Language Acquisition 2
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Language Acquisition 2 Language Acquisition 2 Presentation Transcript

  • Language Acquisition
    • Innate Programming in Children
    • Children seem to know:
    • how language look-like; substantial amount of innate knowledge
    • language is rule-governed ; a finite number of principles govern the enormous number of utterances
    • languages are hierarchically structured ; the knowledge that several words can go in the same structural slot
    • language makes use of operations which are structure dependent ; that each slot functions as a unit in a sentence which can be moved around
  • Chomsky’s Content Approach
    • Child’s brain naturally contains a considerable amount of specific information about language
    • Children come to language learning with certain expectations; they know in advance the possible routes which language can take
    • Learners are pre-wired with knowledge of universal grammar
    • This knowledge is not ready waiting the moment child is born but takes time to mature
    • When time is right the innate knowledge requires little exposure to language for the knowledge to emerge
    • Pre-wired knowledge is specific to language and is independent of general intelligence
  • Process Approach
    • Children have inbuilt puzzle-solving equipment which enables them to process the linguistic data they come across
    • Instead of possessing advance information, children are born with some sort of process mechanism to analyze the sort of structures that characterize human language
    • Not innate knowledge but processing information and forming internal structures; when these capacities are applied to the speech the child hears he succeeds in constructing a grammar of his native language
  • Are children wired with knowledge of UG or with Puzzle solving equipment? Linguistic knowledge Grammar Puzzle-solving equipment Grammar
    • The two approaches are sometimes undistinguishable but there is a crucial difference
    • In both approaches the child may be end up with same set of language universals and they are the result of inbuilt analytic procedures but not there are at the beginning
    • Process Approach comes in two versions;
    • the intelligent version-the child makes use of the cognitive abilities as he would to cope with everything else he comes across in the world
    • The linguistic version- child’s processing mechanisms are geared specifically for languge
  • Content, intelligent process or linguistic process? The possibilities
    • Evidence for content approach:
    • Children are aware of universal constraints; they never utter a sentence impossible one for human languages
    • Do children always obey universal constraints?
    • Ex: Which dress has Charlie asked John to buy and some oranges
    • Which doll Anna knows who has stolen
    • It means we are quite unlikely to find similar sentences in children language
    • Various studies suggest that children are not pre-wired with absolute information about language universals from the beginning
    • The universal constraints are acquired gradually
    • Young children often do not pay attention to the syntax, and either answer at random, or utilize a ‘probable world strategy’ that is interpret sentences by arranging the words to give the most plausible meaning
    • Whereas
    • Chomsky insisted on one structurally possible interpretation of the utterances and that any other interpretation would go against universal constraints
    • But
    • The most plausible conclusion is that children do not have any firm, fixed beliefs about language as they acquire it; they do not seem to know what they look for, or what to avoid- though some of this knowledge clearly develops over the course of time
  • Chomsky’s switch-setting theory
    • UG is partly like a switchboard with its switches in neutral position; children know in advance about the possible routes but they have to find out which particular option has been selected by the language they are learning
    • Once they discover this, they flick each switch and the system functions
    • Chomsky focuses on children’s omissions for evidence
    • Use of incomplete utterances
    • The brief type of utterance often alternates with longer ones
    • Leaving out the subject pronouns (I, he etc.) and auxiliary verbs (am, is etc.)
    • Because: they have temporarily set a switch wrong
    • they have wrongly assume that English is a pro-drop language
    • Gradually children reach a point in maturation when they notice the presence of such items
    • Problems raise by Chomskyean proposal:
    • Children leave out numerous other things other than pronouns and auxiliaries- a good theory would link all the omissions together
    • Setting or re-setting a switch should have ‘proliferating consequences’ according to Chomsky such as in the case of re-switching of the pronouns and auxiliaries- but, in fact, the auxiliaries creep in one by one over several months
    • Moreover, there are several possible explanations for children’s early omissions: leaving out unstressed items, at early stage they cope with only full ‘lexical’ items not with little grammatical items
    • Chomsky’s Head position-Switch
    • Children might know in advance that language structures have a head (key word), and that languages tend to put the modifiers (words relating to the head) constantly either before or after it.
