Lecture 1 Early Language development
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The Early Stages Beginnings of Language Development
What was the first word you learned? What types of words would you expect children to learn first? Rachel’s first words: • • • • • • • • •
Jasper Socks Daddy Shoes Juice Bye-bye More Hello ball
• • • • • • • • •
Nana Grandad ta poo book duck Quack quack Woof hot
• • • • • • • • •
Hiya No Yes Please Bot-bot My Toast Marmite jam
Stages of development … • NB: Children do not all develop at the same pace. • However: Children all around the world do pass through the same set of stages. There is a universal pattern of development, regardless of the language being acquired.
Before birth … • Evidence suggests that even in the womb, the growing baby acclimatises to the sounds of its native language. • Mehler 1988: French new born babies were able to distinguish French from other languages.
Crying … • First few weeks: child expresses itself vocally through crying. • Signals hunger, distress or pleasure. • Instinctive noise (so not language).
Cooing … • Also known as gurgling or mewing. • 6-8 weeks old. • ‘Coo’, ‘ga-ga’ and ‘goo’. • Child develops increasing control over vocal chords.
Babbling … • Most important stage in the first year. • 6-9 months old. • Sounds begin to resemble adult sounds more closely.
Babbling … • Consonant and vowel combinations: ‘ba’, ‘ma’ and ‘da’. • Bilabial sounds most common (i.e. using the lips). • When these sounds are repeated = reduplicated monosyllable.
Babbling … • These sounds have no meaning. • Baby makes far more noise than before. • Exercises and experiments with its articulators (parts of the body that make sounds).
Phonemic expansion … • Phoneme: smallest element of sound in a language that can display contrast and hence change meaning or function of a word, e.g. initial sounds in ban and Dan. • During babbling, number of different phonemes produced increases (expands).
Phonemic contraction … • 9-10 months. • Number of phonemes produced reduces to those found in the native language (contracts). • Baby discards sounds not required.
Phonemic contraction … • Evidence: noises made by children of different nationalities starts to sound different. • Experiments: native adults have successfully identified babies from own country.
Intonation … • Intonation patterns begin to resemble speech. • Common: rising intonation at end of utterance. • Other variations in rhythm/emphasis may suggest greeting or calling.
Gesture … • Although they do not yet have the power of speech, desire to communicate indicated through gesture. • Example: point to object and use facial expression, ‘What’s that?’. • Beginnings of pragmatic development (i.e. recognising that social context affects meaning).
Understanding … • Although child may not begin to speak, they might understand meanings of certain words. • Word recognition: usually evident by end of first year. • Common: names, ‘no’ and ‘bye-bye’.
The first word …
• Somewhere around 12 months the child makes its first recognizable word.
Holophrastic stage • Single word utterances e.g. teddy, mamma etc • 60% of children’s first utterances are nouns e.g. ball, dog, etc. Nelson found that these are often the names of objects which are small and easily handled by a child, or things that make a noise e.g. car • Nelson (1973) identified three other categories including: Actions / events e.g. cuddle, jump, Describing / modifying words e.g. more, two, Personal / social words e.g. hiya, wassat Due to limited number of words, children may make mistakes e.g. Underextension and overextension
Two-word Stage • At around 18 months babies begin to combine words to form two-word utterances • Although their sentences are not complete, the syntax is usually correct • Utterances focus on key words, dropping function words • Inflection is used to get meaning across e.g. How many different ways can you say ‘my car’ to give it different meanings?
Telegraphic Stage • 3 and 4 word utterances begin to be produced • Some will be grammatically correct, others will miss out grammatical elements • Like a telegram, key words are used • A wider range of structures are formed e.g. Interrogatives, commands and simple statements
Post-telegraphic stage • Children make rapid progress • Their vocabulary widens considerably • By 5 years most of the basic grammatical rules have been learned, although some take longer e.g. The passive • More than one clause appears
New vocabulary … • • • • • • • •
Acclimatised Instinctive Cooing Babbling Bilabial Re-duplicated monosyllable Phonemic expansion Phonemic contraction