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PSY 302
Candace Grant

Language Development Theoretical perspectives  Behaviourism  Skinner; Chomsky announced him  Nativism  Interactionist View  genetic and environment interact Behaviourism  Skinner  Children learn language by learning (i.e., through imitation combined with parental reinforcement)—children will say things that they have never heard before, wasn’t learned Nativism  Chomsky and the L.A.D. (Language Acquisition Device—language module—part of your brain that guides acquisition of language particularly grammar)  “Language learning is not really something the child does; it is something that happens to the child place in an appropriate environment, much as the child’s body grows and matures in a predetermined way when provided with appropriate nutrition and environmental stimulation” (Chomsky, 1987) –need input from the environment—related to critical period; biological window which you need to be exposed to in order to learn it Interactionist View  combination of the first two  focus on interactions between biological endowment and environmental input Evidence for a critical period Johnson & Newport (1989)  Knowledge of English grammar among Asian immigrants to U.S.  IVs: Age of arrival, number of years in U.S.  Number of years mattered little, age of arrival mattered a lot  Arrive by age 7, native-like grammar  Came to US between 3+36 years of age  Lived in US between 3+26 years  Separated these two things—and found that number of years mattered little  Age at which you arrive matters a lot, younger the age the better the grammar  Arrive by age 7 grammar was just like any other native American  Arrived in late teens to adulthood is the worst  Period of early sensitivity, more likely to use grammar like a native speaker  Not a step function (critical period)—its really more evidence for a sensitive period with greater sensitivity for one time than other  Also true with accents –ppl who acquire language particularly after puberty people have trouble losing their accents  Cognitive ability is specific to language Word Segmentation  “the test next week might be very hard or very easy”  In English there is stress—one cue to word segmentation standard rule is to stress the first syllable (exceptions though guitar, etc)  Statistical regularities brain might be sensitive to things that may occur—mechanism that is sensitive “pretty baby”—pretty obvious because a baby is more likely to hear “baby” from ba|by than Bay|Watch Saffran et al. (1996)  Are infants sensitive to statistical regularities in speech?—pabiku/golatu/daropi/tibudo within words also followed by the same, but between words it was always followed by 33% of the others  Test trials done—could be words or not words—presented in random order—draw infants attention to the centre and then see a flashing light keep hearing the word as long as they look there then a light is flashed at the other side and a word or a non-word is presented as long as the baby looks  It’s a preference paradigm—look to see what they prefer either words or non-words  Baby preferred familiarized words and not mixed syllables—heard them sometimes but not nearly as much as the familiarized words  2 minute familiarization  Experiment 1 Words vs. Non-Words ex. ladati preferred the non-words  Experiment 2 Part Words vs. Words babies looked longer to see the word that was not familiarized already  Demonstrated a novelty preference—combinations heard sometimes but not as frequently  Mechanism that things go together—sensitive to statistical regularities to fix the word segmention problem  Cues with statistical regularities in infants learned rapidly—only 2 mins of exposure, but still knew what went together—human cognitive mechanism—which might help you learn language and help solve word segmentation  Sensitive to regularities not to language acquisition device  8-month-olds: familiarization followed by listening preference  Looked longer to hear “non-words” than “words”  Only cues were statistical regularities Acquisition of grammar Marcus et al. (1999)  Same procedure as Saffran; 7-month-olds  Hadn’t heard any familiarized words  Words were all CV—consonant vowel  Each sentence had 3 words  Very simple structure  Familiarization (ABA or ABB) followed by preference (ABA or ABB)  Grammar used very loosely either ABA or ABB  Grammar exposed to one for 2 mins  Test trials hears something and looks towards speaker, either grammatical or un- grammatical  Have never heard the sounds before, just the structure of the grammar (ABA)  Preferred novel ‘grammars’ –more interesting  Also ABB vs. AAB, same results –always preferred novel stimuli Infant-Directed Speech  Sentences are short, simple, repetitive  Clear enunciation, slower, higher pitched voice  Linger spaces between utterances  Vowels are hyper-articulated—stress difference between vowels Fernald et al. (1989)  Recorded ID speech to infants among German, Japanese, French, Italian, British- English, and U.S-English moms and dads  Modifications in ID speech were consistent across genders/cultures  May not be universal but people tend to do this 
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