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Early language Acquisition

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1 Early language Acquisition
Psycholinguistics 10 Early language Acquisition

2 Prelinguistic Communication
Social Context of Preverbal Infants Child-directed speech, or baby talk or motherese: This speech tends to be higher n pitch, more variable in pitch and more exaggerated in its intonational contours. Infants prefer to listen to baby talk rather than adult-directed speech. Mothers also use this speech to draw the bay’s attention to particular aspects of their message. Child-directed speech encourage infants to participate in conversations. This makes the child think of language as a social activity with rules and as an activity of communication with one another.

3 Prelinguistic Gestures
Criteria for communication intention: waiting, persistence, and development of alternative plans. At 8 months, infants become more purposeful in their behavior. Prelinguistic children use gestures to get the receiver’s attention and to communicate. The transition to speech acts can be viewed as learning how to do with words what already has been done without words.

4 Early phonology The child’s first attempts at producing sounds have more to do with practicing with sound system than with communicating with others. Phonological findings with the neighbor’s child: The errors are systematic, not random. Children can produce a distinction in imitation that cannot be made accurately in conversational speech. (ZeteZeke) Children can perceive a distinction that she cannot produce.

5 The development of speech perception
Eimas (1971) categorical perception: infants are born with perceptual mechanisms that are attuned to speech categories. (Infants sucked at a pacifier while given different VOTs) Lasky (1975) tests also prove that infants are born with the ability to perceive a number of phonemic distinctions and categorical perception is innate. The ability to perceive phonemic distinctions from other languages starts to decline about 1 month of age, and there was considerable decline at 8 months. They can segment speech into words. Infants are able to discriminate prosodic cues almost at the birth (4 days of life).

6 Development of Speech Production
Babbling (6 to 7 months) Duplicated babbling: repeat consonant-vowel sequence, e.g. bababababa Variegated babbling (11-12month): syllable strings consist of varying consonants and vowels, e.g. bigodabu Infants begin to impose sentence-like intonational contours on their utterances. Their vowels begin to sound similar to those in their native language. Role of babbling: a form of play to practice sound, noncommunicative.

7 Transition to speech At 1 year old, children begin to use both gestures and speech to communicate meanings. Idiomorph: their own symbols to refer to objects or events. Significance of idiomorphs: Children’s language is creative. They learn that it is important to be consistent when referring to objects.

8 Phonological process Phonological Processes Used by Children
Type Examples Reduction Tore for store Coalescence Paf for pacifier Assimilation Nance for dance Reduplication Titty for kitty

9 Reasons The child cannot discriminate between the sounds that are confused. The child simply cannot produce the omitted sounds These errors are part of a more general linguistic process.

10 Lexical Development Early words: here and now, concrete nominals, moving objects Acquisition order: general nominals, specific nominals, action words, modifiers, personal and social words, function words

11 Overextention and underextension
Children sometimes use too many items into their word classes (overextention), sometimes use a word in a more restrictive way (underextention). Role of adult speech Adults use basic-level terms when helping children to learn the language. Adults provide ostensive definitions (That is an X.) to help children understand what part of the whole object is referred. Gestures also help to teach children to name objects.

12 Cognitive constrains Children are constrained to consider only some of the possibilities. Whole object bias: when children encounter a new label, they prefer to attach the label to the entire object rather than to part of the objects. Taxonomic bias: they will assume that the object label is a taxonomic category rather than a name for an individual object. Mutual exclusivity bias: if a child knows the name of a particular object, he will generally reject applying a second name to that object.

13 Early Grammar Children tend to combine content words and leave out function words: this suggests that the child has an understanding of this grammatical distinction as well as an intuitive appreciation that content words may be more informative than function words. Children know that particular words are put in particular positions in the sentence. These utterances are in the form of an agent and an action or a proposition.

14 Early Grammar Brown (1973): these early utterances are expressing semantic relations. Table 10-3: 11 semantic relations comprise 75% of children’s two-word utterances. Semantic bootstrapping: children use their knowledge of semantic relations to learn syntactic relations.

15 True speech Single-word utterances.
Two-word utterances, or "Pivot Grammar" Connective grammar Recursive grammar

16 Single-word utterances
The child begins to use single-word utterances when he is around 12 to 18 months old. His vocabulary grows remarkably:   months words 72 months ,000 words (including inflections and derivations; root words = 8000) About 9 words a day, or 1 word per waking hour The utterance is a speech of content words, chiefly nouns and verbs: it lacks function words.

17 Two-word utterances, or "Pivot Grammar"
It can be described as a kind of telegraphic speech. Just like a sentence = word + word, we have forms like: P+O, O+P, O+O, O

18 A semantic relation approach to two-word utterances
Two-word utterances do not combine any two isolated words, only words that are semantically related are combined. Word order is made use of to show different meanings. So the "Teddy bear monkey" can be expressed as "Teddy bear", "Bear monkey", "Teddy monkey", but not as "bear teddy", "Monkey bear", and "Monkey teddy."

19 A semantic relation approach to two-word utterances
The following word-orders are popular in two-word utterances: Agent --- action (Granny come) Possessor --- possessed (Mommy sock) Entity ---- attribute (pillow here)

20 A semantic relation approach to two-word utterances
We can easily see how two-word utterances develop into adult's grammar (agent+action) + (action+object) ----- agent+action+object Daddy throw Throw ball Daddy throw ball (action+object)+(possessor+possessed)— action + possessor +possessed Bring shoe My shoe Bring my shoe

21 Connective grammar Overgeneration: The child may make some premature guesses as to the notions which are grammatically marked in his language. There are two theories about overgeneralization. Rule-and-memory model: Children have access to a rule. In addition children have store past tense forms of irregular verbs in memory. Then a stored irregular form takes precedence over the rule. Parallel distributed processing model: The mental representation of verbs is a set of connections in a network rather than rules such as the past tense rule.

22 Recursive grammar In this stage, the child not only uses grammar, but also realizes that language has a grammatical system. He builds up a sense of grammaticality, so self-corrections are frequent by age three.

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