The Psychology of Language Chapter 3


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  • Words were created because they sound like the things to which they refer It evolved as a adaptation shaped by natural selection. arose as a side effect of something else (i.e. increase in brain size, increase in general intelligence, etc.).
  • Primates use visual, auditory, tactile, & olfactory signals to communicate. Vervet monkey: chutter to warn others about a snake.
  • Language is a discrete combinatorial system. Well-ordered sentences depend on ordering syntactic categories of words in correct sequences. Sentences are built around verbs. We can distinguish words that do the semantic work of the language from words that assist in the syntactic work of the language. Recursion, phrases containing examples of themselves, enables us to construct an infinite number of sentences from a finite number of rules.
  • The Psychology of Language Chapter 3

    1. 1. The Foundation of Language Chapter 3
    2. 2. Where Did Language Come From? <ul><li>What is the “bow-wow” theory? </li></ul><ul><li>Apply Darwin’s theory of Natural Selection to language </li></ul><ul><li>What is the side-effect theory? </li></ul>
    3. 3. Where Did Language Come From? <ul><li>Why some believe it was natural selection </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Between 2 million & 300,000 years ago brain increased in size and complexity </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Broca’s Area was present in the brains of hominids 2 million years ago. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>We believe Protolanguage (intermediate language) arose with the evolution of homoerectus 1.6 million years ago. </li></ul></ul>
    4. 4. Where Did Language Come From? <ul><li>The FOXP2 gene </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The FOXP2 gene is located on chromosome 7 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>A mutation in the FOXP2 gene results in a condition known as specific language impairment or SLI </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>This is a gene associated with language, not the gene </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Be able to discuss the role of gestures in the language origins controversy (p. 53). </li></ul>
    5. 5. Do Animals Have Language? <ul><li>No </li></ul><ul><li>Not at all </li></ul><ul><li>Really they don’t </li></ul><ul><li>Have I mentioned lately, the answer to this question is NO </li></ul>
    6. 6. Do Animals Have Language? <ul><li>Do animals communicate? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Sometimes and somewhat but not like us at all. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Communication </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The transmission of a signal that conveys information from a sender to a receiver. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Signal: the means that conveys the information. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Ants: pheromones (chemical messengers). </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Honey bees: waggle dance. </li></ul></ul>
    7. 7. Do Animals Have Language? <ul><li>Defining Language </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Difficult to define. How would you define language? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Hockett listed 16 design features of human language. Emphasis is on physical characteristics. </li></ul></ul>
    8. 8. Hockett's &quot;design features&quot; of language and other animal communication systems Bee dancing Western meadowlark song Gibbon calls Signing apes Alex, a Grey parrot Human sign languages Spoken language Vocal-auditory channel No Yes Yes No Yes No Yes Interchangeability Limited ? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Total feedback ? Yes Yes No Yes No Yes Specialization ? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Semanticity Yes In part Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Arbitrariness No If semantic, yes Yes Largely yes Yes Largely yes Yes Discreteness No ? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Displacement Yes, always ? No Yes No Yes, often Yes, often Productivity Yes ? No Debatable Limited Yes Yes Traditional transmission Probably not ? ? Limited Limited Yes Yes
    9. 9. Do Animals Have Language? <ul><li>Defining Language (cont.) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The ability to use syntactic rules to generate a potentially infinite number of messages with finite number of words. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Syntax has 5 important properties </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Know Them </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>No animal communication system has these properties. </li></ul></ul></ul>
    10. 10. Do Animals Have Language? <ul><li>Can We Teach Language to Animals? </li></ul><ul><li>Alex </li></ul>
    11. 11. Do Animals Have Language? <ul><li>“ Clever Hans” effect </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Animals that appear to know language are just picking up cues from their owner. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Rico knew the labels of over 200 items. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Alex had a vocabulary of about 80 words but linguistic abilities were extremely limited. </li></ul></ul>
    12. 12. Cognitive Abilities of Primates <ul><li>Varies and controversial. Do primates merely mimic what they have learned or do they “know” something? </li></ul><ul><li>Kanzi </li></ul>
    13. 13. The Basis of Language <ul><li>For the rest of the chapter the author is trying to untangle a couple of the controversial arguments on the nature of language in humans. It is best to keep these in mind when working through the remainder of the chapter. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Controversy 1 – What is the structure of the mind </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>General Cognitive View – There is one structure </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>The Modular View – Language is its own module separate from general cognition </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Controversy 2 – What is the importance of cognition vs. language. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Cognition precedes language – your cognitive abilities must be at a certain level before you can develop linguistically. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Language precedes cognition – the reverse of what we just said. </li></ul></ul></ul>
    14. 14. The Biological Basis of Language <ul><li>Are Language Functions Localized? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Parts of the brain are specialized for specific tasks. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>language functions are predominately localized in the left hemisphere. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>You should know: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Broca’s area </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Wernicke’s area </li></ul></ul></ul>
    15. 15. The Biological Basis of Language <ul><li>Wernicke-Geschwind Model </li></ul>
    16. 16. The Biological Basis of Language <ul><li>Is There a Critical Period? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Critical period hypothesis: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Certain biological events related to language development can only happen in an early critical period. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Certain linguistic events must happen to the child during this period for development to proceed normally. </li></ul></ul></ul>
