Topic 6: LANGUAGE AND THOUGHT - PowerPoint PPT Presentation


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Topic 6: LANGUAGE AND THOUGHT ... Language provide the categorical distinctions or bounderies between things and guide what conceptual features or characteristics a ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Date added: 13 February 2020
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  • Language is
  • a set of (finite and infinate) sentences.
    Each is finite in length and constructed
    out of a finite set of elements (chomsky,
  • A collection of symbols with rules and
    collectively they can create an infinite
    variety of messages ?i.e. a system of symbols
    and rules that enable us to communicate.
  • The systematic, meaningful arrangement of symbols
    ? according to rules to create a message
    that has a common meaning for users and

  • The grammar of a language is the complete set of
    rules that will generate or produce all the
    acceptable sentences and will not generate any
    unacceptable, ill-formed sentences
  • Grammar operates at three levels
  • Phonology of language deals with the sounds of
  • Syntax deals with word order and grammaticality
  • And semantics deals with accessing and combining
    the separate word meanings into a sensible
    meaningful whole

  • Human interact with each other using
  • There are many language around the world,
    depending on different region and culture.
  • Since there are many different words
    grammer involved in a language, so how do human
    understand each other?

  • Does language relate to thoughts?
  • How are they related?
  • Piaget, Whorf and Vygotsky views on the
    relationship between language and thoughts
    are different

Language Thoughts
  • Piaget
  • Language development depend on mental
    development, i.e. before a person is able to
    learn a word and use it grammatically, one
    must first develop the mental concept of the
  • Whorf
  • Thoughts is express in language? i.e. A person
    language ability could limit or shaped his/her
  • Language provide the categorical distinctions or
    bounderies between things ? and guide what
    conceptual features or characteristics a person
    can acquire.

Relationship Between Language and Thoughts
  • Vygotsky
  • Language thoughts are not intrinsically
    linked ? but since they come from the same
    source (cognitive process) or mind , they would
    surely influence one another.
  • Infant not able to understand language in the
    beginning , but later through interaction with
    its environment (parents/adult) they will later
    do so.
  • But when language is acquired, children will
    use it to represent their thoughts.

Relationship Between Language and Thoughts
  • Many researchers were interested to study the
    relationship between Language and thoughts
  • Many feels that Language (most important
    tool in communication) cannot be seperated
    from thought.
  • What do you think????

Relationship Between Language and Thoughts
  • According to Plato, both thoughts language
    originate from an abstract concept called
    forms and which all the entities
    qualities designated thereby can be
    subsumed(Gill, 1977).
  • Wilhelm Von Humboldt, stated that language
    determines many aspect of thoughts.
  • Humboldt viewed language as the expression of the
    spirit of a nation.
  • According to Humboldt, the diversity of
    languages is not a diversity of signs and sounds
    but a diversity of views of the world.
  • Many other researchers also look into
    cognitive variables such as
  • Perceptual discrimination
  • Availability in memory
  • Classification

Sapir-Whorfs Linguistic Relativity Hypothesis
  • What is Linguistic Relativity Hypothesis?
  • Linguistic relativity is the idea that
    differences in the way languages encode cultural
    and cognitive categories affect the way people
    think ? so that speakers of different languages
    will tend to think and behave differently
    depending on the language they use.
  • Human Cognitive classification is affected
    by the different cultural concepts and
    categories that are inbuilt in different
    language ? therefore different people from
    different countries think behave
    differently because of the cognitive

What is Sapir-Whorfs Linguistic Relativity
  • Also popularly known as the SapirWhorf
    hypothesis or Whorfianism, where Edward Sapir and
    Benjamin Whorfs hypothesis of linguistic
    relativity holds that the language we speak both
    affects and reflects our view of the world.
  • The SapirWhorf hypothesis theorizes that
    thoughts and behavior are influences by
    language, which are determined by the
    individual culture and community.
  • Showed that language is the medium by
    which one views the world, culture, reality
    and thoughts.

