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Production and comprehension 2.4. Language and the brain 2.5. Language disorders 2.6. Language, thought and culture 2.1. How children learn language http://www.helium.com/items/291719-why-childhood-is-a-critical-period-forlanguage-learning http://www.helium.com/items/1772588-why-childhood-is-a-critical-period-forlanguage-learning By the age of 4 years old we all learn the basis of our language. Even though we don’t know some elaborate syntactic structure at that age, the language proficiency of the 4-5 year-old is often the envy of the adult second-language learner, who has been struggling for years to master the language. It’s one of the fundamental tasks of psycholinguistics to explain how children learn language. Nevertheless, children’s L1 acquisition is a complex task, which is studied by developmental psycholinguistics studies how children acquire their First language (a sub-field of psycholinguistics), and we can’t say that this new science has responses to all the questions. Some of the questions, which are difficult to respond, are, for example: when does a child start to communicate; does a crying/ cooing/ gurgling baby have a communicative intent, etc. Infants everywhere seem to make the same variety of sounds (even the children who are born deaf), thus children’s ability and propensity to utter these sounds appears to be unlearned. It’s questionable, though, whether sounds children utter could be considered communicatively meaningful and intentional, i.e. they produce the sounds in order to communicate. Crying, at least in the first few months, is a kind of language without speech, because the child communicates different types of disconformities. Cooing emerges at about two months, the child make soft gurgling sounds, seemingly to express satisfaction. When we observe children’s sound production, we notice that infants master first the simple sounds and after that the more complicated ones. Around the seventh month, children ordinary begin to babble (repeated syllables). Some researchers claim that infants from different language communities babble somewhat distinctively, using some of the intonation of the language they have been exposed to. The deaf infants do not progress to babbling, even though they are able to vocalize and cry. From the advanced
in linguistic theory called ‘Universal Grammar’. i. so basically we could say that first words have been reported for children from 4 months old till 18 months old (i.e.16).e.e. on the form. in Scovel. Noam Chomsky. in the Chapter 4. Mainly sociolinguists have attacked Chomsky’s theories. i. (we prefer to use the term ‘utterance’ rather than ‘sentence’ to avoid problems when we decide if what the child says is really a sentence and if it’s grammatical).stage of babbling. children move to uttering their first words. believed that each child has an innate capacity to master grammar. in the sense that particular babbling sounds are not under central cognitive control. (It involves syntactic and grammatical correct expressions) Children around 2 years of age begin to produce two-and three-word utterances.2. The acquisition of a grammar Somewhere between the holophrastic and the telegraphic speech stages. When the child becomes motivated to produce meaningful speech( this occurs after the child has learned to understand some words other people say). This stage is often referred as In the‘holophrastic’ stage (where ‘holo’ indicates whole. when the variety of purposes and the complexity of semantic relations are being disclosed.). It usually occurs at around one year of age but it could be also sooner or a little bit later. One of the most influential linguists.e. Naming of objects and persons is one of the first uses to which children put words. It focuses on syntax. the birth of grammar appears. they are short and mainly composed of content words). Children then proceed gradually to two. 2000. 2. . This stage of language development of speech is called ‘telegraphic’. Children can be remarkably inventive in the use of singleword holophrases and it’s not easy to interpret what a child is intending to convey by the single word. The most noticeable feature of the telegraphic speech is the variety of purposes and the complexity of semantic relations they exhibit. He was convinced that there is something like a mental grammar. the average for the first words around 10 months of age).At that time they become aware that adding more words will improve communication. While babbling is nonintentional. the case of meaningful speech is quite different. in places where a mature speaker would use the whole sentence. the meaning. Noam Chomsky proposes the “universal grammar theory” which states that each child has an innate capacity to master grammar and only humans have that capacity. It’s sometimes difficult to tell when children start to tell their first words because the mere production of the word may not indicate its knowledge. i. not on semantics. (It’s called like that because children’s utterances at that stage remind a telegram message.and then three-word utterances (we prefer to use the term ‘utterance’ rather than ‘sentence’ to avoid problems when we decide if what the child says is really a sentence and if it’s grammatical). and ‘phras’ indicates phrase or sentence). the birth of grammar appears. It was in the 1960s when the child language acquisition research begun.2. Chomsky argued that only humans have that capacity. (Note: details on Chomsky’s theory and arguments against it will be discussed further on. In the‘holophrastic’ stage the children use single words to express complex thoughts. p. (See the experiment with the chimp. then he begins to find the way how to produce desired sounds.
