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What is the Logical Problem of Language Acquisition? Why does it matter?

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Presentation on theme: "What is the Logical Problem of Language Acquisition? Why does it matter?"— Presentation transcript:

1 What is the Logical Problem of Language Acquisition? Why does it matter?

2 The Logical Problem of Language Acquisition Children acquire the grammar of their language—a SYSTEM of RULES for Syntax and Morphology and Phonology, etc. with input that is “…incomplete, noisy, and unstructured. The utterances include slips of the tongue, false starts, ungrammatical and incomplete sentences, and no information as to which utterances heard are well formed and which are not.” Fromkin, Victoria and Robert Rodman. An Introduction to Language, sixth edition. Forth Worth: Harcourt Brace College Publishers, 1998, p. 340.

3 Development of Grammar  Acquisition of Phonology  Acquisition of Word Meaning  Acquisition of Morphology  Acquisition of Syntax  Acquisition of Pragmatics Fromkin, Victoria, Robert Rodman & Nina Hyams An Introduction to Language, 9th edition. Wadsworth, Cengage Learning, pp

4 Sixteen month-old JP’s Vocabulary [  aw]not[s:]aerosol spray [b  ]/[m  ]up[sju:]shoe [da]dog[haj]hi [i  o]/[si  o] Cheerios[sr]shirt / sweater [sa]sock[s  :]/[  s  :]what’s that?/hey, look [aj]/[  j]light[ma]mommy [baw]/[daw]down[d  ]daddy Fromkin, Victoria, Robert Rodman & Nina Hyams An Introduction to Language, 9th edition. Wadsworth, Cengage Learning, p. 336.

5 Acquisition Order of Sounds Manner Placeof Articulation NasalsLabials GlidesVelars StopsAlveolars LiquidsPalatals Fricatives Affricates Fromkin, Victoria, Robert Rodman & Nina Hyams An Introduction to Language, 7th ed. Boston, MA: Wadsworth, p. 356.

6 Perception and Production Linguist Neil Smith and his 2-year-old son Father:What does [maws] mean? Amahl:Like a cat. Father:Yes, what else? Amahl:Nothing else Father:It’s part of your head. Amahl:[fascinated] Father:[touching Amahl’s mouth] What’s this? Amahl:[maws] Fromkin, Victoria, Robert Rodman & Nina Hyams An Introduction to Language, 9th edition. Wadsworth, Cengage Learning, p. 340.

7 Simplifying the Sounds of a Language [ pun ]spoon [ peyn ]plane [ t  s ]kiss [ taw ]cow [ tin ]clean [ pol  r ]stroller [ majtl ]Michael [ dajt  r ]diaper [ pati ]Papi [ mani ]Mommy [ b  rt ]Bert [ b  rt ](Big) Bird Fromkin, Victoria, Robert Rodman & Nina Hyams An Introduction to Language, 9th edition. Wadsworth, Cengage Learning, p. 341.

8 The Problem of Acquiring Meaning “A child who observes a cat sitting on a mat also observes…a mat supporting a cat, a mat under a cat, a floor supporting a mat and a cat, and so on. If the adult now says. ‘The cat is on the mat’ even while pointing to the cat on the mat, how is the child to choose among these interpretations of the situation?” [L.R. Gleitman and E. Wanner Language Acquisition: The State of the State of the Art. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, p. 10.] [Reference not given in 2009, 9th ed.; given in 2003.] Fromkin, Victoria, Robert Rodman & Nina Hyams An Introduction to Language, 9th edition. Wadsworth, Cengage Learning, p. 342.

9 Innate Bias in Acquiring Word Meaning 1. Whole object principle 2. Form over color principle 3. Everything has a name 4. Each thing has only one name Fromkin, Victoria, Robert Rodman & Nina Hyams An Introduction to Language, 7th ed. Boston, MA: Wadsworth, p. 360.

10 Rapid Vocabulary Acquisition  “Children learn approximately fourteen words a day for the first six years of their lives. That averages about 5,000 words per year.  How many students know 10,000 words of a foreign language after two years of study?” [my emphasis] Fromkin, Victoria, Robert Rodman & Nina Hyams An Introduction to Language, 9th edition. Wadsworth, Cengage Learning, p. 343.

11 Stages of Irregular Verb Acquisition Phase 1Phase 2 Phase 3 broke breaked broke brought bringed brought went goed went Fromkin, Victoria, Robert Rodman & Nina Hyams An Introduction to Language, 9th edition. Wadsworth, Cengage Learning, p. 344.

12 Acquisition of Morphology TOM:Where’s Mommy? CHILD: Mommy goed to the store. TOM: Mommy goed to the store? CHILD: NO! (annoyed) Daddy, I say it that way, not you. CHILD: You readed some of it too…she readed all the rest. DAN: She read the whole thing to you, huh? CHILD: Nu-uh, you read some. DAN: Oh, that’s right, yeah. I readed the beginning of it. CHILD: Readed? (annoyed surprise) Read! (pronounced / r  d /) DAN: Oh, yeah, read. CHILD: Will you stop that, Papa? Steven Pinker. Words and Rules. New York: Basic Books, 1999, pp

13 Morpheme Acquisition Order -ing in, on -s (REGULAR PLURAL) -s (1st PERS SINGULAR PRESENT) ’s (POSSESSIVE) Fromkin, Victoria, Robert Rodman & Nina Hyams An Introduction to Language, 7th ed. Boston, MA: Wadsworth, p. 365.

14 Two-Word Sentences allgone sockhi Mommy bye bye boatallgone sticky more wetit ball Katherine sock dirty sock Fromkin, Victoria, Robert Rodman & Nina Hyams An Introduction to Language, 9th edition. Wadsworth, Cengage Learning, p. 347.

15 Setting Parameters Head Parameter VPVOEnglish OVJapanese PPPrep NEnglish N Post Japanese Verb MovementDutch, Italian Auxiliary MovementEnglish Explicit SubjectEnglish, yes Japanese, Chinese, Spanish, no [NOT in book?] Fromkin, Victoria, Robert Rodman & Nina Hyams An Introduction to Language, 9th edition. Wadsworth, Cengage Learning, pp

16 Chapter 7 Homework (Exercise 5, pp ) 1. don’t [ dot ]simplification: ConCl 2. skip [ k  p ]simplify: ConsClust 3. shoe [ su ]substitute 4. that [ d  t ]substitute 5. play [ p  e ] simplify: ConsClust 6. thump [ d  p ]substitute & simplify 7. bath [ b  t ]substitute 8. chop [ t  ap ]substitute/simplify 9. kitty [ k  di ]?? 10. light [ wajt ]substitute 11. dolly [ dawi ]substitute 12. grow [ go ]simplify: ConsClust

17 Chapter 7 Homework (Exercise 7, p. 371) Adult FormChild form a. childrenchilds b. wentgoed c. bettergooder d. bestgoodest e. broughtbringed f. sangsinged g. geesegooses h. worstbaddest i. knivesknifes j. worsebadder


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