Language Acquisition <ul><li>Innate Programming in Children </li></ul><ul><li>Children seem to know: </li></ul><ul><li>how...
Chomsky’s Content Approach <ul><li>Child’s brain naturally  contains a considerable amount  of specific information about ...
Process Approach   <ul><li>Children have inbuilt puzzle-solving equipment which enables them to process the linguistic dat...
Are children wired with knowledge of UG or with Puzzle solving equipment?   Linguistic  knowledge Grammar Puzzle-solving e...
<ul><li>The two approaches are sometimes undistinguishable but there is a crucial difference </li></ul><ul><li>In both app...
Content, intelligent process or linguistic process? The possibilities <ul><li>Evidence for content approach: </li></ul><ul...
<ul><li>Young children often do not pay attention to the syntax, and either answer at random, or utilize a ‘probable world...
Chomsky’s switch-setting theory <ul><li>UG is partly like a switchboard with its switches in neutral position; children kn...
<ul><li>Problems raise by Chomskyean proposal: </li></ul><ul><li>Children leave out numerous other things other than prono...
<ul><li>Furthermore, if a switch had been set, we would expect children to iron out various inconsistencies. They should s...
Conclusions about Content Approach <ul><li>Does not seem to be borne out by evidence </li></ul><ul><li>Children do not app...
Process approach is better than Content? <ul><li>Offers various non-linguistic factors critical for guiding the child forw...
<ul><li>Secondly, if a child uses language creatively and have a firm grip of linguistic structure but dislikes interactin...
<ul><li>I got it </li></ul><ul><li>My disability </li></ul><ul><li>Not never to walk from it </li></ul><ul><li>It shares m...
<ul><li>Statistically there is a link between items produced frequently by parents, and those acquired early by the child ...
A linguistic process? <ul><li>Bootstrapping approach: like computer giving some preliminary commands which then allow to c...
<ul><li>But </li></ul><ul><li>Language does not correlate sufficiently with the world around so children can not persist i...
Properties of Language <ul><li>Language, the most flexible and versatile system of communication, human or non-human </li>...
<ul><li>There are four significant properties that have frequently been singled out for mention: </li></ul><ul><li>Arbitra...
Arbitrariness <ul><li>Directly related to the link between form and meaning, the signal and the message </li></ul><ul><li>...
<ul><li>For Chomsky, human beings are genetically endowed with a knowledge of allegedly arbitrary general principles which...
<ul><li>Pain+ful is not equal to pain  ful </li></ul><ul><li>The unit is a product, a combination of two interdependent el...
Duality <ul><li>The property of having two levels of structure </li></ul><ul><li>The units of the primary level are compos...
Discreteness <ul><li>is opposed to continuity or continuous variation </li></ul><ul><li>Property of secondary elements </l...
Productivity <ul><li>Makes possible the construction and interpretation of new signals </li></ul><ul><li>All language syst...
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Language Acquisition3

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Language Acquisition3

  1. 1. Language Acquisition <ul><li>Innate Programming in Children </li></ul><ul><li>Children seem to know: </li></ul><ul><li>how language look-like; substantial amount of innate knowledge </li></ul><ul><li>language is rule-governed ; a finite number of principles govern the enormous number of utterances </li></ul><ul><li>languages are hierarchically structured ; the knowledge that several words can go in the same structural slot </li></ul><ul><li>language makes use of operations which are structure dependent ; that each slot functions as a unit in a sentence which can be moved around </li></ul>
  2. 2. Chomsky’s Content Approach <ul><li>Child’s brain naturally contains a considerable amount of specific information about language </li></ul><ul><li>Children come to language learning with certain expectations; they know in advance the possible routes which language can take </li></ul><ul><li>Learners are pre-wired with knowledge of universal grammar </li></ul><ul><li>This knowledge is not ready waiting the moment child is born but takes time to mature </li></ul><ul><li>When time is right the innate knowledge requires little exposure to language for the knowledge to emerge </li></ul><ul><li>Pre-wired knowledge is specific to language and is independent of general intelligence </li></ul>
  3. 3. Process Approach <ul><li>Children have inbuilt puzzle-solving equipment which enables them to process the linguistic data they come across </li></ul><ul><li>Instead of possessing advance information, children are born with some sort of process mechanism to analyze the sort of structures that characterize human language </li></ul><ul><li>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 </li></ul>
  4. 4. Are children wired with knowledge of UG or with Puzzle solving equipment? Linguistic knowledge Grammar Puzzle-solving equipment Grammar
  5. 5. <ul><li>The two approaches are sometimes undistinguishable but there is a crucial difference </li></ul><ul><li>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 </li></ul><ul><li>Process Approach comes in two versions; </li></ul><ul><li>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 </li></ul><ul><li>The linguistic version- child’s processing mechanisms are geared specifically for languge </li></ul>
  6. 6. Content, intelligent process or linguistic process? The possibilities <ul><li>Evidence for content approach: </li></ul><ul><li>Children are aware of universal constraints; they never utter a sentence impossible one for human languages </li></ul><ul><li>Do children always obey universal constraints? </li></ul><ul><li>Ex: Which dress has Charlie asked John to buy and some oranges </li></ul><ul><li>Which doll Anna knows who has stolen </li></ul><ul><li>It means we are quite unlikely to find similar sentences in children language </li></ul><ul><li>Various studies suggest that children are not pre-wired with absolute information about language universals from the beginning </li></ul><ul><li>The universal constraints are acquired gradually </li></ul>
