Introduction to Psycholinguistics

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    • 00:00

      [MUSIC PLAYING][Introduction to Psycholinguistics][Dr. Michael J Cortese, Professor,University of Nebraska at Omaha]

    • 00:11

      MICHAEL J CORTESE: Language is the shared system that weuse to communicate information.Just think about it.In any one language, we have a small number of soundsthat we use.We have a large but finite set of words that we use.And we have a finite set of rules or constraintsthat determines the word order.And from this, we can generate an infinite number

    • 00:33

      MICHAEL J CORTESE [continued]: of sentences.We can talk about the past.We can talk about the present.We can talk about the future.We can talk about things that have or may notoccur in the future.Psycholinguistics is the scientific[Scientific Study of Language Processes]study of language processes.Here is an outline of what I will discuss in this tutorial.First, I want to talk about motivation,

    • 00:54

      MICHAEL J CORTESE [continued]: [Presentation topics, Motivation for studying Psycholinguistics]or why it's important to study psycholinguistics.Then I will talk about language universals,[Language universals] or characteristicsthat all languages have in common.I will also bring up nonlinguistic processes,[Nonlinguistic processes] and discusshow things like memory, attentioncome into play during language processing.

    • 01:17

      MICHAEL J CORTESE [continued]: With levels of analysis, [Levels of analysis]I will discuss some different areasthat are examined within the psychology of language.Next, I will move on to some important issues[Important issues] in the field, some ongoing issuesin psycholinguistics.I will discuss a research example usingthe tip-of-the-tongue phenomenon,[Tip-of-the-tongue phenomenon] and then I will leave you with

    • 01:39

      MICHAEL J CORTESE [continued]: a summary and some reflective questions.As I said before, psycholinguisticsrefers to the scientific study of language processes.It's a multi-disciplinary endeavorthat involves contributions from cognitive psychologyand cognitive neuroscience, biology,computer science, linguistics, mathematics, and more.

    • 02:02

      MICHAEL J CORTESE [continued]: Originally, the field developed from linguistics and cognitivepsychology, where linguistics refers to the scientific studyof language, [Language] and cognitive psychology refersto the scientific study of cognitive processes,[Cognitive Processes] such as perception, attention, memory,decision making, and more.A psycholinguist is interested in how people process language.

    • 02:25

      MICHAEL J CORTESE [continued]: In other words, how do we produce and understandspeech sounds and comprehend written text.One may ask why it's important to studythe psychology of language.Understanding how we process languagewould arguably [Motivation for studying Psycholinguistics,Understanding of complicated mental processes]give us an understanding of some of the most complicatedmental processes that we engage in.

    • 02:47

      MICHAEL J CORTESE [continued]: This understanding would be remarkable in its own right.Furthermore, if we truly understand language processing,then we should be better able to educate students and thosewith language disabilities about how to acquire language skillsand how to communicate information effectively.

    • 03:07

      MICHAEL J CORTESE [continued]: This understanding would also haveimplications [Implications for education,artificial intelligence, commpunication]for education, artificial intelligence, communication,and more.In describing language, psycholinguistshave identified certain propertiesthat all languages have in common.Hockett has referred to these as design features,and others have used the term language universals.

    • 03:30

      MICHAEL J CORTESE [continued]: The first language universal is semanticity.[Language universals, Semanticity]All languages convey meaning.I have an idea in my head, and I wantto convey that idea to you.Arbitrariness [Arbitrariness] refers to the ideathat there is no inherent connection between the nameof a concept and its meaning.For example, there is no inherent reason

    • 03:53

      MICHAEL J CORTESE [continued]: why we call a table a table.This is precisely why table has different namesin different languages.Of course, there is a small set of exceptionsto this, known as onomatopoeia, words like hiss, oink,and meow.Displacement [Displacement] refers to the ideathat all languages have the ability

    • 04:14

      MICHAEL J CORTESE [continued]: to talk about or refer to something other than the hereand now.That is, we can talk about the pastand we can talk about the future.Languages exhibit considerable flexibility. [Flexibility]We invent new words all the time,and we change the meanings of existing words.For example, gay means something different todaythan it meant during my mom and dad's time.

