Psycholinguistics: Linguistics and Language Production

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Psycholinguistics: Linguistics and Language Production

Psycholinguistics studies the relationship between language and mind. It studies how are language and speech acquired, produced, comprehended, and lost. Language acquisition and language dissolution happen over time or diachronically. While language production and comprehension happen at a certain point of time or synchronically.

Firstly, this paper will talk about language acquisition. Children are a focus of attention and affection in all societies. They go through many stages in language acquisition such as crying, cooing, babbling, first word, birth of grammar and childish creativity. During the very first few weeks of a child’s life, crying is his only way to show what he needs. Crying is unaffected by intentional control from the nervous system, which is responsible for human behavior. At the very beginning, baby’s crying is completely iconic. For example, when the child is hungry, his or her crying becomes louder and louder, it also increases in pitch. During the first two months of the child’s life, his or her crying becomes more symbolic.

At these early stages, babies cannot depend on themselves. They depend completely on their caretakers for several years. This creates on enormous degree of early bonding and socialization. As a result of the extensive interaction between the children and their caretakers, children start to coo, making soft gurgling sounds, to express satisfaction. The cooing stage emerges at two months. When the child is about six months old, he or she starts to babble. This babbling stage refers to the natural tendency of children to create strings of consonant-vowel syllable clusters as a kind of vocalic play. Psycholinguists distinguished between marginal babbling and canonical babbling. Marginal babbling is an early stage similar to cooing where the child produce few and random consonants. While canonical babbling emerges at eight months when the child’s vocalization narrow down to syllables that similar of caretaker’s language.

Then, the child enters the first-word stage. It starts after crying, cooing, and babbling. It emerges at about one year old. Children use idiomorphs. They are words which children invent when they first catch on to the magical notion that certainly sounds have a unique reference. For example, when the child sounds”milk”, he or she says “kaka”. By using these idiomorphs, children transform from an iconic creature to a symbolic one. During this stage, children use egocentric speech. They want to talk about the objects which surround them.

After this previous stage, the child starts to use grammatical forms. Children start to use one word as a sentence, request or an exclamation. It is referred to as the holophrastic stage. Psycholinguists believe that the intentional, gestural and contextual clues which accompany holophrases make it clear those children are using single word sentence, exactly as adults do in conversations. The child starts to make sentences by a grammatical form. They can develop they use of grammar by imitating their caretakers. For example, when the father says “backwards”, his daughter imitated him by saying “rightwards”. They start to create sentences after the holophrastic stage, first with two words and subsequently with more.

Childish creativity is an important stage during the child’s life. Children’s language is determined for their mother tongue. For example, children who rose up in china, they speak Chinese. Children are creative. They come up with new words and expressions which are not in their native language or not heard in their bilingual environments. Children are a bit more like well-programmed computers, who make creative, but often inaccurate guesses about the rulers and patterns of the language they are acquiring. They create to construct or reconstruct their mother tongue.

Secondly, this paper will talk about language production. We fail sometimes to appreciate our gifts underlying so many of our everyday activities, such as writers and artists. We realize how much we take our actions for granted only through loss of injury. Language production is very important for us. Psycholinguists divided language production into four stages, conceptualization, formulation, articulation and self-monitoring.

Conceptualization is the first step in language production. It means how to conceptualize the speech in our mind. The theory of the American psycholinguist, David McNeill , says that primitive linguistic concepts are formed as two modes of thought. These are syntactic thinking, which creates the sequence of words which we typically think of when we talk about how language is initiated, and imagistic thinking, which creates a visual mode of communication. Syntactic thinking and imagistic thinking collaborate together to conceptualize conversation.

Formulation is the second step in language production. It is the eventual output of the process. It is easier to formulate than to conceptualize. The psycholinguist , Karl lashely, published an essay focused on the psychology of language. It concentrated on how speakers produce words, sound, sentences and phrases together so rapidly and accurately. He talked about how common it is to commit spelling errors when one is typing. These slips of the tongue or the pen are not linguistic loss during brain damage. They are normal mistakes occurs in everyday speaking and writing. We can make back-track and correct it.

Slips of the tongue happen between two constants or two vowels. It has a certain pattern. There is the planning of higher level of speech. It is to analyze the steps we have to take and the decisions we have in order to produce an intended utterance. For example, there is a conversation between you and your friend about a certain situation. You decided that something is not important. You can choose to formulate it by some factors as politeness. It could be stated in an affirmative of negative response such as, “it is nothing” or ” it is trivial”.

Articulation is the third step in language production. What happens in our mind is very similar to what happens in the computer when I want to print some information. The conceptualization stage perceive itself as the primary and ultimate composer of communication, and the formulation stage pride itself as the conductor of speech sounds, but without the instrument of articulation, the music of our voices remain unheard and unappreciated. Like the operation of the printer which connected with the computer to produce what I wrote. Human larynx’s position plays an important role in speaking. It gives the human the ability to articulate speech. Its lower position gives humans the ability to articulate speech sounds.

