Flashcards in Concepts and Words Deck (13)
Why study language?
Language reflects, represents and moulds patterns of thought
only way we have insight into what anyone is thinking - only way to ask them is by speaking
What are concepts?
Very difficult to describe
Fundamental building blocks of thought
Each category has a set of defining features, if you combine then features, can distinguish them from something else
but.. hard as lots of things share many of the same features, hard to define a set number of features that minimally distinguishes a category from another one
How are concepts useful?
Enable us to generalise from past experiences to new observations eg. if you meet a dog, know what you're dealing with
conceptual hierarchies - economy of representation - don't have to have something different in your brain for each thing
allows us to predict new outcomes
Probabilistic view of concepts
No defining features, only characteristic ones
Concepts represented by prototypes with characteristic features - match closest prototype to figure out what something belongs too
poor exemplars share fewer or less known features
explains lack of clear boundaries
What are the problems with prototypically?
Ad-hoc categories - not a stable category that you use throughout your life, doesn't have stability, e.g. not a particular exemplar for red things
Conceptual combination - doesn't allow you to easily combine categories
What is the theory theory?
Concepts are grounded in what you know about the world - based on people's goals, assumptions and understandings, not a checklist of features
features have meaning because they are linked together
helps with conceptual combination - olive oil vs baby oil - recognising what these mean
Can we think without language?
pre lingual babies show evidence of conceptual categories e.g. phoneme discrimination
pathology - speech and language impairment don't necessarily destroy thought and reason
they are linked but not the same thing
Ferdiand de Sausurre
Founder of semiotics - study of sounds and meaning
suggests that we have a sign consisted of a signifier (the symbol/image) and a signified (the meaning conveyed)
the connection between signifier and signified is fundamental arbitrary
Is language actually arbitrary?
Many experimental tests using nonsense words - don't need to explain what words are, agreement on what words are. wouldn't find consistent agreement if language was actually arbitrary
vowels and consonants are associated with certain shapes - shape of mouth when you say it or sound
Is there sound symbolism in English?
We are sensitive to it - the sound of a word somehow corresponds to its meaning
e.g. slime, slip, slick, slick slither - all reminds you of slime
there must be a connection between concepts and words
Are patterns of sound meaning found in languages?
small associated with a vowel - e.g. i cos of little
full associated with p or b