Language - the cognitive processes involved in producing and understanding linguistic communication.
A word is the spoken sign of a conception or an idea; an articulate or vocal sound, or a combination of articulate and vocal sounds, uttered by the human voice, and by custom expressing an idea or ideas; a single component part of human speech or language; a constituent part of a sentence; a term.
Grammar - The art of speaking or writing with correctness or according to established usage.
Four rules of language:
Phonology - the study of the sound system of a given language and the analysis and classification of its phonemes. A phoneme is one of a small set of speech sounds that are distinguished by the speakers of a particular language. They are the basic sounds of consonants & vowels.
Morphology- the study of the structure and form of words in language including inflection, derivation, and the formation of compound. A morpheme is a meaningful linguistic unit consisting of a word, such as man, or a word element, such as -ed in walked, that cannot be divided into smaller meaningful parts.
Syntax (grammar) - the study of the rules whereby words or other elements of sentence structure are combined to form grammatical sentences.
Semantics - specifies the meaning of words or phrases when they appear in various sentences or contexts.
Noam Chomsky believes that "When we ‘learn’ a language, we are able to formulate & understand all sorts of sentences that we have never heard before. What we ‘know’, therefore, must be something deeper — a grammar — that makes and infinite variety of sentences possible. The capacity to master grammatical structures is innate; it is genetically determined, a product of the evolutionary process, just as the organic structures of our bodies are".
Mental grammar: allows us to combine nouns, verbs, & objects in an endless variety of meaningful sentences
Innate brain program: makes learning the general rules of grammar relatively easy
Four Stages in acquiring language:
1. Babbling - one syllable sounds (begins at about 6 months of age)
2. Single words and parentese/motherese (begins at about 1 year of age)
3. Two-word combinations (begins at about 2 years of age)
4. Sentences (begins at about 3 to 4 years of age)
Common problems with language: telegraphic speech ( prepositions like in and out are omitted) & overgeneralization (too strict adherence to the rules of grammar).
Innate Language factors: genetically programmed physiological & neurological features that facilitate our making speech sounds & acquiring language skills.
• Innate physiological factors: special adapted vocal apparatus (larynx and pharynx) that allows us to make sounds and form words
• Innate neurological features: left hemisphere of the brain is prewired to acquire and use language, whether spoken or signed
• Innate developmental factors: there is a critical language period from infancy to adolescence when language is easiest to learn. Language is more difficult to learn anytime after adolescence
Reason, Thought, & Language
Two kinds of reasoning:
Deductive reasoning - Deductive reasoning works from the more general to the more specific.
Inductive reasoning - moves from specific observations to broader generalizations and theories.
The theory of linguistic relativity states that the differences among languages result in similar difference in how people think & perceive the world. There is little support for this theory.
Reasoning ( synonym: thinking, as in problem solution ) may fail because of our personal bias, experience, or language use.
• learning abstract symbols.
• express thoughts using those symbols.
• learning complex rules of grammar.
• generating an endless number of meaningful sentences.