Author: Dr. Al White
Texas Woman’s University
Date submitted to deafed.net – September
22, 2006
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
Developing Basic Sentence
Patterns in the Home from the
Limited Conceptualization
Possibilities Available to Humans
Alfred H. White, Jr., Ph.D.
Texas Woman’s University
Purposes

To promote a better understanding of the
fact that while the task of teaching/learning
English is big, it can be manageable and
there can be a logical beginning.
 To promote an understanding that while
our brains have the capacity to think an
infinite number of ideas, there are a finite
(limited) number of “thought blocks” that
we use for expressing those ideas.
CRITICAL CONCEPTS
Thinking involves two major groups of
words. I will liken the first group of words
to the “ACTORS and PROPS ON THE
STAGE OF OUR MIND”. The second
group of words I will liken to the ACTIONS
PERFORMED ON THE STAGE OF OUR
MIND by the actors and/or props.
CRITICAL CONCEPTS
Without “Actors and Props”, there can be
no drama on stage, and…
 If one has Actors and Props, there may be
something to see, but, again without
“Action” there can be no drama on the stage
of our mind.

CRITICAL CONCEPTS
LIKEWISE, without NOUNS and VERBS
there would be no way to express thoughts.
 Nouns are the ACTORS and PROPS, and
 Verbs are the ACTIONS carried out by the
actors.
 We can talk about the Actors and the
Actions of Actors as if they were separate,
but in fact they really constitute a “unity”.

CRITICAL CONCEPTS

It is possible for a playwrite to go to a stage
and “conceptualize” an entire play, but IF
the concepts in the playwriter’s mind are to
ever be shared with another person, then
ACTORS, PROPS AND ACTIONS MUST
BE PUT ON STAGE ALONG WITH A
SCRIPT to be followed. When those things
are in place we can enjoy a play, and
discover what is in the mind of the writer.
COGNITION & LANGUAGE
Just as a playwrite needs ACTORS, AND
PROPS AND ACTIONS AND SCRIP to
express his ideas,
 So also, every person who wants to express
a thought, must rely upon symbols and
gestures to communicate.
 Nouns are like Actors and Props; Verbs are
like Actions, and grammar/word-order is the
script.

CRITICAL CONCEPT

There is a limited set of ways that nouns can
relate to verbs (WAYS OF THINKING). If
it were not so, then the opposite would hold
true; there would be an infinite number of
ways of relating nouns to verbs, and if that
were so, then, Person-A would be capable
of relating nouns to verbs in ways that are
not known to Person-B and thus
communication would not be possible.
CRITICAL CONCEPT
SAID DIFFERENTLY: If a stage were
infinite in size and it were being used, then
we could never see the whole play.
 LIKEWISE, if there were an infinite
number of ways of arranging words, we
would never have all “arrangements” in
common, which means there could never be
a full measure of communication.

Understanding What
Professionals mean by the Term
“Language”
 Language
is the code system used
to represent our thoughts, attitudes,
feelings, etc.
Critical Aspects of Any Language
#1 Languages are composed of
words:
Nouns, Verbs (cow, run)
Adjectives,Adverbs (big,well)
Structure words (to,and,the..)
Critical Aspects of Language
-Continued#2 Rules exist in languages to
prescribe how the words are to
be ordered or arranged.
#3 The rules mentioned in #2 are
not known, they are TACIT—
no one can list them.
Critical Aspects of Language
-continued There are many more
interesting aspects of languages,
but suffice it to say that
languages exist to allow
speakers to communicate their
thoughts, intentions, and…
Critical Aspects of Language
-continued ….and feelings, etc. to others.
 And, languages are highly
structured systems which few, if
any people fully understand.
 (Not even teachers)
 (Not even professors)
**Demonstration Time**

To illustrate the nature of language in physical
terms, let me demonstrate.

