Beginning concepts in psycholinguistics

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Beginning concepts in psycholinguistics

  1. 1. Beginning Concepts in Psycholinguistics Ahmed Qadoury Abed PH D Candidate Bagdad University-College of Arts English Dept 2012/20131
  2. 2. Definition of psycholinguistics  Psycholinguistics is an interdisciplinary field of study:  How do people acquire language?  How do people use language to speak and understand one another?  How is language presented and processed in the brain?  Brain vs mind2
  3. 3. Psycholinguistics and other disciplines  Psycholinguistics is a sub-field of psychology and linguistics  It is related to:  Developmental psychology  Cognitive psychology  Neurolinguistics  Speech science3
  4. 4. Creativity 1  Creativity is the nost important feature people have.  Creativity and other types:prose,poetry..  Linguistic creativity  All people have it since they know language  Know ≠ speak4
  5. 5. Human language creativity vs animal communication 2 1- Speakers of a language can create ,understand, and process novel sentences for an entire lifetime - Both children and adults - Unconscious process (depends on interlocutors) - True for sign language - Possibility of creating infinite set out of finite set Chomskyan orientation5
  6. 6. Creativity 3  2- the kind of creativity we have is the ability of communicating:  Whatever , wherever ,  Animals have a little range of topics  Human language is flexible:  i- diffeent purposes  Ii- social interaction  Dominating the planet6
  7. 7. Language & Speech  Speech is the most frequent mode for transmitting language (linguistic information)  -sign language is creative ,transmitted by gestures  Graphics  The crucial differences:  Human is articulatory and auditory  It is based on knowledge of language as a finite system to yield infinite set of possible7
  8. 8. Language & Writing  Writing is materially based compared with speaking or signing are biological  Writing is cultural artifact  Letter referring to sounds or symbolic  Writing is for formal ,history recording,court  Children learn to speak before to write (unconscious vs conscious)  The complexity or sophistication of human lang is independent of writing8
  9. 9. Language & Thought  Thought is verbalized through lang  People can think but not speak like infants ,  children with Specific Language impairment SLI  People with neurological pathologies  Animals can think but expressed by movements , cries,..  Bilinguals can express one thought in two langs  Translation as a means for thought transmission  Fordor (1975) The Language of Thought Hypothesis (LOTH):intelligence responsible for generating the language of thought9
  10. 10. Language & Communication  Language is the primary communication system:  Logic, mathematical, graphic, programming,visual arts traffic lights gestures  Verbal vs non verbal  Psycholinguists concerned with language as a biologically- based characteristic of human10
  11. 11. Some Characteristics of the Linguistic System  Language is a formal system for pairing signals and meanings:  Encoding vs Deccoding  Both speaker /listener have the same linguistic form for pairing sound and meaning  Their linguistic system enables sounds and meanings to be paired,and this is done by a complex and highly organized set of principles and rules (grammar and lexicon)  Knowledge of such system is an implicit or tacit  Explicit knowledge is temporary and artificial like telephone numbers  Tacit knowledge in the brain /mind and unconscious11
  12. 12. Descriptive vs Prescriptive 1  ‘Grammar’ refers differently to teachers and linguists.  Teachers are concerned with a standardized set of rules.Prescriptive  Linguists are concerned with studying the language system that underlies ordinary use.Descriptive12
  13. 13. Descriptive vs Prescriptive 2  Examples of Prescriptive grammar:  1-The use of pronouns like me,her initially  -Me and Mary went to the movie.  /mary and me went to the movie.  In descriptive terms, these sentences are generated by the speaker’s internalized grammar .  Members of one language community acquire colloquial form of this internalized grammar  Prescriptive rules are tedious ,difficult ,conscious learning is needed.13
  14. 14. Descriptive vs Prescriptive 3  2-the notion of correctness The bulk of linguistic ability acquired is not influenced or associated by linguistic correctness.  There are differences between acquired colloquial internalized grammar and prescriptive rules.  This notion is related to dialect variations:  Geographic  Ethnic  Community  These all can result in systematic , lexical ,and syntactic differences from the transitional standard version of the acquired language14
