Monday, July 1, 2013
Language structure is important in cognition-but is it really? For example, if a child said to you, “You, me, cookie, go now, hurry,” you would know what the child meant even though it is not grammatically correct. How is that possible?
Language is structured, communicative, generative, dynamic, and arbitrary (Willingham, 2007). Communication must be structured, communicative, generative, dynamic, and arbitrary in order to be considered language. Willingham (2007), "it is useful to think of language structure at four levels: speech sounds (phonemes), words, sentences, and groups of sentences (texts) (p. 411). I do believe that language structure is sometimes important in cognition but not always, although language influences cognitive processes. Understanding a child that says “You, me, cookie, go now, hurry,” proves that language structure is not always important. I have been able to understand my children when in early developmental stages when they were unable to form complete sentences. This is possible because adults are able to process words and sentences that are not structured, therefore language structure in cognition is not always important because adults are able to properly understand the semantics of language, and when a child speaks in a an unstructured sentence adults are able to put the sentence into proper context to relay the perceptions of that child.
Willingham, D. T. (2007). Cognition: The thinking animal (3rd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson/Prentice Hall.