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Chapter 9 Psycholinguistics. What do these activities have in common? What kind of process is involved in producing and understanding language?

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Presentation on theme: "Chapter 9 Psycholinguistics. What do these activities have in common? What kind of process is involved in producing and understanding language?"— Presentation transcript:

1 Chapter 9 Psycholinguistics

2 What do these activities have in common? What kind of process is involved in producing and understanding language?

3 Chapter 9 Psycholinguistics

4 Questions What is psycholinguistics? What are the main topics of psycholinguistics?

5 Question 1 What is psycholinguistics?

6 9.1 Introduction * Psycholinguistics is the study of the language processing mechanisms. Psycholinguistics deals with the mental processes a person uses in producing and understanding language. It is concerned with the relationship between language and the human mind, for example, how word, sentence, and discourse meaning are represented and computed in the mind.

7 9.1 Introduction * As the name suggests, it is a subject which links psychology and linguistics. Psycholinguistics is interdisciplinary in nature and is studied by people in a variety of fields, such as psychology, cognitive science, and linguistics. It is an area of study which draws insights from linguistics and psychology and focuses upon the comprehension and production of language.

8 The scope of psycholinguistics The common aim of psycholinguists is to find out the structures and processes which underline a human’s ability to speak and understand language. Psycholinguists are not necessarily interested in language interaction between people. They are trying above all to probe into what is happening within the individual.

9 The scope of psycholinguistics At its heart, psycholinguistic work consists of two questions. – What knowledge of language is needed for us to use language? – What processes are involved in the use of language?

10 The “knowledge” question Four broad areas of language knowledge: Semantics deals with the meanings of sentences and words. Syntax involves the grammatical arrangement of words within the sentence. Phonology concerns the system of sounds in a language. Pragmatics entails the social rules involved in language use. It is not ordinarily productive to ask people explicitly what they know about these aspects of language. We infer linguistic knowledge from observable behavior.

11 The “process” question – “ordinary use of language”: e.g. understanding a lecture, reading a book, writing a letter, and holding a conversation, etc. – “cognitive processes”: processes like perception, memory and thinking. Although we do few things as often or as easily as speaking and listening, we will find that considerable cognitive processing is going on during those activities. What cognitive processes are involved in the ordinary use of language?

12 Two possible directions of study in psycholinguistics Language as a way of explaining psycholinguistic theories and processes: language influences memory, perception, attention and learning. The effects of psychological constraints on the use of language: how memory limitations affect language production and comprehension.

13 Question 2 What are the main topics of psycholinguistics?

14 Topics to be covered include… General issues of psycholinguistics: language acquisition (how human beings learn language) language production (how we create and express meaning through language) language comprehension (how we perceive and understand speech and written language) The relationship between language and thought

15 Psycholinguistics is interested in the acquisition of language: how children acquire their mother tongue. The study of the acquisition of language by children is often called developmental psycholinguistics. 9.2 Language Acquisition

16 The psycholinguist Steven Pinker makes a strong case for considering the elements of linguistic knowledge to be innate. This is consistent with the Chomskyan concept of universal grammar: the idea that there is a common underlying structure to every language, the knowledge of which we are born with. Many linguists feel that if we can understand the internal mechanism which enables children to learn language so quickly we shall have penetrated one of the deepest secrets of the mind.

17 Language acquisition refers to the learning and development of a person’s language. The learning of a native or first language is called first language acquisition, and the learning of a second or foreign language is called second language acquisition.

18 Overgeneralization/Overextension(the extension of a rule beyond its proper limits) Undergeneralization/Underextension(a child uses a word in a more limited way than adults do ) Two basic notions in first language acquisition

19 It is shown by psycholinguistics that children’s use of language is rule-governed. For example, children frequently say tooths and mouses, instead of teeth and mice, and holded, goed, runned and finded, instead of held, went, ran and found. Can you find more examples of overgeneralizations in your English acquisition? Examples of overgeneralization

20 Overgeneralization is a frequent phenomenon in language development. It can be found not only in syntactic usage but also in word meanings. moons: all round objects cars: all vehicles dogs: all four-legged animals Examples of overgeneralization

21 Most psycholinguists believe that the intonational, gestural, and contextual clues make it clear that children are using single-word sentences, exactly as adults often do in a conversation. Milk(Do you have any milk?/ I’d like some milk.) Examples of overgeneralization

22 Children also undergeneralize. When a child uses a word in a more limited way than adults do (e.g. refusing to call a taxi a car), this phenomenon is called undergeneralization or underextension. Shoes only refers to his mother’s shoes. Hat only refers to his own hat. Undergeneralization

