Language Language, our spoken, written, or gestured work, is the way we communicate meaning to ourselves and others. Language transmits culture.
Language - Psycholinguistics Images Nonverbal mental representations of sensory experiences Language A flexible system of symbols that enables us to communicate our ideas, thoughts, and feelings Nonhumans communicate primarily though signs Human language is semantic, or meaningful It is also characterized by displacement in that it is not limited to the here-and-now Infinite Generativity
Thinking in Images To a large extent thinking is language-based. When alone, we may talk to ourselves. However, we also think in images. 2. When we are riding our bicycle. 1. When we open the hot water tap. We don’t think in words, when:
Images and Brain Imagining a physical activity activates the same brain regions as when actually performing the activity. Jean Duffy Decety, September 2003
Language Acquisition Stages that we learn language… 1. Babbling Stage ( ah-goo) – 4 months 2. Holophrastic Stage (one word stage – doggy) – 1 year 3. Telegraphic Speech Stage (2 word stage -- “Go car”) – before 2 years old Syntax Understanding Overgeneralization -- rules Overextension -- concepts
Language – Building Blocks of Thought How do we learn language?
Social Learning Theory B.F. Skinner from the Behaviorist School Baby may imitate a parent. If they are reinforced they keep saying the word. If they are punished, they stop saying the word.
Noam Chomsky’s (Nativist theory) We learn language too quickly for it to be through reinforcement and punishment. Inborn universal language acquisition device
Critical Period Hypothesis for Language Development Childhood is a critical period for fully developing certain aspects of language. Children never exposed to any language (spoken or signed) by about age 7 gradually lose their ability to master any language. *Genie *The Girl in the WindowThe Girl in the Window *The Girl in the Window (2)The Girl in the Window (2) 11
Critical Period Learning new languages gets harder with age.
Genes, Brain, & Language Genes design the mechanisms for a language, and experience modifies the brain.
16 Benjamin Whorf’s Linguistic Relativity/ Determinism The idea that language determines the way we think. The Hopi tribe has no past tense in their language, so Whorf says they rarely think of the past.
Universal Characteristics of Language 1. Semanticity 2. Arbitrariness 3. Flexibility of symbols 4. Naming 5. Displacement 6. Generativity
Structuring Language Phrase Sentence Meaningful units (290,500) … meat, pumpkin. Words Smallest meaningful units (100,000) … un, for. Morphemes Basic sounds (about 40) … ea, sh. Phonemes Composed of two or more words (326,000) … meat eater. Composed of many words (infinite) … She opened the jewelry box.
20 All languages contain…. Phonemes The smallest units of sound in a language. English has about 44 phonemes. Morphemes The smallest unit of meaningful sound. Can be words like a or but. Can also be parts of words like prefixes or suffixes…”ed” at the end of a word means past tense. Unforgettable = un · for · get · table
Language Structure Phonemes: The smallest distinct sound unit in a spoken language. For example: bat, has three phonemes b · a · t chat, has three phonemes ch · a · t How many meanings can you make by varying the vowel phoneme between B and T? Generally _____________ phonemes carry more information.
Answers Bait, bat, beat/beet, bet bit, bite, boat, boot, bought, bout, and but. The consonant phonemes. The treth ef thes stetement shed be evedent frem thes bref demenstretien.
Language Structure Morpheme: The smallest unit that carries a meaning. It may be a word or part of a word. For example: Milk = milk Pumpkin = pump. kin Unforgettable = un · for · get · table
24 Grammar The rules of a language. Syntax: the order of words in a language. In English, syntactical rule says that adjectives come before nouns; white house. In Spanish, it is reversed; casa blanca. Semantics: the set of rules by which we derive meaning from morphemes, words, and sentences. Ex: adding –ed to the word laugh Is this the White House or the House White?
Structure of Language Surface structure How we order the sentence English “She ate an apple” Japanese “She an apple ate” Deep structure Underlying meaning of a sentence