Language Paper Final - Running head: LANGUAGE PAPER 1...

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Running head: LANGUAGE PAPER 1 Language Paper Malisha R. Mishoe PSY 360 February 27, 2012 Melissa Jackson
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LANGUAGE PAPER 2 Language Paper Language is a multifaceted cognitive procedure that comprises the construction of speech and its understanding. Its purpose is to help humans communicate goals, needs, and shared culture. It bonds us socially and helps us to change our environment to suit our needs. Language is composed, loosely, of syntax (grammar) and lexicon. The syntax is the way that words are put together. The lexicon is the words that we use. Our lexicon includes two primary kinds of words. They are open class and closed class. Closed class words are function words, such as prepositions like "in" and "on", modal verbs like "would" and "can", and conjunctions like "because" and "and". Open class words are content words such as "intelligent," "towel," and "steal." New open class words can be added to the language easily, and we think of them as having meaning. Closed class words form part of the grammar and cannot be easily modified. The linguist Charles Hockett identified key features of language (Hyde, 1998). One key feature of language is that it is arbitrary. It differs from other kinds of symbolic systems in that the associations between words and the things they refer to are only meaningful within that system. Hockett also described other key features of human language such as productivity, meaning that language can be used in new ways to describe new ideas that have never been said before. This is one of the most important distinguishers of human language. Other animals may be able to signal each other, but they cannot transmit new ideas. Language is also specialized. It is designed for communication, and not for any other purpose. In addition, language is transmissible. People may be born with an innate capability for language, but they do not have a specific language until they learn one from their speech community. In addition, they can learn new language through contact with speakers of other
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Language Paper Final - Running head: LANGUAGE PAPER 1...

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