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Language Sandra E. Trehub Department of Psychology

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1 Language Sandra E. Trehub Department of Psychology

2 What language users know sounds of their language (phonology) words of language and their meanings (semantics) grammar of language (syntax—combining words to form sentences—and morphology—rules of word formation) use of language, or communication, in different contexts (pragmatics)

3 Overview of Development birth to 1 year: sound production, non-verbal communication 1-2 years: vocabulary growth (300 words by 2), combining words, more verbal communication 2-3 years: major gains in grammar (sentences, questions, negatives), conversational skills 3-4 years: skill refinement, complex sentences school years: metalinguistic skills, literacy 6 years: approximately 10,000 words

4 Prelinguistic Phase sensitivity to speech sounds of all languages perception finely tuned to familiar language sounds greater attention to infant-directed speech (positive affect) than to adult-directed speech (neutral affect) attention to faces, especially smiling faces babbling in hearing and deaf infants babbling and the brain

5 Early Words first words: 10-13 months of age context-bound versus referential words more words understood than produced word spurt (naming explosion)? more nouns than verbs? English/Italian vs. Mandarin/Korean relational words: big/little, here/there overextensions: beyond conventional usage (doggie for cow), production/comprehension differences

6 Predictors of Early Words structure of language (position of nouns and verbs) Mandarin: verbs often at sentence end English: nouns often at sentence end different maternal styles within and across cultures referential versus expressive

7 Early Sound Production speaking as motor and cognitive skill earliest speech: one word at a time substituting front for back consonants (tootie for cookie) omitting unstressed syllables (nana for banana) consonant cluster reduction (cool for school) substituting w for r sounds (wabbit for rabbit)

8 Early Grammar telegraphic speech (no go bed): missing functors word order usually preserved overregularization (I breaked it): rule learning yes/no questions: Daddy is working? wh-questions: Where Daddy is going? comprehension problems  embedded clauses: The boy with the coat fell down.  passive sentences: The car was hit by the bus.

9 Communicative Competence adjusting speech to listener’s knowledge and ability polite forms social and conversational conventions message repairs non-literal language (e.g., sarcasm)

10 Bilingualism simultaneous versus sequential learning effect on cognitive abilities age of acquisition: Is earlier necessarily better? critical period for language acquisition interference of first language (L1) on second language (L2)

11 Signed vs. Spoken Language sign language: similar age and rate of acquisition similar areas of brain involved similar consequences of brain damage

12 Humans and Non-Humans similarities between 8-year-old chimp (Kanzi) and 2-year-olds differences between chimps and toddlers  understanding of reference and syntax  sociability, motivation  sensitivity to intentions of others  collaborative learning  declarative versus imperative messages

13 Theoretical Perspectives nativist: emphasizes language-specific mechanisms interactionist: emphasizes domain-general (cognitive, social) factors

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