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Chapter 11 - Language Development.docx

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David Collins

Language Development Recap Chapter 11:  theories of lang dev o nativists – lang structures, LAD  Lang dev o preverbal  phonemes, babbling o semantics  overextension, holophrases, synt boot; constraints (lex contr, mut excl) o grammar  tele speech, overreg., sem bootstrapping Language  system of symbols that stand for other entities (referents)  arbitrariness and discreetness distinguish language symbols from the type of symbols in nonverbal communication o gradation possible in nonverbal symbols  language has hierarchical structure o sentence-phrase-words-phoneme  rules that specify how units at one level can be formed to produce the next level (grammar)  Language is a complicated system of rules that allow us to communicate verbally  Language is unlikely to be only a genetic process because: o Productivity of language involves an infinite set of messages that are unlikely to be passed along via the genetic code o Adopted children do not speak the language of their biological parents Theories of Language Development  Early Learning Approach o B.F. Skinner  the acquisition of language was a function of learning  Child is reinforced for imitation of adult speech, punished for poor language effort  Nativist Theory o Noam Chomsky’s criticism of the learning view  Children are not reinforced for speech accuracy  Children learn to speak well even when exposed to poor models of speech  Children emit novel sentences  The rules of grammar are too complex for simple learning processes o Biological basis for language acquisition  Language consists of a complicated set of rules  Language has two structures:  Surface structure refers to the way that words and phrases are arranged in spoken languages  Deep structure refers to the inborn rules of language (these do not vary across culture)  Language acquisition device (LAD)  Brain mechanism that translates surface into deep structure  Early language development all about surface structures (grammar)  Do no need sophisticated cognition  Environmental/Learning Approaches o Cognitively oriented theories of learning o infant-directed speech (Motherese)  Special variation of language used by mothers to talk to their infants, consists of simplified phrases and changes in tone of voice o Parents respond to ungrammatical speech with a variety of forms of feedback and instruction  Cognitive-Developmental Models o A child’s early knowledge and concepts play a role in language development  Socioculturalist Approaches o Children are motivated to acquire language as a tool for communicating in their society/culture Understanding Meaning of Speech  Syntax o Rules of language (syntactical rules) o How words are arranged into phrased and sentences  Reber & Allen (1978) o rules for combining M, V, R, T, and X  MVRXR, VXTTV = grammatical  MXVTR, VMRTX = ungrammatical o showed 20 “grammatical” cards o presented with fifty different strings o identified 81 % of “grammatically” correct strings o syntactic rules learned implicitly  could not express rules verbally  learning syntax and word meaning seem to involve two different (brain) mechanisms Semantics and Syntax  4 year-olds typically acquire essential grammar of their native language, but can’t describe rules  Noam Chomsky – noted linguist o tacit nature of grammar  demonstrated by our ability to distinguish acceptable from unacceptable sentences Chomsky  model of grammar to describe any language  model must have roots in the basic working of the human mind (brain)  must go beyond behaviourists’ chainlike nature of sentences o Chomsky emphasized hierarchical nature of sentences - a person must listen to a sentence as a whole and apply grammatical rules  Any given sentence exists in two forms: o Surface structure  features of a sentence that is articulated and heard o Deep structure  abstract representation (in the brain) of the meaning of the sentence  To say a sentence, brain must transform deep structure to surface structure Theories of Language Development The Preverbal Period: Speech Perception  Phonology studies the sounds of speech o Phonetics refers to the study of the different speech sounds while phonemics focuses on the meaning of speech sounds o Speech perception requires that an infant be able to discriminate the boundaries of phonemes in order to perceive different words  E.g. “car” versus “core”  Infants are able to make difficult phonemic discriminations ( the sounds of “r” and “l”) Listening Preferences  Infants prefer o Sound of their mother’s voice over other voices  Infant directed speech (motherese) o Infant directed speech is also evident in deaf mothers of deaf infants (sign language) o Infant directed speech may assist the infant in learning to discriminate phonemic categories Early Sounds  Infant sound production follows a developmental course o Nonspeech sounds include grunts, cries, whimpers, and burps o Cooing (2 months): One syllable vowel sounds (ah, ooh) o Reduplicated babbling (6 months): A string of identical sounds (bababababa)  Consistent across cultures o Babbling sounds drift toward the language that the child hears Gestures and Nonverbal Communication  Gestures are an important part of communication o Gestures communicate requests  8 – 10 months: Infants use gestures toward their mother to ask for an object o Gestures are used to refer to objects in the environment  12 months: Infant may hold up an object to show parents, may offer the object to the parent, and may point toward the object o Gestures can be symbolic  Clapping to show approval Semantics  Semantics: The study of how children acquire words and their
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