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Language acquisition 1


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  • 1. Language Acquisition Ching-fen Hsu 2013/9/13 Lecture 1
  • 2. Prelinguistic Communication • Unique human capacity • > 2.5m sound system: cooing babbling jargoning recognizable words • > 7m infants become familiar with sound patterns of languages & adept at interacting with people & objects around • Primary intersubjectivity: 3m infants’ ability to match one’s behavior to that of another person and to share experiences in direct face-to-face interaction • Secondary intersubjectivity: 9-12m, ability to share mental states with another person & to understand what they are intending to do, i.e., social referencing (joint attention: sharing knowledge about events & objects; pointing); precursor to language acquisition
  • 3. Pointing and Communication • Pointing: a communicative act intended to create a joint focus of attention • 12m infants wait & see how caregivers react to their pointing • 18m infants wait till caretakers come back into room & know pointing has purpose to communicate with others • 2y children understand repertoire of words & word ordering • 3y start conversation
  • 4. Puzzle of Language Development • Problem of Reference: how do children discover what words mean? How do we learn to pick out its intended referent---object or relation to which it refers? • Infants have to figure out ongoing flow of experience to indicate actual event, object, feeling • Look, there sits a ptitsa (bird, Russian). • An adult can point to the animal in the picture or to many parts of the animal and apply the same kind of declaratory statement: that’s a ____. How do children know what is being referred to? (George Miller, 1991)
  • 5. Problem of Grammar• Comprehensible sentence must be governed by grammar, rules for sequencing words in a sentence & ordering of parts of words for a particular lg • 7m infants: sensitive to word orderings in simple S & extract word patterns • Learn grammatical rules from errors: “My doggy runned away” “Mommy, Johnny camed late” • Children confuse grammatical forms • Problem of central coherence (recursion): embedding of S within each other • Recursion: provides language with great economy and flexibility of expression i.e., the boy who went to the beach saw some fish and got a sunburn (3 propositions)
  • 6. Four Subsystems of Language • Language is a system • Central parts of languages: sounds, words, methods of combining words, communal uses that language serves • Each of parts is connected to the others & social world • Learning language takes time & practice
  • 7. I. Sounds • 1y children begin to vocalize particular sounds & sound sequences that make up words in language of their community • Takes several years for children to master pronunciation of words • Children’s native sound system develops unevenly • Some sounds master late, i.e., /l/ lucky vs. Yucky (substitution) • Children understand phonemes by minimal pairs • Children’s attention to differences bet sounds is not simply a mechanical skill but develops along with growing understanding of meanings of words
  • 8. International Phonetic Alphabet: Consonant
  • 9. International Phonetic Alphabet: Vowel
  • 10. II. Words • Words are more than a set of sounds that communicate • Words are symbols: stand for something beyond themselves • The earliest vocabularies: 13-14m 10 words (production) +300 words (comprehension) 17-18m 50 words • 2y 300 words • Nouns referring to objects make up large proportion of early vocabularies of young children & actions accomplish with things named (hat & sock > sweater & diaper) • Objects that can change or move to capture children’s attention (cars & animals) > large & immobile objects (trees & houses) > adjectives & verbs (2y verbs > nouns) > changes in states & object locations & relational words • NO: communicative function as rejection, protest, denial; one of the earliest & most frequently used words in child’s early vocabulary
  • 11. Overextension vs. Underextension • Underextension: 1.5y children use words in a narrower way than adults do i.e., bottle only for plastic bottle; cat only to family’s cat • Overextension: 2y a single label refers to circumstances that adults use i.e., daddy to all men in a room & kitty to small four-legged animals • Overextension: a term for the error of applying verbal labels too broadly • Underextention: a term used for applying verbal labels in a narrower way than adults do • Children learn words from contexts
  • 12. Levels of Abstraction • Children choose words that are at appropriate level of abstraction with time and experience i.e., Mommy, look at Sally/that girl/ her/that person • 2-4y label basic levels of generality • 4-5y are close to adults with more naming of flowers than adults • Children’s limitation in categorizing does not mean failing in understanding differences bet objects
  • 13. Changing Structure of Children’s Vocabularies • Structure of children’s word meanings changes based on developmental course of children’s use of single words (i.e., dog) • Initially children take ‘dog’ to evoke a range of situations which dog is only one element (dog growls, barks, is petted, runs away, fights); each connects in a specific way as part of an action (graph a) • With experience, words begin to acquire conceptual meanings; not depending on any one context or a real-world context (graph b)
  • 14. Words as Mediators• Humans have a double world: objects & situations can be perceived by senses; indirectly manipulate things which cannot be perceived • 11-12m infants discover sound sequences can recruit adults’ attention & help; making sounds to anticipate/guide/stimulate own & others’ actions & feelings • Language acts as mediator; children make something happen without doing the thing themselves • As children start understand words, children can be influenced by others directly (nonverbal actions) & indirectly (words & culturally organized knowledge that words embody) • Beautiful intellectual power of human
  • 15. III. Sentences • Is single word a sentence? (1) holophrases: children utter single words to represent sentences to communicate; (2) single words + gestures + facial expressions = whole sentences ‘shoe’ = ‘you want daddy to tie your shoelace’ • It’s difficult to say how much of child’s meaning & how much of adult’s interpretation • Two-word combinations mark birth of grammar, i.e., No eat!
