Ch8Cognitionnotes - Fundamentals of Cognitive Psychology...

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Fundamentals of Cognitive Psychology Chapter 8 Language
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What is language? A system of symbols used to communicate ideas among two or more individuals. Must be learnable by children, spoken and understood by adults, and capable of expressing ideas that people normally communicate in a social and cultural context.
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Origins of Language Written records of language date back 5,000 years, but language probably dates back 150,000-200,000 (when the larynx dropped to its unusual position allowing speech). Gestures may have developed in tandem rather than as the precusor of speech. Large brains—or reorganized brains—may have been crucial; or they may have emerged together in a positive feedback loop created by social interaction in large groups.
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Semantics Semantics is the study of meaning, that is, how people mentally represent the meaning of words and sentences. A morpheme is the minimal unit of speech used to code a specific meaning. (e.g., pill and kill are morephemes; so are –s and –ed. Morphemes taken together comprise a mental lexicon, the dictionary of long-term memory.
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Syntax Grammatical rules that specify how words and other morphemes are arranged so as to yield acceptable sentences. Implicit knowledge provides linguistic intuitions of ungrammatical strings and equivalency of meaning of different grammatical constructions.
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Pragmatics The manner in which speakers communicate their intentions depends on the social context. Direct speech acts (e.g., command: “Open the window!”) may be socially awkward. Indirect speech acts assume the guise of a different speech act to achieve the same result (e.g., inform: “It is really hot in here.”)
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Pragmatics
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