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© 2001 Laura Snodgrass, Ph.D.1 Language Psycholinguistics –study of mental processes and structures that underlie our ability to produce and comprehend language Language versus Animal Communication –Human language is distinguished in three ways symbolic - words have an arbitrary relationship to things they represent this symbolic basis allows for “effability” - talk about abstract concepts generative - can generate an infinite number of sentences structured - grammatical rules to produce sentences
© 2001 Laura Snodgrass, Ph.D.2 Language Hierarchical structure –phonemes - sound units of our language infants are born with ability to hear all phonemes in all languages, but as they learn the prototypes for a given the language they lose the ability ot distinguish phonemes in other languages –morphemes - smallest units that change word meanings (semantics) e.g. house, houses, housed, housing learn, learning, relearn, learned, relearning –grammar - rules for producing sentences both explicit and implicit rules
© 2001 Laura Snodgrass, Ph.D.3 Language Explicit rules (grammar) is taught in school –sentence diagramming Implicit rules are picked up informally by listening to others speak –e.g. PA Dutch grammar - Throw the horse over the fence some hay. Linguistic intuitions –implicit rules that we may not be able to formally state, but we know when they are violated
© 2001 Laura Snodgrass, Ph.D.4 Language Examples of linguistic intuitions –1) Grammaticality - word order e.g. all politicians kiss babies kiss politicians babies all we can even judge the grammaticality of meaningless sentences e.g. colorless green ideas sleep furiously we can judge grammaticality even with meaningless letter strings e.g. jibbles gwum tibblest foomly jib gwum tib foom
© 2001 Laura Snodgrass, Ph.D.5 Language Linguistic Intuitions –2) grammatical relations - we can detect subject, object, verb, and modifiers – In the following example the word order remains constant but the grammatical relations change: –John is eager to please –John is easy to please
© 2001 Laura Snodgrass, Ph.D.6 Language Linguistic intuitions –3) sentence relations - many difference sentences can express the same idea and we can have difference sentences forms (types of sentences) The gorilla chased the orangutan The orangutan was chased by the gorilla The gorilla did not chase the orangutan The orangutan was not chased by the gorilla Did the gorilla chase the orangutan? What chased the orangutan?
© 2001 Laura Snodgrass, Ph.D.7 Language Linguistic intuitions –4) Ambiguity - sentences with multiple meanings They are eating apples Visiting relatives can be a nuisance Flying planes can be dangerous
© 2001 Laura Snodgrass, Ph.D.8 Language Many types of grammars - theoretical rules for sentence construction –left to right probabilistic grammar -based on sentence diagramming –Chomsky’s transformational grammar constituent phrases (clauses, propositions) with two levels of structure –1) surface level - string of words –2) deep level - underlying proposition (meaning) ambiguous sentences have one surface level and multiple deep levels sentence relations show one deep level with multiple surface levels
© 2001 Laura Snodgrass, Ph.D.9 Language Acquisition Early theories based on behaviorism –parents reinforce correct language use –imitation and reinforcement Current theories suggest that babies are born with at least some innate knowledge of language –not random and rule usage Evidence for the innate aspects of language –children deal with novel sequences in a systematic way e.g. the pluralization of non-words This is a wug. If I had one I will have two ________
© 2001 Laura Snodgrass, Ph.D.10 Language Acquisition Evidence continued –Over-regularization and over-generalization children often learn correct forms such as came and went, but after exposure to many examples of past tenses start to use comed, goed, doed. This is not regression this is application of the rule - even if parents try to correct this. –In all languages children make a similar pattern of errors negation - children start by adding “no” as the first or last word n the sentence –Imitation is not progressive when children try to repeat after an adult, they do not mimic exactly, change the utterance to fit their current level of development –examples
© 2001 Laura Snodgrass, Ph.D.11 Language Acquisition Evidence continued –Parents tend to reinforce the truth value of the utterance rather than the correct grammar. example
© 2001 Laura Snodgrass, Ph.D.12 Language Errors Slips of the tongue (speech errors) –very regularized errors based on the three levels of language (phonemic, semantic, and grammatical) –errors occur within but not across levels in the heirarchy –three levels produce three categories of errors phoneme exchanges - “dazy lays” for “lazy days” morpheme exchanges - “slicely thinned” for “thinly sliced” –exchange is always with same part of speech ie. Stem for stem, prefix for prefix, and suffix for suffix word exchanges - noun for noun, verb for verb –“gave my dollar a brother” for “gave my brother a dollar”
© 2001 Laura Snodgrass, Ph.D.13 Language Errors Aphasias –brain damage in left hemisphere –Broca’s aphasia - front left - problems with expression (non-fluent) articulation problem - can’t produce speech sounds leave out certain sounds more problems with function words and inflections than content words same problem in writing so it is not just a speech error may be left with agrammaria simplified speech may lose classes of words sometimes produce a close associate e.g. spoon for fork
© 2001 Laura Snodgrass, Ph.D.14 Language Errors Aphasias –Wernicke’s aphasia - rear left - produce fluent but meaningless speech. “word salad” - speech without content semantic disorganization demonstrate little or no comprehension of words (can’t follow directions) semantic disorganization sometimes unaware of their disability see example in text
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