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Chapter 10

Chapter 10

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Psychology 2040A/B

Psych 2040A Chapter 10: Development of Language and Communication Skills Five Components of Language language: a small number of individually meaningless symbols (sounds, letters, gestures) that can be combined according to agreed-on rules to produce an innite number of messages communication: the process by which one organism transmits information to and inuences another vocables: unique pattern of sound that a prelinguistic infant uses to represent objects, actions, or events psycholinguists: those who study the structure and development of childrens language ve components of language include: phonology, morphology, syntax, pragmatics, and and semantics Phonology phonology: the sound system of a language and the rules for combining these sounds to produce meaningful units of speech basic units of sound, or phonemes no two languages have the same phonemes Morphology morphology: the rules governing the formation of meaningful words from sounds ie. adding -ed to a past tense verb use of prexes and sufxes Semantics semantics: refers to the meanings expressed in words and sentences morphemes: smallest meaningful units of language - two types Free morphemes: can stand alone as words Bound morphemes: cannot stand alone but change meaning when attached to a free morpheme Syntax syntax: the structure of a language; the rules specifying how words and grammatical markers are to be combined to produce meaningful sentences changing the order of words in a sentence can change its meaning Pragmatics pragmatics: principles that underlie the effective and appropriate use of language in social contexts pragmatics also involve sociolinguistic knowledge - culturally specic rules specifying how language should be structures and used in particular social contexts also includes the ability to interpret nonverbal signals that often help clarify the meaning of a message Theories of Language Development nature/nurture or nativist/empiricist point of view learning theorists represent the empiricist point of view they say that language is learned over time however, other theorists point out that children all over the world exhibit similar linguistic achievements at about the same age - linguistic universals - an aspect of language development that all children share there is also another view in which some believe that language acquisitions reects a complex interplay among a childs biological predispositions, her cognitive development, and the characteristics of her unique linguistic environment The Learning (or Empiricist) Perspective emphasis on imitation and reinforcement - according to this theory, caregivers teach language by modeling and reinforcing grammatical speech adults begin to shape a childs speech by selectively reinforcing those aspect of babbling that most resemble words, thereby increasing the probability that these sounds will be repeated Evaluation of the Learning Perspective parents who frequently encourage conversations and who produce many novel and sophisticated words in the context of play, storybook reading, and other supportive interventions have children who are more advanced in their language development than age-mates whose parents converse less often or use a less diverse vocabulary. The Nativist Perspective Linguist Noam Chomsky, argued that the structure of even the simplest of languages is incredibly elaborate to be taught or learned via trial-and-error proposed that humans come equipped with a language acquisition device (LAD) - an inborn linguistic processor that is activated by verbal input; an innate knowledge of grammar that humans possess, which might enable young children to infer the rules governing others speech and to use these rules to produce language Slobin does not assume that children have innate knowledge of language, but he thinks that children have language-making capacity (LMC) - hypothesized set of linguistic processing skills that enable children to analyze speech and to detect phonological, semantic, and syntactical relationships this capacity guides the childrens own attempts to communicate Support for the Nativist Perspective linguistic universals as clear evidence that language must be guided by some species-specic biological blueprint language also seems to be species-specic no species has even devised anything in the wild that closely resembles an abstract, rule-bound linguistic system Brain Specialization and Language language centre is located in the left hemisphere. aphasia: a loss of one or more language functions Brocas area: frontal lobe of the left hemisphere that controls language production Wernickes area: located in the temporal lobe of the left hemisphere that is responsible for interpreting speech infants are capable of discriminating important phonetic contrasts in the rst few days and weeks of life The Sensitive-Period Hypothesis sensitive-period hypothesis: the notion that human beings are most procient at language learning before they reach puberty right hemisphere of a childs relatively unspecialized brain can assume any linguistic functions lost when the left hemisphere is damaged. learning a rst language is easier in early life case of Genie and Chelsea (p. 385) puberty is also another threshold for when learning a 2nd language learning a second language before puberty activates the same languages areas in the brain learning a second language after puberty activates different language areas in the brain Problems with the Nativist Perspective nativists dont really explain language development by attributing it to a built-in language acquisition device explanation would require how such an inborn processor sifts through linguistic input and infers the rules of language, yet nativists are not at all clear about how a LAD or LMC works it is like saying physical growth is biologically programmed - and then stopping there, failing to identify the underlying variables that explain why growth follows the course
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