  7. 7. <ul><li>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 </li></ul><ul><li>Whereas </li></ul><ul><li>Chomsky insisted on one structurally possible interpretation of the utterances and that any other interpretation would go against universal constraints </li></ul><ul><li>But </li></ul><ul><li>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 </li></ul>
  8. 8. Chomsky’s switch-setting theory <ul><li>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 </li></ul><ul><li>Once they discover this, they flick each switch and the system functions </li></ul><ul><li>Chomsky focuses on children’s omissions for evidence </li></ul><ul><li>Use of incomplete utterances </li></ul><ul><li>The brief type of utterance often alternates with longer ones </li></ul><ul><li>Leaving out the subject pronouns (I, he etc.) and auxiliary verbs (am, is etc.) </li></ul><ul><li>Because: they have temporarily set a switch wrong </li></ul><ul><li>they have wrongly assume that English is a pro-drop language </li></ul><ul><li>Gradually children reach a point in maturation when they notice the presence of such items </li></ul>
  9. 9. <ul><li>Problems raise by Chomskyean proposal: </li></ul><ul><li>Children leave out numerous other things other than pronouns and auxiliaries- a good theory would link all the omissions together </li></ul><ul><li>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 </li></ul><ul><li>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 </li></ul><ul><li>Chomsky’s Head position-Switch </li></ul><ul><li>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. </li></ul><ul><li>But </li></ul><ul><li>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’ </li></ul>
  10. 10. <ul><li>Furthermore, if a switch had been set, we would expect children to iron out various inconsistencies. They should say: </li></ul><ul><li>Ex: ‘Ago two weeks’ instead of ‘Two weeks age’ </li></ul><ul><li>Where the modifier occurs (exceptionally) after the words it modifies. </li></ul><ul><li>But children show no real signs of behaving like this </li></ul><ul><li>Biggest weakness of switch-setting theory: </li></ul><ul><li>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 </li></ul>
  11. 11. Conclusions about Content Approach <ul><li>Does not seem to be borne out by evidence </li></ul><ul><li>Children do not appear to have firm advance expectations about language </li></ul><ul><li>Children do not necessarily steer clear of sentences which are prohibited by language universals </li></ul><ul><li>Children do not acquire chunks of language by flicking a switch </li></ul><ul><li>Chomskyean ‘universals’ may still exist but triggered by simple data, requiring very little effort on child’s part and develop gradually </li></ul>
  12. 12. Process approach is better than Content? <ul><li>Offers various non-linguistic factors critical for guiding the child forward through the thickets of language </li></ul><ul><li>The most important are: </li></ul><ul><li>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 </li></ul><ul><li>General mental development </li></ul><ul><li>Parental speech </li></ul><ul><li>But these factors address only ‘what propels children onwards’ and not ‘why there are certain broad outline similarities in the way children acquire language’ </li></ul><ul><li>Undoubtedly, children talk about everyday needs but it cannot account for similarities in the development of language structure </li></ul><ul><li>No explanation why we find parallel structural developments in different children </li></ul><ul><li>No justification why children proceed to further stages of language development when their own primitive structures have the desired effect </li></ul>
  13. 13. <ul><li>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 </li></ul><ul><li>Cognitive development: commonly held notion that language acquisition is both dependent on it and caused by it </li></ul><ul><li>The development of comparative constructions occurs at a time when a child start recognizing the things </li></ul><ul><li>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 </li></ul><ul><li>In many children general cognitive development is unrelated to their grasp of language structure </li></ul><ul><li>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 </li></ul>
  14. 14. <ul><li>I got it </li></ul><ul><li>My disability </li></ul><ul><li>Not never to walk from it </li></ul><ul><li>It shares my space, breathes the same air </li></ul><ul><li>I can not have the day off </li></ul><ul><li>I lost the Me </li></ul><ul><li>I got under everything </li></ul><ul><li>That was not poems </li></ul><ul><li>( by Kate) </li></ul><ul><li>Language can not only be spared, but even enriched, when other cognitive abilities are impaired </li></ul>
  15. 15. <ul><li>Statistically there is a link between items produced frequently by parents, and those acquired early by the child </li></ul><ul><li>Fine-tuning hypothesis (Cross 1977): parents gradually increase the complexity of their speech as the child becomes ready for each new stage </li></ul><ul><li>Parents subconsciously attune their output to their child’s needs </li></ul><ul><li>Other than children’s innate ability, mothers posses an inner language teaching device </li></ul><ul><li>But </li></ul><ul><li>No doubt, parents attune to their child’s interests but not language structure </li></ul><ul><li>No step by step programming </li></ul><ul><li>Motherese is not a syntax-teaching language children are selective due to their inbuilt filter </li></ul><ul><li>Parental speech is more coherent </li></ul><ul><li>“ language can not really be taught. One can only offer the thread along which language develops on its own (Humboldt, cited in Slobin 1975) </li></ul>
