CHAPTER 8 - Chapter 8 defining language-language is a...

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Chapter 8 defining language -language is a system of symbols that are used to communicate ideas among two or more individuals; uses mental and external representations; shares 4 properties ( must be learnable by children; must be able to be spoken and understood readily by adults; must capture the ideas that people normally communicate; must enable communication among groups of people in a social and cultural context) . Ex) an author uses symbols of letters and words to get across ideas. In conversations, the speaker and listener exchange mental representations using spoken rather than written symbols. -language can also be used to communicate factual information ( but it’s not its sole function) . Indeed, visual-spatial knowledge is not easily captured in words. -at the heart of language is the use of symbols ( words) to convey meaning. Once humans learn a word, they can retrieve its mental representation, hold it in WM, and use it in thought. The word itself is represented separately from the object or event to which it refers. -words used by humans are typically arbitrary; they lack any connection between the symbols and the meanings they carry and so differ across languages. a) Origins of language -how language began is unknowable -Linguists have reconstructed what they believe early language were like up to about 10000 years ago by studying the relationships among the written records of ancient languages, ,dating back about 5000 years -H/E scholars believe that the origins of language lie much farther back in human evolutionary history. Casts made from the skulls of homo habilis reveal what could have been Broca’s speech areas. H/E, unusual shape of the human vocal tract, a necessary requirement for speech, emerged later in homo sapiens sapiens . -language & gestures evolved together. When our ancestors first began to communicate their thoughts to other individuals, they needed a way to refer to specific objects and to relate those objects. It is known that gestures are often synchronized in time with oral statements to convey meaning. Spoken and gestural outputs are synchronized even in congenitally blind individuals who have never seen anyone gesturing. It could be that gestural and spoken output developed in tandem, with each specialized to communicate particular kinds of information. -another idea is that language evolved as a consequence of the large brain of humans. Language might be an example of taking an existing biological structure and adapting it for a new function. The problem with this view is that language is a very complex function. Adapting an existing structure to handle such a complex new function would seem to be unprecedented. -an alternative is that language and a large brain emerged more or less simultaneously. As our
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This note was uploaded on 04/02/2011 for the course PSYCH 3 taught by Professor Mauldin during the Winter '11 term at UCSD.

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CHAPTER 8 - Chapter 8 defining language-language is a...

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