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Language Development. Some definitions . Language - a socially shared code or conventional system for representing concepts through use of arbitrary symbols and the rule governed combinations of those symbols Speech - a verbal means of communicating or conveying meaning

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some definitions
Some definitions
  • Language - a socially shared code or conventional system for representing concepts through use of arbitrary symbols and the rule governed combinations of those symbols
    • Speech - a verbal means of communicating or conveying meaning
      • Gestural precursors to speech – and gestural forms of speech
questions 1
Questions 1
  • List and describe the two functions of crying?
  • List and describe the major stages of pre-speech vocalizations—phonation, cooing, expansion, canonical babbling, and integrative—using the audio samples from class as examples.
  • What types of vocalizations are produced in the expansion stage, why might infants produce them, and what are infants doing in producing them that (most) other animals cannot do?
  • What are characteristics of first words and what is the timetable for their emergence?
  • Crying
  • Pre-linguistic speech
  • First word acquisition
  • The vocabulary spurt
  • Earliest vocalization –Curvilinear development
      • at birth cry 1-1 1/2 hrs/day
      • 6 wks cry 2-4 hrs/day
      • 12 wks crying decreases
      • Individual differences in quantity
  • Naturally occurring behavior
    • Then recruited for communication
    • Continuum of intentionality
    • Both directed and undirected crying still present at 12 months
two crying functions
Two crying functions
  • “[N]aturally occurring cry in 26 infants
    • (aged 2.8-13.2 mo) and their mothers at home.
  • By 12 mo, most infants sometimes directed their crying toward the caregiver and elaborated the sounds by the use of gestures.
    • But most continued to exhibit simple, undirected crying.
  • Crying is both intentional and not intentional
  • Shows increasing variability and sophistication in form and function.
          • Gustafson, G E.; Green, J A. Developmental coordination of cry sounds with visual regard and gestures. Infant Behavior & Development. 1991 Jan-Mar Vol 14(1) 51-57
different acoustic patterns
Different acoustic patterns
  • Basic hunger cry
    • rhythmic pattern of loud crying, silence, inhalation
  • Pain cry
    • loud, long shrill cry, then breath-holding silence
  • Fake cry
      • low pitch and intensity, poorly articulated moans
crying judgments
Crying judgments
  • Adults have some capacity to distinguish
  • Judgment depends on care giving context as well as acoustics
  • Perceived aversiveness is important dimension of judgments about meaning of cries
cries sound bad
Cries sound bad
  • There appears to be an underlying continuum of perceived aversiveness in young infants’ cries
  • That can be predicted by their duration, dysphonation, and proportion of energy in various frequencies
  • Parents and undergraduate non-parents perceive the cries as equally aversive.
          • Gustafson, G. E.; Green, J. A. ‘Acoustic features of cry perception: Infant development. ’Child Development. 1989 Aug Vol 60(4) 772-780
prelinguistic speech
Prelinguistic speech
  • Use of sounds in a communicative manner before speech (no words or grammar)
  • Progress through stages culminating in speech-like vocalizations
    • Phonation, Gooing, Expansion, Canonical
      • Some overlap in vocalizations characteristic of stages
          • Kim Oller
phonation stage 0 2 3 months
Phonation Stage, 0-2/3 months
  • Vowel-like (“quasi-resonant”)
  • Produced with normal speech like phonation involving vibration of the larynx but with the vocal tract at rest
    • “comfort or pleasure” sounds - can sound like grunts
  • The infant’s tongue almost completely fills the mouth limiting the sounds newborns can make
  • the infant’s mouth is almost closed; sounds are flat and nasal sounding
cooing gooing stage 1 4 months
Cooing/Gooing Stage, 1 - 4 months
  • Still vowel-like
    • /e/ & /u/
    • but last longer
  • more guttural & throaty
    • produced in the back of the vocal cavity
  • thought to be precursors to consonants
    • /k/ /g/
expansion stage 3 8 months
Expansion Stage, 3 - 8 months
  • Isolated vowel-like sounds
    • Usually produced with the mouth open
    • Full vowels (“fully resonant nuclei”)
  • Vocal repertoire expands dramatically
      • Infant experiments with sound production, varying pitch, volume, & rate
  • Intentional communicative play
    • Already beyond pre-set animal calls
      • Which have set form and set causes
    • Infant vocalizes for pleasure (just to have fun) or displeasure
checking out the new sound system
Checking out the new sound system
  • Yells/whispers: playing with amplitude/intensity
      • yells = high intensity, whispers = low intensity
  • Squeals & Growls: playing with pitch
    • squeals = high pitch, growls = low pitch
  • Raspberries
    • labial trill & vibrants
      • Cannot transcribe as adult syllables
  • Marginal babbles
    • consonant-vowel (CV) sequences
    • the transition between C & V is slow and drawn out
    • immature syllables
functional flexibility of infant vocalization oller et al 2013 pnas
Functional flexibility of infant vocalization. Oller, et al. 2013. PNAS
  • ‘Three types of infant vocalizations (squeals, vowel-like sounds, and growls) express a full range of emotional content—positive, neutral, and negative by 3–4 mos.
