Language Acquisition
Ching-fen Hsu
2013/9/13
Lecture 1
Prelinguistic Communication
• Unique human capacity
• > 2.5m sound system: cooing babbling
jargoning recognizable words...
Pointing and Communication
• Pointing: a communicative
act intended to create a
joint focus of attention
• 12m infants wai...
Puzzle of Language Development
• Problem of Reference: how do children
discover what words mean? How do
we learn to pick o...
Problem of Grammar• Comprehensible sentence must be governed by
grammar, rules for sequencing words in a sentence &
orderi...
Four Subsystems of
Language
• Language is a system
• Central parts of languages:
sounds, words, methods of
combining words...
I. Sounds
• 1y children begin to vocalize particular sounds &
sound sequences that make up words in language of
their comm...
International Phonetic
Alphabet: Consonant
International Phonetic
Alphabet: Vowel
II. Words
• Words are more than a set of
sounds that communicate
• Words are symbols: stand for
something beyond
themselve...
Overextension vs. Underextension
• Underextension: 1.5y
children use words in a
narrower way than
adults do
i.e., bottle o...
Levels of Abstraction
• Children choose words that are at
appropriate level of abstraction with
time and experience
i.e., ...
Changing Structure of
Children’s Vocabularies
• Structure of children’s word
meanings changes based on
developmental cours...
Words as Mediators• Humans have a double world: objects &
situations can be perceived by senses;
indirectly manipulate thi...
III. Sentences
• Is single word a sentence? (1)
holophrases: children utter
single words to represent
sentences to communi...
Increasing Complexity
• Children increase complexity,
variety of words & grammatical
devices
2y: you can’t pick up a big k...
Grammatical Morphemes
location
number
subject & time of the action
Figurative Speech
• Metaphors = figurative speech
2.5y banana: telephone
• Creative process of language; essential tool of...
IV. The Use of Language• Master language = grammatical rules + word
meanings + pragmatic uses
• Pragmatics: ability to sel...
Conversational Conventions
• 3-4y children can solicit information (what happened?),
action (put the toy down), assert fac...
Explanations of Language
Acquisition
• Biological-maturation perspective: nativist approach
•Nativism: language acquisitio...
The Nativist Explanation
• Noam Chomsky: children acquire lg quickly effortlessly
with no instruction & learning mechanism...
The Nature of Language
• Surface structure: actual Ss people produced
• Deep structure: basic set of rules of lg derives S...
The Interactionist Explanation
• Lg acquisition = social process
• Social E incorporates children as
members of existing l...
Emphasizing Cognition
• Large word vocabularies =>
complex grammar
• Positive correlation bet
grammatical complexity &
num...
Emphasizing Cultural Context &
Social Interaction
• Children constitute language acquisition support
system (LASS) from fo...
Essential Ingredients of
Language Acquisition
Biological Prerequisites for
Language
• Is language uniquely human?
• Humans: powerful language; other
species: communicat...
Language & Brain Damage
• Human brain supports lg development
• LH: lg dominance
• 19th century: aphasia (speech disorders...
Language & Cognitive Development
• Chromosome deficit: Down syndrome
• Restricted vocabularies + simple talk
• Failure in ...
The Environment of
Language Development
• Lg-support system in
acquisition (e.g., Genie)
• Active participation in
human a...
Nicaraguan Sign Language
• Children generate signed utterances of greater
complexity than gestures
• <1970s deaf Nicaragua...
Interaction & Fast Mapping
• Children quickly acquire words in community
without efforts
• Color-naming test: chromium col...
Cognitive Principles for
Fast Mapping
• (1) whole-object principle: children connect whole
objects with new words
• (2) mu...
Social Context Contribution• Social contexts solve puzzle of word
reference
• Well-timed interaction & joint attention
sup...
Deliberate Instruction
• No firm conclusions about parental feedback work
• No effect on children’s lg development by
expa...
Language Exposure
Influences Development
• Grading lg (isolated constituents) helps model
correct grammatical structure, e...
Teaching Implications
卡爾威特資優教育法
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Language acquisition 1

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Language acquisition 1

  1. 1. Language Acquisition Ching-fen Hsu 2013/9/13 Lecture 1
  2. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 8. International Phonetic Alphabet: Consonant
  9. 9. International Phonetic Alphabet: Vowel
  10. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 17. Grammatical Morphemes location number subject & time of the action
  18. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 27. Essential Ingredients of Language Acquisition
  28. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 38. Teaching Implications 卡爾威特資優教育法
  39. 39. Questions?

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