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Chapter 8 Cognition - Language & Thought

Its all about communication!!!
Its all about communication!!!
Chapter 8 Cognition - Language & Thought
"Curious bIue ideas sIeep furiousIy."
At what IeveI is this statement ambiguous?
urious blue ideas sleep furiously
Famous statement by a Iinguist to argue that sentences
can be proper but stiII make no sense. At what IeveI is
this sentence ambiguous? SEMANTÌCALLY
at is cognition?
'ideo cIip (2:32)
avid ChaImers
"The Hard ProbIem"
avid John ChaImers (born 20 April 1966) is an AustraIian
phiIosopher specializing in the area of phiIosophy of mind
and phiIosophy of Ianguage, whose recent work concerns
verbal disputes.
He is Professor of Philosophy and Director of the Centre for Consciousness at
the Australian National University. He is also Visiting Professor of Philosophy at
New York University.
His book, %e onscious Mind (1996), is widely considered (by both
advocates and opponents) to be an essential work on consciousness and its
relation to the mind-body problem in philosophy of mind.
Ìn the book, Chalmers argues that all forms of physicalism (whether reductive
or non-reductive) that have dominated modern philosophy and science fail to
account for the existence (that is, presence in reality) of consciousness itself.
He proposes an alternative dualistic view he calls naturalistic dualism (but
which might also be characterized by more traditional formulations such as
property dualism, neutral monism, or double-aspect theory).
The book was described by The Sunday Times as "one of the best science
books of the year".
Ìn a spoken language, the smallest distinctive
sound unit.
Chug has three phonemes, ch, u, g.
Ìn a language, the smallest unit that carries
Can be a word or part of a word (prefix or suffix).
LANGUAGE complex communication system that involves the use of abstract
symbols to convey unlimited messages.
uman language can convey meaning about things that haven't happened yet,
things that happened in the past, and things that may never happen. Because
we can transcend time and space with language, we have unlimited ability to
communicate ideas.
Structure of Language.
ulti-layered process.
Phonemes: smallest unit of
sound in a language. All the
letters of the alphabet are
Ìn English we produce all the
unique sounds that we are
able to make by combining
about 40-50 unique
phonemes. Other languages
make due with less.
Hawaiian = 30 phonemes.
Morphemes: smallest unit of
meaning in a language. Small
words, such as cat or walk, are
Ìf we add the letter s to cat, we
now have two morphemes
(cat(s)), and if we add-ing to
walk, we have two morphemes
"Unbreakable" comprises 3
un- (a bound morpheme
signifying "not"),
-break- (the root, a free
morpheme), and
-able (a bound morpheme
signifying "doable").
Grammar: system of rules used in a
One of those rules is semantics,
which is the way we understand
meaning from words by their
morphemes and from their
We know that adding an -s to the
end of a word means that we are
referring to more than one, or we
know that words can have
different meanings depending on
the placement in a sentence or on
the context.
I'm dying! has a very different
meaning when said by a person
who is bleeding on the ground
versus an adolescent preparing
for her first middle school dance.
Syntax: rules that refers to the way
we order words to create meaning.
our new please away soes put
makes us confused, whereas
'Please put away your new soes
is quite clear.
Learning Language.
Behaviorists believe being "exposed"
to things in the environment,
reinforcement, and repetition is
Nativists, however argue that we are
"hardwired" to learn language &
that humans are unique in that
Both sides have supporters,
evidence isn't clear which is
Noam Chomsky, MIT
(Father of Modern Linguistics)
believed that language is
learned by exposure to
language, but the
ability to speak is
He believed there is a
critical period of
language acquisition,
and if we do not learn
language during that
time, we will not learn
language well.
There is overwhelming
evidence to support
this theory.
Inborn UniversaI Grammar
We acquire language
too quickly for it to
be learned.
'learning box" inside our
heads that enable us to
learn any human
Noam Chomsky's offices at MIT. Boston GIobe architecture coIumnist Robert CampbeII wrote a
gIowing appraisaI of the buiIding on ApriI 25, 2004. According to Campbell, the Stata is always going to
look unfinished. It also looks as if it's about to collapse. Columns tilt at scary angles. Walls teeter, swerve,
and collide in random curves and angles. aterials change wherever you look: brick, mirror-surface steel,
brushed aluminum, brightly colored paint, corrugated metal. Everything looks improvised, as if thrown up at
the last moment. That's the point. The Stata's appearance is a metaphor for the freedom, daring, and
creativity of the research that's supposed to occur inside it.