    • But
    • Children are consistent in their treatment of heads and modifiers may be because they are sensitive to the order of the words they hear so there is no need to assume that a child has a ‘set parameter’
    • Furthermore, if a switch had been set, we would expect children to iron out various inconsistencies. They should say:
    • Ex: ‘Ago two weeks’ instead of ‘Two weeks age’
    • Where the modifier occurs (exceptionally) after the words it modifies.
    • But children show no real signs of behaving like this
    • Biggest weakness of switch-setting theory:
    • No one can agree how many switches there are or how exactly they are set for language acquisition is just too messy a process to be explained by the flick of a switch
  • Conclusions about Content Approach
    • Does not seem to be borne out by evidence
    • Children do not appear to have firm advance expectations about language
    • Children do not necessarily steer clear of sentences which are prohibited by language universals
    • Children do not acquire chunks of language by flicking a switch
    • Chomskyean ‘universals’ may still exist but triggered by simple data, requiring very little effort on child’s part and develop gradually
  • Process approach is better than Content?
    • Offers various non-linguistic factors critical for guiding the child forward through the thickets of language
    • The most important are:
    • Children’s needs ; at two-word stage children all over the world seem to talk about similar things, concerned primarily with the external world- both with finding out about it and with getting what they want
    • General mental development
    • Parental speech
    • But these factors address only ‘what propels children onwards’ and not ‘why there are certain broad outline similarities in the way children acquire language’
    • Undoubtedly, children talk about everyday needs but it cannot account for similarities in the development of language structure
    • No explanation why we find parallel structural developments in different children
    • No justification why children proceed to further stages of language development when their own primitive structures have the desired effect
    • Secondly, if a child uses language creatively and have a firm grip of linguistic structure but dislikes interacting with others so much that never speaks to his parents directly, he provides evidence against the view that children are social beings who cater for their needs through communication
    • Cognitive development: commonly held notion that language acquisition is both dependent on it and caused by it
    • The development of comparative constructions occurs at a time when a child start recognizing the things
    • But, the simultaneous development of different abilities does not prove that one is dependent on the other for in a normal child many aspects of growth take place at around the same time
    • In many children general cognitive development is unrelated to their grasp of language structure
    • Man studies suggest that cognitive development can not provide the definite key to acquisition of language structure- even though it is clearly important for meaningful communication
    • I got it
    • My disability
    • Not never to walk from it
    • It shares my space, breathes the same air
    • I can not have the day off
    • I lost the Me
    • I got under everything
    • That was not poems
    • ( by Kate)
    • Language can not only be spared, but even enriched, when other cognitive abilities are impaired
    • Statistically there is a link between items produced frequently by parents, and those acquired early by the child
    • Fine-tuning hypothesis (Cross 1977): parents gradually increase the complexity of their speech as the child becomes ready for each new stage
    • Parents subconsciously attune their output to their child’s needs
    • Other than children’s innate ability, mothers posses an inner language teaching device
    • But
    • No doubt, parents attune to their child’s interests but not language structure
    • No step by step programming
    • Motherese is not a syntax-teaching language children are selective due to their inbuilt filter
    • Parental speech is more coherent
    • “ language can not really be taught. One can only offer the thread along which language develops on its own (Humboldt, cited in Slobin 1975)
  • A linguistic process?
