Thinking and Language
Organizing Our Thoughts….
(Making cognitive sense out of our world…)
Cognition
Concept
Category Hierarchies
We form concepts by…
Definition
prototypes
Problem Solving With Cognition
Cognitive Problem Solving:
Algorithms
Heuristics
Insight
Limitations of heuristic judgments…
Heuristic problem solving: hugely useful,
but sometimes leads us astray…
Availability heuristic
Representative heuristic
Other Limitations of Heuristic Judgments…
Overconfidence
Belief Bias
Belief Perseverance
Framing
Obstacles to Problem Solving…
Confirmation Bias
Fixation
Mental sets / Rigidity
Functional Fixedness
Creativity and Cognition
Definition?
Correlation between intelligence and
creativity???
Types of Creativity
Convergent Thinking
Divergent Thinking
Language is….
“…the Jewel in the Crown of Cognition.”
“…complexity built of simplicity.”
Defining Language
What component distinguishes language
from other forms of communication?
Words (spoken, written or signed)
Language Structure
3 Building Blocks of Language
Phonemes
Morphemes
Grammar (semantics and syntax)
Language Structure
Phonemes
 Smallest units of sound in language
 40 in English language ( 869 in human speech)
 Do changes in phonemes produce changes in
meaning? Why?(Try an example…)
Morphemes
 Smallest units of meaning (includes prefixes, suffixes)
 100,000 in English language = 615,000 words in
Oxford Dictionary!
Language Structure
Grammar: System of rules that govern
language
Semantics: the study of meaning for
morphemes, words, sentences..
Adding ed suffix = past tense
Syntax: rules for combining words into
sentences
o adjectives comes before nouns
Language Development
Month
4
10
12
24
24+
Stage
Babbles speech sounds (receptive language)
Babbles household language
one-word stage
Two-word stage (telegraphic
speech
rapid development into complete
sentences
Theories of Language
Development
Skinner
vs.
Chomsky
B.F. Skinner
Language – Operant Conditioning (nurture)
Association
pairing objects with words
Imitation
Words and syntax modeled by others
Reinforcement
Praise
Noam Chomsky
Language occurs naturally / Nature
Universal grammar underlies all human
language (nouns, verbs etc.)
Language Acquisition Device:
(switchbox) Brain is prewired for universal
grammar- thus ready to learn any of 6,000
languages (switches will be set to specific
language)
Surface structure: organization of language
Deep structure: meaning
Language Development
Babies- a built in readiness to learn grammatical
rules
Critical period
o Childhood: best / only time to master certain elements
of language (accent etc.)
o 2nd language: those who learn it early learn it best
o (Chomsky: L.A.D.- grammar switches set early)
o Learning window- closes gradually after age 7
o Hearing children / deaf children: parallel results
o No language as child / language learning capacity
never fully develops
Language and Thinking
Linguistic Determinism Hypothesis
Language Influences how we think…
Examples?
To expand language is to expand the
ability to think.”
The Bilingual Advantage…
Studies suggest that bilingual children…
Are more advanced in school
Are better at following complicated
instructions
Demonstrate better mental flexibility
Tend to perform better on tests of creativity
Language deprived…
2/3 of the world’s children are bilingual
7% of U.S. children are bilingual
Thinking in Images
Examples?
Procedural memory (mental picture)
Mental (visual) simulation
Animal Cognition
Washoe and Kanzi
Washoe
Kanzi
Linguistic Capability?
Washoe
 1st 4 years: 132 signs
 Age 32: 181 signs
 “Baby dead, baby
gone, baby finished.”
Equivalent of what
human age?
Kanzi
 Critical Period
 Semantic nuances of
English
Vanishing Languages…
6,800 languages in the world today
250 spoken by 1,000,000 or more people
600 have speaking populations robust
enough to last beyond the century
Africa- birthplace of 1/3 of the world’s
languages- 54 are extinct and 116 are
near extinction
South America: 640 languages- 80%
spoken by 10,000 or less
What’s causing accelerated language
extinction???
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Thinking and Language - Winston