  16. 16. A linguistic process? <ul><li>Bootstrapping approach: like computer giving some preliminary commands which then allow to cope with more detailed programmes </li></ul><ul><li>Linguistic bootstrapping might work as follows </li></ul><ul><li>children learn words which correlate well with actors, actions and objects building these up in various semantic relationships </li></ul><ul><li>Ex: Kitty Drink </li></ul><ul><li>Drink Milk </li></ul><ul><li>Then they switch over to syntax </li></ul><ul><li>They start discovering that there is not necessarily a direct correlation between types of word and the world </li></ul><ul><li>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 </li></ul>
  17. 17. <ul><li>But </li></ul><ul><li>Language does not correlate sufficiently with the world around so children can not persist in using meaning to guide them </li></ul><ul><li>By classifying verbs as actions children can make strange over-generalizations </li></ul><ul><li>Ex: She is noising </li></ul><ul><li>She is busying </li></ul><ul><li>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 </li></ul>
  18. 18. Properties of Language <ul><li>Language, the most flexible and versatile system of communication, human or non-human </li></ul><ul><li>Natural languages are codes and may be compared with other codes in all sort of ways </li></ul><ul><li>The problem to decide what properties of the codes or communication systems in which they operate is significant </li></ul><ul><li>Properties are a way to compare languages and analyze what properties are either insignificant or of less importance </li></ul><ul><li>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 </li></ul>
  19. 19. <ul><li>There are four significant properties that have frequently been singled out for mention: </li></ul><ul><li>Arbitrariness </li></ul><ul><li>Duality </li></ul><ul><li>Discreteness </li></ul><ul><li>Productivity </li></ul>
  20. 20. Arbitrariness <ul><li>Directly related to the link between form and meaning, the signal and the message </li></ul><ul><li>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 </li></ul><ul><li>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 </li></ul><ul><li>Arbitrariness increases the flexibility and versatility of communication system </li></ul><ul><li>The extension of vocabulary is not constrained by matching form and meaning </li></ul><ul><li>A considerable burden upon memory in the language-acquisition process </li></ul><ul><li>Arbitrariness makes the signals more difficult to interpret for one who does not know the system </li></ul><ul><li>In Chomskyean hypothesis that a good deal of principles including operation of the structure-dependency in UG is also arbitrary </li></ul>
  21. 21. <ul><li>For Chomsky, human beings are genetically endowed with a knowledge of allegedly arbitrary general principles which determine the general structure of all languages </li></ul><ul><li>Absolute and Relative Arbitrariness </li></ul><ul><li>the whole system of language is based on the irrational principle of the arbitrariness of sign </li></ul><ul><li>Diverse languages always include elements of both types; radically arbitrary and relatively motivated </li></ul><ul><li>But in proportions that vary greatly and this characteristic help to classify them </li></ul><ul><li>There is no language in which nothing is motivated </li></ul><ul><li>In any case motivation is never absolute </li></ul><ul><li>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 </li></ul>
  22. 22. <ul><li>Pain+ful is not equal to pain ful </li></ul><ul><li>The unit is a product, a combination of two interdependent elements that are simply lumped together </li></ul><ul><li>They acquire value only through their reciprocal action in a higher unit pain ful </li></ul><ul><li>The whole has value only through its parts, and the parts have value by virtue of their place in the whole </li></ul><ul><li>That is why syntagmatic relation of the part to the whole is just as important as the relation of the parts to each other </li></ul><ul><li>Relative motivation implies: </li></ul><ul><li>analysis of a given term, hence a syntagmatic relation </li></ul><ul><li>the summoning of one or more other terms; an associative relation </li></ul>
  23. 23. Duality <ul><li>The property of having two levels of structure </li></ul><ul><li>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 </li></ul><ul><li>The smaller, lower level elements are meaningless whereas larger higher-level units have a distinct identifiable meaning </li></ul><ul><li>All communication systems have such primary units but these units are not necessarily made up of elements </li></ul><ul><li>Advantage: </li></ul><ul><li>a large number of different units can be formed out of a small number of elements </li></ul>
  24. 24. Discreteness <ul><li>is opposed to continuity or continuous variation </li></ul><ul><li>Property of secondary elements </li></ul><ul><li>Not logically dependent upon arbitrariness, it interacts with it to increase the flexibility and efficiency of the system </li></ul><ul><li>Reduces the possibility of misunderstanding in poor conditions of signal-transmission </li></ul><ul><li>In animal communication systems non-discreteness is associated with non-arbitrariness </li></ul>
  25. 25. Productivity <ul><li>Makes possible the construction and interpretation of new signals </li></ul><ul><li>All language systems enable their users to construct and understand indefinitely many utterances that they have never heard or read before </li></ul><ul><li>Language is not learned solely by imitation and memorization </li></ul><ul><li>It manifests through grammatical structures </li></ul><ul><li>Interconnected with other properties in various ways </li></ul>

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