23 On some occasions, children’s conceptual categories may actually differ from those adults. On other occasions, they may know perfectly well that a cow is not a dog but not know what it is called. On still other occasions, the child’s misuse of words may reflect an attempt at humor. Reasons for overgeneralization and undergeneralization

24 Stages of first language acquisition The prelinguistic stage 牙牙學語期The prelinguistic stage 牙牙學語期 The one-word stage 单词期The one-word stage The two-word stage 兩詞期The two-word stage 兩詞期 The multiword stage 多語期The multiword stage 多語期

25 The prelinguistic stage 牙牙學語期 By the age of six months when they are able to sit up, children are heard producing a number of different vowels and consonants. At the babbling (牙牙學語) stage, the sound and syllables that children utter are as yet meaningless.

26 The one-word stage At some point in the late part of the first year or the early part of the second year. Children’s one-word utterances are also called holophrastic 全句字 ( 以一個字表示整句的意思 ), because they can be used to express a concept or prediction that would be associated with an entire sentence in adult speech.

27 The two-word stage 兩詞期 In general, the two-word stage begins roughly in the second half of the child’s second year. Children’s two-word utterances can express a certain variety of grammatical relations indicated by word order, i.e. “Baby chair”.

28 The multiword stage 多語期 Between two and three years old. When a child starts stringing more than two words together, the utterances may be two, three, four, or five word or longer, e.g. Cathy build house.

29 9.3 Language production 1.The definition of language production 2. Stages of language production

30 Language production Language production refers to the cognitive processes that convert nonverbal communication intentions into verbal action. Language production involves two simultaneous processes 1) the thought process, which is global and holistic, involving a type of thinking in mentalese ( 心理语言 ) that is not yet speech. 2) the speech process, which is serial and linear assemblage of the units of language. ( William James 1980)

31 Language production According to Levelt ( 莱维尔特 ) (1989), language production contains four stages: 1)conceptualizing 2)formulating 3)articulating 4)self-monitoring

32 First, we must conceptualize what we wish to communicate; Second, we formulate this thought into a linguistic plan; Third, we execute the plan through the muscles in the speech system; Finally, we monitor our speech, accessing whether it is what we intended to say and whether we said it the way we intended to.

33 Conceptualization Where do ideas come from? In what form do ideas exist before they are put into words? These are difficult questions to answer, partly because we still don’t know enough about how language is produced, partly because they deal with mental abstractions so vague that they elude empirical investigation. As to the second question, psycholinguists generally agree that some form of mentalese exists---a representation system which is different from language.

34 Conceptualizing Conceptualzing involves conceiving of an intention, selecting the relevant information to be expressed for the realization of this purpose, ordering this information for expression, the sum total of these mental activities will be called conceptualizing. According to Levelt, conceptualizing is responsible for generating message.

35 Formulating Formulation refers to converting the thought (which is conceptualized in the first stage) into linguistic plan, to generating a framework on which to hang the units of speech. Formulation is the second stage of speech production. This stage consists of three phases: identifying the meaning selecting a syntactic structure generating an intonation contour.

36 Three phases of formulating 1. identifying the meaning This framework begins with the thought you want to express and the searches for definition that best match the thought, like consulting a dictionary in reverse---- -defining the meaning and then finding the word to match it. words meaning

37 Three phases of formulating 2.selecting a syntactic structure This step involves finding the appropriate syntactic structure, three models could be used. 1) tree diagram 2) semantics-based framework 3) the connectionist model

38 2.selecting a syntactic structure 1)Similar to use tree diagrams to parse sentences with a phrase structure grammar, here we can use tree diagram to generate sentences, starting with a sentence- level representation (S), and flesh out the phrases (NP+VP), then the constituents within phrases (N, V, etc.) e.g. S NP VP det N V NP

39 2) Semantics-based framework: using not tree diagrams but cases, themes, or roles assigned to the main verbs and nouns in the sentence. We would find the appropriate nouns and verbs that describe the actions, actors and objects in the conceptualization. For instance, the word “stab” would activate agent, patient, and instrument roles. 2.selecting a syntactic structure

40 3)The connectionist model: a sentence to be spoken would be represented by spreading activation through a network of nodes representing phonological, lexical, and morphological levels. Finding the syntactic frame could be using any of these three models.

