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Cognitive psychology: Language

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  1. Language
  2. Language and Lexicon
  3. Features of Language
  4. Language Structure
  5. Language Processing and Cognitive Psychology
  6. Conclusion

Language is a complex cognitive function that has fascinated scientists and cognitive psychologists for years. Language is a cognitive function that all humans acquire, use, and alter over the course of a lifetime. Language acquisition begins almost immediately following birth and appears to be a function seemingly predisposed to the human species and owing to this predisposition, many humans take it for granted without considering its complexity.

Language and Lexicon

Language is defined as a form of communication that is communicative, arbitrary, structured, generative, and dynamic (Willingham, 2007). If any of these factors is missing in a communicative function then it is not considered language. The definition of language is important because it allows cognitive psychologists to ultimately define cognitive processes involved in the acquisition and use of language. One of the most important processes involved in language is the use of the lexicon.

The use of a lexicon is a process all humans use to match a spoken word to a mental dictionary. Simply put, most individuals call a lexicon his or her vocabulary (Dictionary of Linguistics and Phonetics, 2003). Willingham (2007) says, ? Most researchers believe that people recognize words through a matching process in which a spoken word is compared with a mental dictionary called a lexicon that contains representations of all the words they know-not only the meaning, but also the pronunciation, spelling and part of speech for each word? (p. 453, para. 3). This process is important to processing language and the acquisition of new words.

[...] By coupling this theory with neuroscience research, cognitive psychologists can surmise that language is dependent upon many physiological and cognitive functions. The nature of language is hard to attend to consciously as it usually used and heard in a constant stream, comprehended, and returned in conversation at a rate that does not account for inflection of the inner workings of language. Grammar is also important to language processing. Language is processed and comprehended through coarticulation, phonemic cues, grammar, and syntax. [...]

[...] Animals can communicate using sounds but the sound's meaning is fixed unlike human language where the communications can have multiple meanings. All the studies conducted have shown that apes are capable of memorizing hand gestures or words but cannot grasp the complex cognitive functions of language as humans can. The third feature of language is that when humans know one language, the knowledge of that language influences the other cognitive processes. Speaking multiple languages fluently influences the other cognitive processes further. [...]

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