Language acquisition device

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• Special form of communication in which we
  learn complex rules to manipulate symbols
  that can be used to generate an endless
  number of meaningful sentences.
  – Communication
  – Set of Symbols
  – Complex Rules
  – Endless Number of Meaningful Sentences
• Ability to use sounds, smells, or gestures to
  exchange information.
         Functional Properties
•   Displaced Reference
•   Productivity
•   Prevarication
•   Pragmatics
      Structural Properties
• Phonology
  – phonemes
• Semantics
  – morphemes
  – syntax
             Prelinguistic Stage
•   Birth to 1 year
•   Crying
•   Cooing
•   Babbling
•   Language Comprehension
•   Ability to make discriminations not required
    by native language gradually lost
            Linguistic Stage
• 1 year and up
• Holophrases
  – Infant-directed Speech
  – Overextension
  – Underextension
Vocabulary Development
              Linguistic Stage

• Two-word combinations
• Telegraphic Speech
  – errors of overgeneralization
Errors of Overgeneralization
          Language Development
6 Months
• Vocalization with intonation
• Responds to human voices
   without visual cues by turning
   his head and eyes
12 Months
• Uses one or more words with
• Understands simple instructions
18 Months
• Has vocabulary of
   approximately 5-20 words
Language Development
                Language Development
4 Years
• Knows names of familiar animals
• Names common objects in picture books or magazines
• Knows one or more colors
• Often indulges in make-believe
5 Years
• Can count to ten
• Speech should be completely intelligible, in spite of articulation problems
• Speech on the whole should be grammatically correct
6 Years
• Speech should be completely intelligible and socially useful
Language Development
         7 Years
         • Should be able to tell time to quarter
         • Should be able to do simple reading and
             to write or print many words
         8 Years
         • All speech sounds, including consonant
             blends should be established
         • Should be reading with considerable
             ease and now writing simple
         • Can carry on conversation at rather
             adult level
   Language in Middle Childhood
• Vocabulary continues to increase; receptive
  vocabulary is about 40,000 words by age 10
• Phonemes mastered and aspects of
  intonation better understood
• Increases in mastery of grammar and
  syntax, along with improvement in
  pragmatic skills
• Development of metalinguistic awareness
• Increasing sophistication in language play
Theories of Language Acqusition
• Learning Theories
• Nativist Theories
   Language as a Learned Skill
• Learning theory based on behaviorist
  theories of learning - operant conditioning,
• Language viewed as behavior learned like
  other skills
• Parents also provide models of advanced
  language that child then imitates
       Language As A Learned Skill
• Criticisms of theory:
 - parents do not explicitly teach rule systems
  - pace of language development difficult to explain
  through learning principles
 - ignores evidence that humans biologically predisposed to
   detect language stimuli
The Nativist Theory - Born to Talk
• Noam Chomsky: language is innate human
• Language acquisition device (LAD) –
  brain mechanism specialized for detecting
  and learning rules of language
• Contains innate knowledge of universal
The Nativist Theory - Born to Talk
• Specific physical structures in humans
  specialized for producing/processing
• No single organ is LAD
• Constellation of several brain areas that are
  specialized to process linguistic input and
  their connections (Wernicke’s area, Broca’s
             How Language Works

• Left hemisphere – more verbal
  side. We literally speak with
  half a brain. The dominant
  location of language for more
  than 95% of people, including a
  sizable majority of left-handers
• Right hemisphere – responsible
  for the inflection and overall
  musical quality that lend
  important emphasis to verbal
The Nativist Theory - Born to Talk
• Existence of sensitive periods for language
  development supports nativist position
   - children deprived of language have
  poorer language skills
   - older children and adults have greater
  difficulty learning second language
   - older children and adults show less
  recovery from brain damage affecting
  language areas
 The Nativist Theory - Born to Talk
• Criticisms of nativist theory:
   - parents provide corrective feedback as
  learning theory predicts
   - some exposure to language (i.e., TV) does not
  produce normal language skills

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