This week, I went back through the first five lectures of the Yale Online Psychology Course. It was good review but I was a bit bored because a good chunk of it was stuff I already knew. I had a better time with the sixth lecture on Language in the Brain, Mouth, and the Hands.
I decided to approach this lecture differently than the first five. I spent a lot more time taking notes and would frequently pause and rewind the video. Although it was more time consuming, I spend an hour and a half on a 56 minute lecture, I think that this method is more helpful with retaining the information. With detailed and organized notes I will not have to go back to and re-watch videos when it comes time to study for the AP test or work on my project which is yet to be determined.
Back to the subject of language. Professor Bloom started the class by explaining that language is an essential part of psychology. In fact, every psychologist must explain language in order to have a complete theory of the human brain. Bloom also stated that in broad terms, language could encompass art, music, and even street signs. However, in the study of psychology, the definition of language should be limited. Bloom stated that all languages share a deep and intricate universal which is that they are powerful enough to convey abstract notions such as thought. This definition seems convoluted but I suppose it’s pretty hard to come up with a good, specific definition for language.
Professor Bloom continued with his lecture by talking about how language is innate. The great Charles Darwin even said that, ““Man has an instinctive tendency to speak, as we see in the babble of our young children, while no child has an instinctive tendency to bake, brew, or write.” Language is special because we are born with it. Any neurologically normal child has the ability to create a language.
Slaves, who came from different backgrounds spoke a makeshift language called pidgin in order to communicate with one another. The children of these slaves developed their own language called creole even though they had only been exposed to pidgin. The same is true for deaf siblings whose parents do not know sign language. Instead of being completely unable to communicate, they develop their own form of sign language which they can use to communicate with one another.
Instead of boring you with a laundry list of terms and definitions, I want to finish-up this post with a story about the complexity of language. There are two brothers, let’s call them Mark and John that rob a bank. The police arrive at the scene and an officer points his gun at Mark. Mark, in turn, pulls out a gun of his own and points it at the cop. The policeman tells Mark to toss him the gun. Mark looks to his brother, John for advice. John tells Mark to “let him have it”. Mark then proceeds to shoot the cop. Did John mean for Mark to shoot the cop or give him the gun?
“Short Sale Standoffs: How to Avoid Getting Hit – AGBeat.” The American Genius. N.p., 29 Jan. 2013. Web. 08 Feb. 2016.