children are still in the process of learning the more complex aspects of their language. the front /i/ in feet. then modals. /p/. 2001. and the copulas ‘be’. questions. Between the ages 5 to 10. for children learning English. and /b/. p. for example. On the other hand. Children’s utterances also show that they have some notion of the word order (this would be an argument for Universal Grammar). like. articles follow. but the mechanisms.but they start to produce it even later. It’s relatively easy to document the child’s development of speech production. children produce first the back vowels. i.13-27. Other investigations (Mehler. like /a/ in watch because these vowels are easier to create than those sounds which require more motor control to create. for example. As far as the order of production of speech sounds. This order of acquisition is documented. and adjectives appear very frequently.3. They still acquire these complex rules in their first five years. People can be also born with some abnormality that prohibits them from articulating speech. those that are pronounced with the mouth and lips. next. cooing. gurgling. nevertheless. a large portion of responses to those investigations (fetus language development) remains unanswered and unknown. passives. and it was documented. It’s also interesting that speech comprehension can also occur without speech production (many hearing persons are born mute). (See Steinberg. When.pp. prepositions. he/she stars to add function words and inflections (like plural or 3rd pers. The researchers were monitoring the reaction of fetus to mother’s speech sound. such as /m/.If we focus on some common grammatical features of children’s utterances. verbs. Production and comprehension Child’s development of speech production starts from the first sounds. does the understanding of speech begin and how does it relate to production? Some researchers document that the language development starts even before the child is born. As far as the consonants. it’s rather difficult to document the child’s development of speech comprehension. by Roger Brown (1973). and tenses (such as the –ed marker the past tense form. a child first produces the sounds that are visibly articulated. by many researchers. crying. nouns.28) state infants’ preference for their native language. approximately. inflections (=plural /s/ and/z/. the child learns first the prepositions (because they are easier to observe and more meaningful for a child than the rest of the function words).e. relative clauses. Children begin to use more complex forms such as passive much later in their language development. for example. the child learning English tends to say ‘my cup’ rather than ‘cup my’.and three-word utterances. as we have already seen. 2. perhaps because the adults don’t use it frequently either -children can’t comprehend the passive form before the age of 4. Nevertheless. in Steinberg 2001. Once when the child acquires two-and three-word utterances. yet they’re able . –s) to their utterances. which govern the predetermined order. babbling of syllables to first words: one-word utterances and two. For example. are not fully known. we notice that there’s a low frequency of function words such as articles.) In later speech stages children acquire the rules for negative formation. auxiliaries. and other complex structures. From the function words.
