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Chapter 6

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Margaret Ingate

Infant & Child Development Chapter 6: Development of Language and Symbol Use  Symbols: used to represent our thoughts, feelings and knowledge; and communicate them to other people  3 Themes of the Chapter: 1. Nature and nurture 2. Sociocultural context 3. Individual differences a. Active child  Language Development: o Using language involves both  Language comprehension: understanding what others say (sign or write)  Language production: speaking (writing or signing) to others o Language comprehension precedes language production  The Components of Language o Generativity: refers to the idea that through the use of the finite set of words in our vocabulary, we can put together an infinite number of sentences and express an infinite number of ideas. o Phonemes: the elementary units of meaningful sounds used to produce languages o Phonological development: (the first step in language learning) the acquisition of knowledge about the sound system of a language o Morphemes: the smallest units of meaning in a language, composed of one of more phonemes  Ex. I and dog are both single morphemes, because each refers to a single entity  Ex. Dogs, contains two morphemes o Semantic development: (the second component in language acquisition) the learning of the system for expressing meaning in a language, including word learning o Syntax: rules in a language that specify how words from different categories (nouns, verbs, adjectives, etc.) can be combined o Synaptic development: (third component in language learning): the learning of the syntax of a language o Pragmatic development: (Full understanding of the language): the acquisition of knowledge about how language is used o Metalinguistic knowledge: an understanding of the properties and function of language- that is, an understanding of language as language  What Is Required for Language? o A Human Brain  Language is a species-specific behavior- only humans acquire language in the normal course of development in their normal environment  Species-universal- virtually all young humans learn language  Brain-language relations  90% of people who are right-handed, language is primarily represented and controlled by the left hemisphere of the cerebral cortex  Listening to speech is associated with greater electrical activity in the left hemisphere than in the right.  Aphasia- language functions are severely impaired, results from damage to some parts of the left hemisphere o Broca’s aphasia- injury to Broca’s area in the front part of the left hemisphere  Difficulty producing speech; may say a single word over and over or haltingly produce short strings of words with little or no grammatical structure o Wernicke’s aphasia- damage in an area next to the auditory cortex  Can produce speech; doesn’t make sense, language comprehension impaired  The left hemisphere is specialized for the kind of analytic, serial processing required for language- not for specific words or signs expressed  Critical Period for language development  Critical period: the time during which language develops readily and after which (sometime between age 5 and puberty) language acquisition is much more difficult and ultimately less successful. o A Human Environment  Children must also be exposed to other people using language  Infant-directed talk  Infant-directed talk (IDT): “motherese”; the distinctive mode of speech that adults adopt when talking to babies and very young children  Characteristics: o Emotional tone- affection o Exaggeration  Higher voice  Extreme changes in intonation patterns  More slowly and clearly  Facial expressions  Infants learn new words better, whether in their native language or in a foreign one, when the words are presented in IDT  The Process of Language Acquisition o Involves both listening and talking; comprehending what other people communicate to you and producing intelligible language of your own o Speech Perception  Prosody: the characteristic rhythm, tempo, cadence, melody, intonational patterns, and so forth with which a language is spoken  Categorical perception of speech sounds  Categorical perception: the perception of speech sounds as belonging to discrete categories  Voice onset time (VOT): the length of time between when air passes through the lips and when the vocal cords start vibrating  Developmental changes in speech perception  Infants are born with the ability to discriminate between speech sounds in any language, but they gradually begin to specialize, retaining their sensitivity to sounds in the language they hear every day- native language- but becoming increasingly less sensitive to nonnative speech sounds.  Sensitivity to regularities in speech  Distributional properties: the phenomenon that in any language, certain sounds are more likely to appear together than are others. o Preparation for Production  Babbling  Between 6-10 months; average 7 months  Involves producing syllables made up of a consonant followed by a vowel that are repeated in strings. (papapa)  Early Interactions  Intersubjectivity: two interacting partners share a mutual understanding  Joint attention: foundation of intersubjectivity; established by the parent’s following the baby’s lead, looking at and commenting on whatever the infant is looking at o First Words  Early word recognition  Infants are better able to identify word boundaries when they are listening to infant-directed speech rather than to normal speech  The problem of reference  Reference: in language and speech, the associating of words and meaning  Comprehension vocabulary: the words a child understands  Early word production  productive vocabulary: the words a child is able to say  infant’s word production is limited by their ability to pronounce the words they know in a way that an attentive parents can discern their meaning  To make it easier, infants adopt a variety of simplification strategies  Style: the strategies that young children enlist in beginning to speak  Referential (analytic) style: speech strategy that analyzes the speech stream into individual phonetic elements and words; the first utterances of children who adopt this style tend to use isolated, often monosyllabic words  Expressive (holistic) style: speech strategy that gives more attention
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