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Chapter 8

Chapter 8 Language and Thought

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PSYC 1010
Rebecca Jubis

Chapter 8 Language and Thought Language Turning Thoughts into Words y Cognition refers to the mental processes involved in acquiring knowledge What is Language y Language consists of symbols that convey meaning plus rules for combining those symbols that can be used to generate an infinite of messagesy Language systems include a number of critical properties o Symbolicpeople use spoken soundswritten words to represent objects actions eventsideaso SemanticmeaningfulThe symbols used in a language are random in that no built in relationship exists bt the look or sound of wordsthe sounds of wordsthe objects they stand foro Generative a limited number of symbols can be combined in an infinite variety of ways to generate an endless array of novel messages o Structured Although people can generate an infinite variety of sentences these sentences must be structured in a limited number of ways The Structure of Language y Phonemesthe smallest speech units in a language that can be distinguished perceptually y Morphemesare the smallest units of meaning in a languageo Prefixes and suffixes ie fire guard and friend consist of single morphemeo Combinations of morphemesie unfriendly consists of three morphemes the root word friend the prefix un and the suffix ly y Semanticsthe area of language concerned with understanding the meaning of words and word combinations o Words meaning may consist of both its denotation which is its dictionary definition and its connotation which includes its emotional overtones and secondary implications y Syntaxa system of rules that specify how words can be arranged into sentenceso Simple rule of syntax is that a sentence must have both a subject and a verbMilestones in Languagey Children learn to pronounce words use of single words and their ability to combine words to form sentences yThe initial vocalizations by infants are similar across languages but their babbling gradually begins to resemble the sounds from their surrounding language Children typically utter their first words around their first birthday Vocabulary growth is slow at first but a vocabulary spurt often beings at around 1824 monthsoaround 1023 months infants most often babble spontaneouslyie dada mama and papa etc y Receptive vocabulary is larger than their productive vocabulary They can comprehend more words spoken by others than they can actually produce to express themselveso Toddlers can understand 50 words months before they can say 50 words y Toddlers early words tend to refer most often to objects and secondarily to social actions y Vocabulary spurtvocabulary growth often beginsaround 1824 monthsy Fast mappingthe process by which children map a word onto an underlying concept after only one exposure o One of the factor underlying this rapid growth of vocabulary y Overextensionwhen a child incorrectly uses a word to describe a wider set of objects or actions than it is meant too ie a child use the word ball for anything roundoranges apples even the moon y Underextensionwhen a child incorrectly uses a word to describe a narrower set of objects or actions than it is meant to o ie a child use the world doll to refer only to a single favourite doll y Overextensionunderextensions show that toddlers are actively trying to learn the rules of languagealbeit with mixed success y Children begin to combine words into sentences near the end ndof their 2 year y Telegraphic speechmainly consist of content words articles prepositions and other less critical words are omitted
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