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PSYC Ch. 9

by: Kristen Pruett

PSYC Ch. 9 Psych100

Kristen Pruett

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Chapter 9 - Language
General Psychology
Kristen Begosh
Class Notes
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This 5 page Class Notes was uploaded by Kristen Pruett on Monday April 18, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to Psych100 at University of Delaware taught by Kristen Begosh in Winter 2016. Since its upload, it has received 11 views. For similar materials see General Psychology in Psychlogy at University of Delaware.


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Date Created: 04/18/16
Ch. 9  Language    What is language  Language: spoken, written, or signed words and the ways we combine them to communicate  meaning  Do other species have language?  ­ Animals can communicate with each other  ­ Bee dance  ­ Vervet monkeys  ­ Different calls for “snake” “eagle” “leopard”  ­ Chimps and other primates  ­ Relatively successful  ­ Washoe could use more than 245 signs  ­ Can create new combinations of words  ­ Can access some abstract concepts  Human language is unique  ­ Human language is recursive: sentences can be infinitely long by embedding  ­ Human language is productive (and creative): you can make sentence and words no one  has heard before  ­ Human language can be more abstract than animal language has ever been shown to be  ­ Even the most advanced chimp has never surpassed a 3 year old in terms of language  ability  Phonemes  ­ Writer or rider: pronounced the same  ­ Called a “flap” ­ not pronouncing the “t” or the “d”  Phonetic inventory  ­ Languages have different phonetic inventories  ­ Some languages use “clicks” as phonemes  ­ Some languages use tones to express different meanings  Language rules  ­ Cat ­ cats: s sounds like s  ­ Dog ­ dogs: s sounds like z  Morphemes  ­ Morpheme = smallest unit of meaning in a language  ­ E.g. ‘unbreakable’ ­> ‘un­break­able’  ­ Some languages have very rich morphology  ­ Languages vary in the concepts they mark morphologically   Types of morphemes  ­ 2 types  ­ Content morphemes: carry most of the meaning  ­ Ex. dog, soda, curtain  ­ Function morphemes: add details to meaning, servce grammatical purposes  ­ Ex. by, on, the   Syntax  ­ When sentences have a structure that sounds good to native speakers of a language, we  say they are g​ rammatical  ­ E.g. I like movies  ­ Grammatical judgments may differ depending on dialect   ­ Grammatical does not mean meaningful  Pragmatics  ­ Sometimes we encode meaning by what we don’t say   ­ Grice’s Maxims  ­ Quantity ­ don’t say too little; don’t say too much  ­ Quality ­ tell the truth; say what you mean  ­ Relevance ­ contribute relevant info within the conversational context  ­ Manner ­ be direct and logical, avoid ambiguity  The brain and language  ­ Aphasia: impairment in language, usually caused by left­hemisphere damage  ­ Broca’s aphasia: difficulty with language production  ­ Wernicke’s aphasia: difficulty with language comprehension    4/15    Review  ­ Language is composed of rules in your mind that you are often not consciously aware of  ­ Ex. flapping (t/d) rule, sentence structure   Universal grammar  ­ Explaining language development  ­ Noam chomsky ­ universal grammar ­ properties of language that are common  across all languages  ­ Language acquisition device (LAD)  ­ Predictable progression of language development  Receptive language  ­ Ability to understand language   Phonemes  ­ 4 months: distinguish speech sound  ­ Pair sounds with face that makes the sounds  ­ 7 months: sound segmentation  Universal phoneme perception  ­ 6 months: universal phoneme perception  ­ 7 months: develop ability to segment sounds  ­ 8 month: already starting to develop language specific phoneme perception  How to identify words?  ­ How do babies figure out “cup” from “This is a cup?”  ­ Speech is not like writing ­ there are no spaces between every word  Statistical word learning  ­ Babies use statistics to figure out where word boundaries are  Statistical learning  ­ Stats also affect the age at which certain sounds are acquired  ­ Children acquire the ability to produce the sounds of their language between ages 1­8  (most sound by age 4)  ­ However the older in which the acquired sounds can differ between languages  ­ English children learn to pronounce /v/ rather late, closer to 5  ­ Swedish children learn to pronounce /v/ relatively early, close to age 3  Syntax comprehension   ­ Syntactic development usually begins during the child’s 2nd year, and is largely complete  by 4 years of age   ­ Around 12 months, prefer to listen to correct word order  ­ Around 17 months (before can combine words in production) children can use  word­order to interpret sentences  ­ example, “Cookie Monster is tickling Big Bird” vs. “Big Bird is tickling Cookie  Monster”  ­ Respond better to well­formed command (e.g. Throw me the ball) at “two word stage”  than poorly­ formed command (throw ball)  ­ Especially interesting given that the poorly­formed commands correspond to their  own productions    Receptive skills summary   ­ Phonology ­ Babies start acquiring the sounds of their language at 4 months  ­  lose the ability to perceive sounds of phonemes not in their language around 7­8  months   ­ Morphology ­ Babies learn word boundaries through statistical learning Syntax ­  Children start to understand syntax at age 2   ­ Pragmatics ­ Babies can not learn a second language from non­human sources  Productive skills  ­ Understanding comes much early than production  ­ By 5 months babies can respond to their name  ­ By 8 months children begin to understand common phrases (e.g.stop it!)  ­ By 16 months children's receptive vocab ranges between 90­320 words  Stages of babbling  1. Reflexive vocalization (0­2 months)  a. Crying, coughing, sneezing  2. Cooing and higher (2­4 months)  3. Vocal play (4­ 6 months)  a. Experimental play with sounds  b. Sounds become more consonant­like and vowel­like  c. Repertoire is limited: (g, k) early on, (m,n,p,b,d) later on  d. Loud vs. soft, high vs. low, sustained vowels  Early words  ­ First word occurs between 10­15 months  Syntactic production  ­ One word stage ­ age 1 to 2; speak mostly in single words  ­ Two word stage: begins about age 2; speak in 2 word statements  ­ Telegraphic speech: use mostly nouns and verbs (e.g. want juice)  Critical period hypothesis  ­ Period in early life when exposure to certain stimuli or experiences produces normal  development  Universalism vs. linguistic relativism  ­ Chomsky proposes that not only is there a universal capacity to learn language, but also  that all languages are the same underlyingly  ­ Your brain has a set of “switches” (called parameters) that you turn on and off  depending on language  Linguistic relativism  ­ Contrasting theory:linguistic relativity  ­ The language you speak does affect the way you think/perceive the world  ­ Sapir­whorf theory (aka linguistic determinism): language determines the way we think  ­ Older theory, obviously inaccurate because you can understand things that you  don't have words for   ­ Linguistic relativity: revised theory, language merely influences the way you think in  certain aspects  Color  ­ Language you speak can affect perception of color  Material  ­ Developmental pattern for english and yucatec classification preferences with stable  objects: material versus shape  Spatial  ­ Guugu yimithirr speakers can tell what direction they are facing at all times (even in a  closed room)  ­ The language has only geographic directions, no “left” or “right”  ­ Speakers of egocentric languages like english do not have this ability   Perception  ­ Japanese subjects: detected difference 9% of time  ­  French subjects: detected difference 95% of time  Working memory  ­ Piraha  ­ No words for number 


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