Approaches To Language Acquisition


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Approaches To Language Acquisition

  2. 2. Nativist and Empiricist Approaches
  3. 3. HOW DOES CHILD LEARN LANGUAGE? Ask this question to an average person and you’ll probably be told ‘by imitating adults.’ On the face of it,that makes a lot of sense. But the imitation explanation won’t take us very far.
  4. 4. • That’s because there are major parts of language that cannot be immitated. • Children aren’t very good at imitating sentences containing unfamiliar words and structures. • And they can sometimes say mouses or hitted even if they don’t hear these words from adults.
  5. 5. In fact, the answer that Chomsky gave in arguing against behaviorist views and that conclude the argument from the poverty of stimulus is that this knowledge is inborn. Children are born expecting that, whichever language they are going to hear, it will have the properties that their genetic equipment is prepared to cope with.
  6. 6. According to this nativist view, acquisition results from the interection between inborn factors and the environment. Our genetic endowment makes it possible to learn any human language. Chomsky explained it with The Principles-and-Parameters Model
  7. 7. Polysynthesis yesno Head Directionality – Optional Polysynthesis Adjective Neutralize first/no first/yes Chichewa Selayarese last/yes Slave Quechua Ergative caseSubject Side verb noun Mohawk Warlpiri beginning end Verb Attraction Tzotzil Malagasy last no yes no Subject Placement Serial Verbs low high Null SubjectWelsh Zapotec English Edo Indonesian Khmer no yes no yes French Spanish Romanian Accusative Topic Prominent Ergative Greenlandic Dyirbal Japanese Choctaw Turkish Malayalam Syntactic and morphological values of the principles and parameters of Universal Grammar.
  8. 8. In that model, principles encode the invariant properties of languages, that is, the universal properties that make languages similar. Parameters encode the properties that vary from one language to another. They can be thought of as swiches that must be turned on or off.
  9. 9. This theory proposes that the child is endowed with a richly articulated set of innate, specifically linguistic principles. Also there is a set of universal principles, some of which have associated wiht parameters. Each parameter expresses the limited range of variations that language exibit with respect to the principle. For example, there is grammatical principles that which specifies that phrases are headed. Thus, VP contains V, NP contains N. Languages vary, however, with respect to the position of the head within its phrase.
  10. 10. Thus, there are head initial languages such as English and head final languages such as Turkish and Japanese. So, child’s task is to determine the position of the head, first or last, within its pharasal projection. This parameter is set for the child’s particular language based on certain triggering data in the input.
  11. 11. On the other hand, empiricist view sees the learner as a blank slate, equipped with general associative learning mechanisms. Empiricist approaches don’t assume any inborn knowledge. Language acquisition is seen as a product of general intellectual development rather than of a seperate language processing capacity.
  12. 12. To Sum Up… Now, think of language acquisition as a door that needs to be unlocked by the child......
  13. 13. For nativist, the lock already comes with a set of keys. For empiricist, the child needs to make the keys with an effort, strongly influenced by the environment and caregivers.
  15. 15. •Since the late 1950s there has been an explosion of research into children’s language acquisition, which has been aimed at finding evidence and counter-evidence for Chomsky’s ideas. For example much of the research into Child Directed Speech and the early social interaction between mothers and babies was a response to Chomsky’s view that the ‘poverty of stimulus’ (the fact that real speech contains numerous hesitations, false starts and grammatical errors) makes it impossible for children to acquire a system as abstract and as complex as human language without some prior inborn knowledge about the way it works.
  16. 16. • However, Snow and others observed a special register used when talking to young children. Called motherese, this type of speech is characterized by slow, careful articulation and the use of basic vocabulary items, short sentences, and somewhat exaggerated intonation.
