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Lecture 1

LING 3P61 Lecture 1: Lecture 1- Friday sept 11

Course Code
Carolyn Windsor

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Lecture 1
Introduction to Child Language
September 9th,2015
Study of Language Acquisition
2 themes
1. What and when: Course of
development Predictable patterns
oSame to learn at
the same time, same sounds etc.
oPredict milestones
Individual variability
oIn speech pathology; notices the changes
oLanguage deficit Hidden disability – child or adult
oVariability lessens 4+ years old
oif you get variability, you get variability in the rate
Language Achievement
On average, English children say their first word at around 13 months, experience a
vocabulary spurt at around 19 months, and begin to produce simple sentences at around
24 months. However, there is great variability in when different children achieve each of
these milestones.
How does it happen?
2. How and why?: Theories of Acquisition why does development follow the
path it does? How do children learn to talk and understand language?

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Ie. Physical or cognitive maturation??
Are they born with the ability?
oPredictable = programed
Do they “pick up” language by hearing it used around them? If so
oTypically whatever environment you’re in, you’re still hearing
the same language
Scope of the Child’s Task
3 domains in language
odifferent skills, but they overlap
olearning language easily, but its actually complex
oie. Child at 18 months, what kind of content do they have, speech sounds
etc… and how do each of these skills interact with each other
Language Form
Phonology: Sound system
oDevelops very early on
oSound perception happens at pre birth
oIsn’t completed until age 7
Morphology: system for combining units of meaning to make words
oIe. Free and bound morphemes
oA challenge in one area, can have challenges in other areas
Syntax: System for combining words into sentences
oSentence forms
Language Content
Semantics: Meaning of words and word combinations
oBuilding blocks of all languages, vocabulary
oOne area that is overlooked
oChild who has a second language tends to have the most problem with
vocabulary because there are many different ways to say that one thing
Form Content

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Learn to produce and understand tons of thousands of words and how words
relate to each other (synonyms and antonyms)
Language Use
Pragmatics: Appropriate language use
oHow to use language in a social aspect
oHow to combine sentences in order to have conversation
How to open, maintain and close; how to make relevant
contributions, how to repair
oHow to tell a story
oHow to speak appropriately to peers and teachers (choosing appropriate
register, providing sufficient information etc… )
Comprehension and Expression
Child must learn to:
oProduce (expressive)
More visible skill
oComprehend (receptive)
Less visible skill
Hard to being accurate on the child’s understanding
Dependent on their environment
We’ll look at the what and when and how and why of child’s abilities to produce
and understand each subcomponent of language
Concurrent development and interactions
Two unique aspects of Language development
We’ll also look at how language develops when a child is exposed to two or more
languages: bilingualism
As well as language development in special populations: Down syndrome,
Autism, SLI Today’s Lecture: Outline
Overview of course of development
Major issues in Child language development
Why study child language development
Methods of research in Child language development
Overview of the course of development
A snapshot of: “The what and the when”
Birth vocalizations
6 months:
obabbling: playing with sounds
phonetic sounds due to articulation in the oral area
non communicative – vocal play
repeat strings of babbles
oreact to noise, music, voices
olook at person talking to him/her
Word Production
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