41 Three phases of formulating 3 Generating an intonation contour ['k ɔ ntuə] Whether you are going to ask a question or make a statement, and the constituents in the utterance that need to be emphasized or stressed have to be tagged at this point. Here is where we layout the stress pattern in the sentence to be produced. e.g. Mike like baby.(to emphasize object ) Mike like baby. (to emphasize subject )

42 Formulation Speech errors are made by speakers unintentionally. In formulating speech, we are often influenced by the sound system of language. The scientific study of speech errors, commonly called slips of the tongue or tongue-slips, can provide useful clues to the processes of language production.

43 Table: major types of slips of the tongue TypeExamples ShiftThat’s so she’ll be ready in case she decide to hits it (decides to hit it). ExchangeFancy getting your model renosed (getting your nose remodeled). AnticipationBake my bike (take my bike). perseverationHe pulled a pantrum (tantrum). AdditionI didn’t explain this clarefully enough (carefully enough). DeletionI’ll just get up and mutter intelligibly (unintenlligibly). SubstitutionAt slow speeds it’s too light (heavy). BlendThat child is looking to be spaddled ( spanked/paddled).

44 Articulation Articulation of speech sounds is the third and a very important stages of production. Once we have organized our thoughts into a linguistic plan, this information must be sent from the brain to the muscles in the speech system so that they can then execute the required movements and produce the desired sounds. We depend on vocal organs to produce speech sounds so as to express ourselves. In the production of speech sounds, the lungs, larynx and lips may work at the same time and thus form co-articulation.

45 Self-regulation Self-regulation is the last stage of speech production. To err is human. So each person would do some self- correction over and over again while conversing. According to some psycholinguists, errors are committed only by non-native speakers. Native speakers often make “mistakes” and correct themselves immediately. Native speakers often use different ways to edit their linguistic performance. Speech production or written production is not a one-way linear process; it is a parallel, two-way system involving production and self-regulation in the production.

46 9.4 Language Comprehension Understanding language, like producing it, is such an automatic task that it seems to be a relatively straightforward process. What is apparent from the vast research into the comprehension of spoken and written language is that people do not process linguistic information in a neat, linear fashion; they do not move smoothly from one linguistic level to another. The research shows that in most situations, listeners and readers use a great deal of information other than the actual language being produced to help them find the meaning of the linguistic symbols they hear or see.

47 1 Sound Comprehension Sound comprehension is not a passive process. It often depends on the context from which listeners expect to hear. People understand the meaning as a whole. They do not listen to each word individually. Distinguishing similar sounds, such as /b/ and /p/, /t/ and /d/ in English, is another type of sound comprehension. People often recognize the differences of sounds based on the length of producing time. In a word, the successful comprehension of speech sounds is a combination of the innate ability of humans to distinguish minute differences between speech sounds, and the ability to adjust to the acoustic categories of the language they are exposed to.

48 2 Word Comprehension Word comprehension is a very complex psycholinguistic process and is much more complex than the processing of speech sounds. That is because there are mountains of words in the vocabulary which not only consist of sounds, but also convey meanings. Psycholinguists use parallel distributed processing (PDP) to explain the complex process of word understanding.

49 PDP is a model of cognition developed from neurology, computer science and psychology. It is a way in which people use several seperate and paralell processes at the same time to understand spoken or written language. For example, understanding a word involves: remember the word; search the meaning of the word; spell word pronounce the word

50 A PDP model of comprehension can be used to explain lexical access. In our mind we have stored many words, some of which are easily accessible, but some of which are not. As a rule, high-frequency words are rapidly and frequently activated, and low-frequency words take longer time to be incorporated into a system of understanding. Logogens, or lexical detection devices, are like individual neuros in a gigantic neuronal network. When they are activated, they would co-operate with many other logogens to create comprehension.

51 The PDP approach is able to explain tip-of-the-tongue (TOT) phenomenon. In our daily life many of us have had the experience that we knew the word, but could not access the whole word. For many times, we could not only get part of the words vaguely, such as the beginning or the ending of the words. This is called bathtub effect because when we submerge ourselves in a bathtub, we can only see our head and feet.

52 3 Sentence comprehension Besides decoding sounds and lexical meanings, comprehension also includes untangling the meaning of sentences. The greatest influence on sentence comprehension is meaning. There are a few factors influencing the comprehension of sentences. The first is that the ambiguity of word meaning leads to difficulties in sentence understanding. The more complex information the word has, the more difficult the sentence is to understand.

53 Ambiguities  Lexical ambiguity bank  financial institution where you deposit your money  slope of land along a river

54 Ambiguities  The act of flying planes can be dangerous.  Planes that are flying can be dangerous. e.g. They are playing cards.  Those people, they are performing the act of playing cards.  Those cards, they are not greeting cards but playing cards.  Lexical ambiguity Flying planes can be dangerous.

