- First 6 months, babies do not know their own names and will not recognize it
What would you need to learn to understand video?
o Meanings: what each word refers to
o In Spanish, the meaning of “almohada” is pillow
- Syntax, tone, context, arrangement of words of where it begins and ends, changes the meaning
of that particular word
- How do you know what the words are?
o Segmentation: what does one word end and the next begin?
Few silences between words, and some within words!
So speech stream is often ambiguous
o Phonology: what changes in sound count as new word?
In English, changing “I” to “r” makes a different word (lake vs. rake). Not in
In Zulu, adding a click can make a different word. Not in English.
In all languages: change from child voice to adult voice don’t make a difference
o What combinations are allowed?
There must be a meaningful way of splitting the speech into parts of
- Words are not enough
o Syntax: how words combine to express relations between meanings
In English, order matters
Jennifer loves Brad. (But does Brad love Jennifer?)
In Chinese, use different order
Zhenni Brad xihuan (Jennifer loves Brad)
In Turkish, word from matters
Jennifer Brad’I sever = Jennifer’I Brad sever
In all languages, syntax specifies who is the lover and who is loved
- Words + syntax are not enough
o Pragmatics: the same sentence can mean different things
What kids know about their language by about age 3…
- 3 year old
- Knows quite a lot!
- How do they learn it?
Children learn from their parents! - “the English language, and other languages, are institutions like country dancing or the game of
cricket: cultural creations that individuals may learn during their lifetimes, if they happen to be
born into the appropriate cultures, but to which no one is innately predisposed”. – Geoffrey
Sampson, “The Language Instinct Debate”
- Language is learnt through object association with sounds (eg. Language)
Children are designed to learn language!
- “the fact that all normal children acquire essentially comparable grammars of great complexity