Psych Notes.pdf - Chapter 9 Language and Thinking Language Language consists of a system of symbols and rules for combining these symbols in ways that

Psych Notes.pdf - Chapter 9 Language and Thinking Language...

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Chapter 9: Language and Thinking Language Language consists of a system of symbols and rules for combining these symbols in ways that can generate an infinite number of possible messages and meanings. Psycholinguistics is the scientific study of the psychological aspects of language, such as how people understand, produce, and acquire language. Adaptive Functions of Language Over the course of evolution, humans adopted a more socially oriented lifestyle that helped them survive and reproduce (Flinn, 1997). Some evolutionary theorists believe that the use of language evolved as people gathered to form larger social units. As the social environment became more complex, new survival problems emerged: the need to create divisions of labour and cooperative social systems, to develop social customs and communicate thoughts, and to pass on knowledge and wisdom. The development of language made it easier for humans to adapt to these environmental demands (Chomsky, 2017; Dor, 2014; Pinker, 2003). Humans have evolved into highly social creatures who need to communicate with one another and have the physical characteristics (e.g., a highly developed brain, a vocal tract) that allow them to do so in the most flexible way known: through language. Properties of Language Describe key properties of language. Language Is Symbolic and Structured Language uses sounds, written characters, or some other system of symbols (e.g., hand signs) to represent objects, events, ideas, feelings, and actions. Moreover, the symbols used in any given language are arbitrary. Language also has a rule-governed structure A language’s grammar is the set of rules that dictate how symbols can be combined to create meaningful units of communication. Syntax are the rules that govern the order of words. Language Conveys Meaning No matter the arbitrary symbols or grammatical rules used, once people learn those symbols and rules, they are able to form and then transfer mental representations to the mind of another person. But understanding semantics, the meaning of words and sentences, actually is a tricky business. Language Is Generative and Permits Displacement Generativity means that the symbols of language can be combined to generate an infinite number of messages that have novel meaning.
Displacement refers to the fact that language allows us to communicate about events and objects that are not physically present. In other words, language frees us from being restricted to focusing on events and objects that are right before us in the present. The Structure of Language Psycholinguists describe language as having a surface structure and a deep structure. They also examine the hierarchical structure of language, in which smaller elements are combined into larger ones. Let’s look at both of these issues. Surface Structure and Deep Structure When you read, listen to, or produce a sentence, its surface structure consists of the symbols that are used and their order. As noted earlier, the syntax of a language provides the rules for ordering words properly. In contrast, a sentence’s

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