Who has a “wallet” that I can throw behind my
back? (In class demonstration)

What knowledge did it take to throw a wallet of
unknown weight, at an unknown angle and an
unknown distance?
What is the ORIGIN OF
LANGUAGE
within a person?
 Our
THOUGHTS are the origin
of language.
 “Thoughts” are what we think
and want to express!
HOW DO OUR CHILDREN
LEARN LANGUAGE?
Brains must work.
 Meaningful Experiences MUST be
provided.
 Language (words/sentences) must
be used and paired with a variety
of meaningful experiences.

HOW DO OUR CHILDREN
LEARN? EXPERIENCE!
 All experiences have value.
 Experiences are limitless.
 But the number of ways we can
share experiences using
language is not limitless---it is
really quite small.
HOW MANY GRAMMATICAL
RELATIONSHIPS ?
 BETWEEN
8 and 13
DEPENDING on HOW YOU
WANT TO COUNT.
 I will speak of 10 relationships and
in so doing will include some
redundancy by collapsing 13 to 10.
GATE KEEPER CONCEPT
I
am trying to help you as parents
and educators understand some
very complex concepts: Please,
stay with me…
COGNITIVE CONSTRAINTS

Maybe it would be easier to understand if I
said that VERBS ARE GATE KEEPERS;
every idea we want to express must come
through a “verb-gate”, and there are only
three (3) gates. These GATES are cognitive
gates; the “verb gates” reflect cognitive
limitations in how we can relate verbs to
nouns. We might also say that verbs carry
with them COGNITIVE CONSTRAINTS.
MAJOR CONSTRAINTS OF
THE MIND
ACTION VERBS (verbs of action are
called Intransitive Verbs)
 VERBS THAT SHOW NOUNS ARE
ACTED UPON. (verbs that take a direct
object are called Transitive Verbs.)
 STATE OF BEING VERBS (verbs that
define a state of being are called Be Verbs,
or Linking Verbs.)

MAJOR VERB CLASSES AND
SUBCLASSES OF VERBS



The group of verbs called “Transitive Verbs” has
more constraints or limitations.
In other words, when you go through the
“Transitive Gate” to express a thought, there are
more gates to choose from--- 8 more “cognitive
gates” exist.
Likewise for BE verbs: There are 3 subsets or
“cognitive gates” to go through, but in this
discussion the BE verbs will be considered as 1.
VERBS BEST REPRESENT
THE POSSIBLE
CONCEPTUALIZATIONS
Verb Gate #1 = Sleep
 Nouns can act or do.
 (Jose left.)

VERBS BEST REPRESENT
THE POSSIBLE
CONCEPTUALIZATIONS
Verb Gate #2 = Read
 Nouns can act upon understood nouns.
 (Jose ate.) (It is understood that he ate some
food without saying anything)
 (Note ‘read’ is really a subset of ‘drop’--there is redundancy between ‘read’ and
‘drop.’
VERBS BEST REPRESENT
THE POSSIBLE
CONCEPTUALIZATIONS
Verb Gate #3 = Drop
 Nouns can act upon nouns that
must be explicitly stated.
 (Maria dropped her purse.)

VERBS BEST REPRESENT
THE POSSIBLE
CONCEPTUALIZATIONS
Verb Gate #4 = Give
 Nouns can give and take nouns
from other nouns.
 (Jim gave Sara flowers.)

VERBS BEST REPRESENT
THE POSSIBLE
CONCEPTUALIZATIONS
Verb Gate #5 = Put
 Nouns can position nouns in
various locations.
 (Bob put the book on the table.)

VERBS BEST REPRESENT
THE POSSIBLE
CONCEPTUALIZATIONS
Verb Gate # 6 = Have
 Nouns can possess nouns.
 (Mary has her bottle.)
 (Note there is redundancy
between ‘have’ and ‘drop’.

VERBS BEST REPRESENT
THE POSSIBLE
CONCEPTUALIZATIONS
Verb Gate # 7 = Made
 Nouns can alter the state of being*
or actions** of other nouns
 (*Mama made Bobby sad.)
 (**Mama made Bobby leave.)

