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Methods of Child Language Study. C. Ray Graham. Ancient Roots. Research Question : What is the oldest race of human beings? Researcher : Psammetichus, King of Egypt Underlying Theory : Strong form of the innatist hypothesis Design : Longitudinal Case Study

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ancient roots
Ancient Roots

Research Question: What is the oldest race of human beings?

Researcher: Psammetichus, King of Egypt

Underlying Theory: Strong form of the innatist hypothesis

Design: Longitudinal Case Study

Method: Shepherd ordered to raise two children, caring for their needs but not speaking to them.

Hypothesis: The first words to be spoken would indicate that Egyptian was the oldest culture on earth.

Results: After two years the shepherd went to their quarters one day and the children came running with outstretched arms and said, “Becos,” which was not a word in Egyptian. Upon enquiry it was determined that becos meant “bread” in the Phrygian language.

Conclusions: Egyptian was the second oldest race of humans after the Phrygians.

Source: Book 2 of History by Herodotus abt 440 BC

late 19 th and early 20 th centruies
Late 19th and Early 20th Centruies
  • Diary studies
    • Bloch (1913-24) French
    • Bokonyi (1918) Hungarian
    • Boksis (1939) Russian
  • Bilingualism
  • Vocabulary studies
    • Binet (1902) French
    • Bonser
    • Bush (1914)
    • Campbell (1901)
  • Phonology
  • Abnormal Langauge
mid 1900s
Mid 1900s
  • Normal Language Development
  • Abnormal Language Development
    • Stuttering (Boland 1951, Blumel 1960,Bloodstein 1960-65)
    • Delayed language Blackman (1957)
    • Deaf (Carr 1953)
a new era in child language studies 1960 present
A new era in child language studies1960-Present
  • Morphology
    • Berko (1958)
  • Syntax
    • Brown (1964)
    • Braine (1963-66)Word order (Pivot Grammar)
    • Bellugi (1967) Negation
  • Phonology
    • Menn
    • Stoel-Gammon
  • Sociolinguistics
    • Bernstein (1962-65) Social Class & Language Development
    • Cazden (1962-65)
high amplitude sucking paradigm
Infant placed in a reclining seat and given a binky with a hole in it to suck on

The binky has a pressure transducer in it which measures sucking rate and allows infant to control rate of sound input

Baseline sucking rate is established with a speech syllable

Infant is presented with new syllable

Increase in rate is interpreted as detection of new sound

Works best with 1-4-month-olds

High Amplitude Sucking Paradigm
conditioned head turn
Conditioned Head Turn
  • Child hears one sound several times
  • He/she then hears a new sound followed by a switch back to the former sound
  • If the child turns his/her head when the new sound is presented he/she is rewarded with a picture of lit-up toy
  • If the child learns to turn his/her head at the presentation of the stimulus, but not otherwise, it is interpreted as discrimination
  • Works best with 6-to-10-month-olds
  • 1 month--/ba/ vs /pa/

/a/ vs /i/

/a/ vs /u/

  • 2 months--/ba/ vs /ga/

/ba/ vs /da/

/ba/ vs /wa/

/ra/ vs /la/

/wa/ vs /ja/

rising vs falling pitch

phonemic perception
Phonemic Perception
  • Child sits in front of the experimenter
  • Experimenter presents a wooden “doll” and says, “This is /tas/.” “Put /tas/ on the wagon.” etc.
  • Experimenter presents a second “doll” of different shape, color, etc. and says, “This is /das/.” “Put /das/ in the box.” etc.
  • Experimenter sets the dolls side by side in random order and says, “This is /tas/ and this is /das/. Put (randomly) /das/ in the box.”
  • Correct choice of dolls is interpreted as perception of phonemic differences.

There is an order to the minimal pairs contrasts with which children can play the game:

principles of lexical development
Principles of Lexical Development
  • Words refer to objects
  • Words refer to whole objects
  • New words can be extended to other members of the category
  • Each object can have only one name
  • New words refer to things that do not already have a name
  • No two words have exactly the same meaning
preferential looking paradigm
Preferential Looking Paradigm
  • Child sits on mother’s lap equadistant from two video monitors.
  • Mother closes eyes
  • Child watches two simultaneously presented colored videos
  • An audio message from a hidden speaker between video monitors directs child to attend to one of the monitors
  • Researcher observes eye movements of child and records time spent focused on each monitor
results conclusions
Results & Conclusions
  • By 17 months children can use word order to distinguish between sentences such as:
    • Big Bird was tickling Cookie Monster
    • Cookie Monster was tickling Big Bird
  • Comprehension of syntax is well in advance of production since most children are not producing two word utterances by this age.
results conclusions18
Results & Conclusions
  • Between three and four years of age children are able to apply learned grammatical morphemes to words that they have never heard before.
  • Learners develop a productive use of morphological generalizations
puppets and meta language
Puppets and Meta-language
  • Two experimenters with hand puppets and a child with a hand puppet
  • The experimenters demonstrate the correction of grammatical error
    • E1 says, “Horse the ride”
    • E2 says, “No that is not right you say, ride the horse.
    • E1 then gives examples to the child and has the child say whether the sentence is good and if not how to correct it
  • Up until about 3 years of age children are unable to tell when the grammar is wrong except when it makes the utterance anomalous.
  • A year later children can correct ill formed utterances.
  • Children gradually develop the ability to attend to the form of language as an object of attention in and of itself
realia and word order
Realia and Word Order
  • The experimenter sits with the child and has toy objects to manipulate.
  • The experimenter says to the child, “Here is a car and here is a truck. I am going to say something and I want you to act it out.”
    • “The car was hit by the truck.”
  • The experimenter blindfolds a doll and asks, “Is the doll easy to see, or hard to see?”
results conclusions24
Results & Conclusions
  • Chidren as old as 4 ½ to 5 will interpret the first noun phrase in a sentence as the agent and the second one as the object in passives and will ignore the passive markers of “was…by”
  • Correct interpretation of unusual word order develops slowly in often not complete until middle childhood
principles of gb
Principles of GB
  • A reflexive is always bound to a referent that is within the same clause
    • John said that Robert hurt himself
  • An anaphoric pronoun cannot be bound to a referent within the same clause
    • John said that robert hurt him
  • Backward co-reference is only allowed if the pronoun is in a clause subordinate to the main clause.
    • When he came home John made dinner.
    • He made dinner when John came home
  • By 6 years of age children know A, but are still making errors on pronouns
  • Children have difficulties with B even after age 6
  • Children do not seem to control C until middle school years