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Language acquisition
-To acquire a language is to acquire its grammar, the mental knowledge that allows
people to speak and understand a language
-The development of linguistic skills involves grammar acquisition
oChildren can produce and understand an unlimited number of novel
oChildren make speech errors
-The naturalistic approach
oInvestigators observe and record children’s spontaneous utterances
oLongitudinal studies, which take place over an extended period of time,
focusing on one child or group
oNaturalistic data
Advantageous for providing information on the process of
language acquisition
Disadvantageous for non-uniform coverage of all phenomena, too-
small samples
oDiary study
Daily note-keeping on a child’s linguistic progress
oTaped interviews
Gathering samples of child-caregiver interactions
-The experimental approach
oInvestigators make use of specially designed tasks to elicit linguistic
oCross-sectional studies, which compares linguistic knowledge of different
children or groups of children at one point in development
oTruth judgment task
Given statements about given pictures and asked to judge their
Tests comprehension
oAct out task
Given toys and asked to enact a sentence
Tests comprehension
oProduction task
Given situation requiring use of a particular sort of question or
oImitation task
Given an utterance and asked to repeat it
Phonological development
oOnset of speech

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oBegins around six months of age
oSignificant similarities in babbling cross-linguistically
Frequently heard: bilabials, alveolar; stops, fricatives, nasals,
Infrequently heard: dentals, alveopalatals; affricates, liquids
oIndependent of language child is exposed to
-Developmental order
oBabbling increases in frequency until around 12 months of age
oAt 12 months, children began to produce first understandable words
oGeneral tendencies in acquiring speech
Vowels acquired before consonants by age three
Stops acquired before other consonants
First labials acquired, then alveolars, velars, and alveopalatals
Interdentals acquired last
New phonemic contrasts manifest first in word-initial positions
oTypical inventory of consonants acquired by age two
Bilabial, alveolar, and velar stops
Bilabial and alveolar nasals
Labiodental fricatives
Velar glide
oTypical inventory of consonants acquired by age four
Bilabial, alveolar, and velar stops
Bilabial, alveolar, and velar nasals
Labiodental, alveolar, and alveopalatal fricatives
Alveopalatal affricates
Alveopalatal and velar glides
Alveolar liquids
oDental and voiced alveopalatal fricatives still to be acquired by age four
-Early phonetic processes
oFirst able to perceive phonemic contrasts, then produce correct
oSyllable deletion
Stressed syllables retained
Unstressed syllables deleted unless in word-final position
oSyllable simplification
Reduction of consonant clusters by deleting one or more segments
Elimination of final consonants
Tendency to simplify to CV template
Replace one sound by another more easily pronounced
Corresponding stop replaces fricative
[kr] [k]: liquid deleted
[k] [g]: voicing (reg. ass.)
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