(Examples taken form De Both. p. comprehension develops in advance of speech production. Can I become a beefsteak. we consider the factor of self-correction and also the frequency.31). this theory just helps to explain how speech is initiated. p. not with the original software” (p. from German bekommen) I think Senhor is constipated (rather than caught a cold from Portuguese constipado). Normally. pointing and gestures). An error is defined by Brown as “a noticeable deviation form the adult grammar of a native speaker. Lowie and Verspoor. they are the troubles you have with your linguistic printer. Referring to the second stage of speech production. 2000. ( Rather than get . The study of linguistic deviations. Scovel draws an analogy with computes when he says: “mistakes are production problems. Self-monitoring stage occurs after the production stage. Sometimes it’s not easy to distinguish a mistake from an error. The model of speech production developed by Levelt (in Scovel. in majority of the cases. i. If the deviation from the rule is systematic. often with a humorous twist to the meaning which was intended. like spoonerism. errors are committed only by nonnative speakers (according to Corder. (2) formulation. 35) from transfer from the L1. and (4) self-monitoring. Speech is first conceptualized in the human mind and Levelt´s theory refers to two forms of thinking:syntactic (it is when we think on the sequence of words we are going to produce) and imagistic( it is when we create a visual mode of communication. 2000.27) distinguishes 4 stages: (1) conceptualization. Ex. many studies were carried out in order to discover the way how we “put our words into our mouth’ (Scovel.” (Brown.46). as Corder suggests (in De Bot. p. reflect the competence of the learner. Comprehension is described in more detail in Scovel (2000. was also used for various psycholinguistic interpretations. Those errors could result. there is any hard evidence to support it. 217). Priming: It is when an earlier stimulus influences response to a later stimulus. (3) articulation. it deals with the problem of classification of mistakes and errors (in L1 and L2). Spoonerisms are slips of tongue in which an actual word or phrase is created. In normal children speech. than it is an error. Psycholinguists have also examined the way our organs of speech operate (=articulation stage). pp. p. 2000.35). Although. p.e. Ibid). so they are affected by priming. mistakes are recognized and automatically corrected by the L1 speakers (mistakes can be self-corrected while errors cannot). The investigators were analyzing so called “slips of tongue”. 2005. While mistakes are usually committed by both native and non-native speakers. Lashley suggested that production and comprehension of speech is largely a linear process.50-69). in Scovel. in that case. the formulation.to comprehend all that is spoken to them (people with brain damage but with normal hearing and intelligence). Slip of tongue: is a statement that contains a mistake .
without analysis Recognition of non-linguistic sounds like noises and animal sounds Music perception . which governs the right part of the body. right-handed Mexican speakers in their English classes to see if the rule is valid generally.) Nevertheless. Left hemisphere specializes in: • • • Right hemisphere is involved in: Language Logical and Analytical Operations Mathematics • • • • • Recognizing emotions Recognizing faces Perceiving the structures of things globally. 2. contains the main language centers of the brain: Broca’s Area and Wernicke’s Area. etc. The brain controls the body. p.It examined the way our organs of speech operate One of the organs that adapts itself for articulation is the larynx (voice box). There are also some interesting studies (Lamm and Epstein. the function of the hemispheres of the brain. which has unique characteristics that are absent in other mammals. Language and the brain Language and the brain are also of great interest to psycholinguistics. (It would be interesting to investigate the performance of the left-handed vs. including the right hand. implications of the relation of the brain size and intelligence.315).4. About 9% of the population is left-handed (see Klar. Paul Broca was a French pathologist 1824-1880) who made the first discovery regarding brain and language. in Steinberg 2001. arm and the right side of the face while the right hemisphere controls the left side of the body. He discovered a certain area of brain that is involved in the production of speech. neurolinguistics. Carl Wernicke was a German neurologist (18481905) who discovered which areas of the brain are involved in the process of speech comprehension. the area of the major difficulty seemed to be reading.the left hemisphere controls the right side of the body. Neurolinguistics helps us understand why we have body preferences. 1999) that report that left-handed native speakers of Hebrew perform worse in their English classes than the right-handers. especially to its further subdivision. Most persons prefer their right hand and their right foot. such premise sounds logical to me because the left hemisphere.
