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Language and the mind. Prof. R. Hickey. WS 2007/08

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1 Language and the mind. Prof. R. Hickey. WS 2007/08
Language and the mind Prof. R. Hickey WS 2007/ First Language Acquisition Katharina Auerswald (LN, Grundstudium) Daniela Neeven (TN, Hauptstudium) Sabrina Hoffmann (TN, Grundstudium)

2 Language and the mind. Prof. R. Hickey. WS 2007/08
Language and the mind Prof. R. Hickey WS 2007/ Language Acquisition and Maturation Ann-Katrin Grendreizig und Lena Jägen LN und TN Hauptstudium or Grundstudium

3 Language acquisition Def.:
First language acquisition refers to the acquisition of one’s mother tongue during the first 6 to 7 years of one's life (from birth to the time when children start school).

4 Language acquisition for children consists of achieving control in four main areas:
A set of syntactic rules determining how phrases are formed out of words and sentences out of phrases. 2) A set of morphological rules determining how words are built up out of morphemes. 3) A set of phonological rules determining how words are pronounced. 4) A set of semantic rules determining the meaning of words, phrases and sentences.

5 Maturation no evidence for any conscious and systematic
teaching of language environment changes, because the child's behaviour changes most important differences between pre- and postlanguage phases originate in the individual > maturational processes differ in each individual so that it is very difficult to explore

6 Hallmarks for maturationally controlled emergence of behaviour
regularity in the sequence of appearance of given milestones opportunity for environmental stimulation remains relatively constant, each infant makes different use of these opportunities emergence of behaviour before it is of immediate use to the individual clumsy beginnings are not signs of goal-directed practice

7 Emergence of Speech and Language
onset of speech > gradual unfolding of capacities speech milestones and motor-developmental milestones occur together but it is no logical necessity independent from articulatory skills can babble but cannot form simple utterances >psychological retarding factor in language acquisition, not a physical one

8 Emergence of Speech and Language
at the age of three speech skills are fully developed, other mechanical skills not language comprehension comes before the language production

9 Emergence of Speech and Language
12 weeks > cooing: squealing-gurgling sounds, vowel- like in character 6 months > cooing changes into babbling, on-syllable utterances like ma, mu or da 12 months > signs of understanding, identical sound sequences are replicated, mamma or dadda 18 months > definite repertoire of words, more than 3, less than 50, no attempt to communicate, no frustration for not being understood, no spontaneous two-item phrases

10 Emergence of Speech and Language
24 months > more than 50 words, spontaneous two- item phrases, own creations, interest in language 30 months > new vocabulary every day, communicative intent, frustrated if not understood, rarely verbatim repetitions, understand everything, intelligibility not good yet 3 years > 1000 words, intelligible even to strangers, grammatical complexity similar to colloquial adult language 4 years > language well-established

11 Acquisition of morphemes:
Research of uncontrolled spontaneous speech has shown that: The developmental order of the morphemes (in, on, third person regular/irregular articles a.s.o.) is quite constant > the same is true of grammatical devices in general BUT The rate of development varies greatly between different children

12 Communication Pressure
Is there a pressure in communication that forces children to replace ill-formed utterances by well-formed utterances? investigation with questions, negatives and tags showed that there is no communication pressure ill-formed utterances were understood perfectly well, meaning became clear

13 Contingent approval the approval or disapproval has no influence on the syntax, it depends on the truth value of utterances

14 Conclusion no conscious or systematic teaching of language
independent from mechanical skills of the child no communication pressure or contingent approval

15 Division between First and Second Language Acquisition:
The ability to acquire a language with the competence of a native speaker diminishes around puberty due to general inflexibility of the brain caused by fixing of various functions of parts of the brain 2. hormonal changes during puberty having the same effect

16 Language and the mind Prof. R. Hickey WS 2007/08
Steffi Dickmans und Hannah Neugebauer TN Grundstudium

17 B.F. Skinner American psychologist (1904-1990)
amongst others he wrote a book on verbal behaviour in 1957 his thesis is that external factors such as present stimulation and reinforcement are crucial for the First Language Acquisition of a child

18 B.F. Skinner therefore children learn the rules of language by
imitating what they are been presented and taught in daily life Skinner thinks that children learn to produce grammatically correct sentences because they are positively reinforced and corrected by parents or other adults the learning of a child’s first language is similar to any other learned behaviour

19 Denise Lemke und Monika Ophey TN Grundstudium
Language and the mind Prof. R. Hickey WS 2007/ Language and Experience Denise Lemke und Monika Ophey TN Grundstudium

20 Introduction Importance of Experience  General Information
Role of experience in language learning General Problems from Learning from Observations Two Experiments Conclusion

21 Importance of Experience
To know a language = to know the relations between sounds and their meanings Relations vary in different languages - English /si/ means: “gaze with the eyes“ - Spanish /si/ means “Yes“  Special experience is needed

22 Role of experience in language learning
Experiment: language learning by blind children the blind seem to confront a world quite different from our own Blind children have another context for learning words and sentences than sighted children Question: How much differs the language learning?