    • 04:36

      MICHAEL J CORTESE [continued]: Naming [Naming] refers to the ideathat virtually all concepts and objects have a name.Even when we don't know the name of an object,we still know that it must have a name, because virtuallyeverything does have a name.Productivity [Productivity] refers to this ideathat we have these small, limited sets of speech sounds

    • 04:58

      MICHAEL J CORTESE [continued]: and syntactic rules, a large number,but a finite set of words, but yet we'reable to generate an infinite number of sentences.And any serious theory of language and language useneeds to take this into consideration.It's important to note that nonlinguistic cognitiveprocesses come into play during language processing as well.

    • 05:20

      MICHAEL J CORTESE [continued]: For example, we use words when we speak sentences,and we have to retrieve these wordsfrom long-term [Nonlinguistic processes, Long term memory]memory.We also have to use our attention [Attention]to select appropriate words and perhaps inhibitless appropriate or inappropriate words,and to stay focused on the message at hand.Short-term memory [Short-term memory] comes

    • 05:41

      MICHAEL J CORTESE [continued]: into play largely during language comprehension.For example, one must store in memorythe referent of a pronoun in orderto understand or comprehend that pronoun when it's encountered.The study of human language is a very large fieldthat includes a number of levels of inquiry.For example, one may focus on phonetics,

    • 06:02

      MICHAEL J CORTESE [continued]: [Levels of analysis, Phonetics] or the soundsin the world's languages.Semantics [Semantics] refers to meaningand provides the basis of language.As I said previously, I have an idea in my head,and I'm trying to convey that idea to youusing this symbolic system.Word order is [Word order] also important in conveyingor understanding the meaning of a message.

    • 06:23

      MICHAEL J CORTESE [continued]: For example, red fire engine means something differentthan fire engine red.So the individual meanings are important, but so isthe order in which they occur.Syntax [Syntax] refers to the rules or the constraintsthat determine word order.The context in which language is processedis also very important to consider.Pragmatics [Pragmatics] is the study

    • 06:45

      MICHAEL J CORTESE [continued]: of how language is used within certain contexts.For example, the joke that one shareswith his or her best friend may notbe the joke that one shares with his or her grandma or grandpa.The way you talk to your college professoris probably different than the way youtalk to your brother or sister.All these levels of inquiry, phonetics, semantics, syntax,

    • 07:06

      MICHAEL J CORTESE [continued]: and pragmatics, are important, and youcan find graduate courses for each of these.[Important issues in Psycholinguistics]There are a number of important issuesthat are explored by psycholinguists.Here I would like to mention several of them.[Important issues, What aspects are innate?] First,

    • 07:28

      MICHAEL J CORTESE [continued]: what aspects of language are innate?In other words, what aspects of language are we born with,and which aspects are learned?Some have argued that our knowledgeof grammatical and syntactic rules is innate.In other words, hard-wired into the brain.Two, is language uniquely human? [Is language uniquely human?]Can animal communication systems be thought of as less advanced

    • 07:51

      MICHAEL J CORTESE [continued]: languages, or are they qualitatively different formsof communication than human language?When comparing an animal communication systemwith human language, we can refer backto these language universals that I talked about earlier.We know that they are present in all human languages.To what extent are they present in animal communication

    • 08:14

      MICHAEL J CORTESE [continued]: systems?Number three. [Do people acquire rules?] Dopeople represent and process language via a set of rules,or do they just learn and apply the statistical regularitiesthat occur in the language?For example, in English, when we wantto generate the past tense of a novel verb,do we simply add an "ed" rule, or do we

    • 08:34

      MICHAEL J CORTESE [continued]: add "ed" because we learn the fact that most verbs usethis convention?Four, [How modular are the subsystems?] how modularor independent are the various subsystems of language?For example, to what extent do orthographic or spelling,phonological or pronunciation, and semantic or meaning

    • 08:55

      MICHAEL J CORTESE [continued]: systems, communicate with each otherduring reading or during language processing?Lastly, how does the brain relate to language processes?[How does the brain relate to language processes?] Whichstructures are involved, and what aspects do they control?Are there brain areas that are uniquely linguistic,or are brain areas that are utilized in languagealso utilized for non-linguistic functions?

    • 09:18

      MICHAEL J CORTESE [continued]: [The tip of the tongue phenomenon]OK.So let's consider one process studied by psycholinguistsand explore it a little bit.One interesting process that I would like to discussis lexical [Lexical Access] access.When we use language, we use words.And during a conversation, we haveto retrieve each word that we use from long-term memory.

