I am a 4th Year Psychology Student, studying at Dalhousie University, Halifax NS, Canada. I am a member of the PSYO 3190, Psycholinguistics, class at Dalhousie University, and this is my homepage for the class. I will be posting weekly blogs about the information obtained in lectures, and about the Psychology of Language in general. Later on in the semester I will be preparing a textbook chapter on Models of Speech Perception.
January 15th, 2011 #1
This past week held two particular areas of interest for me. The discussion in class held on Bonobos learning a symbolic language system, and the origins of aphasias were incredibly interesting. Firstly, with the bonobos, the way the son Kanzi learned to use the symbols through watching his mother being taught the symbols, reminded me of how younger siblings tend to pick up the things being taught to their older siblings. Kanzi learned the symbols better than his mother did, which is also very similar to the way immigrant children tend to learn a new language quicker and more accurately than their parents. Although being a completely different species, the comparisons between the bonobo learning, and human learning I found to be quite similar. It was this similarity which made this lecture of interest to me. Secondly, the lecture on the origins of aphasias was interesting in the sense that it took on the time line of brain localization, and how these regions were discovered. Through looking at the very beginnings of brain localization, and discovery of various regions, to looking at what we recognize now as the human brain, there have been some major changes. The amount of change that has taken place in the past century can only be an indication of the amount of change that will take place in the coming century. It is my belief that the information learned from the past is a glimpse of the information to be obtained in the future. I am excited to find out what this new information will be.
January 24th, 2011 #2
These past lectures have been primarily based on the various aspects of a language. Phonology was one of aspects studied in the class. Professor mentioned how the rules of phonology are a component of a person's implicit knowledge. This means that phonological rules need not be developed by individuals, it is engrained in their genetic make-up. some of the specific phonological rules that are known, are the order in which sounds can be represented and can not be presented. For example, in the english language, the sounds made by C, A, and T are known to go together, however, H, K, S, O can not go together to make a coherent sound. The lecture continued with a discussion on the innateness of phonological awareness, something I have come to be very interested in. I believe it is fascinating how a early speaker, children, can so readily pick up on the sounds of a language, when they also readily make mistakes with language. What I mean by this is that young children make many errors when using language, using the wrong words, or the wrong tense and so on, but they do not make as many errors when it comes to sounds. Another interesting aspect for me, based on some previous courses, is how children, when they are pre-lingual, play with sounds, and string many incoherent sounds together, and then miraculously start speak in intelligible words. I believe that this tendency for children to play with sounds, and then when actually communicating, use sounds appropriately, really demonstrates the innateness of phonological rules.
January 28th, 2011 #3
This week's set of lectures have dealt with the various aspects of understanding language. Auditory information, including phonological awareness, and visual information, reading were examined. With the auditory information, we learned about the various ways language is perceived by a listener. Understanding oral speech can occur via two processes: top-down and bottom-up. With top-down processing, the brain examines the entire word and then breaks it down so that the listener can perceive its meaning. in bottom-up processing, the listener first understands the components of the words, and then builds upon them to understand the entire meaning of the word. Understanding oral language is an important aspect of gaining phonological awareness. In order for an individual to learn how to read, they must have a concrete basis of phonological awareness. When reading text, an individual with a higher level of phonological awareness will be able to understand that the various sounds blend together to form words, and these words make sense. As people are able to hear and speak language before they are able to read it, it is understandable how having a higher level of phonological awareness will benefit the reading outcomes for an individual.The main question that came to mind while participating in lecture this past week is the linkage between language and developmental auditory problems. If phonological awareness, the ability to understand the oral components of language, is a necessary component in learning how to read, how can children who are born death learn how to read?