  • 16. Increasing Complexity • Children increase complexity, variety of words & grammatical devices 2y: you can’t pick up a big kitty coz a big kitty might bite! • More complex utterances communicate more explicitly • MLU (mean length of utterance): average number of morphemes per utterance • MLU accesses linguistic complexity by counting morphemes but not words • MLU provides index of children’s potential for making meaning in particular utterance Ex1: That big bad boy plays ball. (six words & seven morphemes) Ex2: Boys aren’t playing. (three words & six morphemes)
  • 17. Grammatical Morphemes location number subject & time of the action
  • 18. Figurative Speech • Metaphors = figurative speech 2.5y banana: telephone • Creative process of language; essential tool of human thought • Children have to recognize similarity bet two things & express it in a new way • 2-6y children use metaphors without understanding figurative meaning of adult speech 耳邊風 碰釘子 • Develop through childhood into adulthood
  • 19. IV. The Use of Language• Master language = grammatical rules + word meanings + pragmatic uses • Pragmatics: ability to select words & orderings in contexts • Conversational acts: actions that achieve goals through lg • Protoimperatives: engage another person to achieve desired object, i.e., a child holds up a cup & say ‘more’ • Protodeclaratives: initiate & maintain dialogues with adults, i.e., pointing & giving (toys) • Word sequence accomplish alternative goals (Is the door shut? = please shut the door; you have forgotten to shut the door again) • 2y can understand alternative goals
  • 20. Conversational Conventions • 3-4y children can solicit information (what happened?), action (put the toy down), assert facts & rules (we have a boat), utter warnings (watch out) • Four basic rules in conversation: cooperative principle (1)the maxim of quantity (2)the maxim of quality (3)the maxim of relevance (4)the maxim of clarity • Irony violates rules • Children acquire social knowledge that regulate what is to be said & how to say it
  • 21. Explanations of Language Acquisition • Biological-maturation perspective: nativist approach •Nativism: language acquisition is attributed largely to nature •Children mature language-using capacity naturally with minimum input from E & special training •Environmental-learning approach: attributes language to nurture (language environment & teaching activities) •En-learning does not come from imitation •Imitation cannot explain two basic puzzles (how children learn referents of words & how they master grammar) & En-learning still contains nature (connectionism) •Nativism agrees that E contributes to lg acquisition
  • 22. The Nativist Explanation • Noam Chomsky: children acquire lg quickly effortlessly with no instruction & learning mechanisms • Lg is innate & develops through universal process of maturation • Lg learning is like maturation of child’s body in a predetermined way with appropriate nutrition & E stimulation • Lg = mental organ, special psychological mechanism (children acquire verbal & nonverbal beh by causal observation & imitation of adults & children) • Lg = distinct piece of biological makeup of our brains; distinct from general abilities processing info or intelligent beh
  • 23. The Nature of Language • Surface structure: actual Ss people produced • Deep structure: basic set of rules of lg derives Ss • LAD (language acquisition devise): innate lg-processing capacity that is programmed to recognize universal rules that underlie lgs that a child hear • LAD = lg genetic code; with maturation & interaction with E, LAD enables children increasing complex lg forms to form adult capacity Child: Nobody don’t like me Mother: No, say “nobody likes me” Child: Nobody don’t like me Mother: No, now listen carefully; say “nobody likes me” Child: No! Nobody don’t likes me
  • 24. The Interactionist Explanation • Lg acquisition = social process • Social E incorporates children as members of existing lg-using group • Formats: earliest social structures for lg development; recurrent socially patterned activities in which adult & child do things together i.e., routines surrounding bathing, bedtime, meals, peekaboo  providing structures for communication bet babies & caregivers • Formats: crucial vehicles in passage from communication to lg  Emphasizing cognition  Emphasizing cultural context & social interaction Lg is not simply triggered by children’s exposure to it
  • 25. Emphasizing Cognition • Large word vocabularies => complex grammar • Positive correlation bet grammatical complexity & number of words • Grammar emerges from using many words to convey complex messages • > 400 words grammatical complexity accelerates • >18m children changes word usage (reason hidden objects/ vary actions to reach goals/ social words)