    17. 17. The Biological Basis of Language <ul><li>Is There a Critical Period? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Evidence: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>The Development of Lateralization </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Three Accounts for how lateralization occurs </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Equipotentiality hypothesis </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Irreversible determinism hypothesis </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Emergentist account </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Evidence of Critical Period is attributed to Equipotentiality </li></ul></ul></ul></ul>
    18. 18. The Biological Basis of Language <ul><li>Is There a Critical Period? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Evidence (cont…) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Studies of lateralization in young children </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Second Language Acquisition </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Children of Hearing Impaired Parents </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Deprivation During Critical Period </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Back to our controversies </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>What does all of this mean? </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Lateralization and Critical Period use to be strong evidence for the Modular view. Recent research suggests that the distinction is not as clear cut. There is still room for the “single unit” view </li></ul></ul></ul></ul>
    19. 19. The Cognitive Basis of Language <ul><li>Piaget: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Development takes place in a sequence of well- defined stages. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The Cognition Hypothesis </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>According to Piaget, children need to have developed specific cognitive abilities in order to attain the next level of linguistic ability. </li></ul></ul></ul>
    20. 20. The Cognitive Basis of Language <ul><li>Language Development: Children With Learning Difficulties as evidence of the Cognition Hypothesis </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Down’s Syndrome: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Mental Retardation and lingual deficits both occur </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Williams Syndrome: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>rare genetic disorder that leads to physical abnormalities & a very low IQ. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Speech is very fluent & grammatically correct. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Particular fondness of unusual words. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Autism Spectrum Disorders (just autism in your text) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Social communication difficult & language use is idiosyncratic. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Author argues that the evidence suggests there is at least some separation of general cognition and language processing </li></ul></ul>
    21. 21. The Social Basis of Language <ul><li>Social interactionists: emphasize the importance of language development through interaction with others. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Biological & cognitive processes may be necessary but they are not sufficient. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Language development must occur in the context of meaningful social interaction. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Example – Turn-taking </li></ul><ul><li>Evaluation: Social Interactionist </li></ul><ul><ul><li>To be effective, language acquisition must take place in a meaningful social setting. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>But can this approach by itself account for all features of language acquisition? </li></ul></ul>
    22. 22. Language and Thought are Interdependent <ul><li>Vygotsky </li></ul><ul><ul><li>External communicative/social speech </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Before approximately two or three years old thinking occurs independently of language </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>When language appears, it is first used primarily as a means of communication rather than as a mechanism of thought </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Children “talk” to themselves mentally rather than orally </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Eventually language becomes the mechanism by which thoughts are formed </li></ul></ul></ul>
    23. 23. The Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis <ul><li>The Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Linguistic Determinism </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Language shapes thought </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Linguistic Relativism </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Because language shapes thoughts, people of different languages actually think differently </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Anthropological: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Whorf studied Native American Indian languages. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Nowadays Whorf’s data is considered unreliable </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>However </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>The Intertranslatability of Languages. </li></ul></ul></ul>
    24. 24. The Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis <ul><li>Vocabulary Differentiation: </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Eskimo language has 4 different words for snow! </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>However </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Vocabulary has very little bearing on how we form our thoughts </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Grammatical Differences between Languages: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>There seems to be evidence support a weak version of Sapir-Whorf in terms of grammatical differences </li></ul></ul>
    25. 25. Indirect Effects of Language on Cognition <ul><li>Be able to describe the three studies from this section </li></ul><ul><li>Memory and Nonsense Pictures </li></ul><ul><li>Functional Fixedness </li></ul><ul><li>Chinese–English bilinguals & descriptions of people. </li></ul>
    26. 26. Number Systems <ul><li>There are behavioral differences as a function of language </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Example </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>English system challenging for children to learn </li></ul></ul><ul><li>The point is that the language of the number system can have a slight effect on math ability </li></ul>
    27. 27. Color Coding & Memory for Color <ul><li>Brown & Lenneberg: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Codable colors, which correspond to simple color names, are remembered more easily (e.g., an ideal red is remembered more easily than a poor example of red). </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Heider </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Dani Tribe behaves no differently than English speakers when identifying focal and non-focal colors </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Many studies are flawed because of the nature of color naming </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Color naming is probably NOT a good test for Sapir-Whorf </li></ul></ul>
    28. 28. Coding of Space & Time <ul><li>There is evidence that the ways in which different languages encode distinctions (such as time, space, motion, shape, & gender) influence the ways in which speakers think. </li></ul><ul><li>These differences suggest language may impact performance on tasks that look like they are nonverbal tasks. </li></ul><ul><li>Remember that this claim is controversial </li></ul>
    29. 29. Language & Thought: Conclusion <ul><li>Language & thought are related in a complex way. </li></ul>