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Methods of Child Language Study C. Ray Graham. Ancient Roots Research Question: What is the oldest race of human beings? Researcher: Psammetichus, King.

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Presentation on theme: "Methods of Child Language Study C. Ray Graham. Ancient Roots Research Question: What is the oldest race of human beings? Researcher: Psammetichus, King."— Presentation transcript:

1 Methods of Child Language Study C. Ray Graham

2 Ancient Roots Research Question: What is the oldest race of human beings? Researcher: Psammetichus, King of Egypt Underlying Theory: Strong form of the innatist hypothesis Design: Longitudinal Case Study Method: Shepherd ordered to raise two children, caring for their needs but not speaking to them.

3 Hypothesis: The first words to be spoken would indicate that Egyptian was the oldest culture on earth. Results: After two years the shepherd went to their quarters one day and the children came running with outstretched arms and said, “Becos,” which was not a word in Egyptian. Upon enquiry it was determined that becos meant “bread” in the Phrygian language. Conclusions: Egyptian was the second oldest race of humans after the Phrygians. Source: Book 2 of History by Herodotus abt 440 BC

4 Late 19 th and Early 20 th Centruies Diary studies –Bloch (1913-24) French –Bokonyi (1918) Hungarian –Boksis (1939) Russian Bilingualism Vocabulary studies –Binet (1902) French –Bonser –Bush (1914) –Campbell (1901) Phonology Abnormal Langauge

5 Mid 1900s Normal Language Development Abnormal Language Development –Stuttering (Boland 1951, Blumel 1960,Bloodstein 1960-65) –Delayed language Blackman (1957) –Deaf (Carr 1953)

6 A new era in child language studies 1960-Present Morphology –Berko (1958) Syntax –Brown (1964) –Braine (1963-66)Word order (Pivot Grammar) –Bellugi (1967) Negation Phonology –Menn –Stoel-Gammon Sociolinguistics –Bernstein (1962-65) Social Class & Language Development –Cazden (1962-65)

7 High Amplitude Sucking Paradigm Infant placed in a reclining seat and given a binky with a hole in it to suck on The binky has a pressure transducer in it which measures sucking rate and allows infant to control rate of sound input Baseline sucking rate is established with a speech syllable Infant is presented with new syllable Increase in rate is interpreted as detection of new sound Works best with 1-4-month-olds

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9 Conditioned Head Turn Child hears one sound several times He/she then hears a new sound followed by a switch back to the former sound If the child turns his/her head when the new sound is presented he/she is rewarded with a picture of lit-up toy If the child learns to turn his/her head at the presentation of the stimulus, but not otherwise, it is interpreted as discrimination Works best with 6-to-10-month-olds

10 Findings 1 month--/ba/ vs /pa/ /a/ vs /i/ /a/ vs /u/ 2 months--/ba/ vs /ga/ /ba/ vs /da/ /ba/ vs /wa/ /ra/ vs /la/ /wa/ vs /ja/ rising vs falling pitch

11 Phonemic Perception Child sits in front of the experimenter Experimenter presents a wooden “doll” and says, “This is /tas/.” “Put /tas/ on the wagon.” etc. Experimenter presents a second “doll” of different shape, color, etc. and says, “This is /das/.” “Put /das/ in the box.” etc. Experimenter sets the dolls side by side in random order and says, “This is /tas/ and this is /das/. Put (randomly) /das/ in the box.” Correct choice of dolls is interpreted as perception of phonemic differences.

12 Findings There is an order to the minimal pairs contrasts with which children can play the game:

13 Principles of Lexical Development Words refer to objects Words refer to whole objects New words can be extended to other members of the category Each object can have only one name New words refer to things that do not already have a name No two words have exactly the same meaning

14 Preferential Looking Paradigm Child sits on mother’s lap equadistant from two video monitors. Mother closes eyes Child watches two simultaneously presented colored videos An audio message from a hidden speaker between video monitors directs child to attend to one of the monitors Researcher observes eye movements of child and records time spent focused on each monitor

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16 Results & Conclusions By 17 months children can use word order to distinguish between sentences such as: –Big Bird was tickling Cookie Monster –Cookie Monster was tickling Big Bird Comprehension of syntax is well in advance of production since most children are not producing two word utterances by this age.

17 The Wug Test

18 Results & Conclusions Between three and four years of age children are able to apply learned grammatical morphemes to words that they have never heard before. Learners develop a productive use of morphological generalizations

19 Puppets and Meta-language Two experimenters with hand puppets and a child with a hand puppet The experimenters demonstrate the correction of grammatical error –E1 says, “Horse the ride” –E2 says, “No that is not right you say, ride the horse. –E1 then gives examples to the child and has the child say whether the sentence is good and if not how to correct it

20 Result Up until about 3 years of age children are unable to tell when the grammar is wrong except when it makes the utterance anomalous. A year later children can correct ill formed utterances.

21 Conclusions Children gradually develop the ability to attend to the form of language as an object of attention in and of itself

22 Realia and Word Order The experimenter sits with the child and has toy objects to manipulate. The experimenter says to the child, “Here is a car and here is a truck. I am going to say something and I want you to act it out.” –“The car was hit by the truck.” The experimenter blindfolds a doll and asks, “Is the doll easy to see, or hard to see?”

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24 Results & Conclusions Chidren as old as 4 ½ to 5 will interpret the first noun phrase in a sentence as the agent and the second one as the object in passives and will ignore the passive markers of “was…by” Correct interpretation of unusual word order develops slowly in often not complete until middle childhood

25 Anaphora & GB Theory

26 Principles of GB A.A reflexive is always bound to a referent that is within the same clause  John said that Robert hurt himself B.An anaphoric pronoun cannot be bound to a referent within the same clause  John said that robert hurt him C.Backward co-reference is only allowed if the pronoun is in a clause subordinate to the main clause.  When he came home John made dinner.  He made dinner when John came home

27 Findings By 6 years of age children know A, but are still making errors on pronouns Children have difficulties with B even after age 6 Children do not seem to control C until middle school years


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