Psycholingustic Essay Example

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7PSYCHOLINGUSTIC

Psycholingustic

Psycholingustic

Question 1

The relationship between the development of the communicative functions of language and the development of language structure in children is contested by scholars taking different theoretical positions. Outline the major lines of dispute and cite some evidence in support or against each position.

A genuine language is usually described by various aspects of its structure, which include but not limited to the syntax, semantics and morphology. Moreover, a language’s phonetic plays a significant role in development of speech in children as they grow and the entire human speech1. The fact that a language is supposed to be symbolic where some representation within a structure might portray entities outside that structure is quite confusing. Therefore, it is necessary to allow variations in semantics to make it simpler. The primitivism in linguistics may be considered to be from the theory that human beings developed sign language first as a means of communication before they started using vocal means as Ullin .T. Place (2000) explains2.

Michael Corballis (2000) agrees with Place and further explains that the vocal means of communication developed from gestures since they have the ability to represent concepts symbolically. This representation and expression leads to a more stylized and more expressive communication. Although it is a subject of discussion, it can be argued that the purpose of a language in a social group is communication the real result for a language is an enhanced social coordination. This helps in environmental adaptation as well as building stronger social bonds. Tomasello (1996) further elaborates how teaching and learning is a key function of a language. He further argues that the existence of a physical environment plays an influential role in the development of a Childs language. The main functional models of languages (Malinowski, Buhler, Jakobson, Britton) have been analyzed critically by Halliday where he elaborates that the key functions of a language is based on the experience, interpersonal, logical and contextual understanding of a specific person3. Jakobson (1986) lists the functions of language as; the emotive function, the contextual reference function, the poetic function, making contacts, direct addressing and the reflexive function. Creole languages, which do not have any, standardized word order and a terrifically underdeveloped grammatical structure is a factor in language development. However, all these adaptive functions of a language collectively help children to develop thinking that is more refined and planning tactics4.

It is particularly evident from the above discussion that a language is a functional tool. Children are never born with any developed means of expression thus their developmental enablers influence how their cognitive system works. The basic means by which children understand the reality is a process learnt in infancy. Just after birth a Childs ability is only limited to imitation5. However, this changes as the months approach 10 by when the child will have developed self-driven movements and symbolic expressions. Children’s emphasis on the imitation as means of learning is more interactive means of learning while developing a vocal means of communication. The extent of language development in a preschool child may be related with the environment of the kid as well as the language used to address the kids directly. This has been an area of enquiry with some theorists strongly disagreeing with those explanations. Others insist on the intrinsic cognitive abilities of a child as the major factor in the extent of language development. It is further argued that vocabularies follow diverse routes, where the most common is event symbolizing using words. This is where children remember context-bound words more easily than others do6.

It’s about as likely that an ape will prove to have a language ability as that there is an island somewhere with a species of flightless birds waiting for human beings to teach them to fly”. Noam Chomsky

First, it is essential for us to differentiate between language and communication. In absolute terms, language is a standardised system of facilitating the exchange of information and communicating with one another whereas, communication is just a mere transfer of information. This justifies the reason why the human language has syntax and is used to express one’s own emotions, which can be defined by the choice of words used in a conversation. Apes and other animals do not exhibit similar complex linguistic structures as do human beings7. However, some basic judgments depend on a systematic and sophisticated structure of a language. Therefore, it would be misleading to say that apes are able to acquire and utilize verbal reasoning as well as representation and use the learnt language to express themselves8.

It has been argued that the only restricting factor for apes not to use a language is they have not learnt one. The development of language involves the ability to learn, the ability to develop and the ability to use the language for communication. It is evident that once you teach an animal to use a means of communication, it does not have the ability to modify it to fit its environment. Moreover, once you stop teaching it, the application diminishes with time. The most striking evidence perhaps is the ability of trained animals may be dogs or monkeys where once a trainer is withdrawn; their skills will diminish with time. Earlier research has shown that language acquisition as well as the ability to engage in an attention involving activity is essential in language development9. The question is whether apes will be able to sit through a two-hour lesson on linguistics? The apes have enormous cognitive deficits, which is a significant hindrance.