Sapir-Whorfs Hypothesis
  • Edward Sapir agree with Humbold idea that
    languages contained the key to understanding the
    differing world views of peoples.
  • According to Sapir
  • Since there are differences in the grammatical
    systems of languages, no two languages were ever
    similar enough to allow for perfect translation
    between them.
  • because language represented reality differently,
    it followed that the speakers of different
    languages would perceive reality differently.
    According to Edward Sapir
  • Thus. No two languages are ever sufficiently
    similar to be considered as representing the same
    social reality. The worlds in which different
    societies live are distinct worlds, not merely
    the same world with different labels attached.

Sapir-Whorfs Hypothesis
  • Sapir never did suggest how languages affected
    the thought processes of their speakers the
    notion of linguistic relativity? but it was
    taken up by his student Benjamin Lee Whorf.
  • Whorf introduced "the principle of linguistic
    relativity ? i.e., instead of merely assuming
    that language influences the thought and behavior
    of its speakers, he further analyzed the
    native american languages, and attempted to
    account for the ways in which differences in
    grammatical systems and language use affected the
    way their speakers perceived the world.

Sapir-Whorfs Hypothesis
  • Example in which Whorf attempted to show that
    language use affects behavior, where the
    indigenous language has several terms for a
    concept that is only described with one word in
    English and other European languages
  • Water (Hopi language describes water with two
    different words for drinking water in a container
    versus a natural body of water)
  • Snow (Inuit language) - refers to many meaning
  • The varying cultural concepts and categories
    inherent in different languages affect the
    cognitive classification of the experienced world
    in such a way that speakers of different
    languages think and behave differently because of
  • Language you know shapes the way you think about
    events in the world around you

Critics on Sapir-Whorfs Hypothesis
  • Researchers have argued and debated about
    the following three positions in relation
    to Sapir-Whorfs Hypothesis-
  • Language heavily influences thoughts
    (strong interpretation)
  • Language does not influence thoughts
  • Language partially influence thoughts (weak

Language heavily influences thoughts
  • Whorfs strongly suggested that thoughts
    is based on language ? his hypothesis was
    supported from his research on Native
    American language.
  • Critics on his finding
  • solely based on is study of Native
    American conclude the cognitive differences
    between two languages only English Hopi/
  • Even though many researchers agreed with
    Whorf that thought language is clearly
    dependent on each other, ? but still felt
    that the findings were not successful in
    showing the relationship between language

Language does not influence thoughts
  • Many researchers agreed that Language does
    not influence thoughts ? on 3 main key
  • Translatability
  • Although language may vary in terms of ways of
    expressing certain details ? but it is
    still possible to translate the detail from
    language to another
  • Differences between linguistic non
  • Lenneberg argued that there is no means to
    define language as influencing thoughts, when
    there is no differences between them (i.e.
    Language thoughts) especially when the
    evidence that suport the hypothesis is
    solely based on linguistic differences
  • Universals
  • Based on Chomsky the concept of universal,
    i.e. there are deep structures that are
    common to all language. Therefore all
    cultures would be related dan have similar
    realities (contrast to Sapir-Whorfs that
    claim all culture see the world differently
    due to their language.)

Sapir-Whorfs Hypothesis Language partially
influence thoughts
  • Most researcher find it difficult to
    conclude that language determine thoughts
    but through examples from Whorfs study,
    they agreed that
  • Its valid to suggest ? partially language
    does determine thoughts.
  • According to Wierzbicka (1992), the question
    is not whether language affect thoughts
    ? but to what extent that it affect

(No Transcript)
Social Cultural Influences on Language
How do we acquire communication skills in
our everyday life?
  • Through interaction and context with other
  • Within the same community.
  • Within the same culture.
  • Many researcher are aware of the importance
    or OTHER PEOPLE (within the same
    society/culture) on individual language and
    thoughts development.

Social Interactionist Theory
  • Social Interactionist Theory emphasize the
    importance of environment and the context in
    which the language is being learned as a
    determinant to language acquisition.
  • According to Snow (1981), the interaction
    between a child and a caregiver, plus
    biological and environmental influence ? is
    responsible for the development and
    acquisition of language among children.

