CHAPTER 13 B
STAGES OF FIRST LANGUAGE ACQUISITION
Cooing and babbling
Crying: the first stage for some specialists
First: vowel-like sounds-high vowels [i] [u]
Around 4th month: velar consonants [k] [g]
( „cooing‟ / „gooing‟)
Babies differentiate between vowel sounds [i] and [a]
and syllables [ba] [ga]
Cooing and babbling
6th to 8th month: ba-ba-ba; ga-ga-ga (babbling)
9th to 10thmonth: Later babbling; variation of
syllables; intonation patterns
10th to11th month: emotions and emphasis
The pre-language use of sounds
12th to 18th month: single-unit utterances
Speech in single terms and everyday items:
„milk‟, „cookie‟, „cat‟, „cup‟, „mama‟
Holophrastic = a single form that functions as a
phrase or sentence. Example: „Milk!‟ = “Give me
Generally used to name objects
Extension of its use to more complex
18th to 20th month
Child‟s vocabulary: around 50 words
Baby chair, mommy eat, cat play
Communication: after production of
speech child receives feedback. This
24th month: 200 to 300 words
Strings of words in phrases or sentences
Almost complete sentences
Correct word order
Inflections (wants, cats) and prepositions (in, on)
Between 2 and 2 ½ years old: multiple word speech
Variation in word-forms
Physical development: running and jumping
Adult‟s influence in child‟s speech development
Children do not simply imitate adults; they
actively construct words and phrases
based on the rules they pick up intuitively.
Do children learn or acquire language?
Correction/Repetition don‟t work!
Child: Want one other spoon, Daddy.
Father: You mean, you want the other spoon.
Child: Yes, I want one other spoon, please Daddy.
Father: Can you say “the other spoon”?
Father: Say “other.”
Father: “Other spoon.”
Child: Other…spoon. Now give me one other spoon?
Quoted in Braine, 1971
Verb “to Woodstock”
Noah: This is Woodstock.
(bobbing a stuffed Woodstock toy in
Adam: Hey Woodstock, don’t do that.
Adam : I’m going home so you won’t
How First Language Develops
• ~ing form: Cat sitting, mommy
reading book. Normally this is
the first to appear
• Regular plurals with ~s form:
= foots, mans, mouses
•Irregular past forms: went,
•Regular past forms: walked,
walkeded, wented, goed
“I *holded the baby.”
“We *goed to the store.”
“My *foots are big.”
*Holded, wented, goed…
Child: My teacher *holded the baby rabbits and we patted
Mother: Did you say your teacher held the baby rabbits?
Mother: What did you say she did?
Child: She *holded the baby rabbits and we patted them.
Mother: Did you say she held them tightly?
Child: No, she *holded them loosely.
4 year old quoted in Cazden, 1972
Children‟s speech is creative and shows
comprehension, even when the child is unable to
repeat exactly what has been said:
Father: “The owl that eats candy runs fast.”
Child: “Owl eat candy and he run fast.”
Syntax is the arrangement of words and phrases to
create well-formed sentences in a language. (Proper
placement of nouns, verbs, etc.)
Syntax: Acquisition of Questions
1- Add a Wh form/rise intonation:
“Where kitty?” “Why go?”
2- More complex form, still relying on intonation:
“What book name?” “See my doggie?”
3- Inversion of subject/verb:
“Can I have a piece?”
“What did you do?”
“Will you help me?”
Syntax: Acquisition of Negatives
1- No or Not at the beginning of sentences:
no mitten; not teddy bear; no fall; no sit here
2- Don‟t and can‟t appear :
You can’t dance; I don’t want eggs
3- Didn‟t, won‟t Later: isn‟t
I didn’t caught it; She won’t let go; This isn’t ice cream
Overextension: extension of meaning based on similarities of
shape, sound, size, color (also movement and texture)
Child uses the word apple to mean apple, tomato, and ball
Child uses the word cat to mean cat and dog
Steven Pinker: How Children Learn Language
Steven Pinker is a Psychologist
and Linguist at Harvard.