I am a third year Psychology student. I am really looking forward to the content and design of this course. I am not too familiar with the subject matter but find it quite fascinating and hope to learn alot!
Jan, 17, 2011 I was particularity interested In Kanzi the bonobo. I had previously learned about non human primates being taught language but had misconceived notions that it was not very successful. However, in the Youtube video shown in class demonstrated quite the opposite. Kanzi showed several aspects of human language. The researcher would ask her to do tasks that were quite obscure tasks to show that she could understand each individual part of the request and that it was not something learned. In a way that showed generativity because although Kanzi wasn’t the one uttering the strange request, she was clearly able to understand and carry it out. I am now curious about the language development in non human primates and what the anatomical differences are and why such differences lead to either spoken language or not. In fact my roommate, a Biology student, was telling me that in one of her classes last week she learned that the difference has been characterized by the difference in only two amino acids. That seems so insignificant, could that really make all the difference? I would also be curious to learn if Wernick’s and Broca’s area are only in Humans. If you do not orally communicate do you till have an area of the cortex devoted to the comprehension of sounds? I am excited to see where the rest of this course takes me!
Jan, 31, 2011 This week I was especially curious as to how we read. I have often thought about it because I know when I read I’m not actually reading all the words. Most of it, I am sure is recognition and not actually reading. I have developed into quite a fast reader but I bet, if I were given words I had not seen before it would take me much much longer to read! In the lecture we learned that this is true, real words are processed fasted than pseudo words. I also found it interesting, when discussing eye movements that 15% are going backwards in corrections. Does that mean if we read a words wrong our brain knows and our eyes go back to it? Even in a perfectly read sentence, is 15% still designated to regression? Another thing I was thinking about when talking about reading and that I thought of now as I just typed in “read”. How do we learn to read words that are spelled the same differently? For instance “read”. It can be past and present and annunciated differently. Words like, “polish” are completely different when in different contexts. When do we start being able to discriminate them so that we read then differently dependant on the context? It is quite incredible that our brains can make the distinction without a second thought. I think English would be a hard language to learn if it was no your first, every rule is an exception!
Feb, 4, 2011 (blog post #4 This was a short week, with only one lecture due to a snow day and Munroe day. This weeks lecture was about morphology and ASL. I have always had a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that other languages use entirely different sets of rule and syntax’s. For some reason the concept goes a bit over my head and I find it remarkable that children will learn the language that they are exposed to. I admire people who can easily pick up other languages. The hardest course I have taken in my three years at Dalhousie University was beginner Italian. In the lecture I found the example of Arabic quite fascinating how, rather than prefixes and suffixes like we have in English, their consonants were the base and depending what vowels they placed, the meaning changed. Also, the “past tense debate” got me thinking how I use past tense. The other day I was driving with one of my roommates and she said an unusual verb that she then tried to put in the past tense. It took us a good 7 or 8 minutes to decide which was correct. I feel like I go by how it sounds, but I wonder if there are rules instilled in my brain that allow me to hear the right conjugation? Because when I do conjugate somewhat irregular verbs I do so by how it sounds. It seems amazing that children don’t over generalize more often. Each week in the course makes me think how it is quite remarkable that everyone can use proficient language so easily and I think it is a good thing that there is an innate aspect because I believe if we had to use an effort to learn it, it would be extremely hard! One other thing I was curious about when talking about ASL (which I really don’t know much about) is how many people use it? What us the prevalence within the Deaf community? I found what Dr. Newman showed us about it very interesting, how you refer to people who aren’t there and give them a spot in the space. I would love to learn more about ASL!
Feb, 11, 2011 (blog post #5) Sitting in class this week while talking about what a word really made me think about it. Even the very first slide, explaining that when describing a word we are not actually describing the word but the meaning associated with it. I have never really though about how arbitrary words are, but they really are. During this lecture I couldn't help but thinking about how and who developed the first set of symbols that would adequately describe a word. I figure words that describe a physical attribute must have come first, but i'm not really sure, i've never taken the time to learn. Would an orange been more prevalent at the time than an apple? How did the first words, like apple develop, who assigned specific letters of the alphabet to represent that word? I'm not sure if this an obvious question that I have learned about, but thinking about it like this, the answer escapes me. I know that the english language and many others came from latin and that before, there were letters, words were represented with pictures and hieroglyphs, but how then later did humanity decide which item would be called what? It's really quite remarkable that we have words for pretty much everything! I remember taking a SOSA 1000 in my first year and we learned that depending on the culture, people have many different words to describe something that another culture may not. One example of this was in Inuit, where they have many different words for snow that we don't have in english. I guess this is because we wouldn't have reason to describe snow in so many ways, but for the Inuit, it is necessary to have many different descriptions.