Language and Cognition

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Date Added: 01 / 24 / 2013
Category: Philosophy and Psychology
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Language and Cognition

View Full Essay Language and Cognition
Axia College of the University of Phoenix
PSY360
September 12, 2011

Language and Cognition
Language is considered unique among humans. Language, as defined below, occurs only among the human species and does not exist elsewhere in the animal kingdom. Therefore, the study of how humans learn, process, and create meaning from linguistic utterances and the written word is a central feature of cognitive psychology. The many questions that arise from this line of research include whether language is a separate faculty apart from cognition or if language is a product of our general cognitive abilities (Harris, n. d.). To examine language in the context of cognition, it is necessary to arrive at a working definition of language. From there, it will be possible to examine the relationship between language processing and cognitive psychology.
Definitions and Key Features
There is no one standard definition for the term language, however as the term is used in psychology, certain criteria must be met for vocalizations to be considered language. The critical components of language are that it be communicative, arbitrary, structured, generative, and dynamic. The communicative property of language allows individuals to verbalize and exchange thoughts and ideas. The arbitrary property is that a given sound or symbol represents a certain thing, but it does not matter which sound or symbol is applied to which thing as long as the application is used consistently. The structure of language means that utterances must follow a pattern of established grammatical rules. The generative property of language allows for the combination of words to generate an unlimited number of meanings. The dynamic aspect means that the language is constantly growing and changing, with new words being added.
With the said criteria met, language may then be broken down into four levels. At the most basic level are the simple sounds that words are formed from called...