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Lecture 5

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Brock University
Child and Youth Studies
Anthony Volk

Week 5 Language Development CHYS 2P10 Dr. Tony Volk Housecleaning • Exam next week - 100 MC, textbook and lecture material • Seminars are cancelled next week What Is Language? • Arbitrariness – uses symbols that are not related to the concept that they represent (e.g., hieroglyphics vs. English letters) • Symbols that are chosen have no relationship with what you depict • E.g. the spelling of the crocodile does not have anything to do with how a crocodile is • Productivity – can produce communications that are unique; can express completely new ideas • It can produce unique communications • E.g. can say anything with language, it is open • Semanticity – language represents a form of patterned information • There is information that you can extract from it • Displacement – language is independent of time, so you can talk about past, present, and future • Duality – language is represented on two levels: the sounds of the language and its underlying meaning • Two different level of language • Surface level and Duality = Sound + Meaning Language Development • Language development occurs universally, and usually progresses through common stages: crying (0-4m), cooing/babbling (4-12), initial words (12-18), two-word sentences (18-36), short sentences (2.5-5y), adult usage (5y+) • Also often involves body gestures that appear at an early age Components of Language: figure Phoneme, morpheme (groupings of sound that have some kind of meaning e.g. “the”, word (become arranged in phrases), phrase (become arranges in sentences according to syntax, grammar), sentence Phonological Development • Phonological development refers to learning the sounds of a language • Babbling includes subset of language sounds, may serve a social function • Babies babble all the phonemes of all the languages • E.g. dah, French baby will say “haw” sound • Babbling initially universal, then specific • Older French baby will not say the “haw” sound • Babbling appears to arise from the same neural structures as language (e.g., left lobe) Video 1 – 203: babbling babies - How deaf and mute children can teach us the functions of phonemes Corey Rae, 12 months Babbling: when a baby repeats a syllable over and over again It doesn’t mean anything Corey babbles because her language ability is maturing Language is an independent part of the brain which will find some way to come out even with the absence of the vocal cords Babies that cannot speak will babble with their hands (sign language) Deaf babies babble just like hearing babies but they will do it with their hands The brain doesn’t care whether one is a sign language and one is spoken it can do a mixture of both They learn language at the same pace; same order which shows that language is directly related to the brain and not the vocal cords Phonological Development - Concept review 9.2: major milestones in phonological development Morphological Development • Free morphemes stand alone, bound morphemes attach to free morph (e.g. ed, a, ing). • Children learn rules for attaching free morphemes to bound morphemes (adding “ed” to “talk”) • Mean Length of Utterance refers to number of morphemes per sentence – this increases with age/lang. development. Syntactic Development • Syntax – rules of grammar • How words are arranged into sentences • Word order can play an important role in the meaning of a sentence • Negatives – children initially attach words of negation to positive sentences – E.g. “No drink milk.” or “Drink milk no.” evolve to “Drink no milk.” then adult way • Questions are initially asked using vocal intonation, then around 3 years, “wh” words begin to be used • Passive sentences – e.g. “The study was found to be significant.” – they don’t contain word order cues and are so more difficult to understand by younger children • Relating events within a sentence through the use of conjunctions doesn’t usually appear until around 3 years • E.g., use and, but, because, while, that, which • Most adult grammatical rules are learned by around 5 years Semantic Development • Semantics refer to a word’s meaning • There is a major spurt in word/semantic acquisition that begins at around 18 months of age; typically begins after around 50 or so words are known • First 50 words are usually most common and/or important words to child The Holophrastic Period Types of early words children use (50-word vocabulary) What is “the nyeh”? Figure: it could mean anything in the picture Hard to teach a child what the combined actions with the object is e.g. splashing water Overcoming These Issues • Whole object assumption – new word applies to whole object • Taxonomic assumption – words can be generalized to a group of things • Mutual exclusivity assumption – different words refer to different things e.g. wolf • Children use these rules/constraints along with social cues to learn semantic Over/underextensions • Applying a word to an either too big a category or too little a category • E.g. sees a chiwawa and says cat or horse, they are not fitting it into one category or putting it into a category of a dog • Some evidence that overextensions are sometimes cues for scaffolding assistance – help the child narrow down what an animal is • E.g., - sees a coyote and calls it a dog, looking for clarification about what it really is Development of Word Meaning • Development progresses with word meanings • Words in semantic memory may be represented in terms of weighted features in children’s memories • Young children may incorrectly put more weight on global characteristics rather than defining/unique features • Emphasizes gists, schemas, etc. Natural Language Categories • NLC are grouping of words along a semantic gradient – e.g., german shepards are dogs, dogs are canines, canines are mammals, etc. • Younger children have difficulty to understand most global/superordinate categories (food, people, and animals seem to be common exceptions) Pragmatics Development • refers to how well a language is being used • Pragmatics refers to how language is actually used, particularly in social situat
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