Language and Cognition Essay

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Language is very complex and the manner at which humans learn language is even more complex. Language is more than just words and with words there are also definitions this paper will explain what language and lexicon is. Language is connected to cognitive functions in so many ways that this is better explained throughout the paper. There are key features in language that is developed during childhood and continues to grow as children get bigger. Language has a structure and processing through four levels. These levels better help humans understand language and communicate to one another. The connections in language processing and cognitive psychology are better understood later on in this paper. First to start off with a better understanding of what language and lexicon is. When a duck quacks, a dog barks, a horse neighs, and a cow moos everyone knows that they are communicating, these sounds do not however make up language. According to (Merriam-Websters Third New International Dictionary Unabridged) language is an audible, articulate, meaningful sound as produced by the action of the vocal organs.

Language and communication is structured, to communicate there must be arbitrary, considered generative and dynamic. Animal sounds are audible they are produced by an action of vocal organs but they are not structured. An animals noise is composed of a single sound. In addition to the human cognitive functions and language assimilation, is how the brain has a mental dictionary that holds all of symbols of words. According to (Merriam-Websters Third New International Dictionary Unabridged) lexicon is a book containing an alphabetical or other systematic arrangement of the words in a language or of a considerable number of them and their definitions.

Lexicons record accumulated spelling and pronunciation; humans also recognize words by evaluating what he or she has perceived hearing with these recordings. Humans will compare animal communication sounds using the stored lexicon to decide if the sounds make up a known language. Caldwell-Harris (2008) notes words represented with links to their typical linguistic contexts will help explain the ever present influence of context on word meaning (p. 170). Therefore, there would be no meaning to a human and an animal to communicate between each other because there are not words or contexts to understand. Furthermore, an understanding of language is more than the definition and lexicon, but includes the key features of language.

Humans are pre-programmed to learn language; there is also a critical period which is where someone can learn effortlessly. According to (Willingham, 2007, p. 423) there is fairly strong evidence that our brains are prepared to learn language, and with relatively little prompting, will do so. Children learn in stage starting with babbling and cooing. According to (Hollich, 2006, p. 10) to learn a word, infants must represent both the acoustic form and then make the connection to an external, possibly unfamiliar, object. As children are learning to pronounce vowels and consonants they put together words, as they do this they also look at objects to match with the words. Chrysikou, Novick, Trueswell, & Thompson-Schill (2011) note specifically, an increase in the spontaneous use of inner verbal strategies during development may support aspects of top-down control in task-shifting, by selecting and maintaining task-relevant goals, remembering task order, or retrieving task-relevant information (p. 254). With repetition the key features of language are learned, and humans begin to form structure and begin to use the key features of language.

There are four key features of language phonemes, words, sentences, and text. These key features are the structure and processing used in cognitive psychology. When listening to the pronunciations a person learning the language also needs to know how to identify it. Cognitive process helps us to learn these different words and how to spell, speak, and the meaning of each word. According to (Willingham, 2008, P. 454) if the phoneme string matches an entry, the word has been identified, and the cognitive system has access to the other properties of the word, including the spelling, part of speech, and meaning.

The individual sounds that make up the audible and written copy of words are known as phonemes. There are about 200 phonemes used worldwide, but only about 46 are used in the English language. Through the above mentioned lexicon, people are able to determine a spelling and pronunciation of each word. With this ability humans are able to make coherent sentences with noun phrase and verb phrases. When this is completed it is where the significant formation of actual text is possible. A person can know phonemes, words, and sentences but to really carry on a conversation a person must correctly understand the language this is text.

A branch of psychology is cognitive psychology and this area explores the function of mental processes connected to attending, thinking, perceiving, language, and memory. The English language has different sounds for letters as well for example kit and skill, the k sound is different in both words but the letter is the same. Each language has their own pronunciations as well as meanings but they are all diverse. According to (Evans and Levinson, 2009, P. 431) the crucial fact for understanding the place of language in human cognition is its diversity. For example, languages may have less than a dozen distinctive sounds, or they may have 12 dozen, and sign languages do not use sounds at all. There are quite a few functions used in cognitively one of which is memory. Memory is a big part of language and understanding the meaning of words. Humans learn language by repetition and memory to recall definitions and perceptions of the different words in the world around them.

In conclusion cognitive psychology and the process of language is connected more than one might believe. Understanding our world around us through experiences is not the only way our mind works. Through language and lexicon, a person recalls information he or she has learned from previous experiences to better understand the lexicon and remember it. The key features of language are that humans are programmed to learn language and understand it. While humans learn the language they move through the four levels of structure and processing to get to communication. Communication is not just understanding the words but also making clear sentences and text as learned in this paper.

CALDWELL-HARRIS, C. (2008). Language research needs an emotion revolution
and distributed models of the lexicon. Bilingualism, 11(2), 169-171. doi:10.1017/S1366728908003301 Chrysikou, E. G., Novick, J. M., Trueswell, J. C., & Thompson-Schill, S. L. (2011). The Other Side of Cognitive Control: Can a Lack of Cognitive Control Benefit Language and Cognition?. Topics In Cognitive Science, 3(2), 253-256. doi:10.1111/j.1756-8765.2011.01137.x Evans, N., & Levinson, S. C. (2009). The myth of language universals: Language diversity and its importance for cognitive science. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 32(5),429-48;discussion 448-494. doi:10.1017/S0140525X0999094X Hollich, G. (2006). Combining techniques to reveal emergent effects in infants segmentation, word learning, and grammar. Language and Speech, 49, 3-19. /docview/213732301?accountid=35812 Merriam-Websters Third New International Dictionary Unabridged

[Accessed June 18, 2012].
Willingham, D.T. (2007). Cognitions: The thinking animal (3rd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson/Allyn & Bacon.

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