    • Contrast: cry and laughter are species-specific signals apparently homologous to vocal calls in other primates, show functional stability, with cry overwhelmingly expressing negative and laughter positive emotional states.’
functional flexibility is a sine qua non in spoken language
‘Functional flexibility is a sine qua non in spoken language
  • Appears before syntax, word learning, and even joint attention, syllable imitation, and canonical babbling. The appearance of functional flexibility early in the first year of human life is a critical step in the development of vocal language and may have been a critical step in the evolution of human language, preceding protosyntax and even primitive single words.’
canonical babbling stage 6 10 mos
Canonical Babbling Stage, 6-10 mos
  • CV sequences
    • /ma/ /da/ /ada/
  • Transition between CV are crisp
    • Sounds like natural syllables in parent’s language
    • Parents good at identifying this stage
  • Reduplicated babbling
    • /baba//dadada/ /mama/
importance of babbling
Importance of Babbling
  • Involves increasing control over the articulatory mechanism
  • Important pre-speech developmental milestone
  • Should be present by 10 months!
    • Occurs in Down Syndrome, premature, low SES kids and in all cultures
    • But its delayed in hearing impaired infants and deaf children
limitations of babbling
Limitations of Babbling
  • At end of stage, infants begin to use patterns or rising intonation that resemble adult speech
    • also known as gibberish, jargon, or conversational babbling
    • It has intonation contours of language being learned
    • Infants learn the music before the words
  • Does not refer (to objects, people, etc.)
  • Is not language
integrative stage 9 18 months
Integrative stage (9-18 months)
  • Beginning of meaningful speech
  • Some mixing of babbled utterances and words
  • Gibberish: (jargon) use of adult intonation patterns but what they say makes no sense
    • sounds like the child is having a conversation but you can’t understand what they are saying
first word definitions
First word definitions
  • Function
    • They are first words because they refer
    • Arbitrary sound is paired with an object
    • Often but not always nouns in the environment
first word characteristics
First Word Characteristics
  • Form
    • Conventional
    • Typically brief
      • 1 syllable, e.g., ‘no’
      • or a reduplicated syllable, e.g., ‘ma-ma’
  • Most linguistically common words
    • May be developed by babies
    • And may be the easiest to articulate
first word timetable
First Word Timetable
  • Appear
    • Typically: 11 to 13 months
    • Normal range: 10 to 14 months
  • Normal variation
    • 13 month vocabularies: 0 - 45 words
    • Should have first word by 15 months
      • Screen for delay
first 50 words
First 50 words
  • Represent all of the major grammatical classes found in adult language - nouns: dog, cookie - verbs: down, up, eat - adjectives: hot, dirty - social words: yes, no, please - sound effects: meow, ouch, uh-oh
how words are learned
How words are learned
  • Reference: Pairing of object names with objects
  • Child must visually attend while label is provided
    • So receptive joint attention helps
    • Helps if parent labels what child is already looking at
    • May be facilitated by routines
  • Metalinguistic insights
    • “Things have names” “I can make things happen with words”
    • Corresponds to vocabulary spurt
      • Rapid, accelerating growth
  • Most common throughout language development
  • Why do infants learn nouns most rapidly?
    • Adults tend to label objects more than they label actions (fly, run) or describe objects (yellow crayon)
    • Verbs are conceptually more complex;
      • nouns are concrete where verbs tend to be more abstract
vocabulary growth
Vocabulary Growth
  • Slow at first
    • can take 3 or 4 months after first words to achieve a vocabulary or 10 to 30 words
  • 18monthinfant
    • typically has a vocabulary of 50 words
  • 18 - 22 months
    • Vocabulary spurt
    • From 50 to 300 words in few months
meta linguistic insights
Meta-linguistic insights
  • Things have names” Corresponds to vocabulary spurt
      • Rapid, accelerating growth
  • “I can make things happen with words”
    • Effort to express/understand participate
    • Intentionality model (Bloom)
      • Language learning is effortful
receptive and expressive
Receptive and Expressive
  • 2 types of vocabulary development
    • Receptive - understands others’ words
      • Say ‘bye-bye’. ‘Where’s Daddy?’
      • 13 months - 50 words
    • Expressive - total words used (productive)
  • Receptive typically outpaces expressive
    • Child understands more words than they use
individual differences
Individual Differences
  • 2 styles of language
    • Referential style - use language primarily to label objects in their environment
      • E.g., dada, doggy, baba
    • Expressive style - use language as a means for engaging in social interaction
      • Hi, bye, ut-oh
    • More kids have an expressive style although most have a combination
syntax grammar
Syntax = grammar
  • Evidence of syntax
    • Nonrandom combinations
  • Development of syntax
    • Takes place with no explicit instruction.
      • Parents may teach new words but don’t teach syntax.
      • `The emphasis is on what the child is saying rather than how the child says it.