Smart animals can be able to imitate what they see. Trained apes have been able to utter some words or even the famous horse in Germany, which could do some arithmetic. Yes, the apes will sing to some words and say some words but do they understand what those words mean? If used carefully, an inferential method can be helpful. Analysing the meaning of these words in the apes mind is almost impossible. Trainers of the apes in most case give remarkably general explanations while transcription what it is saying ignoring the fact that the repetitions in the utterances is based on what the trainer is saying and not what the ape feels or wants. One might be tempted to say that Noam is just using anthropomorphic fallacy. Povinelli (2001) explained that chimpanzees have a reliable detection system but lack the ability to understand clearly the meaning of phrases thus they are only limited to imitation of other people’s behaviour10. A sensitivity of emotions is hard to test in animals though it can be analysed from habits and patterns developed and exhibited by the apes. It is conclusive to say that from the above reasons provided, Noam Chomsky does not provide conclusive evidence to validate the quote11.

Bibliography

Baldwin, D. A, & Tomasello, M. Word learning: A window on early pragmatic understanding. In E. V. Clark (Ed), The proceedings of the twenty-ninth annual child language research forum (pp. 3-23. Stanford ,1998).: Center for the Study of Language and Information

Hobson, R. P. The grounding of symbols: A social-developmental account. (Hove: Psychology Press. 2000)

Ickes, W.. Empathic accuracy. Journal of Personality, (61, 587-610, 1993)

Malle, B. F.. How people explain behavior: A new theoretical framework. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 3, 23-48. 1999

Malle, L. J. Moses, & D. A. Baldwin (Eds.) (2002). Intentions and Intentionality: Foundations of Social Cognition. pp. 225-248, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press

Meltzoff, A. N., & Brooks, R.. “Like me” as a building block for understanding other minds: Bodily acts, attention, and intention. In B. F. Malle, L. J. Moses, & D. A. Baldwin (Eds.), Intentions and intentionality: Foundations of social cognition (pp. 171-191): Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. 2001

Povinelli, D. M. (2001). On The Possibilities of Detecting Intentions Prior to Understanding them. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Studdert-Kennedy, & J. R. Hurford (Eds.) (1999). The Evolutionary Emergence of Language: Social Function and the Origins of Linguistic For. (pp. 123-129): New York: Cambridge University Press

Studdert-Kennedy, M. (2001). Introduction: The Emergence of Phonetic Structure. New York: Cambridge University Press

Wellman, H. (1990). The Child’s Theory of Mind. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press

1
Studdert-Kennedy, M. (2001). Introduction: The Emergence of Phonetic Structure. New York: Cambridge University Press

2
Studdert-Kennedy, & J. R. Hurford (Eds.) (1999). The Evolutionary Emergence of Language: Social Function and the Origins of Linguistic For. (pp. 123-129): New York: Cambridge University Press

3
Malle, L. J. Moses, & D. A. Baldwin (Eds.) (2002). Intentions and Intentionality: Foundations of Social Cognition. pp. 225-248, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press

4
Wellman, H. (1990). The Child’s Theory of Mind. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press

5
Meltzoff, A. N., & Brooks, R.. “Like me” as a building block for understanding other minds: Bodily acts, attention, and intention. In B. F. Malle, L. J. Moses, & D. A. Baldwin (Eds.), Intentions and intentionality: Foundations of social cognition (pp. 171-191): Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. 2001

6
Studdert-Kennedy, & J. R. Hurford (Eds.) (1999). The Evolutionary Emergence of Language: Social Function and the Origins of Linguistic For. (pp. 123-129): New York: Cambridge University Press

7
Malle, B. F.. How people explain behavior: A new theoretical framework. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 3, 23-48. 1999

8
Ickes, W.. Empathic accuracy. Journal of Personality, (61, 587-610, 1993)

9
Baldwin, D. A, & Tomasello, M. Word learning: A window on early pragmatic understanding. In E. V. Clark (Ed), The proceedings of the twenty-ninth annual child language research forum (pp. 3-23. Stanford ,1998).: Center for the Study of Language and Information

10
Povinelli, D. M. (2001). On The Possibilities of Detecting Intentions Prior to Understanding them. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

11
Malle, B. F.. How people explain behavior: A new theoretical framework. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 3, 23-48. 1999