MiIestones in Language Acquisition
Age --> MiIestone
Birth to 2 months --> Cooing
2 months to 12 months --> Babbling
Approx. 12 months --> First word (typically matching a simple sound:
Approx. 16 months --> 2-word utterances (telegraphic
2-6 years --> Add 6-10 new words a day; learn
grammar. Overextension. ("doggie" for ever 4-legged animal)
Age 5 --> Over-regularization: "Ì goed to the store."
From Age 5 on --> Add words to vocabulary; learn
subtleties of language.
Other languages show the same pattern of
acquisition (not just English).
A 4ô-year-old couple emigrate from Jenezuela to the Untied
States. 1hey have an 18-year-old son and a 9-year-old
daughter. Based on research that has investigated mastery of
English as a second language, which child will master English
more quickly?
yearold daugter will master
Englis more quickly tan er
parents and er broter
According to learning theory,
children's vocabularies increase and
their pronunciation improves as
parents insist on cIoser and cIoser
approximations of the correct word
before they provide reinforcement
Language eveIopment
ow many words do you tink you
know now?
ProbabIy around 80,000.
After age 1 you average
about 13 words a day.
at made tese Super Bowl
commercials funny?
%e joke was 'language acquisition" -
funny/odd to see a baby talk like a trader.
o our words shape the way we think, or
do we have ideas first and then look for
ways to articulate them?
Linguist Benjamin horf believed in
Iinguistic determinism: our words shape
& restrict our thinking.
orfian ypotesis, proposed
that language affects tougt,
and the structure of the language
itself affects cognition.
Not %% orf!
oes language influence our tinking?
horf's Linguistic ReIativity
The idea that language determines te
way we tink (not vive versa).
The Hopi tribe has no past tense in
their Ianguage, so Whorf says they
rareIy think of the past.
Whorf said:
Our language controls or limits what we can know and
The Sapir-WhorI Hypothesis also stated that language is
not merely a way to express ideas, but it also determines
the range oI ideas we can have.
If there`s no word or term for a concept, it`s hard even
to conceive of it.
For example, we might discover new things, but iI we
don`t have term or word to call or describe it, we cannot
proclaim our Iindings.
n particular, WhorI announced, ative
American languages impose on
their speakers a picture of
reality that is totally different
from ours, so their speakers
would simply not be able to
understand some of our most
basic concepts, like the Ilow oI
time or the distinction between
objects (like 'stone¨) and actions
(like 'Iall¨).
For decades, WhorI`s theory dazzled both
academics and the general public alike. n his
shadow, others made a whole range oI
imaginative claims about the supposed power
oI language.
Ranged Irom the assertion that ative
American languages instill in their speakers
an intuitive understanding of Einstein's
concept of time as a fourth dimension to the
theory that the nature of the 1ewish religion
was determined by the tense system of
ancient Hebrew.
According to the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, language
determines our experience of reality, and we can see
and think only what our language allows us to see
and think.
For example, the Inuit are said to have many different
words for snow, and their sophisticated snow
vocabulary make it easy Ior them to communicate and
understand each other. ThereIore, they see and
experience snow-covered landscapes` quite diIIerently
Irom the rest oI us.
However, some people are not convinced by the
Sapir-Whorf hypothesis. Although the nuit have many
diIIerent words Ior snow, it does does not show that
language determines reality, but instead suggests that
reality determines language.
The reason the nuit have many words Ior snow is
because oI their environment, they live in snow. n
contrast with, the reason there are not many words Ior
snow` in Australia is that it doesn`t snow very oIten in
o peopIe that speak more than one Ianguage think
differentIy depending on their Ianguage at that time?
The bilingual person is primed, in a way
that monolinguals are not, to seek out
and, at times separate, the meaning that
a person is trying to convey from the
words they are using to do so.
The message becomes an abstraction
embedded within the words -- their
o peopIe that speak more than one Ianguage think
differentIy depending on their Ianguage at that time?
W ventually, Whorf`s theory crash-
landed on hard facts and solid
common sense, when it transpired that
there had never actually been any
evidence to support his Iantastic claims.