  • 26. Emphasizing Cultural Context & Social Interaction • Children constitute language acquisition support system (LASS) from formatted events in acquisition • LASS: parental behaviors and formatted events for children to acquire language; E complement to innate biological LAD • Language acquisition emerges from different contributing factors, e.g., general cognitive capacities & culturally organized E
  • 27. Essential Ingredients of Language Acquisition
  • 28. Biological Prerequisites for Language • Is language uniquely human? • Humans: powerful language; other species: communication systems • Genetic basis for process of language development • Chimpanzees can learn to comprehend spoken words & phrases; or signs referring to things; but never produce language • Kanzi: using lexical keyboard to communicate; telegraphic utterances to combine symbols
  • 29. Language & Brain Damage • Human brain supports lg development • LH: lg dominance • 19th century: aphasia (speech disorders); genetically programmed brain areas for lg (nativism) • Brain plasticity: infants’ brains (predisposed) Broca’s area: Left frontal lobe (named after 1861 French physician Paul Broca) Wernicke’s area: Left frontal lobe (named after 1861 French physician Wernicke)
  • 30. Language & Cognitive Development • Chromosome deficit: Down syndrome • Restricted vocabularies + simple talk • Failure in understanding complex linguistic constructions • Normal cognitive functioning for lg development • Williams syndrome
  • 31. The Environment of Language Development • Lg-support system in acquisition (e.g., Genie) • Active participation in human activity to learn lg (deaf children delay learning in hearing E) • Deaf children are forced to learn lip-reading but not signs (home-sign system invention) • Home sign starts as pointing • Hearing children one-word stage = home-sign children sign one words • Hearing children multiword sentence = home-sign children sign >3 signs
  • 32. Nicaraguan Sign Language • Children generate signed utterances of greater complexity than gestures • <1970s deaf Nicaraguans were socially isolated & marginalized • 1977 25 deaf children in school to 100 • 1979 >400 adolescents in a vocational school • Little success in lipreading or fingerspelling • Children started using invented home signs & complexity increase • Pidgin creation: combination of simple phrases; no formal grammar; proto-language • Later conventionalized & stylized lg generates with spatial arrangements to make grammatical distinctions
  • 33. Interaction & Fast Mapping • Children quickly acquire words in community without efforts • Color-naming test: chromium color from olives • 1-week or 6-week after children have influence of this test • Children learn lg ≠ from adults’ explicit reward ≠ from imitation • Fast mapping: children quickly form idea of meaning of unfamiliar words in familiar & highly structured social interaction
  • 34. Cognitive Principles for Fast Mapping • (1) whole-object principle: children connect whole objects with new words • (2) mutual-exclusivity principle: children learn one name for one object & exclude known objects & application for new objects • (3) categorizing principle: extend to similar objects e.g., categorization test of three picky puppets on animals (“name”, examples, “grouping” only); only “name” works
  • 35. Social Context Contribution• Social contexts solve puzzle of word reference • Well-timed interaction & joint attention support word-learning for children • Attention A + object B was slower than attention A + object A in new word learning • Social conditions enable rapid acquisition of vocabularies • Explicit rewards for learning lg are unnecessary • Reinforcement = children’s increased success at communicating & enhanced participation with others in valued activities
  • 36. Deliberate Instruction • No firm conclusions about parental feedback work • No effect on children’s lg development by expanding & correcting incorrect sentences • Kaluli (New Guinea) children are taught lg as they are taught other culturally valued forms (“elema” repeat words that their mother say); Samoans; working class mothers in Baltimore, Maryland • Motherese: speech directed to young children with high-pitched voice, boundary-emphasis bet clauses; simplified vocabulary
  • 37. Language Exposure Influences Development • Grading lg (isolated constituents) helps model correct grammatical structure, e.g., “put the red truck in the box now…the red truck…no, the red truck…in the box” • Adults’ reformulations of children’s utterances, e.g., “Mommy wash”, ”Yes, Mommy is washing her face”, “Daddy sleep”, “Yes, Daddy is sleeping. Don’t wake him up”
  • 38. Teaching Implications 卡爾威特資優教育法
  • 39. Questions?