23 General Problems from Learning from Observations
Too many encodings of experience are available False Experiences The problem of abstract meanings

24 Too many encodings of experience are available
Normally learners are exposed to objects, scenes, and events as they listen to the stream of speech Problem: no direct connection between the “meanings“ and the objects, scenes, and events Example: cat on the mat, the mat under the cat, and the mat and the cat on the floor  same meanings  difficult for children to understand

25 False Experiences A child is inspecting a scene while the adult is
speaking of something else  false pairing Example: Mother says: “Time for your nap“ while the child inspects a cat on the mat

26 The problem of abstract meanings
Many words have no direct connection with sensory- perceptual experience Example: - Simple verbs as “get“ or “put“ - Simple nouns as “fun“ or “pet“ - Simple adjectives as “fair“ or “good“

27 Experiment 1: Does look mean “touch“ to the blind child?
Setting: - Kelli and sighted control children were tested in a familiar room - Experimenter gives commands and waits for response Subjects: - Kelli: blind child, 36 months old - 4 sighted blindfolded control children: 33 to months Commands: Look up, Look down, Look behind you, Look in front of you, Look over here by me, Look over there by Mommy

28 Experiment 1: Does look mean “touch“ to the blind child?
Results: - Kelli moved her hands to the commanded directions every time, but never moved her head - In contrast each blindfolded child moved the head in the commanded direction  For Kelli look means „touch“

29 Experiment 2: Look is more like “apprehend“ to the blind child
Results of Experiment 1 lead to a problem: Is there a difference between look and touch for Kelli? Further question: Does certain adjectival and adverbial modifications of look produce still more distinctive behaviours?

30 Experiment 2: Look is more like “apprehend“ to the blind child
Subjects: - Kelli: 36 months old - 4 blindfolded sighted children: months Commands: “look” or “touch” (using toys) 1. With spatial modifiers: up, behind you, in that, under, here 2. With intensity modifiers: real hard, gently, real good 3. With instruments of contact: with your finger, foot, nose, mouth, ear

31 Experiment 2: Results of Kelli
In most cases she distinguished between touch and look 1. With spatial modifiers - “look behind you”  she searched around in the are behind her - “touch behind you”  she touched her back 2. With intensity modifiers - “look real hard”  she rubbed the object all over - “touch real hard”  she banged against the object

32 Experiment 2: Results of Kelli
3. With instruments of contact - “look with your mouth”  she held the object up to her mouth - “touch with your mouth”  she pressed her mouth against the object touch = “contact”  look = “explore” or “apprehend”

33 Experiment 2: Results of the sighted children
These children also usually distinguished between look and touch commands Touch = “contact”  Look = “visual”

34 Conclusion Children do not acquire a language just by experience
and observation But Kelli shows that experiences in different contexts in early infancies lead to different meanings of words

35 Language and the mind. Prof. R. Hickey. WS 2007/08
Language and the mind Prof. R. Hickey WS 2007/ The Child’s Learning of English Morphology Mouna Ksiksi (TN, Hauptstudium), Nazgül Songün (TN, Grundstudium) Aysel Sahan und Günes Yildirim (LN, Grundstudium)

36 The Child’s Learning of English Morphology
To discover what is learned by children exposed to English morphology experimenters used nonsense materials. If children do have knowledge of morphological rules how does this knowledge evolve? To test the children’s knowledge they began with an examination of the actual vocabulary.

37 The Child’s Learning of English Morphology
Tested areas: the plural/ the two possessives of the noun/ the third person singular of the verb/ the progressive/ the past tense/ the comparative and superlative of the adjective Children’s vocabulary at the first-grade level contains a number of words that are made of a free morpheme and a derivational suffix or of two free morphemes. It also contains a number of compound words.

38 Materials and Procedure
The subjects included pre-school children, first- grade children and adults. Pictures to represent the nonsense words were drawn on cards. Subjects were asked to supply the missing word and the item was noted phonemically. After all of the pictures had been shown, the subjects were asked why they thought the things denoted by the compound words were so named.

39 Examples: 1. Plural ´ This is a wug. Now there is another one.
There are two ……..´ 2. Past tense ´ This is a man who knows how to spow. He is spowing. He did the same thing yesterday. What did he do yesterday? Yesterday he ……. ´ 3. Compound words (e.g. football, airplane)

40 Results The first question to be answered was whether there is
a sex difference in the ability to handle English morphology at this age level. There was not a significant difference between the boys´ and girls´ performance, boys did as well as girls, or somewhat better, on over half the items, so that there was no evidence of the usual superiority of girls in language matters.