VERBS BEST REPRESENT
THE POSSIBLE
CONCEPTUALIZATIONS
Verb Gate #8 = Try
 Nouns can attempt actions
without knowing the outcome.
 (Billy tried to catch the fly.)

VERBS BEST REPRESENT
THE POSSIBLE
CONCEPTUALIZATIONS
Verb Gate # 9 = Think
 Conceptualizations can be
incorporated or treated as
nouns—that is, whole concepts
can function as nouns.
 (Daddy thinks the baby is cute.)

VERBS BEST REPRESENT
THE POSSIBLE
CONCEPTUALIZATIONS

Verb Gate #10 = BE
 Nouns
can be described, renamed
and they can have location.
Be + Adjective (He is big)
 Be + Noun (He is my brother)


Be + Where (John is home.)
CRITICAL IMPLICATION
Each of us have just these few
ways of relating various nouns and
actions to one another.
 We must provide experiences to
young children so they can develop
the capacity to express these
relationships.

HOW IS THIS DONE ?
 Demonstration Time
In the ‘Tupperware slide” to follow,
‘Tupperware’ balls represent the
‘language ability’ of two people and the
10 geometric holes represent the ‘gates’
through which concepts must past if they
are to be shared.

An adult who knows language can
express an infinite number of
concepts only through the limited
number of KTV “gates” which are
represented by geometric shapes. In
the next slide the geometric shapes
for the ‘baby’ are not yet open, which
means the message cannot be
received.
Let the ‘ball’ on the right be the adult, and the
‘ball’ on the left be a deaf child and let the
triangle and circle represent two distinct
conceptualizations the adult wants to share.
For the child/infant to be able to
comprehend the message of the
adult, he/she must be presented with
enough quality-quantity input to
‘punch-out’ the blockage as
represented in the Tupperware so
that his/her brain can receive and
comprehend the messages.
IMPLICATIONS FOR
PARENTS
Make sure that the child is given many
experiences that require use of the language
expressed within the ten language frames
just discussed.
 Target for Parents of Preschool Children
 “My child can use and understand the ten
language frames using simple vocabulary
before he/she enters school.”

IMPLICATIONS FOR
TEACHERS
Make sure that the child is given many
experiences that require the language
expressed within the ten language frames
just discussed.
 Target for Teachers
 “Each child can use the ten language
frames (10 Key Trigger Verbs)”.

CONCLUSION

REMEMBER--- ELEPHANTS CAN BE EATEN
ONLY ONE BITE AT A TIME.

Expand verbs in two ways: (1) develop more verbs
within a KTV subset, and (2) teach additional
meaning of verbs already being used (i.e., She
runs fast. She can run the computer.)
In your home, you can provide your child with a
“sentence frame” for expressing every possible
way of expressing cognitive relationships. See
sentences to follow:

TABLE TALK
-It can all be done around the table-John, (you) sit.
 John, (you) eat.
 John, (you) get the milk.
 John, (you) give mom the butter.
 John (you) put the plates on the table.
 John, (you) have some bread.
 **John, (you) clean up the dishes.

TABLE TALK CONTINUED







Mom, you made the gravy thick.
John, (you) try to drink your milk.
Mom, I think the cake is wonderful.
Mom, the ice-cream is good.
Yum! This is ice-cream.
The jam is in the frig.
THESE ARE THE FRAMES FOR EXPRESSING
ALL CONCEPTUAL RELATIONSHIPS
POWERFULSUGGESTION:
MAKE LANGUAGE BOOKS

MAKE SECTIONS FOR THE 10 KEY
TRIGGER VERBS.

MULTIPLE PICTURES REPRESENTING
EACH VERB—SAME VERB (How many
pictures could be used to represent ‘work’.

USE DIFFERENT VERBS IN SAME SUBSET
REMEMBER TOO…
 Teaching
language means that we must
feed the brain language.
 ‘Feeding the brain” means using
language with the language-learner
(the child) in functional and
meaningful ways.
 And we must do it modeling language
properly (Quality) and we must do it
hundreds if not thousands of times
(Quantity.
THE END
QUESTIONS ?
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