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Flashcards in Language Deck (32):
1

Criteria of Natural Language

Regular, Arbitrary, Productive

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Regular

governed by rules and grammar. A sentence can be reorganized and still retain its meaning because a system of rules determines how each word fits with the ones around it.

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Arbitrary

the lack of resemblance between words and their meaning.

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Productive

there are almost limitless ways to combine words to describe objects, situations and actions.

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Whorf-Sapir Hypothesis

suggests that language has the power to influence our thoughts and perceptions

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Evidence supporting Whorf-Sapir hypothesis

The Piraha only had three counting words, and had difficulty with fine numerical concepts

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Evidence against Whorf-Sapir Hypothesis

Cultures that lack specific words to differentiate between relatives are still able to understand the difference between each relative.

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Morphemes

the smallest unit of sound (or signs other than sounds) the contains information. Often a word, but some words contain multiples.

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Phoneme

the consistent sounds that make up a morpheme. Vary across languages - some combos are not valid in one language but are in another. The rules can be used to create plausible words that have no meaning.

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Syntax

the rules that govern how sentences are put together. Also known as grammar. Differences in rules are as various as the languages they come from.

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Semantics

refers to the meaning of each individual word. A sentence may have perfect syntactics but no semantic meaning.

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Language development

Milestones in language rapidly increase from cooing at 12 weeks, to babbling at 1 year to an 850+ word vocabulary at 2.5 years.

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Babbling

drawn out sounds made of a variety of combinations of vowels and consonants. The use of inflection and rhythm may sound like a real sentence. Combinations progress to become real words.

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Language Explosion

vocab increases rapidly and have mastered the major concepts of language. This improves in complexity throughout childhood.

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The Segmentation Problem

differences in languages lead to a difficulty in understanding the meaning of the word. It's the difficulty you have separating the speech stream into word units. Early speech segmentation skills show a strong positive correlation with expressive vocabulary.

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Universal Phoneme Sensitivity

the ability of infants to discriminate between any sounds they're tested on, including sounds from non-native languages. The idea that adults can't do this as well suggests that there must be some developmental basis for this.

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Head-Turn Procedure

method of testing phoneme sensitivity in infants. positive reinforcement when he turns his head towards a new sound; if he remains neutral until a new phoneme sound is introduced, then he can discriminate.

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Hindi Experiment

A method of comparing phonemic sensitivity between infants and adults. Discriminative abilities between exclusively Hindi phonemes --> adult english performed most poorly, english infants performed almost as well as Hindi adults.

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Disappearance of universal phoneme sensitivity in infants

developmental pattern - by the end of the first year, infants have already lost most of their discriminative abilities

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Implications of Varying Degrees of Phonemic Sensitivity when Learning a Novel Language

exposure to a language over 10 months will improve ability to speak and understand, but more time and practice is needed to discriminate fine phonemic contrasts. Learning another language at a younger age leads to superior mastery

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Social Learning Theory

the theory that children learn though imitation and operant conditioning. Supported by children that have not been exposed to language throughout their childhood and cannot speak.

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Evidence against Social Learning

development is too rapid and complex to be learned by imitation and reinforcement alone. They combine words in novel ways that were neither modelled nor reinforced.

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Overextensions

apply a rule too broadly. (EX: uses doggie to mean any four legged animal) (EX: adding suffix 'ed' in inappropriate circumstances)

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Underextensions

apply a rule to a specific object only. (EX: doggie is only for her dog an no other dog)

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Innate Mechanism Theory

an innate mechanism, present only in humans, that helps language develop rapidly according to universal rules. Although various languages rely on variations of grammatical rules, all languages follow certain fundamental underlying rules.

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Noam Chomsky

language develops rapidly due to an innate mechanism - humans have innate mechanisms that allow them to understand and use these universal grammar rules which allow language skills to develop rapidly.

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Sign Language

Evidence for the Innate Mechanism Theory. children who have not been taught sign language but spontaneously use signs as a form of communication.

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Neural Activation

Evidence for the Innate Mechanism Theory. infants show neurophysiological responses to exposure of native language and prefer speech to non-speech --> brains are pre-wired to adapt to sounds and their associated meanings present in their environment

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Waggle Dance

Comparable to human language. Honey bees --> when a forager is successful, it performs the waggle dance to communicate the location (distance and direction) of food.

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Washoe

a chimp raised an taught how to communicate with american sign language. Could use signs to communicate requests. Did not seems to use systematic grammar.

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Sarah

a chimp taught to use symbols to communicate. Used a large vocabulary, was able to answer questions. Could not generate new sentences.

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Kanzi

a chimp taught to use lexigrams to comunicate. Utilized full immersion rather than classical conditioning. Had limited grammar with no understanding of advanced concepts