written assignments revised for 2012 and new ones developed depending on current class topics, etc . Make sure you have the full wording of these questions. See Daily notes for details.


All papers must be typed and printed; unless otherwise directed they should be in essay format. Lists, tables, and sketches are fine as long as accompanied by a descriptive text.

Due date follows each short description of these SPRING, 2012 assignments

  1. intro and definitions--first class
  2. functions of language --Feb. 07
  3. watch Human Spark and research FOXP2. Feb 09
  4. discussion of James, W. (1892). "Thought before language: A deaf-mute's recollections." Feb 14
  5. Read Simcock, G., & Hayne, H. (2002). Breaking the barrier? Children fail to translate their preverbal memories into language. Psychological Science, 13, 225-231. (get it online from library or on Blackboard documents at the top) read this and write a short summary of the basic conclusion, any critical thoughts you might have, and find one recent (2009-12) piece of research relevant to their conclusions. Say why it is relevant; give APA citation so I can find it. 1-2 pages. Due 2/23.
  6. read Ganea, P., Shutts, K., Spelke, E., & DeLoache, J. (2007, August). Thinking of Things Unseen: Infants' Use of Language to Update Mental Representations. Psychological Science, 18(8), 734-739. Retrieved March 23, 2009, doi:10.1111/j.1467-9280.2007.01968.x (on Blackboard) Write 1 page- paragraph on implications for L&T relationships as you see it. One paragraph on related research paper within last 3 years 2009-12. Due Mar 1, Thursday . get study guide for exam 1,
  7. exam 1 March 08
  8. Ruffman et al (2002) (Blackboard) present some interesting correlations between mothers' language and their chidren's performance on theory of mind (ToM) measures. (A) In a few sentences, summarize what you believe to be the most interesing result. Then, using databases, e.g. web of science, look for two recent (2007>) articles that update Ruffman et al (2002)'s findings-- positively or negatively. (B) Summarize both of these, saying how they relate to Ruffman. (1-2 pages typed. (C) What do you think about the role of language in ToM from your reading of these articles? GIVE COMPLETE APA STYLE REFERENCES FOR BOTH ARTICLES. Due 3/29.
  9. Very short "blink" assignment- read carefully 163-169 where Pinker says "One easy way to understand speech sounds is to track a glob of air through the vocal tract into the world, starting in the lungs." Follow the word "blink." Write out a recipe for moving your vocal tract including breathing and phonation; just introspect as you do it slowing and write down the movements. You can just list the steps, following Pinker and your own introspections. Feel your larynx to know when it is vibrating and when it is not.

    Due Tuesday, 4/03 Tuesday. This should be in enough detail so that if I follow your directions, I will say blink. Use vocabulary of vocal tract, including phonation. (Compare chimp tract.) Here's a hint of the complexity of the area.

  10. Difference in meaning between tall and big? One page due Tuesday, 4/10. See notes.
  11. Etymology: Indoeuropean languages and cognates. Due 4/19.
  12. No more short papers
  13. exam 2 Apr 26
  14. research paper due May 14




____________previous semester's topics

  1. interests (list at least three topics relating to language you are interested in)
  2. comment on W. James -- What is psychology?
  3. "Psychology is the Science of Mental Life...such things as we call feelings, desires, cognitions, reasonings, decisions, and the like. ...a certain amount of brain-physiology must be presupposed or included in Psychology...Our psychology

    must therefore take account not only of the conditions antecedent to mental states, but of their resultant consequences as well...Standing, walking, buttoning, piano-playing, talking, even saying one's prayers, may be done when his mind is absorbed in other things...Shall the study of such machine-like yet purposive acts as these be included in Psychology? "

    -- William James definition of psychology, 1890 in his famous Principles of Psychology -- perhaps the first modern psychology text.

    What do you think about James' question? Should language be part of psychology? Why or why not? What is he worried about anyway?

  4. Explain Chomsky's "poverty of stimulus" argument. Give one response against that argument.
  5. functions of language (See assignments and daily notes.)
  6. interstellar communication
  7. follow up on James - We have been discussing James' wonderment about machine-like activities and the mind interacting. While we can walk and have our mind engaged in other activities, e.g. thinking about dinner, planning the weekend.., can we talk -- carry on some sort of conversation -- at the same time as thinking about dinner, etc? You will have to try it; try to discriminate between a serial, alternating process, and doing two activities at once.
    The answer here might be useful in evaluating the implication in James that talking is machine-like and the "mind" is something else.
  8. childhood amnesia references paper (see daily notes)
  9. sentence analysis " "The girl that Sabu wanted to leave wore a blue suit."
    1. What can this string of words mean? I say string rather than sentence because its may represent several sentences, i.e. has several structural descriptions (SDs). If so, it is ambiguous and you should be able to say why. Are there some related sentences that might illuminate these possibilities?
  10. sentence analysis "the fact that Otto knew was surprising."
  11. sentence analysis "the player kicked the ball kicked him." (maybe)
  12. instructions to say "blink" (write out a recipe for moving your vocal tract including breathing and phonation; just introspect as you do it slowing down and writing down the movements.) Before you actually try to write , stand in front of a mirror and say 'blink' several times--LOUD! Hold your nose and shut off the airflow a few times at a few different places in 'blink.' Also put a finger on the outside of your throat to feel the buzzing of the larynx. Notice where you do and do not buzz during 'blink.' Now write this all down as a recipe. Use the vocabulary shown in this sketch of the vocal tract. Then test the recipe!
  13. pitch lab (handout)
  14. what's the meaning of "tall?"
  15. etymology assignment
  16. verb acquisition