Language - TeacherWeb

Turning Thoughts Into Words
Notes will go on p. 66 of your NB
Language→ consists of symbols that
convey meaning, plus rules for combining
those symbols, that can be used for an
infinite variety of messages
Properties of Language
Language is symbolic- people use spoken sounds and
written words to represent objects, actions, events
and ideas.
Language is semantic- it is meaningful. The symbols
used in a language are arbitrary in that no built-in
relationship exists between the look or sound of
words and the objects they stand for.
Language is generative- a limited number of symbols
can be combined in an infinite variety of ways to
generate an endless array of novel messages.
Language is structured- rules govern the
arrangement of words into phrases and sentences;
some arrangements are acceptable and some are not
(“The swimmer jumped into the pool” vs. “Pool the
into the jumped swimmer.”)
The Structure of Language
Human language has a hierarchical structure. Basic
sounds are combined into words with meaning, which are
combined into phrases and then sentences.
Phonemes→ the smallest speech units in a
language that can be distinguished perceptibly
(the sounds of letters)
o The English language is composed of about 40
phonemes, corresponding roughly to the 26 letters
of the alphabet plus several variations (one letter
can have more than one phoneme)
Morphemes→ the smallest units of meaning in
a language
o There are approximately 50, 000 English morphemes,
which include root words as well as prefixes and
o Example- Words such as “unfriendly” consist of three
morphemes- the prefix un, the root word friend, and
the suffix ly
On p. 65 in your NB, rank the following
words in order from positive to negative
AFTER you are done, discuss your
answers as a class
Thin, slim, gaunt, lanky, skinny, slender
 Smart, geeky, nerdy, brainy, quick
 Aggressive, assertive, domineering,
dynamic, pushy, forceful
 Unattractive, plain, dull, ugly, homely
Semantics→ the area of language
concerned with understanding the
meaning of words and word combinations
– A words meaning may consist of both its
denotation, which is its dictionary definition,
and its connotation, which includes its
emotional overtones and secondary
Your answers to the questions on the previous slide had to do
with semantics. All of those words had similar denotations
but their connotations vary.
Copy the word FEARLESSNESS onto page 65. Above it label each phoneme
and state how many there are. Below it, label each morpheme and count
state how many there are.
(unit of sound)
■ ■
(unit of meaning)
Language Questions
Copy each of these questions onto page 65 and write the answers.
How many morphemes does the word
“unfriendly” have?
How many phonemes does the word “shop”
How many morphemes does the word
“teachers” have?
What does the word “mind” mean?
Based on the vocabulary you learned today,
question #4 is a __________ question.
Syntax→ a system of rules that specify
how words can be arranged into
o Simple rule- a sentence must have both a
noun phrase and a verb phrase
o Rules of syntax underlie all language use,
even though you may not be aware of them
Milestones in Language
First six months→ baby’s vocalizations are dominated by
crying cooing and laughter, which have limited means of
Babbling stage
Babbling stage→ beginning at age 3 or 4 months,
stage of speech development in which the infant
spontaneously utters various sounds at first
unrelated to the household language
o Babbling gradually becomes more complex and increasingly
resembles the language spoken by parents and others in the
child’s environment
o Trends reflect ongoing neural development and maturation of
infant’s vocal apparatus
o Babbling lasts until around 18 months, even after children
utter their first words
o At around 10-13 months, most children begin to utter sounds
that correspond to words
One-word stage→ the stage in speech
development, from about age 1 to 2, during
which a child speaks mostly in single words
o During this stage, an inflected word may equal a
• “Doggy!” may mean “Look at the dog out there.”
o Toddlers often make errors when learning new
• Overextension→ occurs when a child incorrectly uses a
word to describe a wider set of objects or actions than it is
meant to
– Using the word ball to describe anything round- oranges,
apples or even the moon
• Underextensions→ occurs when a child incorrectly uses a
word to describe a narrower set of objects or actions than it
is meant to
– Using the word doll to refer only to a single, favorite doll
Two-word stage→ beginning about age 2, the
stage in speech development during which a
child speaks mostly two-word statements
o Telegraphic speech→ consists mainly of content
words; articles, prepositions and other less critical
words are omitted
• Child might say, “Give doll” rather than “Please give me the
o Overregularizations→ occur when grammatical
rules are incorrectly generalized to irregular cases
where they do not apply
• Children will say things like, “The girl goed home.” or “I
hitted the ball.”