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Chapter 8

Chapter 8 - Language & Thought.docx

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York University
PSYC 1010
Jennifer Steeves

Language & Thought Organization of Language • Sounds  Phonemes  morphemes  words  sentences  meaning • Phonemes - Phonemes are sets of basic sounds (smallest set of sounds) that are the building blocks to all spoken language.  Don’t convey meaning when used in isolation • In a frequency graph, we can see that words close together seem as a cluster of energy • Thus it is hard to identify word transitions in speech  Speech recognition systems require slow, paused speech  Sometimes causes misunderstandings  Non-Native speakers can have trouble understanding phonemes and transitions • Grammar – The rules of language  Phonology – assembling sounds  Morphology – combining word parts  “The boy hit the ball” vs. “The boy hitted the ball”  Syntax – word order  “The boy hit the ball” vs. “The ball hit the boy” • Semantics – Controls the meaning  “The boy hit the ball” vs. “The boy went to the ball” • Deep Meaning – The underlying ideas based on context and culture  Sometimes leads to things going wrong  She: I’m leaving you He: Who is he? • When things go wrong in understanding  Translation errors based on alternative word meanings  Noun/Verb ambiguity How do we learn Grammar? • B.F. Skinner – Language and grammar are learned through operant conditioning • Noam Chomsky – Innate language model or instinct – Language Acquisition Device (LAD)  There are too many combinations to learn them  Kids say things they’ve never heard adults say (E.g. “I gived it to her”)  People can determine whether novel nonsense is grammatical (E.g. “Colourless green ideas sleep furiously”) Grammar Learning in Children • Sometimes children will say a word twice • Wug Test – This is a Wug. This is another one. Now there are two of them. There are two Wugs • Children pick up rules of language and apply them to new words they haven’t heard before • They do not simply memorize words, they generalize a rule they’ve grasped naturally • Our brains are wired with an instinct for language • Sometimes this leads to overgeneralization – E.g. Think  Thinked Language Acquisition in Humans • Critical Period for phonemes (acquiring language)  Babies under ~6mos. Can learn to distinguish phonemes from any language  Very difficult to learn after that  Adult Japanese have a hard time distinguishing /l/ and /r/ • Babies babble quite a lot in an attempt to build and master a target language • Cooing  vowels  babbling  consonant +vowels  word learning • Word learning usually occurs 10 words/day • Language is not restricted to speech, it is natural and will happen even without sound  Even deaf children will “bab
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