Social Interactionist Theory
  • Since its emergence few years ago, the Social
    Interactionist approach to language acquisition
    research has focused on three areas
  • cognitive approach to language acquisition
    process or the developmental cognitive theory of
  • the information processing approach or the
    information processing model of MacWhinney
    Bates (the competition model)
  • Social interactionist approach or social
    interaction model of Vygotsky (socio-cultural
  • Although the initial research attempt to describe
    language development from the stand point of the
    social development ? but recently, researchers
    have been attempting to explain few varieties of
    acquisition in which how learner factors lead to
    differential acquisitions among learners by the
    process of socialization ? and this is called
    the theory of social interactionist approach.

Social Interactionist Theory
  • Social Interactionist Theory focuses on the
    pragmatics of language rather than grammar (which
    should come later).
  • In this approach, the beginning speaker and the
    experienced speaker (either a child adult or
    second-language learner fluent speaker) ? exist
    in a negotiated arrangement where feedback is
    always possible.
  • The general elements of this theory
  • The interaction of communicative functions.
  • The influence of the childs world

Social Interactionist Theory
  • According to SIT, children learn verbal
    and nonverbal communicative behavior from
    adults around them.
  • Cthverbal?
  • Cth nonverbal..?
  • So, children how to behave and speak politely
    (impolite way) how to communicate with
    their community (in a society) based on
    their interaction with adults.

Social Interactionist Theory
  • Therefore, the rules for communicative
    competence are influenced by social and
    cultural factors.
  • Certain words that may be appropriate for
    one culture/ society ? may not be appropriate
    or acceptable in another culture.
  • Rules of a particular society/culture help in the
    development of beliefs values, as can be
    seen from our communicative behavior.
  • Why is this rules important?
  • Helps to teach guide our action and
    interaction in our environment.
  • A person socialization practices are being
    enhances and strengthened through social
    interaction ? based on individual cultural

SCL Discuss
  • Linguistic Relativity Hypothesis
  • Think about the application of linguistic
    relativity hypothesis in your own language and
  • Give examples of objects that are describe in
    detail in your language
  • How culture can be transmitted from one
    individual to another?
  • Think of a word/sentence that may not be
    acceptable to another culture or society?

What is Memory?
  • Memory ? the storing of learned information, and
    the ability to recall that which has been stored.
  • The mental faculty of retaining and recalling
    past experience.
  • Power or process of recalling or reproducing what
    has been learned or experienced.
  • Research indicates that the ability to retain
    information is fairly uniform among normal
    individuals? what differs is the degree to which
    persons learn or take account of something to
    begin with and the kind and amount of detail that
    is retained.

What is Memory?
  • 3 processes occur in remembering
  • perception and registering of a stimulus
  • temporary maintenance of the perception, or
    short-term memory
  • lasting storage of the perception, or long-term
  • Two major types of long-term memory are
    procedural memory, involving the recall of
    learned skills, and declarative memory, the
    remembrance of specific stimuli.

What is Perception?
  • In psychology and the cognitive sciences,
    perception is the process of acquiring,
    interpreting, selecting, and organizing sensory
  • The word perception comes from the Latin
    perception-, percepio, , meaning "receiving,
    collecting, action of taking possession,
    apprehension with the mind or senses."

  • Many cognitive psychologists hold that, as we
    move about in the world, we create a model of how
    the world works, i.e. we sense the objective
    world, but our sensations map to percepts, and
    these percepts are provisional, in the same sense
    that scientific hypotheses are provisional (cf.
    in the scientific method).
  • As we acquire new information, our percepts shift.

Perception Is Subjective
  • What is language?
  • How do we understand language?
  • How do we create meaning from linguistic symbols
    (such as words)?
  • How does our experience guide the way we
    comprehend and produce language?

Is memory, perception language related?
  • Memory is a critical component of many aspects of
    human thinking, including perception, learning,
    language problem solving.
  • How does language conveys meaning?
  • the comprehension of language is grounded in our
    own bodies' systems of perception and action
    planning. Eg
  • Understanding a sentence - "He turned up the
    volume on his stereo," requires the use of one's
    action planning system to internally do the
    action involved in turning up the stereo (rotate
    the volume knob in a clockwise direction).
  • Memory - a person will remember the action
  • Visual/auditory Perception need memory to
  • Language comprehension ? experience shapes the
    relationship between perception, action, and