  17. 17. Some properties of motherese • Pronunciation: – Slower speech with longer pauses between utterances and after content words – Exaggerated intonation and stress – Fewer words per minute • Vocabulary and meaning: – More restricted vocabulary – Three times as much paraphrasing – More reference to the here and now • Sentences: – Fewer broken or run-on sentences – Shorter, less complex utterances (approx. 50% are single words or short statements) – Calling the child by name, often using a 'pet' name or term of endearment – Use of 'baby-talk' words – More commands and questions (approx. 60% of total) – More repetitions
  18. 18. Child directed speech is used not just by mothers, but also by other caregivers, and by older children as well. (See p.4 in the textbook for the example) However in CDS, • The utterances contain a range of syntactic types: imperatives, questions, and declaratives; the child is not presented with neat packages of structures. • They contain many elliptical utterances, e.g., subjectless questions (Want some juice?) and imperatives; the child is not always presented with fully explicit structures.
  19. 19. Does motherese help? Although infants prefer to listen to motherese than normal adult speech, studies show that motherese does not significantly effect the child’s language development. In many cultures adults don’t use a special register with children, and even in some cultures they don’t even talk to babies. But somehow the child acquires the language. The exaggerated intonation and other properties of motherese may be useful for getting the child’s attention and holding it, but it’s not necessary for language development.
  20. 20. Some examples of widely-used baby talk words and phrases in English • baba (blanket or bottle) • beddy-bye (go to bed, sleeping, bedtime) • boo-boo (wound or bruise) • bubby (brother) • dada (dad, daddy) • din-din (dinner) • num nums (food/dinner) • icky (disgusting) • jammies (pajamas) • nana (grandmother) • oopsie (small accident) • potty (toilet) • sissy (sister) • tummy (stomach) • wawa (water) • yum-yum (meal time) • mama (mother) • uppie (wanting to be picked up)
  21. 21. Some examples of baby talk words and phrases in Turkish • çufçuf (train) • Dıgıdık (horse) • Düdüt (car) • Hınhın (car) • Atta (somewhere) • Bum bum (water) • mama (meal) • öcü (monster) • Umacı, gürgür baba (monster) • Kığh (dirty) • nenni (sleeping time)
  22. 22. Snow’s (1995) research into the effects of the input on the language acquisition process highligths an important point.While the early CDS studies looked at the effects of variation in caregiver input within a particular community,more recent studies have shifted the level of interest to the actual language system being acquired: THE LANGUAGE SYSTEM AS A KEY INPUT FACTOR
  23. 23. – All babies start to learn language by the means of speech sounds in their own language. – Babies are born with the innate capacity of learning languages. – Although there are differences in language acquisition development of children, common features are also seen while children acquire their language. – Related to this matter,Mehmet Şahin also says that; – A)Children in all cultures are able to utter sounds of all cultures in their first year.
  24. 24. • B)All children in the world learn to speak between the ages of 2-4.(Şahin 1995) • According to the researches carried on children’s language acquisition process,all children in the world are observed to use similiar grammar rules in the early stages of learning how to speak.(Clifford 1980) • The early words that children utter are generally produced through the repetition of the same syllable. cici,mama,ninni,nine,coco…
  25. 25. • Children are primarily affected by the sound structure of the region they live in. • In Elazığ dialect a child say: Ellerim gohi.(kokuyor) Bahan ver.(Bana ver) Yuhum geli.(Uykum geliyor) • While expressing himself, a child uses his language in a productive manner: • Gözde utters the verb kolasadım (because of the verb susadım in Turkish) while expressing her wish to drink cola. • Again she says köpürcük,kaydedik(instead of yenik or yenilmiş) • Ben bu sıcamışları yemem.(due to the word soğumuş)
  26. 26. • Recep Nas also mentions such similiar uses in children: • A 4 year old child says Elektriği söndür. • In the same way he says Elektriği yandır. • The same child uses hepleri instead of hepsini.(Nas 2003) • Mehmet Şahin also says that irrespective of the language they use,children produce some rules similiar to that of adults.(Şahin 1995) manavcı,bakkalcı,kasapçı (Can 2000) • These productive uses can be seen almost in all languages:
  27. 27. • In English-speaking children we see the uses below: hisself instead of himself (Clifford 1980) I goed there before. I see your feets.(Celia Genishi) Cookies are gooder than bread. Bill taked the toy. • Little children can perceive many things from a single word: • When said baba,he perceives all men and he associates all animals with dog or köpek.
