlying concept after only one exposure Due to improved articulation skills, improved understanding of syntax, underlying cognitive development Overextension: occurs when a child incorrectly uses a word to describe a wider set of objects or actions than it is meant to. Ie, a child might use the word ball for anything that’s round. Occurs between age 1-2.5 Underextensions: occur when a child incorrectly uses a word to describe a narrower set of objects or actions than it is meant to. Ie, a child might use the word “doll” for only one particular doll Combining Words nd Children combine words into sentences near the end of their 2 year Telegraphic speech: consists mainly of content words; articles, prepositions & other less critical words are omitted. Ie, “give doll” rather than “please give me the doll” Telegraphic speech is not cross-cultural universal Mean length of utterance (MLU): the average length of youngsters’ spoken statements (measured in morphemes) rd By end of 3 year, most children can use plural or past tense expressions Overregularizations: occur when grammatical rules are incorrectly generalized to irregular cases where they don’t apply ie, “the girl goed home” instead of “the girl went home” This occurs in all languages Refining Language Skills Metalinguistic awareness: the ability to reflect on the use of language www.notesolution.com Children begin to use more metaphors when they understand the meaning of words Between the ages of 6 & 8, children understand irony & sarcasm The right hemisphere of the brain helps understand sarcasm Learning More Than One Language: Bilingualism Bilingualism: the acquisition of two languages that use different speech sounds, vocabulary, & grammatical rules Common in Europe; half of the world’s population grows up bilingual Does Learning Two Languages in Childhood Slow Down Language Development? More research needs to be conducted but for the most part, no; they are largely similar in the course & rate of language development Does Bilingualism Affect Cognitive Processes & Skills? Bilingualism conveys some cognitive advantages However they have some disadvantages for example, on language processing speed Bilingualism is associated with higher levels of controlled processing on tasks that require attention Bilingualism will decreases chances of losing certain cognitive functioning with old age What Factors Influence the Acquisition of a Second Language? Age influences how effective people can acquire a new language; younger the better Acculturation: the degree to which a person is socially & psychologically integrated into a new culture Motivation & attitude toward the language Can Animals Develop Language? Researchers have the greatest success with chimpanzees www.notesolution.com Chimps can’t speak because they don’t have the appropriate vocal apparatus to acquire human speech After 4 years of training, chimpanzee washoe had a sign vocabulary of 160 words Some criticize that the chimp learned from operant condition & imitation than actual linguistic rules Kanzi, another chimp, understood actual sentences, 72% of 660 sentences Based on PET scans, chimps have an area in their brain similar to the human’s brocca area Language in an Evolutionary Context Some say humans’ talent for language is a species-specific trait that’s the product of natural selection Some say language evolved as a device to build & maintain social coalitions in large groups Human language is a product of evolution Behaviourist Theories on Language Acquisition Lead by Skinner Children learn language the same way they learn everything; imitation, reinforcement, etc By controlling reinforcement, parents encourage their children to learn the correct meaning & pronunciation of words Children learn how to construct sentences by imitating the sentences of adults & older children Nativist Theories Lead by Noam Chomsky There’s an large number of sentences in a language, it’s impossible for children to learn through imitation Children learn the rules of language, not specific verbal responses Humans have an inborn or “native” (a.k.a. nature) tendency to develop language www.notesolution.com Language acquisition device: an innate mechanism or process that facilitates the learning of language Humans are biologically equipped to learn language Interactionist Theories Biology & experience both make important contributions to the development of language Cognitive theories assert that language development is simply an important aspect of more general cognitive development- it depends
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