Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Language acquisition essay - mock

This transcript shows a conversation between Ruby and her auntie, Lou. Through reading the transcript, it is evident that Ruby is in the post-telegraphic stage and this can be seen through her use of contractions, for example, ‘I’ll’ use of low-frequency lexis ‘adorable’. Throughout the transcript, Ruby’s auntie, Lou, uses many examples of caregivers’ language to help encourage Ruby’s linguistic development, for example, through reinforcing her language or keeping the conversation flowing in order to teach Ruby turn-taking in conversation. Furthermore, Lou uses inclusive pronouns ‘shall we’, which according to Coates is a female trait of language. Another example of Lou using female traits of language is when she apologises to Ruby ‘sorry shall we take your COAT off then’.

Ruby is able to use contractions showing that she is in the post-telegraphic stage. For example, when she says ‘it’s not a jacket, it’s a coat’. It could be said that Ruby has made this statement because women are more interested in clothes and fashion and therefore more aware of synonyms, which is a female trait of language. She is also showing signs of egocentricism, as she is recognising synonyms, trying to assert her authority and perceiving her auntie as a weak link. Another example of Ruby using contractions is when she uses the future simple ‘I’ll sit’. The use of the personal pronoun ‘I’ll’ could indicate egocentricism, which is a term used by Piaget, meaning that children in the earlier stage of linguistic development are only aware of themselves and think that the whole world revolves around them. During the transcript, Ruby omits the consonant cluster ‘th’ when she says ‘wiv’, ‘Felma’. Also, later on in the transcript when she says ‘only wiz my toast’. Her caregiver, Lou then corrects her by saying ‘Thelma’. Her use of rising intonation indicates that she is showing Ruby the correct pronunciation and trying to encourage her to repeat it, which helps to encourage her linguistic development. This acts as evidence for Skinner’s theory or repetition and reinforcement. He believes that children acquire language through copying others around them, such as caregivers and by having their language reinforced helps their language to develop. Another example of Lou reinforcing Ruby’s language is when Ruby says ‘he’s better’ and Lou responds by saying ‘he’s better now’. This helps to keep the conversation flowing and also teaches Ruby turn taking in conversational talk.

During the transcript, Ruby says ‘em Simba got bitted by a dog’. Here, she had added the inflection ‘ed’ to an irregular verb. This could suggest that Ruby hasn’t fully entered the post-telegraphic stage of linguistic development. However, it could merely be due to contextual factors, such as the fact that she is at home with her auntie in a comfortable environment. In addition, Ruby may feel that she can push the boundaries more with her auntie, as opposed to her mother and is therefore slightly more relaxed with her language. After this, Lou corrects Ruby by saying ‘Simba got bitten’, which is another example of caregivers’ language, in which they teach the child to model the correct response. Chomsky’s native theory suggests that children have a language acquisition device and an innate ability to acquire language; that needs to be stimulated by caregivers’ language. Ruby’s addition of the inflection ‘ed’ to the irregular verb ‘bite’ is evidence for this as Ruby would never have heard an adult say this and therefore challenges Skinner’s theory of repetition and reinforcement.

Later on, Ruby says ‘we took him to the bets two times’. The fact that Ruby says ‘bets’ instead of ‘vets could suggest that she is still undergoing phonological development and hasn’t yet managed to pronounce the consonant ‘v’. Her semantic awareness has outstripped her phonological awareness. Similarly, Deb Roy found this in his study when he filmed his son 24/7. His son knew the semantic ‘water’, but took four months pronounce it correctly. Nevertheless, Ruby’s difficulty with pronouncing the consonant ‘v’ could be due to her contextual environment; she is at home with her auntie, a close relative and could therefore be seeking attention by trying to sound ‘cute’ by putting on a lisp. Furthermore, the fact the Ruby says ‘two times’ could suggest that she hasn’t yet entered the post-telegraphic stage of linguistic development as she isn’t aware of the adverb ‘twice’.

