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24 Cards in this Set

  • Front
  • Back

What is language?

A system that relates sounds (or gestures to meaning)

Language only occurs in what species?


How does language differ from communication?

- Symbolic and arbitrary units of meaning (as long as we are in agreement, the word we use to call something is irrelevant- a lion growling will always mean anger)

- Structured and meaningful (has grammar that we learn without formal training, comes automatically with language system)

- Shows displacement (can talk about past, future, across lifespan)

- Characterized by generativity (can combine words in countless ways, children don't learn in sentences, they learn in words and combine them how they want)

What is phonology?

Individual sounds in language, smallest possible part of word

Units of sound

It's about the sound and not the spelling

Example: /k/ phoneme is used in cat and kite

Think of it as phonetics, sounding out each part of the word

What is morphology?

Smallest unit of meaning

Examples: dog or ing

Morphemes can be free or bound

What is a free morpheme?

stands alone, the entire word

(i.e. dog)

What is a bound morpheme?

changes meaning when attached to a word

(i.e. -ing)

What are semantics?

Study of words and their meaning

Level of the full word- its definition

Some words have multiple meanings

Can be different in different contexts

What is grammar?

Rules to structure a language

Different across languages

What are pragmatics?

How people use language to communicate effectively

Social rules: changing language depending on who you're talking to

We have learned this, we take into account pre-existing knowledge depending on who you're talking to

Rules (pre-existing knowledge) helps us to overcome ambiguity, different sentences mean different things in new contexts

Pragmatics involve the way we say a word, who we're talking to and what we're saying

What is a pidgin?

Simplified version of language used by two groups (or more) to help communicate when they speak different languages

An "almost language"

What is creole?

Full language, often developed after 2nd generation born into it

A stable language, it is natural and derived from a pidgin

Hawaiian People example

Lots of people speaking different languages on a farm, created a pidgin that had elements from all different languages spoken and eventually became a full blown language

2nd generation: made it way more complicated by adding grammar, structure system and pragmatics

Nicaraguan Sign Language example

Before 1970s, no deaf communities and no sign language system

Deaf centre created and opened but it was failing

Children started communicating with each other on their own, combing gestures they had from own family experience

Took elements and combined them, made something very "Pidgin-like"

Younger children but grammar into it

Went from being a crude language to a sophisticated language

Children and Communication: Creating Languages

Often 2nd generation/children creating grammatical systems

Needed language before adolescence in order to speak it

Study: Newborn babies discriminating sounds

Nazzi et al. 1998
What was the study and what were the conclusions?

Newborn babies less than 4 days old

First sound they preferred was native language over non-native language

Would suck on pacifier harder for native than for Russian

Shows they became familiar with it in the womb

Can they discriminate between 2 non-native languages?

- French newborn babies 4 days old habituated to 1 non-native language repeatedly and measured sucking rate

- Suck faster would mean they could hear a language clip, and faster sucking indicates interest

- Rate decreased over time meaning habituation

- Then presented different language and would dishabituate

- Control would still be listening to same first language (the one experimental babies were habituated to)

Study: Newborn babies discriminating rhythmic structures

English is a stress timed language

French is a syllable stressed timing (flows smoother)

Are babies just detecting a change in rhythmic structure?

Experiment: 2 languages from same rhythmic class (Dutch and English) and no dishabituation was found

Will dishabituate with two from different rhythmic structure languages

What is infant directed speech? (i.e. motherese)

When you talk to an infant you are high pitched, have an exaggerated pitch contour, larger pitch range, slower more deliberate tempos, more rhythmic

Why do we use infant directed speech?

It is instinctual

Across languages and cultures it is universal

Even people with no infant experience will do it

How do babies respond to infant directed speech?

What is the benefit of infant directed speech?

Even few days old prefer infant directed speech

Captures their attention more, gets more linguistic cues, easier to segment words more easily because it is slow and rhythmic, helps to distinguish vowel sounds

We are helping them learn by doing this

What does it mean that phoneme perception is categorical?

Meaning that if you were to play a "ba" sound repeatedly and have it morph (change acoustically) into a "da" sound, there will never be a time where it sounds like both, it will be a distinct turn from bad to da

It is a sudden change and it is not linear

Babies perceive it this way too

Explain how phoneme perception undergoes perceptual narrowing

<6 mo: discriminate native and non-native phonemes
Older children will specialize to sounds from their language (phonemes)

Newborns can tell d and b apart

6-12 mo: can't distinguish non-native sounds

12 mo: specialist in their native language

Phoneme Perception: Perceptual Narrowing

Is it a sensitive period?


Reversal of perceptual narrowing with exposure

Can't reverse it in adulthood