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SP567 Cognitive Neuroscience The Study of Language is really the study of Meaning Discuss It is generally accepted that language is one of the key attributes that distinguishes humans from other species Although other animals possess at times very sophisticated methods of communication none match the cognitive capabilities of human language The terms communication speech language and vocalisation should not be used interchangeably though in practice it is not easy to separate and maintain distinctions between them While communication refers to the general ability to influence other conspecifics via signals language conveys perceptions intentions impressions and actions Speech is an articulatory manifestation of language The fact that so much of the human brain is devoted to or involved in language suggests that language lays more than a cummunicatory role but in fact may be deeply involved in how we model reality Jerison 1986 Within the first couple of years of life not only is a rich and complex vocabulary acquired but also the complexities of rules of grammar and subtleties of expression Language is traditionally a left hemisphere phenomenon though at present a right hemisphere contribution is increasingly evident There are four main principles of language that must be acquired for it to be used at the maximum potential 1 Phonology or the sounds used in language Any spoken word may be broken down into its constituent phonemes It is defined as the smallest unit of speech whose substitution or removal from a word causes a change in the words sound Stuart -Hamilton 1995This emphasises the relationships between the positions adopted by the articulators and the resulting speech sounds Bradshw et al 1995 2 Syntax This constitutes the second system that is necessary for language and are the grammatical rules which govern language They represent the grammatical rules that combine morphemic smallest meaningful units constituted of phonemes strings into uniquely meaningful propositions 3 Semantics
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