41 Results Age differnce The first graders did significantly better than preschoolers on slightly less than half of these Formation of the plural The results of the first-grade children in the plural tasks were better than the results of the pre- school children. The significance level of difference was 5 percent.

42 Verb inflexions The children were shown a picture of a man how to
*zib and were required to say he was *zibbing. Fully 97% of the first graders answered this question correctly = there is just one allomorph of the progressive morpheme, and the child either knows the –ing form or not The results of the past tense form shows that the children can handle the /-t/ and /-d/ allomorphs of the past. Correct percentage answering: *binged: 78; *glinged: 77. The older group did better than the younger group on *binged.

43 Verb inflexions All English verbs with the ending –ing are irregular:
50% of the adults said *bang or *bung for the past tense of *bing. 75% said *glang or *glung for the past tense of *gling. Only one of the children said *bang and one said *glang. The percentages on *bing and *gling represent a substantial grasp of the problem of adding phonologically /-t/ o /-d/.

44 Verb inflexions *spow: several children retained the inflexional /-z/
and said spowzd, others repeated the progressive. The children had to choose one or the other of the allomorphs, and the drop to 52% correct represents this additional complexity. On *bodded they were 31% right, on rang only 17% right. The older group was better than the younger group.

45 Adjectival inflexion The child was shown dogs that were incrasingly *quirky and expected to say that the second is *quirkier than the first, and that the third was the quirkiest. Only one child was able to give the right answer. If the children failed to answer, the experimenter supplied the form *quirkier, and said “this dog is quirky This dog is quirkier. And this dog is the …?” Under this condtions 35% of the children could supply the –est form.

46 Derivation and compounding
They were asked what they would call a man who *zibbed. The adults said that a man who *zibs is a *zibber, using the common agentive pattern –er. Only 11% of the children said *zibber, 35% gave no answer, 11% said *zibbingman and 5% said *zibman. The rest of the answers were real words like acrobat or clown.

47 Analysis of compound words
They were asked about some of the compound words in their own vocabulary. The object of this questioning was to see if children at this age are aware of the separate morphemes in compound words.

48 Analysis of compound words
4 categories: 1. identity: “a blackboard is called a blackboard because it is a blackboard.” 2. statement of the object’s salient function or feature: “a blackboard is called a blackboard because you write on it”

49 Analysis of compound words
3. the salient feature happens to coincide with part of the name: “ blackboard is called a blackboard because it s black.” 4. there is the etymological explanation given by adults, it takes into account both parts of the word, and is not necessarily with some functional feature:”Thanksgiving is called Thanksgiving because the pilgrims gave thanks.”

50 Analysis of compound words
the greatest number of etymological responses (23%) was given for Thanksgiving, wich is an item wich children are taught. despite this teaching, for 67% of the children answered: Thanksgiving is called Thanksgiving because you eat a lots of turkey. shows the general nature of the private meanings children may have about the words in their vocabulary.

51 Conclusion The experiment
In this experiment preschool- and first-grade children from the age of four to seven years were asked to supply English plurals, verb tenses, possesives, derivations and compounds of nonsense words General question: Do children possess morphological rules?

52 Conclusion > The children knew something more than the
individual words in his vocabulary. They were able to supply the right morphological items to the new words. They understood the problem of the experiment and did not want to make any mistakes by giving the answers > Children at early age have a good command on morphological rules.

53 Conclusion Sex differences:
No sex differences in the acquisition of English morphology Boys and girls did equally well > Every child at young age is in contact with spoken English and has to grapple with basic morphological processes. > This capability does not depend on complex sentences, it also appears in simple ones. > Practice with limited vocabulary has the same effect as practice with extensive vocabulary.

54 Conclusion Differences between preschool- and first-grade children
No child in preschool was able to supply the irregular past “rang” and a few in the first grade could do >This difference was significant The answers were not qualitatively different Both groups applied the same morhological rules

55 Conclusion Further analysis- Example
children were able to form the plurals requiring /-s/ or /-z/ and they did best on the items In their vocabularies were also real words that form their plural in /-әz/ > They did not generalize to form new words in /-әz/.

56 Conclusion Their rule is to add /-s/ or /-z/.
To unknown word ends which sound like /s z ž š ĵ/ they did not try to make the plural > Generally it can be said that the childrens choice of voiced and voiceless consonants or sibilants lead back to phonological rules about final sound sequences.

57 Thanks for your attention!
The End Thanks for your attention!

58 References First Language Acquisition - The Essential Readings
Edited by Barbara C. Lust and Claire Foley

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