  • Innate or modeled?
syntax of one word speech
Syntax of one word speech
  • Holophrase - a single word used to express complex meanings
    • “Cookie” = “Give me the cookie”
    • Early utterances are telegraphic
      • The essential words are used to convey whole ideas
syntax of 2 word sentences
Syntax of 2 word sentences
  • Emerge
    • 15 – 24 months, mean is 18
    • Usually have 50 words in vocabulary before combining words
      • 7 months after their first words
  • First sentences typically consist of nouns, verbs & adjectives
    • Uses: name, locate, negate, question, etc.
    • Pivot word
      • frequently occurring word attached to a variety of other words
      • More: Mommy, milk, hug
common errors
Common Errors
  • Underextension
    • Word refers to particular exemplar
    • “Car” = family’s car
  • Overextension
    • Word refers to inappropriately large class
    • “Car” refers to all big things with wheels
  • Interplay between two yields correct word usage
measuring grammatical development
Measuring grammatical development
  • Mean length of utterance (MLU) is a measure of syntactic development.
  • Average length of the child’s utterances is calculated in morphemes - NOT WORDS
    • a morpheme is the smallest unit of meaning in a word
      • free morpheme: can stand as a word by itself (e.g., kind)
      • bound morpheme: exists only within a word (e.g., -ly, -ness, -s, -ed, ‘s)
      • Each new morpheme reflects new linguistic knowledge.
      • “I running” = 3 morphemes (not 2 words)
mlu length
MLU length
  • Children who have similar MLUs are at the same level of linguistic maturity, and their language is at the same level of complexity.
  • Children have MLUs of
  • 1.0 to 2.0 1-2 years
  • 2.0 to 3.0 2-3 years
  • 3.0 to 4.0 3-4 years
motherese child directed speech
Motherese/child directed speech
  • Most adults can do it, infants prefer it
  • Parents speak for children
  • Parents stay a step ahead of child (scaffolding)
  • Aids in teaching the child the norms of their culture & rules of their language
    • cultural differences stem from mother’s styles of interactions and child rearing beliefs
  • Has positive affect on early language development
infant directed speech
Infant directed speech
  • Slower rate, higher pitch, longer pauses
    • Repetitive & reduplicated
  • Brief, grammatically correct sentences
    • Use of simple syntax
  • Key words at end & are spoken in a higher & louder voice
    • Diminutive used
  • Vocabulary is concrete
    • Objects may be over described

children s early comprehension of syntax
Children’s early comprehension of syntax
  • Assessment methods involving action such as
    • diary studies (parents document conditions under which the child can or cannot understand)
    • act-out tasks (in which the experimenter asks the child to act out a sentence using toys)
    • direction tasks (in which the child is asked to carry out a direction, such as “tickle the duck”)
    • picture-choice tasks (in which the child must select the picture that best represents the linguistic form being tested)
  • Have limitations leading to confusion about children’s comprehension abilities.
the preferential looking paradigm
The preferential looking paradigm
  • Has helped clear things up.
    • Used to assess language comprehension in infants as young as 12 months.
    • Child watches two simultaneously presented videos.
    • Child hears a statement describing one of the videos
    • Record the amount of time the child spends watching each video
    • Repeat
child hears
Child hears
  • “Cookie Monster is tickling Big Bird”
    • one screen showed Cookie Monster tickling Big Bird
    • One screen showed Big Bird tickling Cookie Monster.
  • Children at 17 months of age spent more time looking at the screen that matched the statement.
  • Children can comprehend word order before they even begin using two-word sentences.
  • Suggests that comprehension is indeed in advance of production, as parents have always known.
how is language learned
How Is Language Learned?
  • Theories of language development
learning theory
Learning Theory
  • Language is learned through experience. Emphasis on role of child’s environment
    • Reinforcement ~ Parents reinforce or reward infants babbles that are approximations of real words (B.F. Skinner).
      • shaping ~ children acquire early vocabularies through shaping or when parents require children’s utterances to be progressively closer to real words before reinforcement
      • role of imitation ~ parents serve as models & children learn language in part through observation & imitation (Bandura)
learning theory cannot explain
Learning theory cannot explain:
  • why children spontaneously utter words or phrases they have never heard
  • why there are invariant sequences of language development
  • why there are spurts in language acquisition
nativist theory
Nativist Theory
  • Innate factors cause children to attend to & acquire language
    • Chomsky’s psycholinguistic theory
      • Environmental regularities cannot account for the consistency of language acquisition.
      • A neurally based language acquisition device is at work, enabling innate understanding of deep structure of language.
evidence for an inborn tendency
Evidence for an inborn tendency:
  • Verbal function is localized in speech centers
    • Typically in left cerebral hemisphere
    • There is plasticity
    • But it diminishes with age
    • Sensitive period ~ proposed by Lennenberg; beginning at 18-24 months & lasting until puberty
      • neural development facilitates language learning
      • Genie
  • Universality of human languages
    • invariant sequences in development
    • newborns respond to language
    • regularity of early production of sounds
nativist theory does not explain
Nativist theory does not explain:
  • variance in language skill & fluencey
  • how children understand the meanings of words
  • why language develops best when there is another person to communicate with