AP Psychology : Language

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for AP Psychology

varsity tutors app store varsity tutors android store

Example Questions

Example Question #11 : Language

Which area of the brain is responsible for speech comprehension?

Possible Answers:

Wernicke's area

Amygdala

Cerebellum

Corpus callosum

Broca's area

Correct answer:

Wernicke's area

Explanation:

Wernicke's area, located in the upper temporal lobe, contains motor neurons involved in the comprehension of speech. A person with a malfunctioning Wernicke's area will have difficulty understanding what others are saying. Broca's area is involved in producing speech, and none of the other answer choices are directly involved in speech-related processes.

Example Question #11 : Language

Which theorist coined the term language acquisition device (LAD)?

Possible Answers:

Jean Piaget

B. F. Skinner

Lev Vygotsky

Noam Chomsky

Correct answer:

Noam Chomsky

Explanation:

Noam Chomsky's theory of language development suggests that children possess the inherent ability to acquire language. When exposed to any given language, children pick it up easily because they have a kind of "universal grammar" that allows them to understand the commonalities between all languages.

Example Question #59 : Cognition

Which is the following is true about the process of learning language?

Possible Answers:

There is not a innate biological ability to acquire language

Social interactions do not play a significant role in language acquisition

Children can speak language better than they can understand it

Children tend to overgeneralize grammatical rules after they first learn them

The language a child learns does not impact their perception of the world

Correct answer:

Children tend to overgeneralize grammatical rules after they first learn them

Explanation:

The correct answer is that children tend to overgeneralize grammatical rules after they first learn them-- a process unsurprisingly called overgeneralization.

As for the other answers, children understand language better than they can speak it (think about how your dog can understand some english but can't produce it), social interactions and innate biological ability play roles in acquiring language, and the language a child learns does impact their perception of the world according to Whorf's linguistic relativity hypothesis. 

Example Question #11 : Language

Regarding language acquisition, Noam Chomsky argued which of the following?

Possible Answers:

Language acquisition is dependent on socio-cultural setting

None of the other answers

Language is a learned behavior acquired exclusively through receptive skills (reading and listening)

Language is a learned behavior through operant conditioning

Humans are born with innate language acquisition devices

Correct answer:

Humans are born with innate language acquisition devices

Explanation:

In opposition to behaviorists such as B.F. Skinner, Noam Chomsky argued that humans are born with the ability to acquire language. He put forth the idea that all humans, regardless of socio-cultural differences, have the same naturally underlying language learning abilities.

Example Question #11 : Language

What is the difference between phonemes and morphemes?

Possible Answers:

Morphemes and phonemes are synonyms.

Phonemes are the smallest non-recognizable units of sound, whereas morphemes are the smallest meaningful units of sound. 

Morphemes are the smallest recognizable units of sound, whereas phonemes are the smallest meaningful units of sound. 

Phonemes are the smallest recognizable units of sound, whereas morphemes are the smallest meaningful units of sound. 

Morphemes are the smallest non-recognizable units of sound, whereas phonemes are the smallest meaningful units of sound. 

Correct answer:

Phonemes are the smallest recognizable units of sound, whereas morphemes are the smallest meaningful units of sound. 

Explanation:

This question requires knowledge of the definitions of phonemes and morphemes-- two elements of speech. Phonemes are the smallest units of sound that are recognizable as human speech and make words distinct from one another, such as the "p" at the beginning of the word "pat" that distinguishes "pat" from "bat" and "hat." Morphemes, on the other hand, are the smallest meaningful units of sound; after all, the sound made by the letter P doesn't really mean anything by itself. Examples of morphemes include the "-ed" on the end of the word "finished."

Example Question #62 : Cognition

In an alien language, there are twenty different names for different shades of red. A study finds that the alien culture can better differentiate between shades of red than other cultures with fewer words for red. What is this situation an example of? 

Possible Answers:

Chomsky's nativist theory

Grammar

Skinner's reinforcement theory

interactionist theory

Whorf's linguistic relativity hypothesis

Correct answer:

Whorf's linguistic relativity hypothesis

Explanation:

This connection between language and perception is an example of Whorf's linguistic relativity hypothesis, which explains that the language we speak (20 words for red) affects our perception (ability to differentiate between shades of red) relative to people who speak other languages (other cultures).

As for the other answers, interactionist theory states that social interactions as well as an innate predisposition for language lead to language acquisition. Nativist theory states that an innate predisposition for language leads to language acquisition. Skinner's reinforcement theory states that systems of conditioning (parents encouraging correct speech and discouraging incorrect speech) lead to language acquisition. Grammar is the system of rules that dictates the correct ways to combine words, clauses, and phrases. 

Example Question #11 : Language

Which of the following is an example of telegraphic speech?

Possible Answers:

I'm walkin' here

Blah blah blah

I need to send a message, stop

Truck go

Go go power rangers

Correct answer:

Truck go

Explanation:

Telegraphic speech is most common amongst toddlers, where nouns and verbs are combined with little to no conjugation, determiners, prepositions or auxiliary words. Hence, the correct answer is "Truck go" since there is no other grammatical categories present except a noun and a verb, as well as no verb conjugation. Although "Go go Power Rangers" seems like a viable answer, this is idiomatic speech as well as technically grammatically correct--the "go"s are used in the imperative sense.

Example Question #11 : Language

What is an example of a behaviorist view of language acquisition?

Possible Answers:

Children are preprogrammed to test out certain linguistic universal rules and do so consistently until the appropriate ones are acquired.

None of these answers is accurate.

Children learn a language rapidly because they are innately predisposed to.

A child learns a new word and nothing happens as a result, but keeps learning the language regardless.

A child learns a new word, earns a reward, and is henceforth motivated to learn new words because of reward and praise.

Correct answer:

A child learns a new word, earns a reward, and is henceforth motivated to learn new words because of reward and praise.

Explanation:

Behaviorists believe that all human behavior can be explained by our tendency to seek reward and avoid punishment. They expanded this view into language acquisition and believe children are only motivated to learn languages because of the positive social reinforcement it brings.

Example Question #12 : Language

Who proposed that there exists a language acquisition device?

Possible Answers:

Carl Jung

Milt Friedman

J.M. Skinner

None of these

Noam Chomsky

Correct answer:

Noam Chomsky

Explanation:

Noam Chomsky, a famous linguist, was the one to propose that a language acquisition device resides in the brain, which we inherit through our biological make-up. The others listed as answers were certainly theorists in their own right though the only one close to a linguistics theorist was J.M. Skinner. Skinner believed that language was acquired through behavioral reinforcement as opposed to any innate predisposition, which directly contradicts Chomsky's theory.

Example Question #66 : Cognition

What is the language acquisition device?

Possible Answers:

None of these answers is accurate.

It is a physical component of our brains that is responsible for memorizing language according to our human nature.

It is a theoretical component of our brains that is responsible for acquiring language according to innate universal linguistic properties.

It is a theoretical component of our brains that is responsible for acquiring language according to innate Darwinian properties.

It is responsible for making what we say have meaning when we are learning to speak a language.

Correct answer:

It is a theoretical component of our brains that is responsible for acquiring language according to innate universal linguistic properties.

Explanation:

The language acquisition device is a theoretical component of our brains that is responsible for acquiring language according to innate universal linguistic properties. It is responsible for giving the child universal properties and rules of language to test out in order to acquire competency in their native language. The most important and revolutionary aspect of this idea is that is proposes that language learning is an innate part of our biological make-up, it is not something we simply learn entirely by ourselves.

Learning Tools by Varsity Tutors