Language Processing and Cognition

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LanguageProcessing and Cognition

Languageand cognition are intricately related. Linguists and psychologistshave been on a quest to examine which of the two abilities precedethe other. However, there are various primary agreements on the twoimperative capacities. First, the development of language largelydepends on cognition. Secondly, cognition influences language and itsprogression. Scholars have concluded that language gains root beforecognition and it forms the ground for thought development. Tounderstand enunciation processing, it is imperative to examine itsvarious characterizes. Lexicon and structure are primary factors thataffect language development. Language and cognition are intricatelyrelated because learning and comprehension strengthens the cognitiveprocesses of perception, reasoning, memory and reproduction.

Languageand Lexicon

Theexplanation of language is complex but it is necessary to understandhow humans and animals communicate. Language is defined as asophisticated process of communication that is integrated withthoughts (Hoff,2013). It is an instrumental input for the development of criticalthought. The mental processes including perceiving, thinking,problem-solving, decision making and logical reasoning are expressedthrough communication.The interpretation of thoughts and aspirations through languageenhances understanding in a given setting.

Thereare various characteristics associated with language. First, it is acommunicative tool to pass information. People living in a specificcontext use a common language to express themselves. Secondly it isgenerative. People can draw endless meanings from the words they usein their daily communication (Hoff,2013). It also changes constantly as new rules are added to thegrammar.

Lexiconon the other hand refers to the vocabularies used in language. Itinclines towards the sounds in speech and the meaning of writtensymbols. It also includes bound morphemes that cannot stand asindependent words (Hoff,2013). A combination of such parts can construct a meaningfulsentence. Idiomaticexpression and collocations also constitute important parts oflanguage. An acquaintance with the lexicon of a specific languagemakes it possible to learn and communicate ideas (Hoff,2013).

KeyProperties of Language

Scholarsregard duality as a major attribute of language since it containsboth the primary and secondary levels. The basic units includeconsonants and vowels which are also referred to as speech sounds.The elements are combined to form words. When uttered in isolation,the primary constituents may not make sense (Anderson,2013). However, when used together, one can understand the intendedcommunication.

Languageis also systematic. Individuals speaking the same language useuniform words to refer to objects, feelings or intentions. Since theletters are not randomly chosen, it becomes possible for people tounderstand each other (Anderson, 2013). Therefore, the combination ofprimary and secondary elements is governed by certain rules thatensure the propagation of the definite structure of language.

Anotherimperative feature of diction is that it is structure-dependent. Thecoalescence of the primary and secondary elements of language arealways in coherent arrangements.For example, the sequence of a sentence in English dictates that averb cannot precede the subject and the object (Anderson, 2013).Although this feature appears to be automatically and intuitivelyrecognized by people using their first language, it becomes criticalwhen learning a second one.

Languagealso enhances specialization of substitute actions. When people makean expression using words, it is not necessary for them to repeat thesame using actions. For example, a command that has to be fulfilledcan be uttered without a physical movement. In addition, these wordsare transmitted from one generation to another. It would beimpossible to pass on experiences and cultural knowledge without auniform way of communication.

Levelsof Language Structure and Processing

Thereare four major levels of language learning and processing. Theyinclude phonemes, words, sentences and texts.

  1. Phonemes

Theseare the smallest units of any spoken language and they are used toform words. Since they are independent speech sounds, they can beequated to the alphabetical letters. Their production is affected bygeographical locations and individuals can make different sounds torefer to the same phonemes.

  1. Words

Thecoalescence of phonemes constitutes meaningful words. Although theymay not make sense when used in isolation, their reference can beunderstood in a given context. In English, there are about 600,000words developed from 46 consonants. Since language is systematic,the placement of phonemes in a word is not random(Hoff,2013). Each word has a definite spelling and it can only make senseif the speech sounds are arranged correctly.

  1. Sentences

Sentencesare imperative when communicating thoughts and expressions. A singleword cannot fully describe an emotion. A sentence, therefore,consists of systematically placed words that can make sense in aspecific context. The order of words is imperative for thecombination to be grammatically correct.

  1. Texts

Theyconsist of logically connected sentences that make paragraphs. Thesystematic structure of language dictates that, for a text to makesense, the sentences should be about the same topic. Theirarrangement should also have a sequential flow (Anderson, 2013).Therefore,it isvital to understand the general idea that one wants to put acrossbefore presenting it using sentences (Hoff, 2013). A distortion ofthe message may occur if the intended conclusion is put at thebeginning of a text.

TheFunction of Language Processing in Cognitive Psychology

Cognitivepsychology seeks to understand the mental procedures ofproblem-solving, communicating, reasoning, learning and perceptions.Through these mental processes, it is possible to understand language(Anderson, 2013). There are numerous words that one should understand to use themcorrectly and in the appropriate context. Cognitive psychology,therefore, plays an imperative role in triggering remembrance.According to Anderson(2013), whilelearning the phonemes and words’ construction, retrieval becomesnecessary for reproduction of the previously learned elements oflanguage.

Thecomplexity of language acquisition and the systematic nature of itscomponents can determine the level and pace of cognitive development.For example, when teaching young learners, instructors stick to thebasic phonemes and words. This reflects their level of understanding,perception and remembrance(Anderson, 2013).Upper-grade learners can comprehend texts and this indicates a higherlevel of mental processing. It also depicts their level of problemsolving and reasoning. What an individual learns and interpretsusing parlance is a systematic cognitive process.


Inconclusion, language triggers cognitive development because itbuttresses the processes of perception, reasoning, memory andreproduction. The locution adopted by people in different contexts iscomplex and structured. It is also communicative, arbitrary,generative and dynamic. To understand a language, one has to learnthe phonemes, words, sentences and then be in a position tocomprehend and form texts. Cognitive psychology is instrumental inlanguage processing and, therefore, the two are inseparable.


Anderson,J. R. (2013). Language,memory, and thought.Abingdon: Psychology Press.

Hoff,E. (2013). Language development. New York N.Y.: Cengage Learning.

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