  15. 15. Descriptive vs Prescriptive 4  Which is more important:  Standard English or colloquial English  1- standard is used by few  2-Colloquial acquired naturally (the fruit of psycholinguists)  3- linguists and psycholinguists are interested in understanding how these internalized grammars are acquired and then put into use15
  16. 16. The Universality of Human Language 1  We have thousands of languages or versions spoken by different language communities ,all treated as a single entity by linguists  This is justified by all have an organization of grammar and lexicon  Chomskyan finite into infinite16
  17. 17. Universality 2  Universality has profound consequences for the way psycholinguists analyze the human use of language  Psycholinguists state that all languages are cut from the same mold because the organization of lexicons and the formal properties of grammatical systems are similar in all human languages .  What is specific and what is universal about knowledge of the language the mechanisms that put the knowledge of language to use.17
  18. 18. The Implication for the Acquisition of Language  Language acquisition is an important area in psycholinguistics.  Children in every culture acquire the formal properties and lexicon of their languages (competence)  This competence or ability will be developed into natural performance  This is the story behind the profound similarity in child acquisition  Other skills like riding a bike are learned behaviours.18
  19. 19. Language acquisition 2  The story is completely different and complicated with L2 acquisition after childhood.  Children acquire another language/dialect naturally vs conscious learning of adults  Certain aspects (pronunciation) are difficult to master.  Exceptions are those who be native-like  Research now focus on psych- social factors: proximity of exposure to L2 ,and now on age effects in L2 acquisition( as memory ability).19
  20. 20. How Language Pairs Sound to Meaning 1  The grammar of any language has three kinds of rules:  1- phonological rules i - they describe the sound patterns of the language ii- they are used to create individual words with the appropriate rhthem and intonation.20
  21. 21. How Language Pairs Sound to Meaning 2  2- Morphological rules  3- syntactic rules  These are responsible creating the structural organization of words and sentences  The word –phrase relationships indicate: - the basic operation of these various rules -The organization of the lexicon A fundamental concept in psycholinguistics is that the meaning is the resullt of the function of individual words and how they organized stuturally.21
  22. 22. How Language Pairs Sound to Meaning 3  People aware of sentence individuals: consonants, vowels, syllables ,words which can be identified acoustically.  Sentence structure is not since it is regarded an abstract unit, or has no actual physical reality.  Sentence structure has a psychological reality : it must be represented by the speaker and then recovered by the hearer in order for the meaning to be conveyed.22
  23. 23. How Language Pairs Sound to Meaning 4  Learning a new language is not memorizing new vocabulary ,but how these vocabularies are structured for meaningful sentences.  Bilinguals are more aware, sensitive conscious towards this mechanisms than monolinguals:  -issues related to ambiguity are easily identified  Word-for-word translation is not working23
  24. 24. How Language Pairs Sound to Meaning 5  -The senators objected to the plans proposed by the generals.  -The senators proposed the plans objected by the generals.  -*The to plans senators objected proposed the by gerenals the.  Thus a person with good knowledge of the lexicon of a language with no sufficient proficiency in combining these vocabulary into meaning structures, will not be able to have solid idea representation.24
  25. 25. How Language Pairs Sound to Meaning 6  Anotherinstance of how meaning depends upon sentence structure is ambigious sentences:  -The man saw the boy with the binaculars.25
  26. 26. Linguistic Competence and Linguistic Performance 1  The formal properties of grammar ana a lexicon = internalized grammar= linguistic competence  Linguistic competence is a technical term to refer to the use of the knowledge of language resorted in person’s mind in the actual processing of sentences (production and understanding)  Linguistic performance is the use of such knowledge in the actual processing of sentences ( production and understanding)26
  27. 27. Linguistic Competence and Linguistic Performance 2  Linguistic competence is the fruit basket of linguistics  Linguistic performance is the fruit basket of psycholinguistics.  Pragmatics is the description of how language is actually used.27
