Presentation on theme: "“the jewel of the crown of cognition” - Steven Pinker"— Presentation transcript:
1 “the jewel of the crown of cognition” - Steven Pinker Language:“the jewel of the crown of cognition”- Steven Pinker
2 What is language?A form of communication that is based on a system of symbolsIt is perhaps what separates humans from other species.
3 Language Structure Phonemes Morphemes Words Phrases Sentences Discourse
4 Grammar: The rules of language Semantics - deriving meaning from morphemes, words, and sentencesSyntax - rules of how words are orderedNote that there is productivity in language as well as regularity
5 Can Animals Understand Language? Washoe- chimpanzee who was taught sign languageAcquired 181 signsKanzi- bonobo taught some Englishdisplays understanding of limited vocabulary
6 How does language develop? 6 months = cooing, vowels, babbling“citizens of the world”12 months = spoken language sounds only, first words18-24 months = telegraphic (two-word) speechBy age 6 = understands most grammar rules of language (implicitly!)
7 Can the “citizens of the world” window be lengthened? Using audiotapes of other languages?Videos of other languages?
8 A related tangent: Theory of Mind The understanding of symbolic representations occurs around 48 months of ageThis is also the age when theory of mind develops = understanding of others’ mental states
9 Zimmerman, Christakis, and Meltzoff (2007) Compared language development in children who had been exposed to ‘Baby Einstein’ and ‘Brainy Baby’ DVDsFound a large negative correlation between watching and language abilitiesAvg of 6-8 words lost per hour of watching
10 Critical Period for Language During this period, we are especially sensitive to environmental influencesEvidence:Children in isolation do not learn rules of grammarRecovery after brain damage much more likely earlier rather than later
11 BilingualismSimultaneous bilinguals: learned 2 languages simultaneouslySequential bilinguals: learned one language, then another
12 Age of learning a 2nd language Phonology: the earlier, the betterVocabulary: age of acquisition does not matterGrammar: age does not matterBrain activation (Hirsch, 1997)Early bilinguals- same area activatedLater bilinguals- adjacent area activated
13 Biological Influences: Chomsky’s Language Universals An innate ability to learn language is prewiredChildren worldwide develop in similar way around the worldLanguage ability cannot be solely due to imitation
14 Environmental Influences Behaviorist view- operant conditioningIssuesExposure to language improves and quickens language development
15 Strategies Be an active conversationalist. Talk as if you’re understood.Use a style with which you feel comfortable.Remember, infants shape us, too!