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Chapter 10

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Psychology 2040A/B
Ian Mac Donald

CHAPTER 10 DEVELOPMENT OF LANGUAGECOMMUNICATION SKILLS Language a small number of individually meaningless symbols sounds letters gestures that can be combined according to agreedon rules to produce an infinite number of messagesCommunication the process by which one organism transmits information to and influences anotherVocables unique patterns of sound that a prelinguistic infant uses to represent objects actions or eventsFIVE COMPONENTS OF LANGUAGEPsycholinguists those who study the structure and development of childrens language 5 components of language phonology morphology semantics syntax and pragmaticsPhonologyPhonology refers to the basic units of sound or phonemes that are used in a language and the rules for combining these sounds No two languages have precisely the same phonologies which explains why foreign languages may sound strange to us Children must learn how to discriminate produce and combine the speechlike sounds of their native tongue in order to make sense of the speech they hear and to be understood when they try to speakMorphology Rules of morphology specify how words are formed from sounds In English these rules include the rule for forming past tenses of verbs by adding ed the rule for forming plurals by adding s etc SemanticsSemantics refers to the meanings expressed in words and sentences Morphemes the smallest meaningful units of language Free Morphemes can stand alone as words Bound Morphemes cannot stand alone but can change meaning when attached to a free morpheme SyntaxSyntax the rules that specify how words are to be combined to form meaningful phrases and sentences Children must acquire a basic understanding of the syntactical features of their native tongue before they can become proficient at speaking or understanding that language PragmaticsPragmatics knowledge of how language might be used to communicate effectively Sociolinguistic Knowledge culturally specified rules that dictate how language should be used in particular social contexts In order to communicate most effectively children must become social editors and take into account where they are with whom they are speaking and what the listener already knows needs and wants to hear THEORIES OF LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENTLearning theorists represent the empiricist point of viewthey believe language is learned Linguistic Universals aspects of language development that all children shareo Suggest to nativists that language acquisition is biologically programmed Interactionists believe that language acquisition reflects a complex interplay among a childs biological predispositions their cognitive development and the characteristics of their unique linguistic environment LearningEmpiricist Perspective Learning theorists have emphasized imitation and reinforcement in their theories of language learning Skinner argued that children learn to speak appropriately because they are reinforced for grammatical speech Other sociallearning theorists add that children acquire much of their linguistic knowledge by carefully listening to and imitating the language of older companions Caregivers teach language by modeling and reinforcing grammatical speechEvaluation of the Learning PerspectiveImitation and reinforcement clearly play some part in early language development Learning theorists have had little success accounting for the development of syntax o Careful analyses of conversations between mothers and young children reveal that a mothers approvaldisapproval depends far more on the truth value of what a child says than on the statements grammatical correctness Nor is there much evidence that children acquire grammatical rules by imitating adult speechmany of a childs earliest sentences are highly creative statements that do not appear in adult speech and could not have been learned by imitation Nativist Perspective Human beings are biologically programmed to acquire language Chomskyproposed that humans come equipped with a language acquisition device LADan inborn linguistic processor that is activated by verbal input LAD contains a universal grammar knowledge of universal rules common to all languages
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