Chapter 10: Language Language A system of communication using sounds, symbols to express feelings, thoughts, experiences, ideas Nonhuman human animals and plants communicate but humans are unique in its status as a learned communication system that is not biologically inherited Language is a grammar learned task Language is symbolic- every word represents of meaning Many words are arbitrary (random) and abstractions Steve Pinker: ?Triad of language, social cooperation and technological know-how is what makes humans unusual;? they probably multiply the value of each other making the words/sentences more complex/important Hocketts Linguistic Universals: how we think about language as a thing cross-culturally, language links elements together Goldstein: 1- Language is learnable by children and accepted so that it makes it common by adulthood, we all understand communication w/out effort 2- We don?t have to stop talking to figure out the meaning of words 3- We can use one language to compare most thoughts/ideas 4- We can use language in a context and it effects what we produce Goldstein?s Language Characteristics Meaning is found through semantics Structure through syntax Use pragmatics- words are used in particular ways that means dif things Creativity of Human Language Hierarchal System: components (words, phrases, sentences, paragraphs, stories) combine to form larger units Rules specify componential arguments: mixing the same words around in a sentence will make it not mean anything The universality of language: the need to communicate is strong deaf children invent their own sign language to communicate all cultures have a language (5000+ languages) language development is similar across cultures- babbling at 7 months, 1st words at 1 year, utterances at 2 years Languages are ?unique but the same? Each language has dif words, sounds rules but all have nouns, verbs, negation, interrogative form, past/present tense Studying Language in Cognitive Psychology BF Skinner 1957: ?Verbal Behavior? (behaviorist perspective): language is learned through reinforcement Noam Chomsky 1957 Syntactic Structure: human language is coded in the genes LAD: Language Acquisition Device: conceptual structure for acquisition in language and the underlying basis of all language is similar He distinguished representation b/t: deep structure: core semantic relationships, take basic ideas about an action and express them in various ways surface structure: actual output of the language system- what you saw, heard- superficial info and how it relates to identifiers Phrase structure grammar: possess and use grammar related to phrases that make up our language Noam Chomsky 1959: children produce sentences they have heard and have never been reinforced to them ? ?I hate you mommy.? Psycholinguistics: discover psychological process by which humans acquire and process language, through comprehension, speed production, and acquisition Perceiving and Understanding Words Lexicon: all words a person understands- 50,000 words on average Phoneme: shortest segment of speech that, if changed, changes the meaning of the word- 40 phonemes in English Language, bed= /b/+/e/+/d/ > /w/+/e/+/d/= wed Morpheme: smallest unit of language that has meaning or grammatical function, ?dogs? ?s?, ?after? + ?math?= aftermath Word Perception top down processing influences perception of phonemes Warren 1970 ?Phonemic Restoration Effect? created audio tapes of a sentence masked the S in legislature with a cough and wanted to know what participants heard Task: indicate the location of the cough in the sentence 0% correct! Nobody noticed the missing second S in legislatures Concluded that we fill in missing phonemes based on context of the sentence and portion of the words presented Top down also influences perception of entire words the problem of speech segmentation can be solved with top down processing separating words in sentences is difficult Aids to segmentation 1- Context Pollack and Pickett 1964: records the conversation he had with the participants and called them back to listen to their voices, he segmented each word in the conversation, and had them listen to their segmented words Wanted to know if they could recognize/interpret their own voice/words Only 50% of segmented words were recognized 2- Meaning Comprehension of the meaning of the words 3- Statistical Learning We know that words end in rk and start with kr and not vice versa Understanding Words Comprehension (understanding) of words is influenced by bottom up factors Word frequency effects: words that occur more often are more easily processed cognitively Lexical Decision Task LDT: is a word a real word or nonwords in English language; give a lot of high frequency words/nonwords, participants see low frequency w/ nonwords and they go slower Low frequency words fixated longer than high freq words- Rayner 2003 Word comprehension is also affected by top down factors Context Effects: Marslen Wilson 1990- people were faster when shown predictable sentences than unpredictable words; for example: meaning plays a role in the speed of comprehension so people comprehend the sentence Eskimos were frightened by the walrus faster than Bankers were frightened by the walrus Lexical Ambiguity Swinney 1979: Semantics: meaning of words and sentences Syntax: rules for combining words in to sentences Phrase structure grammar: hierarchal relationships among constituent phrases of a sentence Noun phrase: nice dogs, verb phrase: like cats Is phrase structure grammar psychologically real? Garrett, Fodor, Bever(?) 1966: Participants hear 2 sentences with clicks and are asked to identify what part of the sentence had the click Found that people were likely to identify the click as a punctuation mark that separates one phrase from another although it was just one sentence People put the clicks in different places and shifted the click depending on phrase structure of the 2 sentences so there is perceived psychologically reality Supports the idea of psychological reality of phrase structure Transformational Grammar as Alternative to Phrase Structure Grammar Chomsky 1965 ( in book) Understanding Sentences Event relating potential and brain imaging studies have shown syntax and semantics are associated with different mechanisms Participants were shown a series of sentences one word at a time and they tracked them on how words correspond to passage of time and measure electrical response on surface of the scalp It paid attention to electrical responses of the brain Concluded that the reason we pay attention to noise is evenly distributed and random noise is cancelled out so that the graph of the brain imaging can get a good signal A normal sentence gets a characteristic curve on the graph, and an abnormal gets an uncharacteristic curve The difference in N400 recordings is based on semantics and not syntax Where would differences be expected to be (in time)- big difference at late positive components between the sentences ?Cats won?t eat? and ?Cats won?t eating,? so it has controlled semantics but the syntax is wrong at P600 With ?The cats won?t baking? you get both N400 and P600 Parsing: mental grouping of words in a sentence into phrases to determine essential meaning You parse words by: syntax first approach- grammatical structure of sentences determines parsing Syntax 1st: includes late closure principle- the parser assumes that the new word is part of the current phrase (Table 10.1 in the book) Syntax comes first and then semantics get involved Interactionist approach to parsing: semantics influence processing as one reads a sentence Tannenhous and Coworkers 1995: eye movements change when information suggests revision of interpretation of sentence is necessary -Syntactic and semantic information is used simultaneously Understanding text and Stories (didn?t get the rest but this was about the end of lecture)
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