language: our spoken, written, or signed words and the ways we combine them to communicate meaning.
Objective: SWBAT describe the basic structural units of a language.
Phonemes: in a language, the smallest distinctive sound unit. English has about 40 phonemes; researchers have found about 869 different phonemes in human speech. Changes in phonemes cause changes in meaning. C-A-T vs. B-A-T
Morpheme: in a language, the smallest unit that carries meaning. It may be a word or part of a word (like a prefix). E.g. pre, re, etc.
Grammar: in a language, the system of rules that enables us to communicate with and understand others.
Semantics: the set of rules by which we derive meaning from morphemes, words, and sentences in a given language. Also the study of meaning. E.g. adding –ed to a word to indicate the past tense.
Syntax: the rules for combining words into grammatically sensible sentences in a given language. “They are hunting dogs.”
Objective: SWBAT trace the course of language acquisition from the babbling stage through the two-word stage.
Babies begin to read lips and discriminate speech sounds by 4 months old, marking the beginning of receptive language. Babbling stage: beginning at about 4 months, the stage of speech development in which the infant spontaneously utters various sounds at first unrelated to the household language.
By about 10 months, babblings changes to resemble the sounds of the household language. Phoneme sounds and recognition outside the native language begin to disappear. We become functionally deaf to speech sounds outside our native language.
One-word stage: the stage in speech development, from about age 1 to 2, during which a child speaks mostly in single words. By about 18 months, word learning expands from a word per week to a word per day.
Two-word stage: beginning about age 2, the stage in speech development during which a child speaks mostly two-word statements. Telegraphic speech: early speech stage in which a child speaks like a telegram – “go car” – using mostly nouns and verbs, and omitting auxiliary words.
Once children move out of the two-word stage, they quickly begin speaking longer phrases, but they still might be telegraphic.
Objective: SWBAT discuss Skinner’s and Chomsky’s contributions to the nature-nurture debate over how children acquire language, and explain why statistical learning and critical periods are important concepts in children’s language learning.
B. F. Skinner believed that we can explain language development with familiar learning principles, like association, imitation, and reinforcement. e.g. children with deaf parents learn signing on a normal schedule, but learn spoken language more slowly because their exposure is more passive (minimal reinforcement).
Noam Chomsky said that children acquire untaught words and grammar at too fast a rate for it to all come from the environment and learning. Some of it is inborn.
They can generate all sorts of sentences they have never heard (e.g I hate you, Mommy). Many of the errors young children make come from overgeneralizing logical grammar rules (e.g. adding –ed to make the past tense; held vs. holded).
Chomsky felt that language will naturally occur if it is properly nurtured. He believes that there is a universal grammar that is the basis of all human language All languages have the same grammatical building blocks, like nouns and verbs. No matter what language you are first learning, you start with nouns.
Language acquisition device: In Chomsky’s theory, the sort of switch box that we are born with that allows for developing language quickly and naturally.
Surface structure: according to Chomsky, the basic parts and rules of language and grammar. deep structure: according to Chomsky, the meanings of language.
Research has shown that infants have an incredible ability to learn statistical aspects of human speech, like recognizing syllables that go together repeatedly, or simple sentence structures.
critical period: during childhood, when it is possible to master certain aspects of language. e.g. people who learn a second language often speak with the accent of their native language. After age 7, the window for learning language begins to close.
Genes design complex brain wiring that prepares children to learn language as they interact with their caregivers. Skinner’s emphasis on learning helps explain how infants acquire their language as they interact with others. Chomsky’s emphasis on our built-in readiness to learn grammar rules helps explain why preschoolers acquire language so readily and use grammar so well.
Language Influences Thinking Objective: SWBAT summarize Whorf’s linguistic determinism hypothesis, and comment on its standing in contemporary psychology.
linguistic determinism: Benjamin Lee Whorf’s hypothesis that language determines the way we think. Different languages impose different conceptions of reality.
This concept is easier to see for people who speak two different languages. e.g. English with its large vocabulary for self- focused emotions versus Japanese, which has more words for interpersonal emotions.
Our words influence what we think. Expanding language, including abstract terms, expands the ability to think. bilingual advantage: children who are able to learn to inhibit one language while using their other language are also better able to inhibit their attention to irrelevant information.
Do Animals Think? Objective: SWBAT list five cognitive skills shared by the great apes and humans.
Animals, especially the great apes, display an amazing capacity for thinking. Research has shown that they can create concepts.
Chimpanzees can use tools. There are at least 39 local customs related to chimp tool use.
Chimps, orangutans, and dolphins have been observed using mirror to inspect themselves and touching a colored spot that the researcher has put on their body. Chimps and baboons have been observed using deception. Many researchers believe that these observations indicate that primates are capable to self-recognition and of comprehending others’ perceptions.
Objective: SWBAT outline the arguments for and against the idea that animals and humans share the capacity for language.
Only humans can master the verbal or signed expression of complex rules of syntax. Many animals can communicate, like bees dancing to indicate the direction and distance of food.
Dogs can comprehend and respond to complicated human commands. Several species of ape can communicate with humans using sign language or pushing buttons on a computer.