W The reaction was so severe that Ior
decades, any attempts to explore the
inIluence oI the mother tongue on our
thoughts were relegated to the loony
Iringes oI disrepute.
W ut 70 years on, it is surely time to put
the trauma oI WhorI behind us. And in
the last few years, new research has
revealed that when we learn our
mother tongue, we do after all acquire
certain habits of thought that shape
our experience in significant and often
surprising ways.
o peopIe that speak more than one Ianguage think
differentIy depending on their Ianguage at that time?
f the inventory of ready-made words
in your language determined
which concepts you were able to
understand, how would you ever
learn anything new?
#oman Jackobson, 'Languages diIIer
essentially in what
they must convey and not in what
they may convey.¨
This maxim oIIers us the key to
unlocking the real Iorce oI the
mother tongue:
if different languages influence
our minds in different ways, this
is not because of what our
language allows us to think but
rather because of what it
habitually obliges us to
think about.
o peopIe that speak more than one Ianguage think
differentIy depending on their Ianguage at that time?
!inker and Bloom (1992)
suggest that human
language may be a result of
evolutionary processes
because language allows
humans to .
acquire information
about the world
Ìn 1977, Reggie Jackson hit 3 HR's against the
Dodgers. He has stated that before each at bat,
he visuaIizes crushing a home run.
o you tink visualization elps?
We can think in words.
ut more often we think in mental pictures.
Thinking without Language
Arbitrariness: words are not inherently imbued
with meaning. They are selected and stand for
objects in the world in an arbitrary manner.
Dog in English is chien in French.
ispIacement: language allows us to talk about
events that have already happened, events that
will happen, and events that may not happen at
all. No other form of communication allows for
'ocaI-Auditory ChanneI: All languages in all
cultures rely on this as the primary form of
communication using language.
Honeybees seem to
o nimals tink?
ohIer's Chimpanzees
ohler exhibited that Chimps can problem solve.
Ìt has been observed that the manner in which chimpanzees solve
problems, such as that of retrieving bananas positioned out of
reach, is not through trial-and-error. Ìnstead, they were
observed to proceed in a manner that was unwaveringIy
Animals of quite a range of species are capabIe of soIving a range
of probIems that are argued to involve abstract reasoning;
Modern research has tended to show that the performances of
Wolfgang hler's chimpanzees, who could achieve
spontaneous soIutions to probIems without training, were
by no means unique to that species, and that apparently similar
behavior can be found in animals usually thought of as much
less intelligent, if appropriate training is given.
Apes and Signing
1. ALGRITHMS (step-by-step approach)
2. HEURISTICS (a procedure that has
worked in the past and is seen as IikeIy to
work in the future.)
3. MEANS-EN ANALYSIS (keeps in mind
the finaI goaI when setting sub-goaIs.)
4. RING BACAR (start with the
goaI state and work backward untiI you
reach the present state.)
ALGRITHMS (step-by-
step approach)
Some algorithms involve
simpIe triaI and error.
Ìf X is a possible solution
to a problem, the
algorithm for a solution
might be stated:
"Try X; if X works, then X =
soIution; if X doesn't work, then
try next X."
Clearly, this could go on as
many times as there is
another possible X.
AIgorithms guarantee a
soIution but can be
very time consuming.
HEURISTICS (a procedure that has
worked in the past and is seen as
IikeIy to work in the future.)
Heuristics are "ruIes of thumb" based
on past experiences.
Ìf the light in your room goes out, you
could check the fuse box, change the
light bulb, check the wires in the wall
or lamp, check the socket, and so on.
Because experience suggests that the
probability of the light bulb burning out
is higher than the other choices, you
try that first.
euristics take less time tan
algoritms, but tey may not result
in a solution.
(keeps in mind the finaI goaI
when setting sub-goaIs.)
Ìn planning your study for
finals, you might start with
math but will set a time limit
because you have exams in
three other subjects. Will
you need to spend the
same amount of time on
each? What exactly do you
need to focus on?
(start with the goaI state and work
backward untiI you reach the
present state.)
When a company wants to
know how its competitor's
product works, it will
"reverse engineer" that
This means beginning with
the product and analyzing
its construction to see what
each part does.
The company can then begin
with its own parts and
reconstruct a similar
Mind Magic, Mind Reading, or
Mentalism is it real?
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