January 31st, 2011 #4
Today's lecture on Morphology was a beneficial lecture for my chapter on Words, Meanings and Recognition. The section on morphology was of particular interest to me, as morphology is the study of meaning of words. I plan, in my chapter to discuss morphology in great detail, especially for the sections referring to word meaning and word structure. Morphology will also be useful when I explain word recognition, and ways to remember various words. I can recall some previous research that dealt with morphology and word recognition, although I forget the exact source, the main premise of the work dealt with rate of word remembrance based on familiarity with the morpheme. What other research is out there linking morphology to word recognition? Is there a source of research that will help me to understand why words are the way they are, and why they have to meanings that they do? I hope to be able to answer these questions in my chapter on words, not only for myself, but for viewers who are also interested in the topic of my chapter.
February 7th, 2011 #5
Today's class was of particular interest to me, because the main discussion dealt with words and word meanings. This is the topic of my chapter which I will present this coming Friday. Dr. Newman began the discussion with providing examples of the different variations of single words or phrases in different languages. Along with the discussion of words, the topic of registers came up. Professor spoke about how people develop a different register, way of speaking, when they are communicating with different types of people. This immediately made me think of the different registers I use when I communicate with the various groups of people I interact with. I definitely speak much differently with my parents than I do with my friends, or my professors, or my employers. I am going to make it my goal this week to try to observe speakers, and see if they use a different form of speech with different audiences, and if I can in fact detect the differences. This class keeps getting more interesting as we continue. I wonder however, as I tend always to do, what about those people with hearing or vision impairments? A blind person can not see whom they are speaking with, do they still have a different register for different groups of people? What about the Hearing Impaired? Is there a different form of ASL that would be used with different groups?
February 18th, 2011 #6
The topic of lecture today was discourse. Discourse is a type of speech that is longer than a sentence. Discourse can take the form of a story, a narrative, or a conversation. Throughout lecture, the topic of discourse unfolded and after some jokes and mind puzzles, it led to the discussion based on memories and false memories. False memories occur when a memory that is fabricated has been implanted into the mind of someone else, who know believes this is an accurate memory of their own. The example used in lecture was Bugs Bunny giving the speaker a hug while he was in Disneyland, and the speaker asked his company if they remembered Bugs Bunny. Not being a Disney character, Bugs shouldn't be found in Disneyland, yet because of the social context of being engaged in a conversation, most people will agree that yes, they saw Bugs Bunny there. So simply, because of being in conversation, a person can be implanted by a false or fake memory. This makes me wonder about how well a person can be made to believe an incorrect detail, because of engaging in a social context. Can people be persuaded to vote for political parties differently because of what they experienced while conversing with someone else? I wonder in what other ways people's minds or beliefs may be changed based on whom and what they are interacting with, based on causal conservation.
March 7th, 2011, #7
The topics of last week's lectures involved music and language. We discuss the similarities between the two and how they are reflected onto each other. My questions for these topics pertain to the benefits of acquiring a taste and familiarity with music at a young age? If a child, when they learn to speak, also becomes very familiar with melodies, pitch and tunes, will their advancement in language abilities be stronger, or better than their peers who have not had the same musical experiences? Likewise with the case involving fetuses listening to music while in utero? What can be done to find out if these children will acquire language at an earlier and more advanced level than their peers who do not? Also, what type of music would work best for this type of experiment? Classical, with soothing, predictable melodies or would any type of tune work? Research has been shown the infants can tell the difference in pitch and tone changes better than adults can, is this principle something that can be harnessed to enhance language abilities in children?
March 13th, 2011, #8
This past week's lecture were incredibly interesting for me. Some of the lecture material was based around writing, and ways that written language evolved. I found these topics interesting, because written language, along with oral language is such an important aspect of our society, yet it can be so much more difficult to grasp than oral language is. Writing is challenge for quite a few people, and some never gain the ability to write properly. writing requires a high level of fine motor skills, also, the capacity for the learner to remember and understand the rules of written language. But does it really have to be so difficult? As I listened in class I was thinking about the way the elementary students I tutor write, for unfamiliar words, they write them exactly how they sound ("wud" or "cud" for would and could). Why is language, particularly difficult to understand and produce, why can't words be spelt the way they sound? As I understood, this is how the early languages were, based on the way they sounded, instead of today, being based on phonetics. Working with children who are learning to read and write it is obvious that using the phonetic approach to writing is difficult, especially with all of the different ways English has for making the same sound. There should be an easier system to use when teaching written language, maybe not entirely using the phonetic method, but also incorporating some aspects of the early languages. Teach children all the ways to make the sound, and then develop a means to select the correct sound for the proper spelling?
