Language- a communication system in which words and their written symbols combine
in various, regulated ways to produce an infinite number of messages.
Communicative competence- The ability to convey thoughts, feelings, and intentions in
an organized, culturally patterned way that sustains and regulates human interactions.
Productive Language- the productions of speech/communications,
two way process, sending and receiving messages.
Receptive Language- Understanding the speech of others.
Components of Language (4 Main Areas, PGSP)
Phonology- The system of sounds that a particular language uses. Includes phonemes
and the rules of how we put phonemes together to form words and rules about the proper
intonation patterns for phrases and sentences. (phonemes- WKHEDVLFXQLWVRIDODQJXDJH¶V
phonetic system; phonemes are the smallest sound units that affect meaning)- changing
the initial phones of bat makes it into cat. Phonemes are generative- which means they
can be applied to different cases.
Semantics- The study of word meanings and word combinations, as in phrases, clauses,
Grammar- The structure of a language; made up of morphology and syntax.
Syntax- The subdivision of grammar that prescribes how words are to be combined into
phrases, clauses, and sentences. (ex. Negation, interrogations, possession, subject/order.)
Pragmatics- The set of rules that specifies appropriate language for particular social
Theories of Language Development
Most theorist have interactionist view (both bio and enviro important)
The learning View: Skinner said that its all about reinforcement, when kids babble
something that sounds like a real word (close approximations), parents encourage it until
they learn how to speak properly. Bandura said its all about imitation, kids pick up things
by directly imitating what they hear, and then use generalization and reinforcement to
apply it to new situations. This view has a lot of problems though- 1. # of stimulus-
response connections (baby sounds-parent reinforcement) needed is so much that this
mothers just as likely to reinforce truthful sentences as grammatically correct ones. 3.
&DQ¶WSUHGLFWDOOthe possible babbles/utterances and the environments that cause them. 4.
ones. 5. Assumes child plays passive roles, but they actually play active role in learning
Nativist View: Chomsky said kids born with innate mental structure that guides
acquisition of language and grammar. Language-acquisition device (LAD)- the mental
structure of the human nervous system that incorporates an innate concept of language.
Also found how grammar (subject-predicate relationship) and creating language from a
select few sounds was universal for all humans.
Critical period- $VSHFLILFSHULRGLQFKLOGUHQ¶VGHYHORSPHQt 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. (for language this period is infancy-puberty)
People argue against this theory because language skills seems to decline with increasing
age not just a certain critical period. They concluded maybe a better learning
environment has to do with it. African grey parrot, dolphins, and primates seem to have
language abilities of 2 year old human (no use of prepositions/conjunctions though).
Nativist view also has problems: 1. Many different theories on types of grammar rules. 2.
Language is more gradual, not as quick as nativists predict. 3. This view makes it hard to
consider all WKHGLIIHUHQWZRUOGODQJXDJHV'RHVQ¶WJLYHVRFLDOFRQWH[WDQ\UHFRJQLWLRQ
5. Universal empirical studies show that adult child interactions play big role in pacing of
Interactionist view: Social contexts and learning is important but so LVDFKLOG¶VLQQDWH
ability to develop languages, formulating hypotheses to reach goals. They believe its all
about the balance between parent and child understanding.
Language-acquisition support system (LASS)- According to Jerome Bruner, a collection
of strategies and tactics that environmental influences-LQLWLDOO\DFKLOG¶VSDUHQWVRU
primary caregivers-provide the language learning child. Parents basically facilitate the
learning of the child in these ways:
Playing Non-Verbal Games- peekaboo/pat-a-cake, teaches kids about turn taking
Using Simplified Speech- parents use Infant/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 a higher pitched
voice and often ends with a rising intonation. This style of speech is also called
Motherese. Teaches segmentation of speech into sentences and words.
Expansion: A technique adults use in speaking to kids in which they imitate and expand
RUDGGWRDFKLOG¶VVWDWHPHQW (middle class use this a lot, low-income fams not so much.)
incomplete sentence in a more complex grammatical form. (When a kid says something
wrong like Kitty Eat, replying with What does the Kitty Eat?, to show proper grammar
and make it more complex at the same time.)