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Psych 2040-Chapter 11: Development of Language and Communication Skills.docx

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Western University
Psychology 2040A/B
Michael G Mac Donald

COMPONENTS OF LANGUAGE 1. Phonology  sound system and rules for combining sounds to produce meaningful units of speech  phonemes: basic units of sound used in spoken language 2. Morphology  rules for how sounds form words o eg. past tense adds ‗–ed‘ o eg. plurals add ‗s‘ 3. Semantics  meaning expressed in words or sentences  morphemes: smallest meaningful units of language  free morphemes: can stand alone as words  eg. dog  bound morphemes: changes meaning when attached to a free morpheme  eg. –s 4. Syntax  rules for word combinations  eg. The cat chased the dog. vs. The dog was chased by the cat. 5. Pragmatics  knowledge of how language can be used to communicate effectively  eg. speaking to a young child vs. speaking to teenager  sociolinguistic knowledge: cultural rules of language use  manners and facial expressions THEORIES OF LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT Learning Perspective  caregivers ―teach‖ language by modeling and reinforcing grammatical speech via:  operant conditioning (Skinner): adults reinforce correct sounds  imitation (Bandura): children imitate adults  criticism:  grammar not shaped  early errors creative, not imitated Nativist Perspective  biologically programmed to acquire language  Chomsky‘s Language Acquisition Device (LAD): allows children to understand language and to combine words into proper sentences  activated by verbal input— contains universal grammar  model: linguistic input  LAD  a component of language  grammatical competence  Slobin‘s Language-Making Capacity (LMC): cognitive and perceptual abilities specialized to learn language; no innate knowledge  criticism:  LAD/LMC concepts vague: descriptive rather than explanatory  ignores contribution of environment  support:  linguistic universals— all children reach linguistic milestones at same age  Wernicke’s Area: understanding speech  Broca’s Area: producing speech  sensitive-period hypothesis: easiest to acquire language between birth and puberty  acquiring a second language before puberty: activates same brain areas; after puberty: different brain areas o eg. Genie, Chelsea Interactionist Perspective  combination of biological maturation, cognitive development, and environmental factors  biologically prepared to acquire language  BUT not a LAD or LMC  linguistic universals exist because acquisition depends on cognitive development of brain (and cognitive development occurs at the same time for everyone)  arises out of social necessity to communicate  support for environment:  joint activities with parents— zone of proximal development  motherese: child directed speech— simple, high-pitched, repetitive  negative evidence: respond to grammatically incorrect speech with information to correct errors  expansions: grammatically correct version of child‘s statement  eg. ―Doggie go‖  ―Yes, the doggie is going away.‖  recasts: gram
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