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Chapter 10

Chapter 10 (*ONLY upto 10.4.2)


Department
Linguistics
Course Code
LINA02H3
Professor
Chandan Narayan
Chapter
10

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LINA02 - Contemporary Linguistic Analysis
Chapter 10 First Language Acquisition
10.1 The Study of Language Acquisition
The end result of language acquisition is a grammar (the mental system that
allows people to speak and understand a language.
The development of linguistic skills must involve the acquisition of a
grammar because mature language users are able to produce and understand
an unlimited number of novel sentences (which can only happen if, as children,
they obtained the grammar for their language) and because of the speech
errors that children make (some of these errors are able to tell us that the
children have formulated general grammatical rules).
Example: runned, children create the rule that adding –ed to a
word forms the past tense
10.1.1 Methods
oMost language acquisition research is done on childrens early
utterances, the order in which they emerge, and the kinds of errors that
they contain.
Two approaches
oNaturalistic approach: investigators observe and record childrens
spontaneous utterances.
oTypes of naturalistic observation include diary studies, taping
sessions
oNaturalistic studies tend to be longitudinal because they examine
language development in a certain child or group for a long period
of time (sometimes as long as several years), but this method
allows researchers to observe development in individual children
as an ongoing process
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oA disadvantage of naturalistic studies is that speech samples from
individual children display only a small amount of their
utterances at any given point in development
oExperimental approach: researchers use specially designed tasks
to provoke linguistic activity relative to what they are studying,
and use the results to hypothesize about the type of grammatical
system that is active
Types of experimental studies
The development of linguistic skills must involve the acquisition
of a grammar because mature language users are able to produce
and understand an unlimited number of novel sentences (which
can only happen if, as children, they obtained the grammar for
their language) and because of the speech errors that children
make (some of these errors are able to tell us that the children
have formulated general grammatical rules).
Example: runned, children create the rule that adding –ed
to a word forms the past tense
oResponses to comprehension tasks can provide information
about the type of grammatical rules being used to interpret
sentences at different stages
oProduction tasks can be useful for assessing certain types of
linguistic knowledge, but there are many structures that are hard
to provoke because they are only used in special context
oProduction tasks are sometimes inaccurate because a childs
ability to understand language is often more advanced that their
ability to create their own sentences
oIn general, the experimental approach allows researchers to
collect very specific data on certain matters
oA childs performance in any of the tasks can be affected by
inattention, shyness, failure to understand what is expected, etc.
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10.2 Phonological Development
Pg. 338 Children seem to be born with a perceptual system that is
especially designed for listening to speech. Newborns respond differently to
human voices than to other sounds, they show a preference for the language of
their parents over other languages by the time they are two days old, and they
can recognize their mothers voice within a matter of weeks.
1 month old: able to distinguish among speech sounds
10.2.1 Babbling
oOnset of babbling occurs around 6 months of age
oBabbling allows children to experiment with their vocal apparatus, as
well as start gaining control over it
oChildren who cannot babble (medical issues) can still acquire normal
pronunciation, but their speech development will be delayed
10.2.2 Developmental Order
o12 months old: children start to produce first (understandable) words
oBabbling may not die out until several weeks after the production of
words
oRegular patterns of pronunciation: after acquiring 50 words
oPg. 339: As a group, vowels are generally acquired before consonants
(by age three). Stops tend to be acquired before other consonants. In
terms of place of articulation, labials are often acquired first, followed
(with some variation) by alveolars, velars, and alveopalatals.
Interdentals are acquired last.
oSounds that are acquired early are generally sounds that are common
across many languages
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