  28. 28. • Children are born with the Universal Grammar wired into their brains. This grammar offers a certain limited number of possibilities - for example, over the word order of a typical sentence. .(according to the parameter model of UG) • Some languages have a basic SVO structure The teacher gave a lecture • 75% of the world's languages use either this (English, French, Vietnamese) or • SOV (Turkish,Japanese, Tibetan, Korean) Öğretmen konferans verdi.
  29. 29. • Others prefer VSO (10 - 15% - Welsh) • or VOS (Malagasy) • Some languages, such as Latin, appear to have free word order, but even here, SOV is very common • OSV is very rare - but you will find an example in the speech of Yoda, in Star Wars. • Strong with the force you are. • When the child begins to listen to his parents, he will unconsciously recognise which kind of a language he is dealing with - and he will set his grammar to the correct one - this is known as 'setting the parameters'
  30. 30.  Ellipsis  In conversation,speakers often use ellipsis,that is,they delete parts of the sentence that could be inferred. Coffe? = Do you want coffe? Ken water= Ken is drinking water. Eve lunch=Eve is eating lunch.  For a Turkish child: mama may mean I need water or I want to eat. Baba attaa means Daddy has gone
  31. 31. • Verb movement rule  verb movement parameters provide the child with an option:my language does/does not allow verb movement.  In English verbs do not move(only auxiliaries do) I want a biscuit. I don’t want a biscuit. Do you want a biscuit?  In Turkish,the stressed part of the sentence is in the left side of the verb. Ayşe kurabiyeleri mi yedi? Kurabiyeleri Ayşe mi yedi? Yedi mi Ayşe kurabiyeleri?
  32. 32.  Dutch  Duch and Italien-speaking children form questions by moving the verb,as their languages allow verb movement. Wordt mama boos? Becomes mama angry? (Is mommy angry?) Weet je n kerk? Know you a church? (Do you know a church?)  Italien Veni teno? = Comes train? (Is the train coming?) Vola cici? = flies bird? (Is the bird flying)  In these cases children have set the parameter at the correct value for their language.  This supports the hypothesis that the parameter is set early in development and cannot be undone.
  33. 33. • All of the studies have revealed a few universally accepted facts about child language acquisition. • Child Language acquisition is a natural consequence of human society. All children exposed to language acquire it naturally without deliberate efforts of teaching or learning.
  34. 34. • The outcome of first language acquisition will be the same regardless of individual differences in intelligence. Two children with quite different intellectual abilities will both acquire a highly complex native language by age six.
  35. 35. • Although the basic ability to acquire language is innate to the child, no specific structural property of language has yet been proven to be innate. Therefore, any infant is equally capable of acquiring any language. Infants born of different racial stocks will acquire the same form of language if raised in the same linguistic environment. There is no such a thing as a Russian language gene or a Swahili language gene. An infant born of Russian parents and adopted into an American family will acquire the same form of English as his stepbrothers and sisters.
  36. 36. As Paul Fletcher and Michael Garman(1986) explain in their book: • “No dominant theoretical framework has emerged to change and unify the approaches to data.” And this still holds true today, although much more potentially fruitful reconceptualizations of the problem have been done.
  37. 37. • Language is seen not only as behavior to be acquired, a structural system where differing components, such as vocabulary, syntax, and discourse skills may involve quite different acquisition mechanism. • The child as a passive learner has been replaced by the child as an active constructer of language.
  38. 38. • Language development is no longer viewed as a process of children simply increasing the quantity of their linguistic knowledge. It is also seen as involving children continuously reorganizing that knowledge into new mental representation that are increasingly more sophisticated, abstract, and flexible.
  39. 39. • Focusing on either the child’s innate and highly specific linguistic knowledge, their general cognitive process or their interaction with their caregivers as the driving forces of language acquisition has shifted to focusing on the interconnection of the child’s co-developing linguistic, cognitive, and the social systems.