Lou later says to Ruby ‘a little glass’ when asking if she would like some apply juice. Her use of rising intonation shows she is asking Ruby a question and helping her linguistic development. Ruby responds by saying ‘big girls have glass don’t they’. Here, she has omitted the inflection ‘s’, possibly suggesting she is in a lower stage of linguistic development. Her use of the tag question ‘don’t they’ could be related to her gender. Lakoff argues that women use tag questions in seeking confirmation and indicates that they are deficient of male language. Moreover, it could indicate that Ruby is seeking attention from her auntie.

Later in in the transcript, Lou says ‘Mummy’s moved her bed or your bed’. Her use of rising intonation indicates that this is a question and she is again keeping the  conversation flowing with Ruby and helping her language develop. Bruner refers to this as child-directed speech in his input theory, which argues that a child’s language acquisition is said to depend on the contribution or input made by parents or ‘significant others’.

Towards the end of the transcript, Ruby says ‘we getting a book’. Here she has omitted the auxiliary verb ‘are’. After this, she omits the verb ‘to be’ and the indefinite article ‘an’, when she says ‘she can be explorer’. In addition to this, she has added the inflection ‘er’, when she should have just said ‘explore’. However, her caregiver corrects her by saying ‘she can be an explorer’. Ruby later says ‘Mum says when we at sun’. Here, she has omitted the indefinite article the’. However, she later corrects herself by saying ‘Sunday dinner’. Ruby’s use of low-frequency lexis ‘adorable’ indicates that she is in the post-telegraphic stage of linguistic development.

In conclusion, although Ruby makes several virtuous errors throughout the transcript, for example, the omittion of auxiliary verbs and the adding of the inflection ‘ed’ to irregular verbs, it is evident that she is in the post-telegraphic stage of linguistic development as she is able to use regular sentence structure and contractions, throughout.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Lexical Change

Over the past few years, the adjective 'gay' has gained an extra meaning. It used to mean 'happy', whereas now it means 'homosexual'.
We are conscious of new words that have recently entered the English language e.g. 'alcopop' and 'CD ROM'.

Borrowing - when a word from a foreign langauage becomes part of the English language e.g. 'pan du chocolat'. The driving force for language change is cultural change.
Neglogisms - new words
Compounding - two or more existing words that are joined together e.g. 'bittersweet', 'girlfriend', 'couchpotato'
Blending - when two or more existing words are merged e.g. 'brunch'
Derivation - when a word (or acronym) is formed from the initial letters of other words e.g. 'dink' (dual income, no kids) 'nimby' (not in my back yard)
Abbreviation - when a word is shortened e.g. 'bike', 'celeb'
Root - when words are made up entirely, often for phonological effect e.g. 'nerd', 'dork'
Conversion - when a word transfers from one word class to another e.g. verb - noun, refil - a refil.
Backformation - new words are made by remaiming affixes from old ones e.g. 'editor' was formed from 'edit'.
Eponym - a new word is created from a person's name e.g 'Hoover'.

Many new words are coined every day but the vast majority of them are NONCES (temporary words that never properly entered the English language e.g. the eponym coined in the early 90s: to bobbit - this word is still alive, meaning to emasculate.

Meaning extention - a word's meaning widens e.g. in medieval times, the noun 'hierarchy' was only used to rank different angels, in the 17th century it was extended to the ranking of cleargymen and today, used to rank anything.
Meaning narrowing - a word becomes more specialised e.g. 'meat' (Old English mete) used to mean all food, 'deer' once described any animal.
Amelioration - a word gains positive connotations e.g. 'sophisticated' used to mean not highly developed.
Rejearation - a word develops negative connotations e.g. about women 'mistress'.

David Crystal states that contemporary English uses words borrowed from over 120 languages. Many of them are borrowed from Anglo Saxon times.
ask (Old English)
question (French)
interrogate (Latin)

Monday, 22 April 2013

Syntactical Development

Development of a child's ability to create grammatical constructions by arranging words in an approprite order.