    • Bootstrapping approach: like computer giving some preliminary commands which then allow to cope with more detailed programmes
    • Linguistic bootstrapping might work as follows
    • children learn words which correlate well with actors, actions and objects building these up in various semantic relationships
    • Ex: Kitty Drink
    • Drink Milk
    • Then they switch over to syntax
    • They start discovering that there is not necessarily a direct correlation between types of word and the world
    • Some have a naming-insight which triggers a surge forward in vocabulary and some may acquire a syntactic-insight which triggers an innate processing device
    • But
    • Language does not correlate sufficiently with the world around so children can not persist in using meaning to guide them
    • By classifying verbs as actions children can make strange over-generalizations
    • Ex: She is noising
    • She is busying
    • Children can fail to recognize words such as love, hate, got as verbs for they do not involve an action, but they do not seem to have such problem
  • Properties of Language
    • Language, the most flexible and versatile system of communication, human or non-human
    • Natural languages are codes and may be compared with other codes in all sort of ways
    • The problem to decide what properties of the codes or communication systems in which they operate is significant
    • Properties are a way to compare languages and analyze what properties are either insignificant or of less importance
    • It is important to compares codes in terms of the degree to which a certain property is present than in terms simply of whether the property is present or not
  • Looking Backward
    • Noam Chomsky's linguistic research in the late 1950s and 1960s was one of the first to use the work in formal theories of computation to illuminate some of the properties of the human mind
    • The emphasis was on the learning of 'verbal materials' - nonsense syllables, randomly constructed lists of words, and the like
    • From the behaviorist point of view, to the extent that a theory might be required; the ideal theory was one that predicted 'observed behavior‘
    • Chomsky argued that the number of sentences in any natural language is, in principle, infinite
    • In 1956 article (Chomsky, N. Three models for the description of language. IRE Transactions on Information Theory , 1956, IT-2 (3), 113-124.) defined a new game
    • In this game, a theory is not asked to predict specific behaviors in a specific context. Rather the theory is asked to 'generate all syntactically correct strings of words (and only) the syntactically correct strings of words of some language
    • ' That is, the theory should capture the essential properties of all language behavior.
    • This eventually led psychologists to shift there attention from the memorization of linguistically related materials to questions about the kind of capacities that the human mind must possess in order to use language
    • The properties of natural language became more important than some specific linguistic utterance
  •  
    • There are four significant properties that have frequently been singled out for mention:
    • Arbitrariness
    • Duality
    • Discreteness
    • Productivity
    • However, in a broader sense, language universals, grammar, cultural transmission, and displacement also stand for the common properties of language
  • Arbitrariness
    • Another property of language is that the symbols used are arbitrary . Any concept or grammatical rule can be mapped onto a symbol
    • Directly related to the link between form and meaning, the signal and the message
    • By arbitrariness Saussure (200) means that there is no internal connexion between the signifier and the signified
    • It implies simply that the signifier is unmotivated: that is to say arbitrary in relation to its signified, with which it has no natural connexion in reality
    • For Ex Compare the animal pictured to either the word "cat” or to its
    • pronunciation kæt
    • There are sporadic instances in all languages of what is traditionally referred to as onomatopoeia- the non arbitrary connection between the meaning and the form
    • Most languages make use of sound, but the combinations of sounds used do not have any inherent meaning - they are merely an agreed-upon convention to represent a certain thing by users of that language.
    • For instance
    • there is nothing about the Spanish word nada itself that forces Spanish speakers to use it to mean "nothing". Another set of sounds - for example, English nothing - could equally be used to represent the same concept. Nevertheless, all Spanish speakers have memorized that meaning for that sound pattern. But for Croatian , Serbian/Kosovan or Bosnian speakers, nada means "hope“
    • For Saussure, the traditional use of the word symbol to designate the linguistic sign is awkward, for it is characteristic of symbols that they are never entirely arbitrary. They show at least a vestige of natural connection between the signifier and its signified. For instance, the scale could hardly be replaced by a chariot.
    • Most languages make use of sound, but the combinations of sounds used do not have any inherent meaning - they are merely an agreed-upon convention to represent a certain thing by users of that language.