March 17th, 2011, #9
Today's class discussed language throughout development. professor talked about how infants begin to perceive language while in utero. This is possible because an infant's ears are developed before they are born. Infants also can detect and filter familiar voices while they are still in the womb, and various research has shown that infants prefer and can distinguish their mother's voice from other female voices. I wonder about this fact, what if the infant's mother is mute, and could not speak while carrying their child? Will this child orient towards their mother still? The mother can not speak, but I imagine she might be able to make some type of intelligible noise, is this enough for the child to orient towards? Also, the studies were only conducted on the mother's voice; in the case I am wondering about, what if the father was able to speak, and he spoke frequently around the mother's stomach while the infant was in utero, would the infant be able to distinguish the father's voice compared to other male voices? I believe this is an area of research that needs to be examined, many studies have been conducted on the mother's voice through speaking or reading during gestation, but I haven't come across many studies using the father. I wonder what the results would be if the father read to the stomach on a daily basis, and the mother carried on her normal daily life during pregnancy, after birth, would the infant suck harder for the mother or father's voice?
March 25th, 2011, #10
Today we had a guest lecturer present for our class. She presented on aphasias in stroke victims, or people who have experienced head trauma. Although I have previously studied aphasias in other courses, it was still refreshing to sit through a lecture with a new presenter and learn about them again. I was amazed with the level of functioning the individuals with aphasias exhibited in the video clips we were shown. It was my incorrect presumption that individuals with aphasias would not be well functioning in communication with another. As I have only read about the disorder, I have never actually witnessed an interaction between a typical and aphasic individual. I noticed the use of hand gestures, facial expressions, and written language the individuals used to help them recall words when communicating, and these changed my complete opinion about the disorders. I know am now more aware of the disorders and how they exhibit themselves in people. What I was most impressed with this topic, was the amount of patience and cooperation that was displayed between the patients with aphasia, and their caretakers. I can only imagine how frustrating and confusing these disorders can be, and having someone around you who is patient and understands what is going on would make it so much easier to live with aphasia. People likle our guest are an asset to the rehabilation communities because they provide a genuine level of concern and care for the patients, people like this are the reason that cures, and methods of coping are continously being developed for individuals diagnosed with an aphasia.
April 3rd, 2011, #11
This past week was the first week of debates in our class. This session had teams debating for and against the usage of ebonics. Both groups presented their points of view very effectively. Watching the debates of this past week has really helped my group members and myself prepare our debate. We have discussed what it was about each group that we liked or did not like and have incorporated it into our presentation. We will be presenting next week on the case of minority language usage in Canada. Our position is against only having English education in Canada, and we have done lots of hard work on preparing this point for the class. I like the idea of doing debates in the classroom setting. This allows us to practice not only our debating abilities, but also our presenting skills as well.
April 11th, 2011, #12
This is my last blog post for PSYO 3190, Psycholinguistics at Dalhousie University. In our last week of class, my group participated in the debates. I had a fantastic group of 3 incredibly hard working and enthusiastic girls, together, I believe, we did a fantastic job for this debate. Our position was against just majority languages being taught in schools within Canada. To support our position we incorporated many demographics from Canada on the percentage of languages used that are not majority languages, and we also had lots of statistics from where these minority languages were being used. We had found many examples of possible solutions to use in classrooms as a means to incorporate both the majority and minority language, however we presented only an example used in Norway, as it was the most conducive to our argument.We ended our debate with some research on motivation for acquiring and maintaining a first language while learning a second one. In all, preparing and participating in these debates has given me some great practical experience. I believe I am much more comfortable preparing and supporting an argument, performing an oral presentation with strict time lines, and working collectively with a group of individuals. I think that this was a great way to finish this class, as we were able to draw back on everything we had previously learned.