Saturday, July 13, 2013


          The definition of language is complex to explain but is necessary to understand how human animals communicate. The definition of cognitive psychology makes implications about language. Lexicon also plays a key role in language. Language has several features necessary for an individual to understand it. To understand the role of language processing in cognitive psychology an individual must analyze this role and needs an understanding of the definition of cognitive psychology.
Language and Lexicon
          Language is a complex process and a form of communication integrated with thoughts. The communication of thoughts is through the method of language. The definition of cognitive psychology is the study of mental processes, such as perceiving, thinking, believing, problem solving, remembering, speaking, decision making, learning, and reasoning implies that language influences cognitive processes. Therefore, what an individual or human animal learns and interprets through language and the ability of language is a cognitive process that separates human animals from nonhuman animals. Language is communicative, arbitrary, structured, generative, and dynamic.
          A lexicon is a mental dictionary. A lexicon contains several representations of known words and those representations include spelling, part of speech for each word, and pronunciation. A lexicon aids individuals in a matching process of spoken words and those word’s meanings. Therefore, individuals recognize words through this matching process because spoken words are comparable with a lexicon (a mental dictionary). A lexicon is a key aspect important for an individual’s use of language.
Key Features of Language
          Language’s key features are the properties that make it communicative, arbitrary, structured, generative, and dynamic. As for communicative, language simply allows individuals to communicate with each other. As for arbitrary, Willingham (2007), “the relationship between the elements in the language and their meaning is arbitrary” (p. 411). A key feature of symbols is arbitrariness. As for structure, the structure of language means that the pattern of symbols is not arbitrary. The structure of language shows exactly how complex it is. As for generative, an individual can build a limitless number of meanings from language’s (words) basic units. As for dynamic, language is constantly changing, therefore it is not static. Willingham, (2007), “it is changing constantly as new words are added and as the rules of grammar (slowly and subtly) change” (411). These features or properties are usually critical to language.
Other Features of Language
Developmentally Special
          Language is developmentally special for instance because children can learn it differently from learning any other skills (Willingham, 2007). Evidence points to the preparedness of human brains to learn language with comparatively little incitement. The evidence that supports this point of view is the worldwide consistency of language learning. Worldwide children proceeded through identical stages of language development, which is in agreement with the thought that the process of learning language is basically innate. Children also have a tendency to make the same errors in learning language, such as overextension and overregularization. Overextension is how children use known words for numerous referents when stating more than their limited vocabulary allows (Willingham, 2007). Overregularization refers to how children apply linguistic rules to exception words when that rule does not apply. Language is highly complex, but it has key features that make it unique, such as it is developmentally special.
Uniquely Human
          Another feature of language is that it is uniquely human. Language is communicative, structured, arbitrary, dynamic, and generative, and the majority of animal (nonhuman animals) communication systems are only communicative. Therefore, animals can communicate, but they cannot use language however certain animals possess the ability to understand language. Only humans (human animals) possess the ability to use language. Languages are uniquely human.
Influences Other Cognitive Processes
          One last feature of language is that it influences other cognitive processes; specifically language influences thought. Language influences thought, language determines thought, and a thought cannot be a thought without language. Language influences thoughts because uttered words that an individual may say leads to a different thought in his or her mind. Therefore, what an individual thinks affects what he or she says and what he or she says affects how he or she thinks. Language definitely influences thought; making the two intertwined.
Four Levels of Language Structure and Processing
          In spoken languages phonemes are the smallest units or sounds used by individuals to form words. Phonemes are individual speech sounds, which are roughly equivalent to the letters of the alphabet. Worldwide there are nearly 200 phonemes in use but roughly only 46 in use in English. Individuals can perceive phonemes very rapidly in accelerated speech; nearly 50 phonemes per second (Willingham, 2007). The perception of phonemes is difficult. One difficulty is that the production of phonemes is different for individual speakers. Another difficulty is phoneme production differs between speakers and for an individual speaker.
          Mechanisms, such as words help an individual’s perceptual system make logical sense of spoken phonemes. Willingham (2007), “the 46 English phonemes are combined in various ways to produce all of the approximately 600,000 words in the English language” (p. 414). Certain rules are in place concerning the combination of phonemes and concerning exactly where phonemes may appear in a word.
          A sentence is the arrangements of words, which allows an individual to construct thoughts when trying to write or speak or write. The context of a sentence assists an individual in deducing what missing phoneme is necessary (Willingham, 2007). To a certain extent the order of phonemes effects the correct construction of words and word order is important in grammatical sentence construction.
          A text or texts are groups of connected sentences that form a paragraph or paragraphs, which explain a certain subject. Those sentences have to be about the same subject. It is also necessary for texts to have a logical connection, therefore making sentences logically connected to each, which continues a certain idea. Phonemes, words, sentences, and texts are a necessity of language.
Analyzing the Role of Language Processing in Cognitive Psychology
          To analyze language processing and the role it plays in cognitive psychology an individual must first understand that cognitive psychology is the study of mental processes. These mental processes include perceiving, thinking, believing, problem solving, remembering, speaking, decision making, learning, and reasoning. With these mental processes an individual can understand language and understand the process of how language works. Without understanding how the structure of language works an individual cannot understand sounds such as the phonemes, words, sentences, and texts that make language possible. Without the proper understanding one cannot understand language’s semantics, therefore an individual cannot use language to communicate. The role of processing language in cognitive psychology determines the comprehension of sentences. What an individual learns and interprets through language and the ability of language ability is a cognitive process.
          Language is a cognitive process that separates human animals from other life forms, such as nonhuman animals. A lexicon contains representations of known words and not the meanings but do contain the spellings, pronunciations, and part of speech for each word. Language has several key features. Language is a complex process, which is communicative, arbitrary, structured, generative, dynamic, and it is developmentally special, uniquely human, and language influences other cognitive processes. By understanding these key features of language an individual gains a better understanding of the effects and necessity of language. The levels of language’s structure and processing consist of phonemes, words, sentences, and texts. Understanding the definition of cognitive psychology is critical to analyzing the role of language processing. Language is a key aspect of cognitive psychology.

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