Psy 360 Language Essay

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Language Essay
Ryan Butler
Psychology 360
August 29, 2011
Professor Newlin

Have you ever wondered how we speak? How about why our communication is considered a language and other animal’s communication is not considered language? A wide range of beliefs exist on what defines language. Thus, by exploring the definition of language and lexicon, evaluating language’s key features, the four levels of language structure and processing, and the role of language in Cognitive Psychology, an understanding of what language is becomes clear. Let us begin by defining language and a term named lexicon.
One big question, when the subject of language comes up, is exactly what language is. What
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of a word. Also, the Yerkes (2011) text defines Lexicology as a study focusing on the meaning of words. Thus, we see a lexicon as an area in the human brain which stores the meaning, and all aspects, associated with a word. However, to reach the point where a lexicon may be used language must be acquired. To acquire such a skill, one must master the four levels associated with language.
To constitute what a language is, four levels of language structure have been established. Specifically, these levels of analysis include phenomes, words, sentences and texts. According to the Willingham (2007) text, phenomes are a small unit of sound which make up a word. A potential problem is if these words are mispronounced. For example, slang changes from one area to another. When a person is thrown a new word, it throws them off on the rest of the topic. If I say "I'm fixin to go downtown," some may only know "fixin" as literally fixing something and not preparing or getting ready as "fixin" means in this context. This non familiar use of a word may be confusing to oneself, but to the person saying the word, “fixin” is a lexicon built into a vocabulary. Accents of foreigners may be another potential barrier. By mishearing these phenomes and not understanding language due to this deficit, obtaining meaningful language is difficult. Words themselves, and specifically the separation of words, may be another potential barrier to language

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