Language and Lexicon

Essay by psychmajorUniversity, Bachelor'sA+, April 2009

download word file, 4 pages 3.0

What is language? What is lexicon? Language can be fundamental defined by most of the general public today, but lexicon may not easily be explained. In one’s general opinion, language is a form of communicating ideas, emotions, and opinions. It varies according to the culture and generation of the individuals using it. This paper provides a definition of language and lexicon, the features of language, the levels of language, and the role of language in cognitive psychology. (Willingham, 2007)What is language? Language is communication of thoughts and feelings through a system of arbitrary signals such as voice sounds, gestures, or written symbols. Language is one of the most difficult to define because there is not really one word that can actually describe language. Language is known to be the structure of communication using words either spoken or symbolized with a writing system, typically structured with grammar. Within language there are properties that are considered to be crucial.

(Willingham, 2007)What are the key elements of language? The key elements of language are communicative, arbitrary, structured, generative, and dynamic. According to Willingham,Skinner argued that the principles of operant and classical conditioning could account for how children learn language. Chomsky argued that they could not because language is generative; behaviorist principles can account for whether someone is more likely to repeat an action taken previously, but a distinctive property of language is that we almost never say the same thing twice. In essence, Chomsky was saying that Skinner’s theory was bound to miss the mark because Skinner failed to appreciate what language is.

Communicative just allows language to permit back and forth between individuals. Arbitrary is just the relationship between the elements in language and the meaning. So for example, the word big does not have to be in some sense “bigger” than...