55 3 Sentence comprehension The second factor is that the linguistic structure of the sentence affects the processing time. Garden-pathing The horse raced past the barn fell. The evidence examined by the witness was forged. The horse that was raced past the barn fell. These are garden-path sentences: they mislead you part-way through. The ambiguity is between main-verb and reduced relative interpretations of the verb raced, examined.

56 If the sentence structure is what readers or hearers expected to read or hear, the processing time is short, and the sentence is easy to understand. If the sentence structure is not what readers or hearers expect, the comprehension is disrupted and sentence comprehension become slow. This is so-called garden- pathing, a natural comprehension of strategy. In understanding sentences, the point is whether readers or hearers choose the right path or wrong path.

57 4 Text comprehension Text comprehension is the largest unit compared with the comprehension of sounds, words and sentences. According to research on text understanding, people tend to comprehend or memorize the content but not the structure. Therefore in the process of understanding texts, background information plays a very important part, and greatly affects the way in which people remember a piece of discourse. Background knowledge can active people’s mental association which can help the comprehension of texts.

58 9.5 Language and Thought The relationship between language and thought has long been a subject of discussion. There are a wide range of opinions about the general nature of the relationship. It is probably true to say that every possible relation between the two has been proposed by some theorists. At the risk of oversimplification, we can still say that there are mainly two groups: those who believe that language determines thought and those who think that thought determines language. So the whole question we are concerned with here is whether our thoughts are formed in advance of the words that we utter or whether our ideas are formed in terms of the words themselves.

59 1 Language determines thought There are dramatic vocabulary differences from language to language. In some languages, there may be only a single word for a certain object, creature or concept, whereas in another language, there may be several words, even quite a large number. In Chinese, there is only a single term luotuo ( 骆驼 ); in English there is camel (or dromedary for the one- humped camel, and Bactrain camel for the two-humped animal). But in Arabic, it is said that there are more than 400 words for the animal. The camel is of far greater importance as a means of travel with most Arabic- speaking people. The greater number of words relating to the camel is an obvious reflection of this.

60 According to E. Spair and B. Lee Whorf, the child’s cognitive system is determined by the structure of the language he acquires. Since linguistic structures are different, the associated cognitive systems are also different. Spair-Whorf Hypothesis has two parts: the first is called linguistic determinism, which says that linguistic structure determines cognitive structure. That is, learning a language changes the way a person thinks. The second part is called linguistic relativity, which says that the resulting cognitive systems are different in speakers of different languages.

61 Certain aspects of language behavior challenge Whorf’s thesis, that the absence or presence of a lexical distinction can be taken as an indicator of a corresponding perceptual or conceptual distinction. Secondly, there are bilinguals among the general population in most communities who can express their ideas freely in two or more languages. Thirdly, languages borrow words from each other fairly frequently, which demonstrate that existing vocabulary does not exhaust the discrimination of which the language users are capable.

62 So a more acceptable conclusion might be that “language differ not so much as to what can be said in them, but rather as to what it is relatively easy to say”. It seems clear that a strong version of the Whorfian Hypothesis---language determines thought---cannot be supported. However, it is equally clear that a weak version of the hypothesis---language influences thought-- -is reasonable and supportable.

63 2 Thought determines language Those who believe that thought determines language would say that cognitive development comes earlier in the life of children and that cognitive categories they develop determine the linguistic categories that they will acquire. Many experiments have been carried out to test the validity of the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis. The results of some experiments turned out to argue against it. B. Berlin and P. Kay’s experiment in 1969 is a case in point. It was concerned with how speakers of different languages divided up the color spectrum.

64 For our purpose, the importance of Berlin and Kay’s work is that it strongly argues against the hypothesis that languages are free to divide the world of experience in any convenient way. In the realm of colors, at least, there appear to be some basic constraints that limit the way in which this aspect of our experience is coded in the language. This conclusion is directly contrary to the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis.

65 If the strong version of the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis is accepted, there will be no thought without language. If there are no constraints on the variation to be found between people in the way they think, speakers of different languages will never see the world in the same way. It also follows that if one can find a way to control the language that people learn, one would thereby be able to control their thoughts. Therefore, if the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis is true, then we are helplessly trapped by the language we speak. We could not escape from it and even if we could, we would fall into the framework of another language which would determine what we think, what we perceive and what we say.

66 What is more, if language determines thought, people speaking diverse languages would never understand each other. The fact is that people of the world have been communicating over the centuries and that there have been radical changes of world-views within languages.

67 Thank you!!!


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