    • 09:40

      MICHAEL J CORTESE [continued]: A common problem that we all experience isthe tip-of-the-tongue state.This is where one is on the verge of retrieving a knownitem, but she can't retrieve its name.For example, you might run into an old acquaintanceand be unable to retrieve his or her name,despite still knowing it.We all experience this phenomenon,but it occurs more frequently as we age.

    • 10:02

      MICHAEL J CORTESE [continued]: Cognitive psychologists often study this phenomenonin the laboratory by presenting participants with definitionsfor relatively uncommon words.The participant tries to retrieve the wordand occasionally finds him or herselfin the tip-of-the-tongue state.For example, one might receive the definition"to resign from the throne" for the word abdicate.

    • 10:24

      MICHAEL J CORTESE [continued]: Research using this method has clearlydemonstrated that the TOT state increases with age.Research has also demonstrated that whenwe are in the TOT state, we have accessto some information of the word that we are unable to retrieve.For example, we can retrieve the first soundabout 50% of the time, and we often

    • 10:47

      MICHAEL J CORTESE [continued]: know the number of syllables of the word whenwe're in the TOT state.It is thought that the tip-of-the-tongue state resultsfrom difficulty in retrieving an existing representationor having access to only incomplete information.Once I was running a TOT task with an Alzheimer's patient.When studying the tip-of-the-tongue phenomenon

    • 11:08

      MICHAEL J CORTESE [continued]: with Alzheimer's patients, one has to use more common words.Alzheimer's patients would not be close to retrieving wordslike abdicate, so if we use these stimuli,we would never induce the tip-of-the-tongue statein an Alzheimer's patient.So one uses easier words.One of the words for this patient was octopus.So we would try to induce the tip-of-the-tongue state with

    • 11:30

      MICHAEL J CORTESE [continued]: the definition, a sea creature with eight tentacles.So I gave the patient the definition,and he looked puzzled.He said to me, a sea creature with eight testicles?I never heard of such an animal.One particularly interesting study by [Gabriella Vigliocco]Vigliocco et al.

    • 11:51

      MICHAEL J CORTESE [continued]: studied Italian speakers.And they used Italian nouns.An Italian noun, like a Spanish noun,is associated with a specific gender, male or female.Vigliocco induced subjects into the tip-of-the-tongue statefor Italian nouns and asked participants to try to identifythe gender associated with it.

    • 12:11

      MICHAEL J CORTESE [continued]: Interestingly, when in the true tip-of-the-tongue state,Italian speakers were able to indicate the gender of the nounabout 84% of the time.When they were not in the tip of the tongue state,they were at chance level at identifying the gender.This study clearly demonstrated that we have accessto syntactic information when we're in the tip-of-the-tongue

    • 12:33

      MICHAEL J CORTESE [continued]: state.[Conclusion]There have been many interesting experimentsperformed in psycholinguistics.These experiments explore the issues that I discussed here.In sum, I discussed some of the important areas of studyand some of the important issues in modern psycholinguistics.

    • 12:55

      MICHAEL J CORTESE [continued]: Hopefully, you have found this tutorial interesting,and you will begin to explore this fascinating area.I will leave you with some questionsthat you may wish to explore.First, [Reflective questions, Are there areas of language Idid not cover?] are there important areas of languagethat I did not cover here? [Are human language and animalcommunication distinct?]Do you think that human language and animal communicationare part of a single continuum, or do you

    • 13:16

      MICHAEL J CORTESE [continued]: think that they constitute separate categories?Can you think of examples of how the context [How does contextinfluence our language processes?] of a messageinfluences our understanding of it?[MUSIC PLAYING]

Introduction to Psycholinguistics

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Abstract

Professor Michael Cortese outlines the key components of psycholinguistics. He explains that words and language are broken down into a series of sounds that follow certain rules. He also discusses how the brain accesses, and sometimes fails to access, the words stored in our memory.

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Introduction to Psycholinguistics

Professor Michael Cortese outlines the key components of psycholinguistics. He explains that words and language are broken down into a series of sounds that follow certain rules. He also discusses how the brain accesses, and sometimes fails to access, the words stored in our memory.

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