    • For instance
    • there is nothing about the Spanish word nada itself that forces Spanish speakers to use it to mean "nothing". Another set of sounds - for example, English nothing - could equally be used to represent the same concept. Nevertheless, all Spanish speakers have memorized that meaning for that sound pattern. But for Croatian , Serbian/Kosovan or Bosnian speakers, nada means "hope“
    • though in principle the symbols are arbitrary, this does not mean that a language cannot have symbols that are iconic of what they stand for. Words such as "meow" sound similar to what they represent like Onomatopoeic words
    • but they do not necessarily have to do so in order to be understood
    • Many languages use different onomatopoeias as the agreed convention to represent the sounds a cat makes.
    • But vast majority of words are non-onomatopoeic: the connection between their form and meaning is arbitrary; given the form it is impossible to predict the meaning, and given the meaning its impossible to predict the form
    • but they do not necessarily have to do so in order to be understood. Many languages use different onomatopoeias as the agreed convention to represent the sounds a cat makes. Arbitrariness increases the flexibility and versatility of communication system
    • The extension of vocabulary is not constrained by matching form and meaning
    • A considerable burden upon memory in the language-acquisition process
    • Arbitrariness makes the signals more difficult to interpret for one who does not know the system
    • In Chomskyean hypothesis that a good deal of principles including operation of the structure-dependency in UG is also arbitrary
    • For Chomsky, human beings are genetically endowed with a knowledge of allegedly arbitrary general principles which determine the general structure of all languages
    • Absolute and Relative Arbitrariness
    • The fundamental principle of the arbitrary nature of the linguistic sign does not prevent us from distinguishing in any language between what is intrinsically arbitrary---that is, unmotivated---and what is only relatively arbitrary. Not all signs are absolutely arbitrary. In some cases, there are factors which allow us to recognize different degrees of arbitrariness, although never to discard the notion entirely. The sign may be motivated to a certain extent.
    • the whole system of language is based on the irrational principle of the arbitrariness of sign
    • Diverse languages always include elements of both types; radically arbitrary and relatively motivated
    • But in proportions that vary greatly and this characteristic help to classify them
    • There is no language in which nothing is motivated
    • In any case motivation is never absolute
    • Compound words and derivational forms are not absolutely arbitrary. They are relatively arbitrary
    • There is a certain connection between their sounds and meanings. With a particular language, signs may be partially
    • motivated in a different way. For example (Saussure, 2001: 130), nineteen is not absolutely arbitrary, but relatively arbitrary
    • For Saussure, the process of combining nine and teen, to create new motivated signs is fundamentally similar to the way in which we combine words to form phrases.
    • The meaning of the new phrase is related to the combined meanings of individual words.
    • all languages have as their basic elements arbitrary signs first, and then they have various processes for combining these signs. In spite of the various processes of combining new signs, the essential nature of language and its elementary constituents are never altered
    • Arbitrariness is absolute, and motivation is relative
    • There are two reasons for the claim:
    • One is that the elements of a motivated sign themselves are arbitrary
    • The other reason is that the value of the term as a whole is never equal to the sum of the values of its parts
    • For Saussure (ibid), “relative motivation implies:
    • (i) the analysis of the term in question, and hence a syntagmatic relation
    • (ii) appeal to one or more other terms, and hence an associative relation”,
    • Languages always exhibit features of both kinds---intrinsically arbitrary and relatively motivated--- but in varying proportions.
    • Not only are the elements of a motivated sign themselves unmotivated, but the value of the whole term is never equal to the sum of the value of parts
    • Pain+ful is not equal to pain ful
    • The unit is a product, a combination of two interdependent elements that are simply lumped together
    • They acquire value only through their reciprocal action in a higher unit pain ful
    • The whole has value only through its parts, and the parts have value by virtue of their place in the whole
    • That is why syntagmatic relation of the part to the whole is just as important as the relation of the parts to each other
    • Relative motivation implies:
    • analysis of a given term, hence a syntagmatic relation
    • the summoning of one or more other terms; an associative relation
    • Absolute arbitrariness and relative arbitrariness are an important characteristic of all languages
    • According to which, two types of language can be classified in the world (ibid: 131-132). One is lexico-logical languages, in which, absence of motivation reaches a maximum. Chinese is claimed by him to be the typical lexico-logical language
    • The other is grammatical languages, in which, absence of motivation falls into a minimum
    • Proto-Indo-European and Sanskrit are prototypical examples for him.
