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PSY315H5 Lecture Notes - Language Acquisition, North American English, Empiricism

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Craig Chambers

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-how is it that we comprehend language?
Acquisition – comprehension and learning
-how do you construct the raw materials that give you the scaffolding that is needed to understand
Consider the problem in reverse
-how is that we encode those ideas that allow them to be expressed?
-processes responsible for transduction and encoding of information are unconscious and implicit: not
available for conscious evaluation – problem for researchers
-if knowledge is implicit/unconscious – must have special ways to investigate it
-using indirect methods – simply not ethical to use direct methods
What knowledge must children acquire to become competent language users?
-most basic level, what it means to know a language – having some inventory of speech sounds
-language consist of something about sound
-mental catalogue of speech sounds that you can understand and produce, and also have rules for
-inventory of speech sounds: vowel sounds, consonant sounds
ouse these to your disposal both perceptually and articulatory
-inventory is not the same in other languages
-13 vowels: North American English, 5 vowels: Spanish
-know rules for combination: implicitly
olanguages have different rules for combination
-inventory of words: mental dictionary – set of words that we know that are at our disposal
odoesn’t mean that we all share the same inventory of words, but as individuals who speak
English, we share a lot
-know a set of rules for combining these words (morphemes)
oor bits of words that have meaning
-pragmatic competence – how to use language (contextually)
 represent the targets of language
HOW do children learn language?
-explicit teaching
ohow are you going to teach the inventory of sounds?
Don’t know the information
Unlikely to be able to teach it explicitly
oGetting exposed to it, observing and mimicking
oHear the information, store it, and use it later on
oProblem –
Children produce errors in course of learning language/ using it
Their errors are often very consistent to their peer group at that age
the way they are producing language doesn’t sound like the language they are
producing from their parents
otherefore, they aren’t particularly imitating their parents
odon’t resemble the patterns they are being exposed to
if they are strictly imitating, lots of things that we would expect them to do that they can’t
see a progression in the way things go, which defy the patterns they may have
been exposed to
to a large degree, independent of what they have been exposed to
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