Flashcards in Chapter 10 Child language acquisition Deck (58):
Children acquire grammar when they acquire language
an abstract system of linguistic rules.
Evidence for this is that mature speakers (and some immature ones) can produce and comprehend an indefinite number of novel utterances
“errors” that children utter, but they have clearly never heard before from adults.
*doed *runned *goed
shows language is not memorized
methods for studying language acquisition
naturalistic observation and experimental studies
diary study (naturalistic observation)
(usually by parents) or regular sessions recorded by a researcher—often an hour every week or two. early stages parents write down every new word a child says
longitudinal (naturalistic observation)
following a single child over an extended period of time
cross-sectional (experimental studies)
taking one-time “snapshots” of individual children’s performance across different age groups
ecologically sound (naturalistic observation)
they present the child with normal everyday situations
cons of naturalistic observation
provide little information about infrequent structures and phenomena.
do not reflect children’s full competence, which often outstrips their performance.
children's knowledge of language often surpasses what they can produce
naturalistic studies only measure performance
comprehension tasks (experimental studies)
sucking rate, picture selection, act-out task, truth value judgement task, production tasks, picture description task, imitation task
usually increases with a new type of stimulus. measured in experimental studies
picture selection task
children choose a picture corresponding to a spoken sentence. used in experimental studies
children use toys to enact an event described by a given sentence. used in experimental studies
truth value judgement task
children judge the truth (or falsity) of a statement about a story they’ve just been told
production tasks (experimental studies)
picture description task
picture description task
children use their own words to describe a complex scene in a picture (production task)
children try to repeat a sentence they have just heard, but often alter it to fit their own speech patterns.
'Mickey is laughing’ > ‘Mickey laughing’
helps them to gain control over their vocal apparatus. begins at six months.
Early babbling shows considerable similarity across different language communities. Even deaf children babble, though with less variety
Evidence that the human auditory system appears to be specially attuned to language
Newborns respond differently to speech than to other sounds.
They also show a preference for the language of their parents, even before they can recognize their mother’s voice.
One month (child development)
children can distinguish between voiced and voiceless consonants (e.g. [b] and [p]).
six to eight months (child development)
children can hear non- native contrasts in speech sounds, an ability that begins to diminish as early as ten to twelve months of age.
Phonetic processes in child language production
syllable deletion, syllable simplification, assimilation, and substitution.
hip-po-pót-a-mus [pɑs] kan-ga-róo [wu]
• Stopping: sing [tɪŋ], shoes [tud]
• Fronting: ship [sɪp], go [dow]
• Gliding: lion [jajn], rock [wɑk]
• Denasalization: spoon [bud], room [wub]
18 months (child development)
children have about fifty words in their vocabulary; for English children, nouns form the largest class of words.
age six (child development)
most children know about 13,000– 14,000 words.
The Whole Object assumption
A new word refers to a whole object (not parts or properties of the object).
The Type assumption
A new word refers to a type of thing, not just to a particular thing.
The Basic Level assumption
A new word refers to objects that are alike in basic ways (appearance, behaviour, etc.)
Situation: A child is shown a new doll.
A: “This is a [dæks].” dax = a kind of doll
B: “This is [dæks].” Dax = the doll’s name
where they use a word too broadly
quack: ducks, all birds and insects, flies, coins (with an eagle on the face)
fly: small insects, specks of dirt, dust, child’s toes, crumbs of bread
overextend more in production than in comprehension experiments.
where they use a word too narrowly.
kitty: only for family pet
dog: not for chihuahuas
(past tense ran, plural men, etc.) are first acquired case-by-case; then dropped when a general rule is acquired; finally, exceptions to the rule are mastered.
Four- and five-year-old children can also correctly add the regular plural to a nonsense word like wug, showing that they have mastered the rule
age three (child development)
will generate new words via derivation and compounding
Compounds are not always right-headed, as they are in adult English (e.g. cutter grass for ‘grass cutter’), but by five years this rule is mastered .
even three-year-olds correctly omit
inflectional suffixes from inside compounds.
eater of cookies = cookie eater
catcher of dogs = dog catcher
12-18 months (child development)
children begin producing one-word holophrases
used to express the meanings of whole sentences.
more = “Give me more juice”
up = “Pick me up”
1.5 years-2 years (child development)
produce two-word utterances
inflection is often missing
word order is almost always correct.
2 years- 2.5 years (child development)
children’s syntax proceeds to the telegraphic stage
longer and more complex utterances, but still missing most inflections and functional categories, like determiners and auxiliaries.
an error where children either by not using the auxiliary, or (infrequently) by copying the auxiliary.
Can he can look?
Children have difficulty interpreting some passives with a by-phrase, such as The boy is seen by the horse.
In such cases they may reverse the intended meaning of the clause (here, to The boy sees the horse)
Children rarely confuse pronouns (5%) and
reflexives (less than 1%) with each other.
I see me.
You hurt myself!
simplified speech style, with exaggerated intonation.
common phenomenon that may speed up language acquisition, but it is not necessary for acquisition to take place.
for a particular grammar comes in the form of grammatical utterances in the target language.
Child also learns what is ungrammatical in a language
the adult correctly restates the child’s utterance.
unreliable because they are not consistently used
evidence about what is ungrammatical in the target language.
the knowledge that objects continue to exist when out of sight.
5 years (child development)
at this age can do seriation tasks. Then can use comparative terms like longer, shorter.
argues that many aspects of language are too complex and abstract to be acquired.
including both fixed linguistic principles, and variable parameters whose values are determined by experience.
a point for language development, after which, the language proficiency can be degraded or even severely impaired.
Which is acquired first, full range of vowels or consonants?
The full range of vowels is usually acquired before that of consonants.
What is acquired first in terms of place of articulation?
labials are usually acquired first, and interdentals last.