Presentation on theme: "Lecture: Psycholinguistics Professor Dr. Neal R. Norrick _____________________________________ Psycholinguistics Universität des Saarlandes Dept. 4.3:"— Presentation transcript:
Lecture: Psycholinguistics Professor Dr. Neal R. Norrick _____________________________________ Psycholinguistics Universität des Saarlandes Dept. 4.3: English Linguistics SS 2009
1. Introduction Psycholinguistics = the study of language and mind mind versus brain mind as understanding, senses, spirit, psyche mind as total of cognitive capacities myth of the ghost in the machine
language as communication versus language as thought thought as silent, internal speech language as representation of underlying thought
Psycholinguistics is: either - study of underlying language system (in memory) or - study of language production & comprehension reflecting distinction of competence versus performance Psycholinguistics versus neighbor disciplines: Sociolinguistics, Neurolinguistics, Cognitive Linguistics
2. Biological foundations of speech 2.1 Organs of speech humans have no specific organs of speech, but we find specialization for speech in many parts of system
evolution of human physiology (phylogenesis) development of children from birth (ontogenesis) result in contemporary adult human speech system
erect posture frees hands to develop fine motor skills fine motor skills in tool-making lead to brain development brain development enables symbolic representation erect posture lowers epiglottis and larynx larger mouth and lower tongue expand range of sounds
2.2 Nervous system central versus peripheral descending, versusascending, motor sensory but both systems function together in complex activity, so that brain gets feedback on effects nerve development from birth to two years reflects growth in motor and language skills
2.3 Brain Lateralization specialization of function in left and right hemispheres as part of evolutionary development in brain still, corpus callosum connects the two hemispheres
lateralization of language functions in brain: contralateral organization and handedness dominance of left- brain in language ability
Dichotic Listening: Dichotic listening tests have shown a right ear advantage in recognizing linguistic sounds, while non-verbal sounds received through the left ear are processed faster.
3. Linguistics and mental entities 3.1 Words and concepts word meaning as mental image words as signs of concepts, labels for concepts concepts might be figures, images, models etc concepts include perceptual and functional information
3.2 Sounds and phonemes phonemes as psychologically real entities abstract phoneme /p/ versus positionally variant allophones: aspirated [p h ] word-initial, as in pill preglottalized [ p] word-final, as in lip unaspirated [p-] after initial s, as in spill
these allophones are predictable variants they don't distinguish meanings ability to distinguish meanings defines phonemes hence: minimal pair test pill - bill
but experiments show: words are recognized faster than phonemes we recognize the letter b and the sound /b/ faster in the word bat than in isolation words are more salient than phonemes suprasegmental features are also psychologically salient
intonation distinguishes statements and questions Sally's here. versus Sally's here? stress focuses on any constituent in questions Sally gave the new car to Judy today? can question whether it was Sally (not Suzy), whether she gave (not loaned) the car, whether it was the new (not the old) car etc
other salient suprasegmentals are volume and speed, they signal speaker attitudes and emotional states.
3.3 Sentences and propositions sentences as grammatical representations of underlying meaning in the form of (logical) propositions propositions in language of thought clarify (logical) relations between words and sentences, represent entailments, inferences etc
versus sentences following the rules of some natural language grammar rules transform underlying meanings into grammatical sentences of natural language so a single underlying logical proposition has multiple possible representations in any given natural language, e.g.
the cat is on the mat, the cat is on top of the mat the mat is under the cat, the mat is beneath the cat etc
But where would such a logical language of propositions come from if not from communication in a natural language? But if our language of thought is some acquired natural language, then the specific characteristics of that language determine our patterns of thinking - and this leads to the Sapir Whorf Hypothesis.
3.4 Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis sees language and human cognition as related in non-arbitrary ways Sapir 1921, 1929, 1949, Whorf 1950, 1956 proposed a relationship between language, meaning, culture, and personality, generally called the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis
The strong version of the hypothesis says our language determines our perception. We see the things and processes our language has names for and ignore or cannot see what our language doesn't name. The weak version of the hypothesis says our language influences our perception. We attend to the things and processes our language has names for and tend to ignore or find it difficult to attend to what our language doesn't name, e.g.
English speakers with only a single word wall find it difficult to understand and make the distinctions necessary for choosing Wand versus Mauer in German. German and English speakers group together all kinds of spherical objects with the single word ball, they would not normally distinguish the objects categorized in French as ball from those called ballon.
In French, speakers must attend to differences in size and determine whether an object is inflated or not to categorize it as ball versus ballon. Also, the grammar of the language we're speaking at any given time (be it our native language or not) forces us to think in certain ways.
Slobin's ‘thinking for speaking’ notes that any language system enforces certain choices in grammar and lexis, no matter how our underlying thought patterns work, e.g. because of the tense/aspect system of English, all the following questions are relevant in talking about an event:
When did the action take place? present versus past tense Is it completed? perfective versus simple aspect Was it an ongoing process or a momentary activity? progressive versus simple aspect Did it only happen once or does it always happen? progressive versus simple aspect
But in various languages, the questions below are important for determining grammatical forms (word order, cases): Did I (as speaker) see the event or just hear about it? Is this statement a fact or just my opinion? What kinds of words are typically subjects? And what kinds objects?
Compare: I like it, mir gefällt es, mi piace, I'm cold, mich friert, mir ist kalt, isch hann kalt, j'ai frois If we must always attend to certain distinctions and ignore others, in speaking and thinking, shouldn't that influence the way we think?
Nevertheless, we manage to translate between languages and to learn other languages, so apparently our thought patterns can extend and adapt. We can grasp and learn to use words from other languages, even if they have no counterpart in our native language, e.g. Schadenfreude blind date