• Language is regular: meaning that it is governed by rules and grammar (sentence can be
reorganizes and still retain its meaning).
• Language is arbitrary-: lack of resemblance between words and their meaning.
• Language is productive: limitless ways to combine words to describe objects, situations, and
Whorf Sapir Hypothesis:
• Whorf Sapir Hypothesis: language influences our thoughts and the way we perceive and
experience the world
The Structure of Language:
• Morpheme: The smallest unit of sound that contains information (or signs), not the absolute
• Often a word, but some words contain multiple morphemes
Phonemes: Constituent sounds when breaking up a morpheme
Syntax and Semantics:
• Syntax: rules that govern how sentences are put together,AKAgrammar.
Some languages assign gender to objects (french).
• Semantics: Meaning of each individual word (meaning of the sentence).
Module: Developmental and the Segmentation Problem
12 weeks: make cooing sounds
• 16 weeks: turns head towards voices 6 months: imitates sounds
• 1 year: babbles
• -2 years: uses 50-250 words, uses 2 words phrases
• 2.5 years: vocabulary > 850 words
• Babbling: characterized by drawn-out sounds made of a variety of combinations of vowels and
• May sounds like real sentences or questions because of the use of inflection and rhythm in the
production of the babble
• Combination progresses to become real words, forms basis for first words.
• 1.5-6 years children enter language explosion and vocabulary increases rapidly and have for
the most part mastered major aspects of language
The Segmentation Problem:
• Translates into perception that a person speaking an unfamiliar language often sounds like they
are speaking very quickly.
• Caused by difficulty to segmenting word stream into word units.
• Spacing of words
• Newman and colleagues: detect target word from speech stream (dog). Strong positive
correlation between infant segmentation ability and expressive vocabulary at 2 years.
• Children who now had larger expressive vocabulary had earlier demonstrated good speech
segmentation skills as infants (and vice versa)
• Findings could lead to infant screening tests to predict later problems in language development
and allow for early treatment interventions
▯ Subtopic: Different Phonemes
• Infants can discriminate more phonemes that adults can
• Radio vs Ladio, Jada vs Jjada
Universal Phoneme Sensitivity
• The ability of infants to discriminate between virtually any sounds they’re tested on
• Adults cannot do so
• Includes sounds from non-native languages
• Clinicians test this by doing the “Head turn procedure”
• Usually lose this ability by 1 year old
• Learning new language at young age leads to superior mastery of all aspects of language
• Test using hindi phonemes: Hindi adults = infants from english speaking families, english
speaking adults (lowest score).
• Infants can discriminate non-native sounds that are absent from the language of the culture in
which they are being raised.
▯ Social Learning Theory:
• Children learn language through a combination of imitation and operant conditioning