Act Of Turning Thoughts In To Words English Language Essay

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Chapter 8

Consists of symbols that convey meaning + rules for combining those symbols

Can generate an infinite variety of messages

Language is symbolic - representing objects, actions, events, and idea

Language is semantic - meaningful; relationship between form and meaning; having shared meanings across different languages

Language is generative - limited number of symbols can be combined in an infinite variety of ways to generate an endless array of original messages.

Language is structured - rule-governed arrangements

The Structure of Language

Human languages have a hierarchical structure

Sounds ' units ' words ' phrases ' sentences


[definition] smallest speech units in a language that can be distinguished perceptually

English language has 40 phonemes

A letter in the alphabet can represent more than one phoneme (if it has more than one pronunciation)

Morphemes and Semantics

[morphemes] smallest units of meaning in a language

[semantics] area of language concerned with understanding the meaning of words and word combination

Denotation - dictionary definition; connotation - emotional overtones and secondary implications


[definition] system of rules that specify how words can be arranged into sentences

Sentence must have both a subject and a verb

Article (such as "the) comes before the word it modifies

Milestones in Language Development

Moving toward Producing Words

3-month old infants can distinguish phonemes from all of the world's languages (gradual disappearance in the 4-12 month period)

Before infants utter their first words, they are making progress in learning the sound structure of their native language

Babies have perceptual biases that facilitate and guide the "acquisition of phonology"

Listening to speech in utero(in the uterus)

Optimal periods - first year of life; exposure and tuned to the speech properties of their native language

First six months - vocalizations dominated by crying, cooing and laughter

Babbling ' repetitive consonant-vowel combinations ' neural developments, vocal apparatus maturation, experience

Babbling ' motor achievement (controlling production of speech)

Babbling allows the infant to acquire the basics of language

Using Words

Dada, mama and papa

Receptive vocabulary > productive vocabulary

Comprehending more words spoken by others than they can actually produce to express themselves

Objects ' social actions; nouns ' verbs

Vocabulary spurt at 18-24 months

[Fast mapping] process by which children map a word onto an underlying concept after only one exposure

[overextension] child incorrectly uses a word to describe a wider set of objects or actions than it is meant to

[example] using the word "ball" for anything round

[underextensions] child incorrectly uses a word to describe a narrower set of objects or actions than it is meant to

[example] using the word "doll" to referred only to a child's favorite doll

Combining Words

[telegraphic speech] consists of content words; articles, prepositions, and other less critical words are omitted

[mean length of utterance] average length of youngsters' spoken statement (measured in morphemes)

[over-regularizations] grammatical rules are incorrectly generalized to irregular cases where they do not apply

Refining Language Skills

[metalinguistic awareness] ability to reflect on the use of language

"playing" with language; jokes and puns

Using figure of speech (such as metaphor)

Irony and sarcasm

Learning More Than One Language: Bilingualism

[bilingualism] acquisition of 2 languages that use different speech sounds, vocabulary and grammatical rules

Does Learning Two Languages in Childhood Slow Down Language Development?

Bilingual and monolingual children are similar in the course and rate of their language development

Normal pacing of language milestone, except that it was accomplished in both languages

Little support for negative assumptions of bilingualism

Does Bilingualism Affect Cognitive Processes and Skills?

Bilingualism conveys cognitive advantages

Slight disadvantage in terms of raw language-processing speed

Enrollment in French immersion, higher literacy scores

Bilingual children should develop control over executive processes earlier than monolingual children

Control ' advantage in cognitive tasks

Bilinguals have "delayed decline" in executive processes relative to monolingual adults

What Factors Influence the Acquisition of a Second Language?

Age - the younger, the easier to master a second language <see Figure 8.6>

[acculturation] degree to which a person is socially and psychologically integrated into a new culture

Learner's motivation and attitude toward the other "language group"

Can Animals Develop Language?

Chimpanzees do not have a vocal apparatus

American Sign Language (ASL)

Development in Broca's area - analogous to human beings

"Kanzi" experiment - language comprehension, mastering rules of language

Language in an Evolutionary Context

Theories of Language Acquisition

Behaviorist Theories

Children learn language the same way they learn everything else: through imitation, reinforcement, etc.