As far as the difference between the brains of males and females. you’ll be able to observe language areas and their functioning. In the following figure 2.4. . pp. in Steinberg. it’s suggested in some studies. Note: the figures are reprinted from Speech and Brain Mechanism (Penfield&Roberts. 1959. Because language abilities are typically located in the left hemisphere and visual-spatial abilities are located in the right hemisphere. while males are better in the visual-spatial aspects. it’s suggested females have better language capacity.322-323). 2001. that females have thicker left hemisphere while males have thicker right hemisphere. even though the studies are few.
as the right hemisphere has an ability to use ‘knowledge of the world’ and relate it to the language topic. We. 2. understanding discourse or metaphors. recent investigations (Beeman& Chiarello.While the left hemisphere is involved in most language tasks. In addition to these basic groups. other aphasic sites can be found. called dyslexias. known as aphasias. which are speech-related. especially in the area of semantics. . as teachers. Language disorders Language disorders. as well as in reading and writing. There are two basic groups –Broca’s aphasias and Wernicke’s aphasias according to the area affected. Such damage causes characteristic problems in speech.5. 1998) showed that the right hemisphere is also involved in language processing. are mainly interested in the kinds of aphasias. and above all the reading and writing aphasias. are caused by some damage in the brain hemisphere where language is located.
the multilingual person is a whole and integrated person. we sometimes observe that some children write backwards (deer as reed). and not letters in isolation. Dyslexia may be subdivided into 2 basic categories: alexia. does language influence culture.246).70-87).g. who perceives nature as other humans do. p. which involves disorders in reading. tub. • Theory 3: Language Determines or Shapes Our Perception of Nature. u with n. which considers it impossible (as animals don’t speak. People have always wondered whether speech or language is necessary for thought. dog. The views of the Theory 4 are more recent than the previously mentioned ones. Language disorders can also be accompanied by other neurological perturbations or inherited disorders of different types (for more details. visually. thought. they shouldn’t have any ability to think. defending themselves or finding mates. have been in the center of attention of different theorists. m with w) or other anomalies. sensatory organs (sight. thought and culture The relationship of language. The common sense objection to that theory could be the following facts. We can find arguments to prove that each of these theories is inadequate in some aspect. upside-down. 2001. The supporters of the theory believe that knowing a language will itself condition and influence one’s cultural and social beliefs or views of the world. the language comprehension/production can also be affected by the insufficient or defective development of speech articulatory organs.6. etc. There are people who speak the . hearing). does language affect our perception of world. otherwise we can’t develop thinking. For example: according to Theory 1 people who cannot speak shouldn’t be able to think (which is not true. (See Steinberg. 2. The argument that the multilinguals (according to Theory 3) have a variety of ways of viewing the physical world is questionable. it’s recommended to teach b and d (for example) in words. 2000. etc. how to produce or understand speech. and agraphia. It has been proved that animals have to think of strategies for gathering food. p with q. auditorily.There are many sorts of dyslexia. e. We must learn how to speak aloud. pp. and culture is a central topic to psycholinguistics. etc. otherwise we can’t develop thinking. We must learn language. or they confuse letters (b as d. Apart of aphasia. • Theory 2: Language is Essential for Thought. obviously). The most well-known are the following: • Theory 1: Speech is Essential for Thought. Scovel. Language. or other psychological or social factors. This is an argument against Theory 2. The learning of language will determine or influence the way we understand our culture and the world. and culture. To help remedy such problems. The learning of language will determine or influence the way we perceive the physical world. In children’s acquisition of reading and writing. which involves disorders in writing. • Theory 4: Language Determines or Shapes Our Cultural World View. There are several formulations concerning the relationship of language /thought. Questions like: can we think without the language.
H. language may be used to change beliefs and values. Second Language Acquistition. I hope that you were able to find some interesting information that will also be useful in your everyday life. De Both. D. M. even though they speak different languages. We have concluded UNIT 2. London : Routledge.. we can say that thought is independent of language. but have completely different world view. Lowie.). (2005). (4th Ed. K. or that there are people who share the same world view. W.). there are cases when language can assist in conveying new ideas and culture (for example. . NY: Pearson. Principles of Language Learning and Teaching. that language is dependent on thought. etc. & Verspoor. etc. and that the function of language is to provide means for the expression and communication of thoughts.White Plains. (2000). In conclusion. Additional references: Brown. The development of language does not affect the nature of thought with respect to its basic categories. New York.same language.