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Language and Cognition

Please provide response to each of the following points:

1. Examine language as it relates to cognition. The examination addresses the following:

a. Define language and lexicon.
b. Evaluate the key features of language.
c. Describe the four levels of language structure and processing.
d. Analyze the role of language processing in cognitive psychology

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a. Define language and lexicon.

Language is defined as "a formal system of communication which involves the combination of words and/or symbols, whether written or spoken, as well as some rules that govern them?- It is not even necessary for another organism to comprehend the language, for it to actually be a language, just that it meets the above description?(

In linguistics, the lexicon includes the lexemes used to actualize words. Lexemes are formed according to morpho-syntactic rules and express sememes. In this sense, a lexicon organizes the mental vocabulary in a speaker's mind: First, it organizes the vocabulary of a language according to certain principles (for instance, all verbs of motion may be linked in a lexical network) and second, it contains a generative device producing (new) simple and complex words according to certain lexical rules. For example, the suffix '-able' can be added to transitive verbs only, so that we get 'read-able' but not 'cry-able'.?(University of Ohio, Online Etymology Dictionary. Created 2003,, accessed 2007-01-05).

From the linguistic perspective (Chomsky), the lexical entry for a word must contain all the information needed to construct a semantic representation for sentences that contain the word. E.g. Simple representations, such as features and frames, are adequate for resolving many syntactic ambiguities. But since those notations cannot represent all of logic, they are incapable of supporting all the function needed for semantics; therefore, more complex models have developed (

The lexicon is the bridge between a language and the knowledge expressed in that language. As a bridge, the lexicon is partly language dependent, partly language independent, and partly domain and application dependent. For example, lexicon accommodates the idiosyncracies of each language, support all the possible uses of language and the demands on the lexicon also vary with the type of application: speech transcription, information retrieval, information extraction, text summarization, message classification, question answering, machine translation, and discourse understanding. (see


There are several areas of study in language, each with a different focus:

o In general, linguistic studies concern themselves in providing explanations for the working of the language as a whole (as against individual performance), where the theoreticians focus on discovering sets of rules that could generate all possible (meaningful and grammatical) utterances in a language (Luger, 1994,

o Most semantic theories are concerned with the relationship between meanings in the lexicon (lexical semantics).

o Another area of study is at the sentence level, where the study focus on describing meaning relations expressed in entire sentences, by studying the relationship between its words.

o Morphology, on the other hand, deals with the study of the structure of words. The smallest unit is word structure is the morphemes. The next larger units include plural morphemes (allomorphs). Other kinds of morphemes include the free morpheme, and bound morpheme.

o Some of the important bound morphemes include inflections and derivational morphemes. Scientists argue that derivational processes (and its reverse) are used during perception and production. This leads to the argument that humans must possess a mental lexicon where stems and sets of bound morphemes are stored together, which are then combined in various manners as needed.

o The study of syntax (the third major focus area) deals with explaining the structure of grammatically acceptable sentences. Linguists believe that native speakers possess tacit knowledge of competence, although they may not be aware of fit. In attempts to describe phrase and phrase structure, researchers have developed rule systems involving noun phrases, verb phrases, prepositional phrases, etc. (phrase structure rules), which along with lexical insertion rules provide some understanding of sentence structures. The power of recursion provides the way to create infinite number of sentences based on a small set of rules (Luger, 1994,

b. Evaluate the key features of language.

Different authors propose different features of language. According to Hockett (1960), there are 13 key features of the human language that distinguish it from other ...

Solution Summary

Examines language as it relates to cognition addressing the four points comprehensively e.g. defines language and lexicon, evaluates the key features of language, describes the four levels of language structure and processing and analyzes the role of language processing in Cognitive Psychology.