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:
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Jasper
Socks
Daddy
Shoes
Juice
Bye-bye
More
Hello
ball
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Nana
Grandad
ta
poo
book
duck
Quack quack
Woof
hot
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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 …
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Acclimatised
Instinctive
Cooing
Babbling
Bilabial
Re-duplicated monosyllable
Phonemic expansion
Phonemic contraction
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