Language acquisition

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Information about Language acquisition

Published on March 25, 2014

Author: SofiaMargaret


- the processes by w/c human beings acquire a language, how they attain the ability to comprehend and produce utterances in it.

MAJOR FEATURES OF CHILD LANGUAGE ACQUISITION General characteristics of language acquisition  Preliminary remarks - normal children in all societies acquire, w/in the space of a few years, fluent control of a language. By the time they are 5 years old they know several thousand words, have acquired the major phonological & grammatical systems of their language(s), as well as the fundamentals of the semantic& pragmatic systems, & how the language is used in its social context.

Deaf children, are unable to perceive the acoustic input of languages spoken around them. If exposed to a sign language, they acquire it spontaneously. Basic Schedule of Acquisition • pre-language stages of cooing, beginning at about 2 or 3 months; & babbling beginning at around six months; • One-word stage, beginning at about a year or so • Two-word stage, beginning at 18-20 months; • Telegraphic speech, beginning at 2-3 years of age; • Basic mastery, at around 4-5 years • Elaboration & expansion especially of lexicon-also to some extent grammar-continuing throughout life.

 Pre-language stages - the earliest stages of child language acquisition, w/c last from about 2 months to a year of age. The child typically begins to produce vocalization called cooing. - by about 6 months the child is generally sitting up, & producing a wider rage of sounds, including stops, nasals & fricatives. Babbling, the child produces word- like utterances, typically CV syllables, though they are not recognizable as words of the language.

 One-word stage - around 12-18 months children produce their first recognizable words. These words occur alone, in single-unit utterances, & thus the term one-word stage or holophrastic stage.  two-word stage - the first two word utterances tend to express the same kinds of meaning as in the one-word stag, but do so more explicitly: negation of refusal, no bed; recurrence as in more milk; attention hi daddy.

 telegraphic speech - multiple word utterance usually make their first appearance sometimes during the 3rd year of life.  basic mastery - 4-5 years of age most children have acquired a basic mastery of their language. Their vocabulary will stand at well over 1,000 items, & the basic of phonology, morphology & syntax will be in place.  Continued acquisition - language acquisition continues throughout life. This is especially true or lexical items, w/c continue to be acquired in adulthood.

 caretaker speech - many languages have special speech registers for talking to young children. These registers, variously called baby-talk, motherese, child-directed speech & caretaker speech – have characteristics that assist the child’s acquisition of language. Acquisition of phonetics and phonology the perception of speech sounds begins very early, some phonetic differences being perceived from a very young age. Even 1month old babies are able to perceive the difference between [pa]&[ba],regardless of their language environment. Very young babies show preferences for the for the voice of their mother over the voices of other women.

A characteristic of language acquisition is that perception precedes production: children are often able to perceive contrasts that they are unable to produce. spoke to a child his inflated plastic fish a fis. In imitation of the child’s pronunciation, the observer said: ‘This is your fis?’ ‘No,’ said the child, ‘ my fis.’ He continued to reject the adult’s imitation until he was told, ‘That is your fish?’ ‘Yes,’ he said, ‘my fis.’

Acquisition of lexicon - by about 18 months of age, when a child has an active vocabulary of around 50 words, some studies have revealed that they can understand up to five times as many words. Acquisition of semantics - child also has to acquire the meaning associated w/ the form. This is not a straightforward process; the meaninglessly they assign some content to the lexemes they acquire.

3 MAIN TYPES OF ERRORS IN MEANING ASSIGNMENT:  Overextension - refers to the child’s generalization of the meaning of the word beyond the sense in the adult language. The word might be extended to all things sharing a general feature of color, shape, size or whatever.  Underextension - where the child assigns a narrower meaning to the word than in the adult language.  Mismatch - children assign a completely mistaken meaning to a word.

ACQUISITION OF MORPHOLOGY Morpheme Frequency position in adult speech Approximate of acquisition in months Examples -Verb suffix –ing -preposition in, on -noun plural suffix –s - -z -irregular past tense of frequent verbs -noun possessive clitic ‘s -Verb be in questions -Definite & indefinite articles, the, a – an --regular past tense suffix –ed, - d –t -Regular 3rd person singular present tense suffix –s –z -Irregular present tense of frequent verbs 2 4 3 5 1 6 7 24 24 24 30 30 30 36 42 42 42 Walking On bed Dogs Went, saw Daddy’s Is kitty here? A dog, the dog Walked, played Walks, plays Has, does

Acquisition of syntax acquisition of3 syntactic constructions in English o negative constructions • 1st stage – 18-26 months, negative markers no & not are put at the beginning or end of the utterance. 2nd stage – child’s 3rd year, the negative word starts to be used between the subject & verb. 3rd stage – sees the appearance of other auxiliary forms w/ attached negative markers (isn’t,won’t), & their morphological analyses.

o Interrogatives - 1st stage employs just intonation: high rising tone on an utterance signifies that it is a question. 2nd stage occurs during the child’s 2nd year, when he/she begins to use interrogative words. These words are put at the beginning of the clause. In 3rd stage acquire the auxiliary verbs be, have & do. Learned first for yes-no interrogatives, & later for information interrogatives. o Complex sentence constructions - most of these are coordinate constructions using the conjunction and. - an order of mention strategy is employed whereby the event of the first clause is presumed to occur before the event of the second.

 Conditioned-response learning - a theory of learning associated with the psychological theory of behaviorism, w/c was applied by language acquisition by Skinner (1957). 1. Classical conditioning 2. Operant conditioning – learning techniques that utilizes reinforcement & punishment to either increase/decrease a response.  Imitation – a common means by w/c children learn many things, including aspects of language.  Hypothesis testing – making guesses about how the language works.  Innateness

STRATEGIES FOR LEARNING MEANING OF WORDS • Reference: assume that words refer to things, events & qualities. • Extendibility: assume that words apply to more than just the specific thing, event or quality referred to in the 1st –observed. • Object scope: assume that words denoting objects denote whole object. • Categorical scope: assume that words can be extended to objects in the same basic level category. • Novel name-new category • Conventionality: assume that speakers prefer specific over general lexemes.

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