Vocalizations not reinforced gradually decline in frequency

Imitating sentences of adults and older children

Nativist Theories

Infinite number of sentences in a language

[Skinner's response] Children cannot imitate things they do not hear

Children learn rules of language, not specific verbal responses

Parents may not engage in much of the language shaping that is critical to the behavioral explanation of language development

[Language acquisition device] innate mechanism or process that facilitates the learning of language

Humans learn language because they are biologically equipped for it

Children seem to acquire language quickly and effortlessly

Language development is determined by biological maturation more than personal experience

Interactionist Theories

Biology and experience both make important contributions to the development of language

[Cognitive theories] language development is simply an important aspect of more general cognitive development

[Social communication theories] emphasizes the functional value of interpersonal communication and the social context

[Emergentist theories] neural circuits supporting language are not prewired but emerge gradually in response to language learning experiences

Social exchanges with parents play a critical role in molding language skills

Culture, Language, and Thought

[linguistic relativity] hypothesis that one's language determines the nature of one's thought

Language affects color perception

Problem Solving: In Search of Solutions

Types of Problems

[Problem solving] refers to active efforts to discover what must be done to achieve a goal that is not readily attainable

Problems of inducing structure - relationships among numbers, words, symbols, or ideas

Problems of arrangement - arranging parts of a problem to satisfy criterion

[Insight] sudden discovery of the correct solution following incorrect attempts based primarily on trial and error

Problems of transformation - requires people to carry out a sequence of transformations in order to reach a specific goal

Barriers to Effective Problem Solving

Irrelevant Information

Using all of the information in the problem without further analysis

Figuring out what information is relevant and what is irrelevant before proceeding

Functional Fixedness

[functional fixedness] tendency to perceive an item only in terms of its most common use

Thinking out-of-the-box

Mental Set

[definition] people persist in using problem-solving strategies that have worked in the past

Unnecessary Constraints

Specifying all the constraints governing a problem without assuming any constraints that don't exist

<see Figure 8.12; 16>

Approaches to Problem Solving

[problem space] set of possible pathways to a solution considered by the problem solver

"search in space"

Finding a solution path among the potential pathways that could lead from a problem's initial state to its goal state

Using Algorithms and Heuristics

[Trial and error] trying possible solutions and discarding those that are in error until one works

[algorithm] methodical, step-by-step procedure for trying all possible alternatives in searching for a solution to a problem

[heuristic] guiding principle or "rule of thumb" used in solving problems or making decisions

Forming Subgoals

[subgoals] intermediate steps toward a solution

[example] "Tower of Hanoi" solution

Working Backward

Starting from the end point of a problem

Searching for Analogies

Recognizing similarities between 2 problems in order to find a solution

People tend to focus on superficial, surface features of problems rather than their underlying structure

Changing the Representation of the Problem

Self-envision of the problem

Best representation will depend on nature of the problem

Change is necessary in case original representative solution doesn't work

<see Buddhist Monk example and bird & train example>

Culture, Cognitive Style, and Problem Solving

[Field dependence-independence]] individuals' tendency to rely primarily on external versus internal frames of reference when orienting themselves in space

[field-dependent] relying on external frames of reference; focusing on context of a problem

[field-independent] relying on internal frames; analyzing and restructure physical environment; focusing on specific features of a problem and to reorganize the component parts

East Asian cultures display a holistic cognitive style - focus on context and relationships among elements; Western cultures exhibit an analytic cognitive style - focus on objects and their properties

Cognitive styles are substantial and that "literally different cognitive processes are often invoked by East Asians and Westerners dealing with the same problem

Decision Making: Choices and Chances

[Decision making] involves evaluating alternatives and making choices among them

[theory of bounded rationality] it is impossible to analyze all relevant information in making choices

Making Choices about Preferences: Basic Strategies

[additive strategy] listing attributes and rating desirability

[elimination by aspects] evaluation of certain aspects until decision is singled out

Order of importance is important

Making Choices about Preferences: Quirks and Complexities

Incidental emotional fluctuations tend to make unstable judgments

Comparative evaluations of options tend to yield different results than separate evaluations

Post-decision regret; selection is experienced in isolation (no evaluation and comparison)

Extraneous factors: brand familiarity and price

Taking Chances: Factors Weighed in Risky Decisions

[risky decision making] making choices under conditions of uncertainty - people don't know what will happen

Finding out the expected value

Subjective utility replacing objective outcome

[example] buying a few lottery tickets allows dreaming of becoming wealthy; insurance for sense of security

Heuristics in Judging Probabilities

[Availability heuristic] involves basing the estimated probability of an event on the ease with which relevant instances come to mind

[example] estimating divorce rate by recalling number of divorces among your friends' parents - creating biases

[representativeness heuristic] involves basing the estimated probability of an event on how similar it is to the typical prototype of that event

The Conjunction Fallacy

[definition] people estimate that the odds of 2 uncertain events happening together are greater than the odds of either event happening alone