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Chapter 11

Psychology 2040 Chapter 11

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Psychology 2040A/B

Chapter 11: Development of Language and Communication Skills - Language: small number of individually meaningless symbols (sounds, letters, ! ! gestures) that can be combined according to agreed-on rules to ! ! produce an infinite number of messages - Communicate: process where one transmits info to and influences another - Human languages are flexible and productive - Vocables: unique patterns of sound that prelinguistic infant uses to represent ! ! objects, actions, or events The 5 Components of Language - Psycholinguistics: those studying structure and development of kid’s language - 5 kinds of knowledge underlie the growth of linguistic proficiency • Phonology, morphology, semantics, syntax, pragmatics Phonology - Phonology: sound system of a language and the rules for combining these ! ! ! sounds to produce meaningful units of speech • No 2 languages have the same phonology • Ex. Discriminating sounds and combining “t” and “h” - Phonemes: the basic units of sound that are used in a spoken language Morphology - Morphology: rules governing the formation of meaningful words from sounds • Ex. Rules for adding “ed” or “s” Semantics - Semantics: the expressed meaning of words and sentences - Morphemes: smallest meaningful language units - Free morphemes: morphemes that can stand alone as a word • Ex. Cat, go - Bound morphemes: morphemes that cannot stand alone but that modify the ! ! ! ! meaning of free morphemes •Ex. Adding “ed” or “s” Syntax - Syntax: structure of language; the rules specifying how words and grammatical ! ! markers are to be combined to produce meaningful sentences Pragmatics - Pragmatics: principles that underlie the effective and appropriate use of ! ! ! language in social contexts (communicating effectively - Sociolinguistic knowledge: culturally specific rules specifying how language ! ! ! ! should be structured and used in particular social contexts •Ex. “May I have a cookie?” vs. “Give me a cookie” - Effective communicator requires knowledge of the 5 aspects of language and the ability to properly interpret and use nonverbal signals Theories of Language Development - Learning theorists represent the empiricist point of view Language is leaned • - Linguistic universal: aspect of language development that all children share - Nativists say language acquisition is a biologically programmed activity - Interactionists believe that language acquisition is both biological and environmentally influenced The Learning (Empiricist) Perspective - Leaning theorists emphasize imitation and reinforcement - Skinner argued that children learn to speak appropriately because they are reinforced for grammatical speech and adults “teach” language by modeling and reinforcing grammatical speech Evaluation of the Learning Perspective - Young kids are quicker to acquire and use the proper names for novel toys when reinforced for doing so by receiving the toys with which they wants to play - Parents who frequently encourage conversations and who produce many novel and sophisticated words have kids who are more advanced in their language development than those who use less diverse vocab - Learning theorists have little success accounting for the development of syntax - Mother’s approval or disapproval depends far more on the truth value (semantics) than grammatical correctness • Ex. If child sees a cow and says “him cow,” mother will say “that’s right!” yet if he says “There’s a dog” his mother would say “no, that’s a cow” - There is not much evidence that children acquire grammatical rules by imitating adult speech • Ex. Kids say “allgone cookie” which is not imitated from parents Nativist Perspective - Chomsky argued that the structure of even the simplest of languages is incredibly elaborate to be taught by parents or discovered - Language acquisition device (LAD): Chomsky’s term for the innate knowledge ! ! ! ! of grammar that humans were said to possess, which might ! ! ! ! enable young kids to infer the rules governing others‘ ! ! ! ! speech and to use these rules to produce language - LAD contains a universal grammar - Universal grammar: basic rules of grammar that characterize all language - Slobin thinks kids have an inborn language-making capacity - Language-making capacity (LMC): hypothesized set of specialized linguistic ! ! ! ! processing skills that enable kids to analyze speech and to ! ! ! ! detect phonological, semantic, and syntactical relationships - For nativists, language acquisition is natural and almost automatic, as long as kids have linguistic input to process Support for the Nativist Perspective - Language must be guided by some species-specific blueprint - Language is species-specific Brain Specialization and Language - Broca’s area: structure located in the frontal lobe of the left hemisphere of the ! ! ! cerebral cortex that controls language production • Injuries here affect speech production - Wernicke’s area: structure located in the temporal lobe of the left hemisphere of ! ! ! the cerebral cortex that is responsible for interpreting speech • Injuries here affect understanding speech - Infants are prewired for speech perception and is prepared to analyze speechlike sounds The Sensitive-Period Hypothesis - Erik Lenneberg proposed that languages should be most easily acquired between birth and puberty - Sensitive-period hypothesis (of language acquisition): the notion that human ! ! ! ! ! beings are most proficient at language learning ! ! ! ! ! before they reach puberty - The right hemisphere of a child’s relatively unspecialized brain can assume any linguistic functions lost when the left hemisphere is damaged - Learning a second language is easier when learned at younger age - Pidgins: structurally simple communication systems that arise when people who ! ! share no common language come into