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PSYC 001 (15)
Greg Feist (13)
Chapter 9


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PSYC 001
Greg Feist

protolanguage- pre-language first developed by homo neanderthalensis protolanguage > grammatical language ● frontal lobes > larger > more complex and abstract thoughts Human Language ● innate, genetically based structures enable learning of language ● < 150k - 200k yrs. ● open & symbolic communication system w/ grammar rules ○ open: Dynamic system ○ symbolic: no real connection b/t sound and meaning/idea associated ■ 7k ways/languages to say a sentence ● All equally complex ● humans learn language easily ○ b/c of Broca’s area(left, speech production), Wernicke’s area(left hemisphere, speech understanding), and occipital lobe. ■ in adults, broca’s areas are different if language learned early ○ Wernicke’s develops beforehand - we understand before producing language ○ Children > hear more complex words&sentences > language develops fasterf ○ learn > imitating family members ■ child-directed speech- adult speech patterns universally changed to speak towards children ■ family verbal stimulation > vocabulary development ● mother’s vocabulary development ○ socioeconomic status, vocab use, personality charateristics ■ mirror neurons - fires when we/someone else performs task ● language is universal unlike anything else ● Language develops w/ ○ cooing sounds 0-6 months (no meaning, just vocalization) ○ Babbling (phonemes): 6-12 (up to 18) (have meaning - one of sounds used in native language) ○ First words: 12-18 months ■ one-word utterances - from protolanguage ● 12 months ■ “Language develops backwards” ■ Lip sounds come first and throat last ■ tend to learn ends of sentences first ● - nouns in this case ● recency effect ■ two-word utterances ● 18 months ○ Telegraphic speech: 18-24 months ○ Most vernacular: 3 years ■ sentence phase - full grammatical sentences ● 2.5-3 yrs. ■ steep brain growth rise ● 80% adult size ○ Overgeneralization error: end of 3rd year ■ learn rules and apply them generally ○ Fluent in native language: by 5 yrs ○ difficult to learn new language by 7 ■ Brain that learn 2nd language late not as efficient as learning early. Accents permanent for people learning it late. ● more efficient at language processing ● brain’s speech production(broca) region more similar w/ other early bilinguists ○ not relevant for comprehension/listening ● Requires thinking about one’s thinking ○ should be better at monitoring their thinking than monolinguists ● facilitates creative, flexible, and original problem solving ○ metacognitive thinking enhanced when first learning 2nd language vs. fluent phase ■ Learned before 12 > difficult to speak fluently and impossible w/o accent ■ Brain more plastic earlier in life ● can form new neural connections ○ Words follow syntax & grammar ■ syntax: arrangement rules for words and symbols in sentences ■ grammar: entire set of rules for combining symbols & sounds > speak & write language ● B.F. Skinner - Conditioning & learning theory ○ Language is reinforced and shaped ○ speak > reinforced to do so ■ parents reinforce children to learn language ■ Shaping, successive approximation, reinforcing ● Nativist Theory ○ shaping is not plausible b/c children overgeneralize ■ (i.e. adding “ed” for past tense incorrectly) ○ nativist view of language - brain is structured/”wired” for language learning ■ discover language ○ Language acquisition device (LAD) - innate biological capacity to acquire language ■ (nativist) part of our nature ■ Chomsky > single universal grammar underlying all languages ● principles of universal grammar ● biological language acquisition device exists that has principles to allow child to learn native language ● parameters > what’s allowed and what isn’t in different languages ● Acquiring language > natural abilities + language learner environment modification ○ environmental influences ■ culture, socioeconomic status, birth order, school, peers, television, parents ○ innately guided learning > nature and nurture interaction ○ vocabulary more shaped by environment (25% innately), grammar innately by 40% ○ how much trait is due to genetic influence > compare identical & fraternal twins ● Other species (chimps) ○ don’t have vocal apparatus to make same range of sounds ○ American Sign Language (ASL) can be taught to them ■ learned to different degrees and communicated w/ humans ■ 88% social interaction ○ limited learning curve compared to humans ~ toddler level ● Sensitivity periods ○ ends after neural pruning and wiring reaches peak - plasticity of neural connections are less flexible ○ 2nd language also reveals sensitivity ○ i.e. Genie ■ Couldn’t speak at 13 ■ Learning disability ■ Father kept her tied in chair and caged in crib ● Beat her every time she tried to talk ■ 4 years of language training ● no more than ungrammatical sentences ■ Language only in right hemisphere ● language ability in left hemisphere ■ More sleep spindles found ○ Critical period/sensitivity period ■ most receptive to language stimulation ■ No exposure to language by 12-15 yrs = never fully/correctly develops ■ Brain’s ability shaped by sounds and learn words and grammar is lost ● expression of abstract & distant ideas ○ beyond immediate & concrete states Language, culture, and thought ● Whorf-Sapir hypothesis - language creates thought as much as thought creates language ● Linguistic determinism hypothesis - language determines way of thinking and perceptions ● Piraha people don’t have words for any number over 2 ○ limited to this and any
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