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Language Our spoken, written, or signed words and the ways we combine them to communicate meaning.

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Presentation on theme: "Language Our spoken, written, or signed words and the ways we combine them to communicate meaning."— Presentation transcript:

1 Language Our spoken, written, or signed words and the ways we combine them to communicate meaning

2 Facts About Languages There are 6,500 languages spoken in the world
About 2,000 of those have less than 1,000 speakers What languages have the most number of native speakers? Mandarin Spanish English English has the most number of speakers Dead language: Still known and used in special contexts, but not as ordinary spoken languages for everyday communication Latin Hieroglyphics Extinct Language: No longer has any speakers Endangered Language: At risk of failing out of use

3 Why Do Languages Become Extinct?
Populations in physical danger Natural disasters, famine, disease War/Genocide Prevention or Discouragement of using Language: Political repression Cultural , political, economic marginalization Extinct Languages

4 Building Blocks of Language
Phonemes: Set of basic sounds 869 in the world; No one language uses them all; in English Letters like C, B, T + Short and long vowels + sounds like Ch, Sh Usually difficult to learn the phonemes of another language Morphemes: Smallest unit of sound with meaning Some morphemes are also phonemes (I, a) Most morphemes are combinations of two or more phonemes Prefixes and suffixes (pre, ed, s, etc.) About 100,000 in the English language Combine to make 616, 500 w0rds (in Oxford English Dictionary) We are all born with the ability to produce all of the phonemes of all of the languages of the world!


6 Differences in Languages
Rotokas (spoken in Papua New Guinea) has 11 phonemes and 6 consonants Hawaiian has 12 phonemes !Xu (spoken in Southern Africa) has 141 phonemes and 100 consonants (including clicks) Arabic only has 3 vowels (three short, three long) Punjabi (India) has 25 vowels

7 Grammar A system of rules in a given language that enables us to communicate with and understand others Semantics: the set of rules we use to derive meaning from morphemes, words, and even sentences Example: adding –ed means that something happened in the past Syntax: the rules we use to order words into sentences In English adjectives usually come before nouns (red house) Language that doesn’t make meaningful sense can be grammatically correct Jackdaws love my big sphinx of quartz Shortest sentence in English language that includes every letter of the alphabet

8 Language Development How many words will you learn between your first birthday and high school graduation? 60,000 3,500 a year (10 a day) Receptive v. Productive Language Receptive: ability to comprehend speech Productive: ability to produce words Receptive matures before productive

9 Receptive Language By 4 months… By 7 months…
Babies can discriminate speech sounds Can also read lips By 7 months… Can segment spoken wounds into individual words (hard for us to do when listening to a foreign language!)

10 Productive Language By 4 months of age… By 10 months…
Enter into the babbling stage: stage in which the infant spontaneously utters various sounds at first unrelated to the household language Not an imitation of adult speech – includes sounds from other languages! Listener could NOT identify the baby as being Korean, Ethiopian, French Ex: Da-da, na-na, ta-ta and ma-ma By 10 months… Babbling changes so that the language is identifiable (other sounds disappear) Babies become functionally deaf to speech sounds outside of their native language (because of lack of exposure)

11 Productive Language Cont.
1st Birthday… One-Word Stage: stage that lasts from 1-2 during which a child speaks mostly in single words Use sounds to communicate meaning Often only one recognizable syllable (family members learn to understand) Inflection may carry meaning - “Doggy!” 18 Months… Two-Word Stage: stage in which a child speaks mostly two-word statements Learning increases from one word a week to one word a day Telegraphic Speech: Stage where a child speaks like a telegram – “go car” – using mostly nouns and verbs (TERMS ACCEPTED. SEND MONEY.) If a child gets a late start on learning a particular language, their language development will still proceed through the same sequence, although usually at a faster pace

12 Overgeneralization

13 Two Views on Language Development
B.F. Skinner Noam Chomsky Humans are born with an innate ability to produce language Language acquisition device We acquire language too quickly for it to be explained by learning principles All human languages have nouns, verbs, subjects, and objects No matter what language we speak, we begin to speak in nouns and in common course Believed that language development can be explained through learning principles Association, imitation, reinforcement Humans learn language similar to the way that pigeons learn to peck! So who is right? Nature v. Nurture?

14 Is there a critical period for language development?
Critical Period: Particular time in which something needs to be learned Children who have not been exposed to a language by age 7 gradually lose their ability to produce any language (including sign language) Brain’s language capacity never fully develops The older we get, the harder it is to learn a new language

15 Linguistic Relativity Hypothesis
Proposed by Benjamin Lee Whorf aka Linguistic Determinism Different languages impose different conceptions of reality The Hopi have no past tense. Can they think about the past? A skier may have more words for snow . Do they think about snow differently? Gender-free words can change our way of thinking Contemporary Thoughts on LRH: To say that our language determines the way we think is too extreme However, you may think differently in different languages Example: English has a focus on self-focused emotions; Japanese has a focus on interpersonal emotions ; Bilingual people may report having a different sense of self in different languages Language and colors: We see colors much the same, but we use our native language to classify and remember colors

16 Bi/Multilingualism More than half the world’s population is bilingual
Children learning two languages simultaneously can master approximately the same number of vocabulary items as children learning a single language Total must be divided between the two languages Discrepancies disappear by adulthood

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