  • Duality
    • The property of having two levels of structure
    • Distinct sounds – consonant and vowel
    • Organized in multiple ways to produce infinite meaning combinations
    • Never one sound = one meaning throughout a language
    • The units of the primary level are composed of elements of the secondary level and each of the two levels has its own principles of organization
    • The smaller, lower level elements are meaningless whereas larger higher-level units have a distinct identifiable meaning
    • All communication systems have such primary units but these units are not necessarily made up of elements
    • Advantage:
    • a large number of different units can be formed out of a small number of elements
  • Discreteness
    • is opposed to continuity or continuous variation
    • Property of secondary elements
    • Sounds used to produce language are distinct from one another (in our minds)
    • Contrast voiced bilabial b with voiceless bilabial p
    • Not logically dependent upon arbitrariness, it interacts with it to increase the flexibility and efficiency of the system
    • Reduces the possibility of misunderstanding in poor conditions of signal-transmission
    • In animal communication systems non-discreteness is associated with non-arbitrariness
  • Productivity
    • Makes possible the construction and interpretation of new signals and allows speakers to use linguistic signs in new combinations to generate wholly new thoughts.
    • Allows to say that which has never been said, as in “I want to marry you even though you’re a giraffe,” and be understood.
    • All language systems enable their users to construct and understand indefinitely many utterances that they have never heard or read before
    • Language is not learned solely by imitation and memorization
    • It manifests through grammatical structures
    • Interconnected with other properties in various ways
  • Language Universals
    • A linguistic universal is a statement that is true for all natural languages
    • For example, All languages have nouns and verbs , or All spoken languages have consonants and vowels
    • Research in this area of linguistics is closely tied to linguistic typology , and intends to reveal information about how the human brain processes language
    • The field was largely pioneered by the linguist Joseph Greenberg , who from a set of some thirty languages derived a set of basic universals, mostly dealing with syntax
    • Linguistic universals in syntax are sometimes held up as evidence for universal grammar though epistemological arguments are more common
    • linguistic universals tend to be properties of language which aid communication
  • Language Universals
    • absolute implicational
    • Absolute universals apply to every known language and are quite few in number; an example would be All languages have pronouns
    • An implicational universal applies to languages which have a particular feature that is always accompanied by another feature, such as If a language has trial grammatical number , it also has dual grammatical number , while non-implicational universals just state the existence (or non-existence) of one particular feature
    • Also in contrast to absolute universals are tendencies , statements that may not be true for all languages, but nevertheless are far too common to be the result of chance
    • They also have implicational and non-implicational forms
    • EX: The vast majority of languages have nasal consonants
    • However, most tendencies, like their universal counterparts, are implicational
    • For example, With overwhelmingly greater than chance frequency, languages with normal SOV order are postpositional
    • Strictly speaking, a tendency is not a kind of universal, but exceptions to most statements called universals can be found
    • For example, Latin is an SOV language with prepositions . Often it turns out that these exceptional languages are undergoing a shift from one type of language to another. In the case of Latin, its descendant Romance languages switched to SVO , which is a much more common order among prepositional languages
  • Language Universals
    • Unidirectional bidirectional
    • In a bidirectional universal two features each imply the existence of each other
    • For example, languages with postpositions usually have SOV order, and likewise SOV languages usually have postpositions
    • The implication works both ways, and thus the universal is bidirectional
    • In a unidirectional universal the implication only works one way
    • Languages which place relative clauses before the noun they modify again usually have SOV order, so prenominal relative clauses imply SOV
    • On the other hand, worldwide SOV languages show little preference for prenominal relative clauses, and thus SOV implies little about the order of relative clauses
    • As the implication only works one way, the proposed universal is a unidirectional one
  • Grammatical Backbone
