Early language development

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Early language development

  1. 1. Early Language Development<br />Clues to the Structure of <br />the Human Mind<br />
  2. 2. Prelinguistic communication<br />Snow: infants and mothers engage in prelinguistic conversations<br />Mothers interpret the smiles and vocalizations of babies as social<br />culturally different: attributing intentionality to prelinguistic infants<br />Cries and gurgles (when infants are not distressed)<br />Cooing: mostly vowel-like sounds or sequences of sounds<br />Babbling: 5-8 months: syllabic combinations of vowels and consonants<br />allows practice with sounds before use them communicatively<br />Development of pointing<br />12 months point at object, then check adult’s focus of attention<br />18 months  check adult’s focus of attention, then point at object<br />
  3. 3. Prelinguistic gestures<br />Gestures: actions and vocalizations which are produced with deliberate intention to communicate, but which do not take the form of recognizable linguistic units<br />start around 8 months of age <br />Bates et al.: 2 communicative/pragmatic acts (e.g., in pointing)<br />Proto-Declaratives (Assertions): the use of an object as a means of obtaining adult attention<br />Proto-Imperatives (Requests): the use of adults as a means to an object<br />
  4. 4. Phonological development<br />Eimas et al., Jusczyk: infants as young as 4 months old can perceive phonemic distinctions<br />Not only from the native language, but also from other languages<br />Categorical sound perception is innate<br />but after 8 months or so: ability to distinguish nonnative contrasts diminishes<br />Phonological reorganization: phones are organized into the phonemic categories of the native language<br />
  5. 5. Early words<br />Lexical development: the study of the development of vocabulary<br />Semantic development: the study of the development of meaning<br />the two are very much interlinked<br />what is the scope of meaning of early words?<br />how are prelinguistic meanings mapped onto words?<br />
  6. 6. Lexical development<br />Clark: on the assumption that children start building their vocabulary at around 18 months, on average, 8-9 new words a day!<br />Collected in diary studies and checklists that include words that the children are likely to acquire and that are filled out by parents<br />e.g., MacArthur Communicative Development Inventory (MCDI)<br />
  7. 7. What kinds of words are first words?<br />Bates et al., Nelson: nearly 40-65% of child’s first 50 words are common nouns<br />verbs, adjectives, other words each account for less than 10%<br />How about research in non-English languages?<br />Chinese and Korean children have as many or more verbs in their early speech<br />Noun bias vs. verb bias languages<br />
  8. 8. Cross-linguistic studies<br />Tardif (Mandarin Chinese), Gopnik & Choi (Korean), Clancy, Fernald (Japanese)<br />these languages are different than English<br />rich verbal morphology, verb-final, allow noun ellipsis (i.e., dropping) where context is clear<br />Korean& Japanese-speaking mothers used fewer nouns than English-speaking mothers<br />Korean and Japanese children use verbs earlier than English-speaking children but use fewer and less varied nouns<br />
  9. 9. Why a noun bias?<br />Why should nouns be acquired more rapidly than other types of words?<br />The concepts referred to by nouns are clearer, more concrete, and more readily identifiable than the concepts referred to by verbs<br />verbs are conceptually and linguistically more complex<br />Clark: early verbs tend to be general-purpose verbs such do, make, go, and get<br />Child-directed speech has a bigger range of nouns (i.e., object labels) than words for activities, properties, or relations<br />
  10. 10. Noun bias: challenges<br />Bloom, Gopnik: early words also include lots of relational words such as gone, up, there, more, uh-oh, again and social/performative words such as hi, bye<br />cross-linguistic challenges-- e.g., Chinese and Korean<br />
  11. 11. One-word utterances: ¨Holophrases¨<br />one-word utterances are used with communicative intent<br />parents place interpretations on one-word sentences such as up as ¨take me up¨<br />how can we attribute meaning to such brief and unstructured utterances?<br />What are the communicative functions of these utterances? RICH INTERPRETATION<br />researcher looks at nonverbal context to make rich interpretation<br />Daddy<br />when pointing to a picture of daddy ==> NAMING<br />after finding daddy’s tie ==> POSSESSION<br />offering bottle to daddy ==> DATIVE, GOAL<br />one-word utterances express underlying relational notions<br />
  12. 12. Overextensions and Underextensions<br />Unconventional word/meaning mappings<br />Overextension: when a child uses a word in a context or manner that is inconsistent with, but in some way related to the adult meaning of the word<br />term is extended to concepts beyond the adult concept<br />daddy for adult men<br />cat for all four-legged animals<br />bye-bye to greet visitors<br />Underextension: when a child uses a word for only a limited subset of the contexts used by the adult<br />cat for the home pet only<br />truck for the toy truck only<br />
  13. 13. Semantic development: how?<br />The gavagaiproblem: how do children map words onto observations about the world?<br />Infinite number of possibilities<br />how does the learner zero in to the right meaning?<br />has come to be known as the mapping problem<br />Constraints or Principles<br />children entertain working hypotheses about the meanings of new words<br />the meaning of new words involves some process of comparing new to old semantic knowledge<br />
  14. 14. Principles or constraints<br />whole object constraint (Macnamara, Markman): when a new label is introduced, assume that it refers to the whole object rather than its parts<br />novel name-nameless category principle (Golinkoff): new labels are mapped onto previously unnamed concepts<br />principle of contrast (Clark): the principle that no two words have exactly the same meaning<br />principle of mutual exclusivity (Markman): no overlap between words, assuming that an object can only have one name<br />

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