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Language Paper Essay

Language can be looked at differently from other types of cognitions. There is a need for language in one form or another to have the ability to communicate with other human beings. This communication is the basis to how human beings express themselves to those around them. With this expression comes the ability to formulate thoughts. These thoughts can be translated to others through language. This language play an important role when analyzing, problem-solving, creating reasons, communicating needs, and making plans.

Without the existence of language the attempt for humans to achieve goals would be almost impossible to accomplish. Goals would have to be accomplished be figuring out an alternative method than language to be used for sciences, history, mathematics, and the ability to explain past experiences or cultures. Because language is such an important communication tool, this paper will go into the definition of language and lexicon, evaluating the key features of language, with a description of the four levels of the language structure and processing, and analyzing the role of language processing in cognitive psychology. .

Define Language

Because there is so many different ways of language it can be difficult to provide just one. Cognitive psychology defines language as a system of communication that is governed by a system of rules and can express an infinite number of propositions. In addition, natural language has two criteria. First it must be governed by a set of rules knows as grammar. Second it must be productive – an infinite number of things can be expressed (Galotti, 2015). But there are some factors that are deemed to be critical in the communication of human language. The factors that are deemed critical are: communicative, arbitrary, structured, generative, and dynamic (Willingham, 2007).

These critical items that are necessary for the formation of language starts with communicative. Communicative will allow communication between individuals. Arbitrary which means that a sound will stand for a meaning. Language, which needs to be structured and must follow a logical order to make sense. Generative which means that there are a limitless number of meanings that are associated to the word. Dynamic which means that language is constantly changing, growing, and adapting (Willingham, 2007).

Define Lexicon

Lexicon is defined as the mental store and is thought to be the keeper of the cognitive processor’s knowledge of words, which also includes the spelling, pronunciation, definition, and parts of speech (Galotti, 2015). Most researchers have a belief that when people recognize words through the process of matching where the spoken word will be compared with a mental dictionary. This mental dictionary is known as the lexicon. The lexicon is the foot bridge between language and knowledge (Willingham, 2007).

This communication bridge for lexicons will vary depending on how and where a lexicon is used. However, the grammaticalizations will be different depending on the type of language being used. The words and expressions used in each language will be the lexicon for that individual language. Therefore an individual person’s own set of vocabulary would have their own personal lexicon attached to it that would be their own personal storage unit of their knowledge.

Evaluate Key Features of Language

Charles Hackett identified 13 features of human language and how the human language is differs from other forms of communication. Four key factors are vocal-auditory channel, specialization, arbitrariness, and traditional transmissions. Vocal-auditory channel is defined as the means that the standard human language occurs vocal (creation of sound by mouth) type of communication that can be perceived by hearing it (Hyde, 1998). Specialization is the use of organs in the production of speech and these organs are able to adapt to the task of speech. Example would be the lips, tongue, a throat of a human that have been specially adapted to the task of speech and not just to assist as an eating apparatus.

Whereas, dogs do not have the physical capabilities for the speech sounds that humans have the capability of because dogs lack the necessary specialized organs (Hyde, 1998). Arbitrariness is where there is no necessary connection between form of the signal and what is being referred to. An example would be a very large object like a whale and yet it is referred to with a very short word. Some would argue that four-legged animals could then be referred to as the sounds they make. However, the sounds animals make do not always translate across culture borders and therefore even onomatopoeic words would be to some extent also arbitrary (Hyde, 1998).

Traditional transmissions has the meaning that human language is not something that exist from birth. Even though language does not exist from birth humans are born with some ability to perform language. In order for humans to perform language they will need to learn, acquire, the language that is spoken around them from others who speak the language. Learning language by listening to others is different from the communications in the animal world. In the animal world animals are born knowing their entire systems. Such is the case with bumble bees who are born with the knowledge of dance and song birds that are born with the knowledge of bird-songs.

Describe the four levels of language structure and processing The four levels of language structure and processing are phonemes, words, sentences, and text. Phonemes is the shortest segment of speech that if changed would change the meaning of the word (Goldstein, 2014). There are 44 phonemes that make up the basic unit of sound (Galotti, 2015). The basic unit of sounds will vary from different languages. The study of the different ways that phonemes can be combined in any language is called phonology. Once you have put the sounds together the task then becomes to put the sounds in a coherent way, identifying the meaningful units of language and this aspect is known as morphology (Galotti, 2015). These sounds then become words, sentences, and text. Words should be placed in a sentence will have importance to the understanding of the sentence. Text will be a group of sentences that once placed together will be the formation of the paragraph in reference to a certain subject.

Analyze the role of language processing in cognitive psychology How humans process information is a key factor in cognitive psychology. Language is what is used as the main source of communication for humans and is influenced by both internal and external factors and since cognitive psychology is the investigation of all mental abilities the processing of language plays an important role. There are two different proposals in regards to the relationship of language to other cognitive processes. The modularity hypothesis proposed that there are some aspects of language, especially syntactic processes, will function autonomously, and independently of any other cognitive process.

This recent proposal awaits a more rigorous empirical testing even though there is some evidence does exist. The second proposal is the Whorfian hypothesis of linguistic relativity, even though it is very interesting it has so far not received strong or empirical support (Galotti, 2015). Cognitive psychology is the science of how the mind is organized to produce intelligent thought and how the mind is realized in the brain (Anderson, 2015). With cognitive psychology being the study of how the mind is organized to produce intelligent thought this knowledge is through either written or verbal communication. The written or verbal communication through language enables an individual to communicate thoughts and emotions. It is these thoughts and emotions that cognitive psychology attempts to understand.


Language is a system of communication that is governed by a set of rules and can express an infinite number of propositions. Natural language has two criteria. First it must be governed by a set of rules knows as grammar. Second it must be productive – where an infinite number of things can be expressed (Galotti, 2015). Language plays an important role in the regards to cognition because it is the main communication tool used by human beings. Language has to have a storage place where pronunciation, definition, and parts of speech are stored.

The storage place is called the lexicon. Lexicon is the bridge between language and knowledge. Language is a system of communication that is governed by a system of rules (Galotti, 2015). There are 4 levels of language, structure, and processing. In addition, Charles Hockett identified 13 key features of the human language. The ability to turn language into communication through words, and then pull information from a person’s experiences, education, environment, and culture is a magnificent feat to accomplish, and it is through language that people are able to express their ideas because of the role cognition plays within language.

Anderson, J. R. (2015). Cognitive Psychology and its implications (8th ed.). New York, New York: Worth Publishers. Galotti, K. M. (2014). Cognitive psychology in and out of the laboratory (5th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Goldstein, E. B. (2014). Sensation and perception (9th ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Hyde, K. (1998). The features of human language. Retrieved May 14, 2011, from

Willingham, D. T. (2007). Cognition: The thinking animal (3rd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ:
Pearson/Allyn & Bacon

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