    • All languages must define the structural relationships between these symbols in a system of grammar
    • The grammar of language is simply the way it combines smaller elements into larger elements
    • Rules of grammar are what distinguish language from other forms of communication
    • They allow a finite set of symbols to be manipulated to create a potentially infinite number of grammatical utterances
    • Grammar is a complex and highly structured affair, and operates in terms of concepts and categories, which themselves have to be defined in the same way
    • The technical terms are essential only for stating the rules of grammar
    • The grammar of any language is articulated in terms of a sizeable number of classes of items and forms; the categories of grammar
  • Cultural Dependence and transmission
    • Language is learned (in a certain age window) because we have an innate predisposition (not an instinct) to learn it
    • When language is used in the contexts of communication, it is bound up with culture in multiple and complex ways
    • The words people utter refer to common experience; the stock of knowledge about the world other people share
    • Words also reflect their author’s attitudes and beliefs, their point of view, that are also those of others
    • But
    • experiences are also created through language, by giving meaning to it through the medium they choose to communicate that is understandable to the group they belong to
    • Through all its verbal and non-verbal aspects, language embodies cultural identity
    • Language as a system of signs is seen as having a cultural value
    • Speakers identify their language as a symbol of their social identity
    • The word culture evokes the traditional nature vs. nurture debate
    • Are human beings mainly what nature determines them to be from birth or what culture enables them to become through socialization process?
    • Essential Oils – are wrung –
    • The Attar from the Rose
    • Be not Expressed by Suns – alone –
    • It is the gift of Screws –
    • The General Rose – Decay –
    • But this – in Lady’s Drawer
    • Make Summer – When the Lady lie
    • In Ceaseless Rosemary -
    • Culture is not bound by biological time
    • Culture refers to what has been grown and groomed
    • Through a sophisticated technological procedure, developed especially to extract the essence of existent species, culture forces nature to reveal its ‘essential’ potentialities
    • The technology of the word, printed syntax and vocabulary is analyzed, among the many potential meanings that a word or utterance might have, only those that best express its innermost truth and serve best for the purpose
    • The biological existence is not permanent but through the process of language the essence becomes immortal and brings both back the people and culture to life in the imagination of its readers and speakers; the cultural transmission
    • The word and the technology of the word have immortalized nature
    • The nature and culture both need each other
    • The use of written language is also shaped and socialized through language
    • Language Registers and text genres are also sanctioned by cultural conventions, and these ways with language, or norms of interaction and interpretation, form part of the invisible ritual imposed by culture on language users
    • This is culture’s way of bringing order and predictability into people’s use of language
  • So The Relationship Between Language And Culture Illuminate Several Key Points
    • 1- culture is always the result of human intervention in the biological process of nature
    • 2- culture both liberates and constrains
    • 3- Culture is the product of socially and historically situated discourse communities, that are to a large extent imagined communities, created and shaped by language
    • 4- A community’s language and its material achievements represent a social patrimony and a symbolic capital that serve to perpetuate relationships of power and domination; they distinguish insiders from outsiders
    • 5- Cultures are fundamentally heterogeneous and changing and a constant site of struggle fro recognition and legitimation
    • 6- Cultural encodings can also change over time in the same language
    • 7- Linguistic Relativism and Semantic Cohesion
    • 8- Linguistic signs do not signify in social vacuum
    • 9- Sign-making and sign-interpreting practices are the result of socio-cultural motivation
    • 10- Linguistic signs can be emptied of the fullness of their meaning and used as symbolic shorthand in the context of situation or culture
  • Minor traits of Human Language 
    • Uses voice-auditory channel (for most speakers)
    • Reciprocity – speakers can both produce and receive language
    • Specialization – language symbols not used for much else than language
    • Rapid fade – must be nearby to hear
    • Non-directionality – cannot easily direct speech to one listener only