Self- monitoring if the final step in language production. All speakers and writers of any language, regardless of their degree of native fluency, commit linguistic blunders. Here, we have errors and mistakes. For native speakers, they do not commit errors, but they commit mistakes. They can self-correct immediately. While for non-native speakers, they commit errors and they are not able to notice it or correct it.

Thirdly, this paper will talk about language comprehension. Understanding language is an automatic task which happens very quickly. Sounds or letters strike our ears or eyes creating words which form phrases, clauses and sentences. Understanding language was divided into four stages, comprehension of sounds, comprehension of words, comprehension of sentences and comprehension of texts.

In the comprehension of sounds, psycholinguists did an experiment on a group of people. They gave them four sentences and each sentence has a missing word. They gave them the last syllable of each missing word and asked them to write down each word. For example, (1) it was found that the …eel was on the axle, (2) it was found that the …eel was on the shoe , (3) it was found that the …eel was on the orange, (3) it was found that the …eel was on the table. This insertion of different missing sounds to create a separate and appropriate word in each sentence is called the phoneme restoration effect. From the comprehension of the other words in the sentence, they can expect the missing word.

Comprehension of words is more complex than the comprehension of sounds. Each word has many sounds. Even in short and one syllable words, we can find that they composed of many sounds. Each language has thousands of words where we can find some similar words which make us confuse in the meaning. One model that psycholinguists have adopted to account for this complexity is Parallel Distributed Processing (PDP). Its perspective argues that we use several separate and parallel processes when we understand spoken or written language. When someone hear or see a word, he or she can stimulate an individual logogen (verve cells) or lexical detection device for that word. These logogens link to individual neurons in neuronal network. Then, they activate themselves and work in parallel with many other logogens to create comprehension.

There are comprehension of high frequency words and comprehensions of low frequency words. High frequency words are rapidly and frequently comprehended like “boy” and “orange”. While low frequency words take a long time to be comprehended like “exotic” and “logogen”. Psycholinguists divided the comprehension of words into several ways, in term of their spelling, on the basis of their pronunciation, and in terms of grammatical functions. In term of their spelling, like the homophones, the words pronounced alike but spelled differently, for example ; “threw” and “through”. On the basis of their pronunciation, like homographs, words spelled alike but pronounced differently, for example; “lead”noun and “lead” verb. In terms of grammatical functions, the word may be function as a verb and a noun or either of them only.

There is another example of the uselessness of (PDP) approach to the comprehension of words most of us encounter during our daily life. It is what psycholinguists named as the Tip of the Tongue (TOT) phenomenon. This phenomenon occurs when we know a word but we cannot remember it to pronounce it. It is on the tip of the tongue. The word is not completely forgotten, but we can remember usually the first syllable of this word. This means that our long term memory storage is better for recognition than for recall.

Comprehension of sentences is more complex than comprehension of sounds and words. Psycholinguists based their researches to examine the comprehension of sentences on the model of sentence grammar which proposed by Chomsky in 1950s. Chomsky model claimed that all sentences were generated from a phrase structure skeleton has a series of transformational rules which is named as (Transformational Generative Grammar). These transformations are very powerful. They could create many verities of sentences by rearranging, adding, deleting or substituting words in the original sentence.

Psycholinguists examine these transformations on a group of native listeners to notice their level of comprehension. Example number one is : the dog is chasing the cat. While example number two is : Is not the cat chased by the dog?. Example number one is easier than example number two, because it has three transformational changes; it has been transformed into a negative, passive and interrogative sentence. Psycholinguists called this process as Derivational Theory of Complexity (DTC), because difficulty in comprehension was derived from number of transformations that were added to the original and simple sentence.

Psycholinguists made experiments to test (DTC). They gave a group of listeners a number of sentences and asked them to recall both the sentence they had just heard and a string of words. They found that when the sentence becomes more complicated than the previous sentence and the number of sentences becomes more than one or two, the listener remembers fewer and fewer words. They also confuse by additional transformations in each sentence.

Comprehension of texts is more complex than the others. When someone read or hear a text, he or she can remember the content but not typically the grammar of each sentence. The presence or absence of our background information can affect dramatically the way we remember a piece of discourse. Grammatically, we can remember simple sentences not complicated ones, for example we can remember active sentences than passive ones.

Finally, this paper will talk about language dissolution or language loss. Language dissolution can be caused by unhappy accident which violates the language area of the brain, a traumatic event in our personal life, or genetic disorders. Psycholinguists found that the dissolution of language whether due to accident or age, is a rich source of information about how the human mind controls our attempt to communicate.

