UNIVERSIDAD PEDAGÓGICA EXPERIMENTAL LIBERTADOR INSTITUTO PEDAGÓGICO DE CARACAS DEPARTAMENTO DE IDIOMAS MODERNOS PROGRAMA DE INGLÉS CÁTEDRA DE LINGÜÍSTICAL1 LANGUAGE ACQUISITION April, 2012
Caretaker SpeechUnder normal circumstances, inWestern cultures, the human infant iscertainly helped in his or her languageacquisition by the typical behavior ofthe adults in the home environment.Adults such as mom, dad, granny andgrandpa tend not to address the littlecreature before them as if they areinvolved in normal adult-to-adultconversation.
Caretaker SpeechCaretaker speech is also characterized by simple sentence structures and a lotof repetition. If the child is indeed in the process of working out a sys tem ofputting sounds and words together, then these simplified models produced bythe interacting adult may serve as good clues to the basic structuralorganization involved.Mother: there’s your cup of tea Mother: oh— is that nice?Child: (takes cup) Child: (assents)Mother: you drink it nicely Mother: will Mummy drink her tea?Child: (pretends to drink) Child: (assents) Mother: l’ll drink my tea
LateralizationThe term brain lateralization refers tothe fact that the two halves of thehuman brain are not exactly alike.Each hemisphere has functionalspecializations: some function whoseneural mechanisms are localizedprimarily in one half of the brain.
LateralizationIn humans, the most obvious functionalspecialization is speech and languageabilities. In the mid-1800s, Paul Broca (aFrench neurosurgeon) identified aparticular area of the left hemispherethat plays a primary role in speechproduction. Shortly afterwards, a Germanneurologist, Carl Wernicke,identified another part of the lefthemisphere primarily concerned withlanguage comprehension.
LateralizationEven thought the two hemispheres havedifferent functions they do not workindependently of each other. Theycommunicate back and forth across thecorpus callosum. This is not an equalpartnership however, one hemisphereusually dominates over the other, an effectbest illustrated by the fact that most peopleare only good with either their right or lefthand. In most cases the left hemisphere isbelieved to be the dominate hemisphere
Critical PeriodThe general belief is that during childhood(up until puberty), there is a period whenthe human brain is most ready to receiveand learn a particular language.This period is referred to as the criticalperiod. If a child does not acquire languageduring this period, for any one of anumber of reasons, then he or she willhave great difficulty learning languagelater on.
MothereseMany studies were undertaken to see what the effectsof the way a mother spoke to her baby had on thelanguage learning process. This type of speech wascoined "motherese" and "caregiver" talk.
MothereseMotherese plays an important role in first languageacquisition and that it also has special functions thatare shown to be present in second language Hi baby!!acquisition.Motherese serves three purposes: 1. To aid incommunication 2. To teach language and 3. To socializethe child (Ferguson 1977). The first appears to be themost important for a mother and child because themain motivation is to communicate, to understand, tobe understood and to keep two minds focused on thesame topic (Brown 1977)
Motherese How Adults Support Childrens Language LearningWhen adults are helping infants learn to talk, it is remarkable how much ofthis "help" comes naturally and unconsciously. Take the case of a motherengaged in face-to-face play with a six-month-old child. •The mother gazes into the childs face and raises the pitch of her voice to a high register• . • She makes swooping changes from low to high, from soft to loud. • She exaggerates consonant sounds, and stretches out vowel sounds. • She speaks in sentences with few words and simple syntax. •She leaves pauses in her utterances: she speaks and waits, speaks and waits, as if she were inviting the baby into a conversation and showing him where to slot his utterances.
Baby TalkThe simple language forms used byyoung children, or the modified form ofspeech often used by adults with youngchildren. Also known as motherese.Motherese is the consciously imperfector altered speech used by adults inspeaking to small children ( Merriam-Webster, 2010)
Baby Talk Examples and ObservationsLinguists who have studied the structure of baby talk words have pointed out that thereare some typical sound change rules that relate the baby talk word to its adultequivalent. For instance, reduction of the word to a shorter form is common, as isreduplication of the short form, hence, words such as din din and bye bye. It is notclear, however, how some baby talk words were derived: no simple rule explains howrabbits turned into bunnies.
Baby Talk Reduplication (repetition) in Baby TalkIt may be agreed that reduplication is a "general pattern that all children follow invarying degrees" (Fee & Ingram 1980). Reduplication in linguistics is amorphological process in which the root or stem of a word (or part of it) isrepeated exactly or with a slight change.(British Encyclopedia, 2010)Baby words like doggie or moo-cow do not help a child to learn language moreefficiently. The reduplication of sounds in words like baba and dada, on the otherhand, does enable babies to communicate because the words are easy to say."(Sara Thorne, Mastering Advanced English Language. Palgrave Macmillan, 2008)
Baby Talk Using Baby Talk With the Elderly"Caporael (1981) focused on the use of displaced baby talk to theinstitutionalized elderly. Baby talk is a simplified speech pattern withdistinctive paralinguistic features of high pitch and exaggerated intonationcontour that is usually associated with speech to young children. More than22% of speech to residents in one nursing home was identified as baby talk.Further, even talk from caregivers to the elderly that was not identified asbaby talk was more likely to be judged as directed toward a child than was talkbetween caregivers.
REFERENCESNorquist, R (2012) Definition and examples of baby talk[Document on line]About.English. Available: http://grammar.about.com/od/ab/g/babytalkterm.htm?p=1[Searched: 2012 April]Gazzaniga, M (2011) What is Lateralization? [Document on line] The Psychology CareerCenter . Available: http://www.allpsychologycareers.com/topics/lateralization-right-brain-left-brain.html [Searched: 2012 April]Yule, G (1996). The study of Language. Second Edition. Cambridge University Press . UK.Temple, J. et al (eds) (2011) "Motherese": How Adults Support ChildrensLanguage Learning [Document on line] Pearson Allyn Bacon Prentice Hall. Available:http://www.education.com/print/motherese-support-children-language-learning/[Searched: 2012 April]