  28. 28. Linguistic Competence and Linguistic Performance 3  Grammatical aspects vs pragmatic aspects  The man saw the boy with the binaculars. - identical grammatical aspects - different meanings or interpretation - one conveyed message by speaker (intention) and hearer (recovery) - if the message is conveyed differently , a case of misunderstanding.28
  29. 29. Linguistic Competence and Linguistic Performance 4  Encoding vs decoding process29
  30. 30. Linguistic Competence and Linguistic  Performance 5 Process is so common Encoding vs Decoding (unconscious) so that people never think of its complex cognitive activity.  No one can tackle even a part of the whole process.  Recently psycholinguists have developed experimental procedures which had led them to understand a great deal about this unconscious , complex process.  Why complex to be observed? Any abstract idea must have a physical representation deep in the neurological connections of the brain, while the hearer has no such representation.30
  31. 31. The Speech Signal and Linguistic Representation 1  The signal is the only physical link between the speaker and the hearer.  This is a critical psycholinguistic point.  This signal must contain enough information for the hearer to help him reconstruct the abstract structures into abstract ideas.  Understanding the relationship between the signal and its decoded linguistic representation is necessary31
  32. 32. The Speech Signal and Linguistic Representation 2  What is the relationship between the phonological representation and the physical speech signal?  The phonological representation can be thought of as an idealization of the physical signal.32
  33. 33. The Speech Signal and Linguistic Representation 3  Are the physical speech signal and abstract phonological representation similar or different?  They are different.  The abstract phonological representation is made up of discrete phonological units (consonants, vowels , syllables, rhythmic units, words with varied vocal effects) whereas their corresponding portions in the physical signals overlap and the therefore the utterance is continuous33
  34. 34. The Speech Signal and Linguistic Representation 4  Is the relationship between the continuous physical signal the hearer receives its idealized phonological representation direct ?  Not always.  This continuous physical signal is subject to other linguistic and extralinguistic factors:  Noise - chewing- radio- driving  What will be done in the hearer’s mind?  A set of complex mental processing mechanisms must consult the hearer’s grammar and lexicon in order to reconstruct the linguistic representation of the speaker’s meaning. This is the result of neurophysiological operations specialized for speech perception as a linguistic object.  A process done unconsciously since the actual stimulus (the physical signal) is not available to us.34
  35. 35. The Speech Signal and Linguistic Representation 5  Perception requires that the hearer should have linguistic competence or knowledge .  Otherwise , what he perceives is just a jumble of disorganized sounds.  Animal knowledge is a matter of a set of acoustic signals associated with their names and commands.  For human , understanding a message involves different processes related to sounds, words, sentences takes the form of mental representation reconstructed from the physical speech signal.35
  36. 36. Origins of Contemporary Psycholinguistics 1  The modern era of psycholinguistics started with the two seminars sponsored by the Social Science Research Councils (1951,1953) and then the subsequent publishing of Osgood and Sebeek’s Psycholinguistics (1965).  Taxonomic analysis was dominating where their method of analysis was to listen to the speaker of the language, figure out the phonological units, and then classify them into higher –level categories.  This was adopted by the behaviourist psychologists who believed that all behaviours (language is one of them) could be associated linked chains of smaller behaviours.  The thread that bound linguists and psychologists was the view that everything interesting about language is directly observable in the physical speech signal.36
  37. 37. Origins of Contemporary Psycholinguistics 2  Sapir (1949) didn’t satisfied with this traditional view stating, in his paper The Psychological Reality of Phonemes, that the mental representation of language should be addressed rather than its physical representation.  Chomsky opened the door for a new way to study the human language stating that speech shouldn’t be the object of the study, instead the rules in the mind that create sentences and underlie observable speech .  George Miller (1965) supported this Chomskyan view , and their papers published in the second book of the Social Science Research Council (Saporta1965).  The adaptation of Chomsky’s ideas in this 2010 book indicates clear their domination nature.37

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