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Chapter 7


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Elizabeth Johnson

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Chapter 7: Language and Communication Notes • productive language - the production of speech • receptive language - understanding the speech of others The Components of Language: Phonology, Semantics, Grammar, and Pragmatics • phonology - a system of sounds that a particular language uses phoneme - the smallest sound units that affect meaning • • semantics - the study of word meanings and word combinations, as in phrases, clauses, and sentences • grammar - the structure of a language; made up of morphology and syntax • morphology - the study of a language’s smallest units of meaning (morphemes) • morpheme - any of a language’s smallest units of meaning,such as prefix,a suffix,or a root word • syntax - the subdivision of grammar that prescribes how words are to be combined into phrases, clauses, and sentences • pragmatics - a set of rules that specifies appropriate language for particular social context Theories of Language Development 1.The learning view: • Skinner: when a child repeats a particular sound, the parents approve again and again, and the child vocalizes these sounds more often • Bandura: child learns through imitation/observation • limitations: the number of stimulus-response connections that would be needed to explain language is enormous that a child • couldn’t acquire all of them even in a lifetime •mothers are just as likely to reward their children for truthful but grammatically incorrect statements as they are to reinforce their children for grammatically correct utterances •we cannot predict the vast majority of language utterances from opportunities to observe specific utterances by others •learning theory accounts haven’t explained the regular sequence in which language develops - children in North American culture and other cultures seem to learn the same types of grammatical rules in the same order •portrays the child as playing a passive role in language development 2. The nativist view: • language-acquisition device(LAD) - Chomsky’s proposed mental structure in the human nervous system that incorporates an innate concept of language • argue that the human child is biologically predisposed to acquire human language • thus, all languages display universal characteristics • critical period - a specific period in children’s development when they are sensitive to a particular environmental stimulus that does not have the same effect on them when encountered before or after this period • the critical period for language stretches from infancy to puberty • criticism: • according to the critical period hypothesis, there should be a rapid decline in learning at the end of the critical period,which would be consistent with a learning mechanism being “turned off” at a particular age and not with a decline after the end of the critical period that would be related to increasing age • few theorists agree about the exact nature of the types of grammatical rules that children learn • language learning is a gradual process and is not completed as early as nativists accounts would predict fails to account for the many languages human beings speak throughout the world • • little recognition of the social context of language 3.The interactionist view: • recognizes that language is learned in the context of spoken language but assuming as well that humans are on some way biologically prepared for learning to speak • concerned with the interplay of biological and environmental factors Facilitating Children’s Language Development • language-acquisition support system(LASS) - according to Bruner, a collection of strategies and tactics that environmental influences - initially, a child’s parents/primary caregiver - provide the language learning child 1.Playing non-verbal games: • peekaboo or pat-a-cake • children learn turn taking 2. Using simplified speech: • infant-directed speech/child-directed speech - a simplified style of speech parents use with young children, in which sentences are short,simple, and often repetitive; the speaker enunciates especially clearly, slowly, and in higher-pitched voice and often ends with a rising intonation • this may help children learn the relations b/w words and objects and may also give them some understanding of the rules of segmentation 3.Other influence techniques: • expansion - a technique adults use in speaking to young children in which they imitate and expand or add to a child’s statement • this expands vocabulary • recast - a technique adults use in speaking to young children in which they render a child’s incomplete sentence in a more complex grammatical form • this way adults are correcting the children’s utterances and guiding them toward more appropriate grammatical usage The Antecedents of Language Development 1.Pre-verbal communication: proto-declarative - a gesture that an infant uses to call attention to an object • • proto-imperative - a gesture that either an infant or a young child may use to get someone to do something she/he wants • joint visual attention - the ability to follow another person’s attentional focus or gaze of direction 2. Early language comprehension: a) Categorical speech perception: • categorical speech perception - the tendency to perceive as the same a range of sounds belonging to the same phonemic group • the ability to discriminate sounds is evident from as early as 1 month of age b) Beyond categorical perception: • evidence suggests that infants can identify key properties of their native language’s rhythmic organization either prenatally or during the 1st few days of life c) Babbling and other early sounds: • cooing - a very young infant’s production of vowel-like sounds • babbling - an infant’s production of strings of consonant-vowel combinations • patterned speech - a form of pseudo-speech in which the child utters strings of phonemes that sound very much like real speech but are not Semantic Development: The Power of Words • naming explosion - the rapid increase in vocabulary that the child typically shows at about 1 1/2 years of age 1.How children acquire words: • word learning is based on associations combined with attention to perceptual similarity of overall object shape • children also depend on social cues such as pointing and the speaker’s eye gaze • whole object constraint involves the assumption that a new word refers to the entire object and not to one of its parts 2. Errors in early word use: • overextension - the use,by a young child, of a single word to cover many different things • children will use one word within a category for another closely related word the words are used for something perceptually similar • • overextensions can reflect a relationship • underextension - the use,by a young child, of a single word in a
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