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Week 7.pdf

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Western University
Psychology 2410A/B
Adam Cohen

WEEK 7: BABY BORN TALKING • All infants come into the world with linguistic skills • Infants come quipped with these skills, they do not learn them by listening to their parent’s speech • Non-french infants do not prefer French, and French infants do not distinguish Italian from English • Babies continue to learn these sounds of their language throughout the first year • By six months, they are beginning to lump together the distinct sounds that their language collapses into a single phoneme, while continuing to discriminate equivalently distinct ones that their language keeps separate • By ten months they are no longer universal phoneticians but have turned into their parents • Babies make this transition before they produce or understand words, so their learning cannot depend on correlating sound with meaning • During the first year, babies also get their speech production system geared up • Between 5-7 months babies begin to play with sounds, rather than using them to express their physical and emotional states • Between 7-8 months they suddenly begin to babble in real syllables • By the end of the first year, babies vary their syllables and produce that really cute sentencelike gibberish • Deaf children’s babbling is later and simpler - though if their parents use sign language, they babble, on schedule, with their hands • By listening to their own babbling, babies learn how much to move which muscle in which way to make which change in the sound • Shortly before their first birthday, babies begin to understand words, and around that birthday, they start to produce them • About half of infants first words are for objects: food, body parts, clothing, vehicles, household items, animals and people • There are words for actions, motions, and routines • Finally, there are routines used in social interaction • Children differ in how much they name objects or engage in social interaction using memorized routines • Presumably children record some words parents use in isolation or in stressed final positions • Then they look for matches to these words in longer stretches of speech, and find other words by extracting the residues in between the matched portions • Around 18 months, language takes off • Vocabulary growth jumps to the new word every 2 hours minimum rate that the child will maintain through adolescence • And syntax begins with strings of the minimum length that allows it: two • Even before they put two words together, babies can comprehend a sentence using its syntax • When children do put words together, the words seem to meet up with a bottleneck at the output end • Children’s two and three word utterances look like samples drawn from longer potential sentences expressing a complete and more complicated idea WEEK 7: BABY BORN TALKING • Between the late twos and mid threes sentence length increases steadily, and because grammar is a discrete combinational system, the number of syntactic types increases exponentially, doubling every month, reaching the thousands before the third birthday • Normal children can differ by a year or more in their rate of language development, though the stages they pass through are generally the same regardless of how stretched out or compressed • When researchers focus on one grammatical rule and count how often a child obeys it and how often he or she flouts it: for any rule you choose, 3 year olds will obey it most of the time • The 3 year old child is grammatically correct in quality, not just quantity • All languages are acquired, with equal ease, before the child turns four • Perhaps the most conspicuous childhood error is to overgeneralize - the child puts a regular suffix, like the plural or the past tense, onto a word that forms its plural or its past tense in an irregular way • Since irregular forms have to be memorized and memory is fallible, any time the child tries to use a sentence in the past tense with an irregular verb but cannot summon its past-time form from memory, the regular rule fills the vacuum • Causative rule takes an intransitive verb meaning to d something, and converts it to a transitive verb meaning to cause to do something • The causative rule can apply to some verbs but not others; occasionally children apply it too zealously • Only a few kinds of verbs can easily undergo the rule: verbs referring to a change of the physical state of an object, verbs referring to a manner of motion, and verbs referring to an accompanied locomotion • Other verbs, like go and die refuse to undergo the
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