File 8.1 en 8.3: Language acquisition (F) Flashcards Preview

Introduction to linguistics > File 8.1 en 8.3: Language acquisition (F) > Flashcards

Flashcards in File 8.1 en 8.3: Language acquisition (F) Deck (19)
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Lenneberg's characteristics of biologically controlled behaviors

1. The behavior emerges before it is necessary.
2. Its appearance is not the result of a conscious decision.
3. Its emergence is not triggered by external events (though the surrounding environment must be sufficiently “rich” for it to develop adequately).
4. Direct teaching and intensive practice have relatively little effect.
5. There is a regular sequence of “milestones” as the behavior develops, and these can usually be correlated with age and other aspects of development.
6. There is likely to be a “critical period” for the acquisition of the behavior.



Language is a communication system consisting of sounds, morphemes, words, and rules for combining all of these. The knowledge of these elements enables people to understand and produce sentences they may never have heard or uttered before.


Language theories

-Innateness Hypothesis
-Imitation Theory
-Reinforcement Theory
-Active Construction of a Grammar Theory
-Connectionist Theories
-Social Interaction Theory


The Innateness Hypothesis

They believe that language ability is innate in humans. This theory claims that babies are born with the knowledge that languages have patterns and with the ability to seek out and identify those patterns.


linguistic universal

These are basic features shared by all languages, such as 'noun' and 'verb'.


universal grammar

The theoretically inborn set of structural characteristics shared by all languages.


What is the difference between innate behaviors and learned behaviors?

Innate behaviors are present in all normal individuals of a species, whereas learned behaviors are not.


Imitation theory

Children learn language by listening to the speech around them and memorizing and reproducing what they hear.


Reinforcement theory

Children learn to speak like adults because they are praised/rewarded when they use the correct forms.


Active construction of grammar

Children acquire a language by inventing rules of grammar based on the speech around them.


Connectionist theory

Children acquire a language by inventing rules of grammar based on the speech around them.


Social interaction theory

children acquire language through social interactions.


critical period

age span, usually described as lasting from birth to the onset of puberty, during which children must have exposure to language and must build the critical brain structures necessary in order to gain native speaker competence in a language.



A child applies a certain grammar rule to other words where it's not applicable (pen -> pens, man -> mans)


complexive concepts

a group of items that a child refers to with a single word, for which it is not possible to single out any one unifying property.
The child will often switch from using a word such as fluffy from a dog to a pillow to a blanket (and keep switching until they get it right).



when a child extends the range of a word's meaning beyond that typically used by adults. For example: naming all four-legged animals 'doggie'. (common properties such as color, shape, size).



application of a word to a smaller set of objects than is appropriate for mature adult speech.


relational term

children are not good in understanding relativity (relatively big/small).


deictic expressions

word or expression that is relative to time, place and speaker. (such as "here" and "now")