constant contact - Creoles: languages that develop when pidgins are transformed into ! ! grammatically complex “true” languages Problems with the Nativist Approach - No real source of support - Don’t explain language development by attributing it to a built-in language acquisition device - Overlook environmental competencies The Interactionist Perspective - Interactionist theory: notion that biological factors and environmental influences ! ! ! ! interact to determine the course of language development Biological and Cognitive Contributions - Kids around the world talk alike and display other linguistic universals because they are all members of the same species who share many common experiences - What is inborn is not any specialized linguistic knowledge or processing skills but rather a sophisticated brain that matures very slowly and predisposes children to develop similar ideas - Kids speak their first meaningful words at 12 months, shortly after they display some capacity for symbolism in their deferred imitation of adult models - Infants’ first words centre heavily on objects they manipulated or have performed - Words like “gone” and “uh oh” emerge during the 2 ndyear, about the same time infants are mastering object permanence and are beginning to appraise the success or failure of their problem-solving skills - Elizabeth Bates believes that grammatical speech arises out of social necessity Environmental Supports for Language Development - Interactionists stress that language is primarily a means of communicating that develops in the context of social interactions as children and their companions strive to get their messages across - Parents and older kids have distinctive ways of talking to and interacting with infants and toddlers Lessons from Joint Activities - As adults converse with young kids, they create a supportive learning environment that helps the kids grasp the regularities of language Lessons from Child-Directed Speech - Child-directed speech (motherese): short, simple, high-pitched (often repetitive) ! ! ! ! sentences that adults use when talking with young children - Kids grasp certain messages carried in their parent’s tone of voice before they can understand what is being said - Parents gradually increase length and complexity of their simplified child- directed speech as their kid’s language becomes more elaborate - Parents speak in motherese to communicate effectively with their children Lessons from Negative Evidence - Parents do not reliably attempt to reinforce correct grammar but they provide negative evidence •Respond to ungrammatical speech in ways that subtly communicate that an error has been made and provide info that may be used to correct these errors - Expansion: responding to a child’s ungrammatical utterance with a ! ! ! grammatically improved form of that statement •Ex. Kid says, “doggie go.” Mom says, “yes, the doggie is going away” - Recast: responding to a child’s ungrammatical utterance with a non-repetitive ! ! statement that is grammatically correct •Ex. Kid says, “doggie eat.” Mom says, “yes, the doggie is hungry” The Importance of Conversation - Mere exposure to speech is simply not enough; children must be actively involved in using language Summing up - Children are born with a powerful human brain that matures slowly and predisposes them to acquire new understandings that they are motivated to share with others - Pattern of influence is reciprocal: language of kids is heavily influenced by a rich, responsive, and ever more complex linguistic environment that they have had a hand in creating ! An overview of the interactionist perspective on language development The Prelinguistic Period: Before Language - Prelinguistic phase: period before kids utter their first meaningful words (first ! ! ! ! 10-13 months) Early Reactions to Speech - Young infants are able to discriminate a wider variety of phonemes than adults, but adults lose the ability to make phonemic distinctions that are not important in their native language - The abilities to discriminate speech from nonspeech and to differentiate a variety of speechlike sounds are either innate or acquired in the first few days and weeks of life The Importance of Intonational Cues - Adults reliably vary their tone of voice when trying to communicate different messages to their preverbal infants - Preverbal infants not only discriminate different intonational patterns but also soon recognize that certain tones of voice have a particular meaning - 2-6 month olds successful interpretational cues may provide some of the earliest evidence that speech is a meaningful enterprise - During the second half of the first year, infants become increasingly attuned to rhythm of language - By 7 months, they can detect phrase units and prefer to listen to speech with natural breaks and pauses - By 9 months, infants become sensitive to small speech units (syllabic stress patterns and phonemic combinations) Producing Sounds: The Infant’s Prelinguistic Vocalizations - Cooing: vowel-like sounds that young infants repeat over and over during ! ! periods of contentment - Babbling: vowel-consonant combinations that begin to produce at 4-6 months - Deaf infants whose parents are deaf and communicate in sign language will babble manually, experimenting in gestures - Babies all over the world sound the same until experience comes into play What Do Prelinguistic Infants Know about Language and Communication? - During first 6 months, babies coo or babble while their caregivers are speaking - By 7-8 months, they stay quiet until caregiver is done talking •learned pragmatics of language: Don’t talking while someone is talking - By 9 months, babies understand alternation rules of many games Gestures and Nonverbal Responses - By 8-10 months, preverbal infants begin to use gestures and other nonverbal responses to communicate with their companions - 2 common gestures:
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