One-word stage: 12-18 months
Child speaks single-word utterances 'milk', 'mummy'.
Groups of words may be used as a single unit 'allgone'.
In many situations, the words simply sserve a naming function.
Holophrases - single words or phrases that convey more complex messages.
'juice' - to mean: 'I want some juice' or 'I've spilt some juice'. Context, intonation and gesture helop the caregiver to understand the meaning of the holophrase.
Although the child's utterances are limited, their understanding of syntax is more advanced. Evidence - children at the one-word stage can understand and respond to two-word instructions e.g. 'kiss mummy'.

Two-word stage: 18 months
Two-word utterances begin to appear. Usually grammatically correct sequence. Common contructions: 'Daddy sleep', 'Draw birdie', 'Suzy juice', 'Daddy busy'. When repeating an adult, children often omit elements, such as articles and auxiliaries, but verbs retain correct order:
'Look, Ben's playing in the garden'
'Play garden'
Utterances focus on key words: Grammatical function words, such as determiners and prepositions are commonly omitted as they carry less important information.
Meanings of two-word utterances: range of complex meanings can be expressed.
Possession: 'Mummy car'
Action: 'Paul eat'
Location: 'Teddy bed'
The scope for ambugiuty (a word or phrase that had more than one meaning) arises at this stage because of the omission on inflectional affixes.
Commonly possessive and plural 's' and past tense 'ed' are absent.

Telegraphic stage: 2 - 2 and a half years
Three and four-word utterances begin to be produced. Some will be grammaitcally complete...'Lucy likes tea', 'teddy is tired'. Other utterances will have grammatical elements missing...'Daddy home now', 'Where Joe going?'
Like a telegram, they include key words, but omit elements such as determiners, auxiliary verbs and prepositions.
A wider range of structures will be used. Questions (interrogatives), commands (imperatives).

David Crystal: From Riddle to Twittersphere

David Crystal: From Riddle to Twittersphere

Grammatical Development

Acquisition of inflections - a change in the form of a word (typically the ending) to express a grammatical function or attribute, such as tense, mood, person.

Understanding of grammatical rules - how do children produce grammatically accurate constructions so early in their development? Rules? Imitiation?
Berko - 'Wug test':
'this is a wug'
'this is another one, there are two of them'
Complete the sentence...'there are two...'
3-4 year old: 'wugs'
Grammatical rule for plural 's' was being applied.

2 and a half - 5 years: grammatical errors show an awareness of rules. They overgeneralise/overregularise, trying to make the language more consistant than it is. e.g. 'sheeps', 'wented', 'runned', 'mouses'.
Although children apply grammatical rules, they are not conscious that they have acquired them and would not be able to exaplain them - no mental linguistic awareness.

1. Two-word stage: questions rely on rising intondation only. e.g. 'me milk'
2. Telegraphic stage: question words aquired. First, 'what' and 'where', then 'why', 'who' and 'how' = 'where daddy gone?'
3. Post-telegraphic stage: begin to use auxiliary verbs and inversion; where any of several grammatical constructions where two expressions switch their order - invert. Therefore...'Joe is here' becomes 'Is Joe here?'
However, questions involving 'wh' words are not always correctly inverted. 'Why Joe isn't here?'

The accurate expression of neagative occurs in three stages...
1. Single dependence on the words 'no' and 'not' used independently or infront of expressions 'no want', 'no go bed'.
2. Third year: 'don't' and 'can't' appear. They begin to appear after the subject and before the verb of the sentence e.g. 'I don't want it' and 'Sammy can't play'.

Verb tenses
There are at least 5 different ways that we form the past tense in English:
Past simple - 'I fell' BUT... 'I have fallen', 'I was falling', 'I had fallen' are formed using:
An auxiliary verb: have/had/was etc
A past participle: 'fallen', 'done', 'broken' etc
A present participle: 'falling', 'snapping'
Present tenses
'I walk'
Also the continuous form using auxiliaries and participles: 'I am walking'
Future tenses
'I will walk'
Therefore, children have difficulty acqiring language and opt for simpler forms e.g. regular verb: 'I kicked'. No surprise they have difficulty with the auxiliaries 'I done it'.

Interrogatives and  negation
The formation of a question also uses auxiliaries: 'Do you like?'...'Can I have?'...as does creating negatives; 'Mummy doesn't like'.