Linguistics and Language

Topics: Linguistics, Semantics, Transformational grammar Pages: 22 (4248 words) Published: May 19, 2013
What is psycholinguistics?

The three primary processes investigated in psycholinguistics •Language Comprehension
•Language Production
•Language Acquisition
Psycholinguistics is a branch of cognitive science


What will be covered in this class?
• How do we produce and recognize speech?
• How do we perceive words, letters, and sentences?
• How do we learn and recall information from texts?
• How can we improve texts to make them easier to understand? • How does the brain function to process language?
• What are the causes and effects of reading disabilities? • Is there language in other species?
Central themes in psycholinguistics
1) What knowledge of language is needed for us to use language? Tacit (implicit) knowledge vs. Explicit knowledge
• tacit: knowledge of how to perform something, but not aware of full rules • explicit: knowledge of the processes of mechanisms in performing that thing  
2) What cognitive processes are involved in the ordinary use of language? How do we understand a lecture, read a book, hold a conversation? Cognitive processes: perception, memory, thinking, learning

Some definitions of basic components of language:
Semantics: The meaning of words and sentences
Syntax: The grammatical arrangement of words in a sentence or phrase Phonology: The sound pattern of language
Pragmatics: How language is used in a social context
Examples from psycholinguistics
Parsing garden path sentences
The novice accepted the deal before he had a chance to check his finances, which put him in a state of conflict when he realized he had a straight flush.  
1) The defendant examined by the lawyer turned out to be unreliable  
2) The evidence examined by the lawyer turned out to be unreliable  
The process of parsing is the process of making decisions
The effect of prior knowledge on comprehension
The procedure is actually quite simple. First you arrange things into different groups. Of course, one pile may be sufficient depending on how much there is to do. If you have to go somewhere else due to lack of facilities, that is the next step; otherwise you are pretty well set. It is important not to overdo things. That is, it is better to do too few things at once than too many. In the short run this may not seem important, but complications can easily arise. A mistake can be expensive as well. At first the whole procedure will seem complicated. Soon, however, it will become just another facet of life. It is difficult to foresee any end to the necessity for this task in the immediate future, but then one never can tell. After the procedure is completed, one arranges the materials into different groups again. Then they can be put into their appropriate places. Eventually they will be used once more, and the whole cycle will then have to be repeated. However, that is part of life.  

Bransford & Johnson, 1973
No context: 2.8 idea units out of a maximum of 18
Context afterwards: 2.7 idea units
Context before: 5.8 idea units
Child language development
How many words do you know?
Hint: Dictionary has about: 450,000 entries
Test high school graduates: How many words do they know?
About 45,000 english words
About 60,000 including names and foreign words
The average six year old knows about 13,000 words.
Learning about 10 words per day since age 1. (One every 90 minutes)  
How much do we have to teach children to learn language?
Do you have to teach a child to walk?
Is it the same way of learning a language?
My teacher holded the baby rabbits and we patted them
I eated my dinner
A brief history of psycholinguistics
Wilhem Wundt (early 1900s)
Interest in mental processes of language production
• Sentence as the primary unit of language
• Speech production is the transformation of complete thought processes into...
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