Neurolinguistics and language loss have two things which are the evidence from aphasia and the surgical evidence. Neurolinguistics is an offspring of psycholinguistics, investigates how the human brain creates and processes speech and language. Firstly, we will talk about the loss of language due to brain damage. To understand how this happens, we need to clear up some misunderstandings about the human brain and how it functions. Anatomically, the brain has two separate and virtually identical cerebral hemispheres. There are millions of associations’ pathways which connect the left and the right hemispheres together, so any information in either hemisphere is shared with the other.

Our central interest is in language not in the anatomical mapping of human neurology, so we concerned with the location of the control of speech organs and the sensation of speech. If I take the left hand and cup it over the left ear so that the palm of the hand is clapped over the ear hole. I can find that the left hand covers most of the left side of the head. If I opened the skull, I will find under the first two fingers, two vertical strips of brain tissues running down from the top of the head. They have the same size of the two fingers. It is the area of the brain which is responsible for the production and comprehension of human language. Under the middle finger, there is the motor cortex which responsible for muscular movements. While under the index finger, there is the sensory cortex. The top of the motor cortex and sensory cortex take care of the movement and sensation of the feet. While the bottom of these two strips are responsible for the head, mouth and throat.

We can find that the top of the brain controls the lower part of the body and the vice versa. The left side of the brain is responsible for the right side of the brain and the vice versa. The top parts of the motor and sensory cortexes are responsible for the movement and sensation of the feet. While the bottom parts of them are responsible for the head.

Humans are susceptible to injury in the central nervous system. The damage could arise from a loss of blood supply to the location of the central nervous system due to stroke, or invasive injury like an automobile accident or gunshot wound. There are two consequences that make the central nervous system unique in relation to any part of your body. Firstly, there is no pain receptor in the brain that is why a stroke, unlike a heart attack, is not a painful experience. The second thing is that the central nervous system does not regenerate. Once it is damaged, it does not grow back.

Now, let us speak about the surgical evidence. There are two kinds of surgical operation have a particular bearing on questions of language dissolution. The first operation is hemispherectomy and the second one is split-brain operation. In rare cases, when the neurosurgeons find that either the left or right hemisphere of a patient was hardly affected, he or she opens this affected side of the skull and remove the entire left or right hemisphere. This operation performs on adults or children under the age of ten. For an adult, this operation causes a dramatic effect on them. When an adult undergoes a left hemispherectomy, he or she becomes completely aphasic, except for a few words of automatic speech. While, if this operation performed on children, it does not lead to loss of speech. The factor here for these causes is the age of the brain.

During the first decades of human life, the human brain is continuously evolving and growing. Linguistic functions have not yet localized to specific areas of the brain. This gives a neuroplasticity of the still maturing brain. When a young brain encounters traumatic injury, even to the extent of losing an entire cerebral hemisphere, because it is still maturing, and because the primary areas of cognitive and linguistic functioning have not established, a child does not suffer the functional loss that an adult does. Children aphasia exists and stem from neurological abnormalities such as autism.

The second operation is the split-brain operation which was developed in 1970s to treat specific cases of severe epilepsy. This operation was developed to spare sufferers from the terrible trauma of major seizures, because there are certain severe and singular forms of epilepsy which remain unaffected by pharmacological treatment. Epilepsy is caused by discharges in the motor cortex in one hemisphere that are transmitted to the corresponding cortex of the other hemisphere via the corpus callosum. There are a few negative consequences to the operation, and this rests largely on the fact that our senses are bilaterally represented. After the corpus callosum is cut, in normal, everyday situations, information from either eye goes to both hemispheres.

Speech and language disorders are divided into dissolution from non-damaged brains and language loss through aging. There are two examples of disorders which causes dissolution from non-damage brain. These two examples are stuttering and autism. Stuttering is one of the most common articulation problems. It occurs, most frequently on the initial word of a clause, the first syllable of a word, the initial consonant of a syllable, and on stop consonants. There is a theory represents the extreme behavioral view and claims that stuttering originates from traumatic events occurring in early childhood when sensitive parents and primary school teachers are too assiduous in attempting to ensure that the child speaks fluently.

There is another theory states that stammering is caused by the absence of unambiguous lateralization of speech to the left hemisphere. There another disorder which is autism. The first signs of this disorder are apparent in infants, before speech has really developed. Autism is referred to as childhood schizophrenia. An autistic infant exhibits a disregard for human interaction and ignores eye and face contact. This condition creates a lack of social interaction. At the end, the reduction in physical and mental abilities does accompany the aging process. When we become older, the language may be lost quickly.

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  • University/College: University of Arkansas System

  • Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter

  • Date: 3 January 2017

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