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Chapter 9

PS275 Chapter 9.docx

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Colleen Loomis

PS275 Chapter 9: Language Development Components of Language  Phonology refers to the rules of governing the structure and sequence of speech sounds o Ex// different languages  Semantics – involves vocabulary – the way underlying concepts are expressed in words and word combinations rd  Grammar – 3 component – consists of syntax, the rules by which words are arranged into sentences and morphology, the use of grammatical markers indicating number, tense, case, person, gender, active or passive voice.  Pragmatics – refers to the rules for engaging in appropriate and effective communication o To converse successfully children must take turns, stay on topic and state their meaning clearly o Involves sociolinguistic knowledge Theories of Language Development  The behaviourist perspective o Skinner – language is developed through operant conditioning o Some behaviourists believe children rely on imitation to acquire whole sentences and phrases  The Nativist perspective (Chomsky) o Regards language as uniquely human accomplishment, etched into the brain structure o Children assume responsibility for their own language learning o Chomsky proposed all children have an innate language acquisition device (LAD) – a system that permits them, once they have acquired sufficient vocabulary, to combine words into grammatically consistent, novel utterances and to understand the meaning of sentences they hear. o This perspective regards deliberate training by parents as unnecessary for language development o Language areas in the brain: broca’s area: located in the left frontal lobe; supports grammatical processing and language production while wernicke’s area: located in the left temporal lobe, plays a role in comprehending word meaning o The broad association of language functions with left-hemispheric regions is consistent with Chomsky’s notion of a brain prepared to process language o The brain is not fully lateralized; it is highly plastic (language areas in the cerebral cortex develop as children acquire language) o In sum, the more “committed” the brain is to native-language patterns, the better children’s mastery of their native language and the less effectively they acquire foreign languages  The Interactionist Perspective o Connectionists assume that children make sense of their complex language environments by applying powerful, analytic cognitive capacities of a general kind rather than capacities especially tuned to language o According to social interactionist, a strong desire to understand others and to be understood by them and a rich language environment combine to help children discover the functions and regularities of language  They assume that language grows out of communication yet large disparities between pragmatics and other aspects of language do exist Pre-linguistic Development: Getting Ready to Talk  Phonemes – smallest sound units that signal a change in meaning o Ex// the difference between consonant sounds in pa and ba  Categorical speech perception – tendency to perceive as identical a range of sounds that belong to the same phonemic class  Between 6-8 months infants begin to organize speech into the phonemic categories of their own language  Child-directed speech (CDS) – a form of communication made up of short sentences with high- pitched, exaggerated expression, clear pronunciation, distinct pauses between speech segments, clear gestures to support verbal meaning, and repetition of new words in a variety of contexts o CDS probably arises from adults’ desire to hold young children’s attention and ease their task of understanding and it works effectively in these ways.  First speech sounds: cooing – vowel-like noises because of their pleasant “oo” quality o Around 6 months – babbling appears in which infants repeat consonant-vowel combinations often in long strings such as “babababababa” and “nananananana”  Joint attention – the children attends to the same object or event as the caregiver o Infants who sustain who often experience it, sustain attention longer, comprehend more language, produce meaningful gestures and words earlier and show faster vocab. Development  Two communicative gestures: o Protodeclarative – the baby points to, touches or holds up an object while looking at others to make sure they notice o Protoimperative – the baby gets another person to do something by reaching, pointing and often making sounds at the same time Phonological Development  Childrens first words are influenced in part by the small number of sounds they can pronounce  Research confirms that toddlers and young preschoolers with more words in their spoken vocabularies can pronounce more speech sounds and syllable structures  At first, children produce minimal words, focusing on the stressed syllable and trying to pronounce its consonant-vowel combination  The rate of phonological progress depends on the complexity of a language’s sound system and
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